Wild Native Vegetables

Cherry Grove, OH(Zone 6b)

Here in our private woods, an overgrown farm that is slowly reverting to native deciduous woodlands, we encourage the growth of native edibles and try to remove as many of the invasive non-native plants as possible. Although a few, like wild asparagus, we leave as they don't compete well with the native plants anyway. We've even helped spread a few natives, by moving tubers or seedlings, and by planting native species seeds.

After some heavy-handed use of a brush cutter to remove significant areas covered by wild rose thickets, this year Hopniss, Jerusalem Artichoke, Greenbrier, Raspberry, Hog Peanut and Ramps have made a showing or increased their populations. Also, new Sassafras, Hazelnut and Black Walnut trees are sprouting up. There are still plenty of roses to munch on, but the explosion in diversity from removing the over-abundant rose plants from some areas is encouraging.

Any other wild gardeners out there?

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Coon Rapids, MN(Zone 4b)

I'm somewhat limited with my standard suburban lot, but I've transplanted ramps and wild garlic into my gardens. I've also planted native plums. Some kind birds planted some woodland strawberries for me (the birds occasionally leave the odd berry for me), and I enjoy foraging among the weeds in my lawn (chickweed, lamb's quarters, wood sorrel, dandelions, and purslane come immediately to mind). I've used the flowers from the violets that run rampant in my lawn in salads and in desserts. If I ever get a large enough fern colony established, I'll have a meal of fiddleheads in the spring.

Cherry Grove, OH(Zone 6b)

We have only about half of an acre at the house (the woods acreage is about ten miles away) and I think our wild edible yard "weeds" list pretty much matches yours, with quite a bit of Yellow Nutgrass in the drainage swale at the North edge of the property.

I'm glad you mentioned those plants, since they so common in many small suburban lots in the Midwest, a lot of people could enjoy them if they knew they weren't just weeds.

We also have a couple of wild (or forgotten) native grape vines growing on an old wire and locust-post fence at the back of the lot along with a Chokecherry, a Black Walnut, A Sugar Maple and a pair of large pines. Those all came with the property. I was considering transplanting some Ramps, Mayapple and/or Hog Peanut in the shade under the pines. How are the ramps you transplanted?

Coon Rapids, MN(Zone 4b)

The ramps I transplanted are doing okay, but I just planted them this year, so I won't be harvesting them for at least a couple of years. I planted them in multiple spots just to see where they'd take.

Belton, TX

I started into native permaculture multiple years ago...always in search of hardy native or adaptive species that will thrive and produce in our Texas weather...I do believe this is a rapidly expanding market with more and more gardeners and homeowners looking at making the most of dwindling resources such as space, water, time, etc...

Cherry Grove, OH(Zone 6b)

txaggiegal, I've visited you're area several times, I have family in Killeen. They do grow a vegetable garden, but it's nothing exciting. I'd love to hear what plants you use in your native permaculture.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Good morning.
The backyard plants that 16blue named are common here too.
It does feel good getting a little something more useful out of a backyard. Call it curious diversion and casual doomsday prep maybe. My survival foraging in our own yard would be easier knowing and fostering edible things in place of strictly ornamental.

Cherry Grove, OH(Zone 6b)

Hi Sally, that's the first I've heard of "casual" doomsday prep. :) I think foraging and edible landscaping is a great idea. We grow many perennial vegetables, herbs and fruits. Most of our "everyday eats" in the summer come from this small 1/2 acre plot around the house. Many are native, but we grow many non-native species also. In the woods (about 10 miles from our home) there are obviously more foraging opportunities, but we have planted many edibles here at the house.

Mcallen, TX

Reading your posts is very interesting. It makes me wonder what I've systematically eliminated from our adjacent lot over the years. My problem is I don't know what these native edibles look like when they're coming up. One plant I do recognize and want to establish is amaranth. I've eaten it as a kid many years ago. It grew in abundance alongside fields and country roads. In Spanish we knew it as "quelite". (kay-lee-teh) It's extremely nutritious and the whole plant is edible.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 9a)

McAllen and Weslaco natives, hmmmm, I'd have to dig for that list! Only thing comes to mind aren't as easy to wish to handle without a way to remove thorns!

Cherry Grove, OH(Zone 6b)

Fauther, my way of identifying young forage plants is to let them grow a bit, until they are easier to ID. ;) Some common "suburban forage", such as sorrel, dandelion, purslane, nutsedge, are going to be fairly easy to identify, even young. The best advice I can give is to be observant and curious and watch the plants in your area as they grow. Also, there are almost always organized local groups that include field trips. As always, I strongly advise that you never eat anything unless you are 100% certain of it's ID, and I recommend taking new "discoveries" to a local expert for confirmation.

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