61 terms

Wild Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest

This guide covers wild edible plants of British Columbia, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, the Rocky Mountains and Western Canada. This list only contains "safe" plants - those that are easy to identify and have no deadly poisonous look-alikes. All plant parts described as being edible raw are also edible (and often more palatable) when cooked.
Agoseris, False Dandelion, Agoseris spp.
Flower and leaves are edible raw. Dried sap from stem and leaves can be chewed or eaten as gum. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Orange agoseris (Agoseris aurantiaca) and Short-beaked agoseris (Agoseris glauca). Edible look-alikes: dandelion, salsify. Look for agoseris on grassy, open foothills, montane slopes, and alpine/sub-alpine areas. Leaves contain a number of nutrients including: iron, zinc, boron, calcium, silicon, and is especially high in potassium. Can be oused as a painkiller for sprains, fractures, and bruising. It is effective as an external liniment and is extremely fast acting.. It should not be used if the skin is broken and the area is bleeding as it is toxic if it enters the bloodstream.
It is also high in vitamins A, B complex, C, and D. Every part of the plant is safe to use.
Arrowhead, Sagittaria spp.
Entire rhizome edible. Nnderwater tuber can be disloged from main roots with toes, floats to top. Ttubers are edible raw.
raw unwashed tubers can be stored for several months.
tubers can be cooked, sliced, dried for storage, and later boiled. Tubers are usually several feet from parent plant.
stems can be cooked.The plant is antiscorbutic, diuretic. The leaf is used to treat a variety of skin problems. The tuber is discutient, galactofuge and may induce premature birth. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Arum-leaved arrowhead (Sagittaria cuneata) and Wapato (Sagittaria latifolia). Grows in calm water in plains, foothills, and montane regions.The rootstock is a rich source of high quality starch. Boil the rootstock and eat it as a vegetable. Excellent when roasted, the taste is somewhat like potatoes. Warning: some species can cause skin reactions.
Arrow-leaved balsamroot, Balsamorhiza sagittata
All parts of plant are edible. Peeled roots, young stems and leaf stalks are best. Roots are sweetest when slow cooked for long periods, otherwise are bitter. Cooked roots can be dried for storage; soak overnight to reconstitute.
seeds can be dried or roasted and pound into meal.
grows on dry stoney slopes in foothills. The roots are highly medicinal and are a bio-regional substitute for echinacea. When harvested in the fall the roots have more immune-stimulating and anti-microbial properties, while those in the spring have more of an expectorant quality. Warning: do not confuse with the poisonous Arnica (Arnica spp.), which can cause internal blistering and severe stomach upset.
Beargrass, Xerophyllum tenax
Rhizomes are thick and tuberous, and edible when roasted or boiled.Found on dry slopes/ridges or forest clearings.Beargrass was used for medicinal purposes by the Blackfoot Indians. A decoction of grated roots was used as and orthopedic aid for breaks and sprains. Roots were washed and rubbed to make a lather and used to wash sores. A poultice of chewed roots was applied to wounds.
This species was long used by Native Americans who wove it into baskets. Baskets from this plant have also been used for cooking food in. Its fibrous leaves, which turn from green to white as they dry, are tough, durable, and easily dyed and manipulated into tight waterproof weaves. The dried and bleached leaves have also been used for weaving into hats and capes.
Bistort, Polygonum spp.
American bistort was an important food plant used by American Indians living in the Mountain West, and the roots are edible either raw or fire-roasted with a flavor resembling chestnuts. The seeds can be dried and ground into flour and used to make bread. They were also roasted and eaten as a cracked grain. It is used in Europe to drive out fevers, stop internal bleeding, to clean bites and wounds, for diarrhoea, for weak kidnies, for loose or painful teeth and for infertility in women. Bistort leaves are one of the best tasting of all wild vegetables. Fo ti is a made up name.
Bracken, 'fiddleheads' Pteridium aquilinum
The young, tightly coiled tender tips of plant are called 'fiddleheads'. The spring fiddleheads of all varieties of north temperate ferns are edible. Remove hair/wool from fiddleheads, soak in salt water to remove bitterness.
Fiddleheads are best when boiled for half an hour in two changes of water. Fiddleheads can be dried for storage.
rhizomes can be roasted/pit-steamed, peeled, and pounded to remove whitish edible part from fibers, or chewed to suck out starch. Root - rich in a white starch that can be eaten raw or cooked. Dried rhizomes can be ground into flour.
grows in wide range of areas, including foothills and montane region. A glue can be made from the rootstock. The young shoots are diuretic, refrigerant and vermifuge. They have been eaten as a treatment for cancer. The leaves have been used in a steam bath as a treatment for arthritis. A decoction of the plant as been used in the treatment of tuberculosis. A poultice of the pounded fronds and leaves has been used to treat sores of any type and also to bind broken bones in place. The root is antiemetic, antiseptic, appetizer and tonic. A tincture of the root in wine is used in the treatment of rheumatism. A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of stomach cramps, chest pains, internal bleeding, diarrhoea, colds and also to expel worms. The poulticed root is applied to sores, burns and caked breasts.Warning: avoid long term use, has carcinogenic properties. Warning: avoid mature bracken, which destroys vitamin B and can cause a deadly blood condition.
Bulrush, Schoenoplectus spp.
Shoots and lower stalk are edible raw. Growing tips of rhizome are edible raw. Dried rhizome can be crushed to remove fibers, ground into flour. Fresh rhizomes can be boiled into gruel. The gruel can either be dried and ground into flour or used wet in pancakes/breads. Young rhizomes can be crushed and boiled to make sweet syrup. Pollen can be pressed into cakes and baked or mixed with other flours.
seeds are edible raw or parched. Seeds can be ground into meal. sweet dried sap that exudes from the stem can be rolled into balls for storage. varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Hard-stemmed bullrush (Schoenoplectus acutus) and Soft-stemmed bullrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani).
grows in shallow calm water.
Burdock, Arctium spp.
Young leaves are edible raw. Older leaves are best when boiled in 1-2 changes of water with pinch of baking soda.
roots of first year plants can be cooked in a soup or stir-fry.
roots can be mashed and fried as patties. Rroots can be dried for storage. Roots can be roasted/ground as coffee substitute. Roots are best when shredded/sliced and soaked in water for 5-10 minutes to reduce harshness. White pith of young flower stalks is edible raw. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Common burdock (Arctium minus) and Woolly burdock (Arctium tomentosum). Look for burdock on disturbed soil sites. Menominee and the Micmac Indians, for example, used burdock as a poultice or compress to treat skin infections and sores. A poultice is a soft, moist mass that is usually heated, spread on a cloth, and applied to warm, moisten, or stimulate an aching of inflamed part of the body. Burdock is also a diuretic, blood cleanser, and bitter stimulates digestive juices and bile secretion to aid in digestion and appetite. It has been used to treat arthritis, skin disorders and infections, fluid retention, gout, hemorrhoids, herpes, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, kidney problems, liver problems, lymphatic congestion, measles, poison ivy/oak, obesity, poisons, sore throats, swelling, venereal diseases, tonsillitis, tuberculosis, tumors, ulcers, various other disease states historically, and some still today. Burdock is used to treat arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory and astringic properties. Burdock was taken medicinally by creating a tea from it, consuming it as you would a vegetable, and applying it (or an extract) topically. Burdock seeds have been researched to see if they possess a mechanism to protect the stomach and treat ulcers, possibly preventing the formation of ulcers. This study found that the preparations created from these seeds had a definite effective on the activity of gastric secretions in rats and also the action of the smooth muscles in the stomach and small intestine. Do not confuse with Cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium), who's leaves are poisonous if not thoroughly cooked. Cocklbur has rough rather than velvety leaves and has more solid burs.
Camas, Blue Camas, Camassia spp.
Bulbs are edible raw. Bulbs can be roasted or boiled, but are best when slow cooked and dried.Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Great camas (Camassia leichtlinii) and Common camas (Camassia quamash). Grows in moist plains and foothill regions. Indian's pit-roasted or boiled the . bulbs. A pit-cooked camas bulb looks and tastes something like baked sweet potato, but sweeter, and with more crystalline fibers due to the presence of inulin in the bulbs. When dried, the bulbs could be pounded into flour. Native American tribes who ate camas include the Nez Perce, Cree, Coast Salish, Lummi, and Blackfoot tribes, among many others. Camas bulbs contributed to the survival of members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.[citation needed] Warning: do not confuse bulbs with those of the poisonous Death Camases, such as Mountain Death-Camas (Zigadenus elegans) and Meadow death-Camas (Zigadenus venenosus), which grow in similar areas and have similar looking bulbs, but have white flowers.
Cattail, Typha spp.
Tender, white inner part of shoots/plants is edible raw.
Cattail pollen is bright yellow and can be gathered by shaking a pollen-laden spike into a bag, which yelds about one tablespoon of powder. Pllen can be used as flour, suitable for pancakes, etc. Pollen is available to gather before the plant develops its long, brown cylinder resembling a hotdog on a stick. Green flower spikes can be cooked and eaten like corn on cob. Starchy white core of rhizome can be eaten raw.
white core can be boiled, baked, or dried and ground into flour, or boiled into syrup. Roots can be peeled and crushed under water, the fibers strained out and the starch washed in several changes of water. Rhizomes can be eaten whole or ground into flour. Shoots, seeds, flowers, pollen, and stems can also be eaten. Stems and leaves are woven into
baskets and rope or used in roofing, bedding, and paper manufacturing. Fluff from the brown-cylinder can be burned to separate and parch the seeds, which are edible.
varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Common cattail (Typha latifolia) and Narrow-leaved cattail (Typha angustifolia).
look for cattails growing on the shores of lakes and ponds, in flooded areas and in ditches. Warning: do not confuse young cattail shoots with members of the iris family such as Western blue flag (Iris missouriensis). Mature plants are different enough to avoid confusion.
Chicory, Cichorium intybus
Leaves can be eaten raw. Leaves are best when young and/or growing in areas protected from direct sunlight.
older leaves are best when cooked in several changes of water. Young plant, including flower heads can be cooked.
roots can be eaten raw when young. Roots can be split, dried and roasted to make coffee substitute. Its leaves are used for salads. It is usually blanched by covering with litter to make it less bitter; whole or shredded leaves are served with oil and vinegar as salads; blanched hearts serve as a vegetable. Root-chicory, established in Europe during, the Napoleanic blockade, is cultivated for roots used as a coffee substitute. When blended with ground coffee, they enhance the flavor and aroma of the brew. Cultivated plant in India is used as a tonic for diarrhea, enlargement of the spleen, fever and vomiting. Wild form is considered alexiteric, emmenagogue and tonic. The juice is said to be a folk remedy for cancer of the uterus and for tumors. The powdered seed is said to remedy indurations of the spleen. The leaf, boiled with honey for a gargle is said to cure cancer of the mouth. The root, boiled in water is said to help cancer of the breast and faceLook for chicory on disturbed ground, ranging from plains and foothills to montane regions. Warning: excessive/prolonged use may damage retinas and cause sluggish digestion.
Bedstraw, Cleaverspure, goose grass, Cleavers Galium spp.
Stem, leaves and flowers of plant can be eaten raw.
plant is best when collected before fruiting. Raw plant has mild/no taste and older plants have an unpalatable texture.
plant is best when cooked. Is a good source of vitamin C.
varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Cleavers (Galium aparine), Northern bedstraw (Galium boreale) and Sweet-scented bedstraw (Galium triflorum). Fresh, wild-crafted Galium spp. also known as Cleaverspure and pure grain alcohol. Primarily used as a lymphatic, helps to detoxify body. Has long history of use during serious illness, such as cancer. A useful diuretic; taken for skin and urinary tract problems. Look for bedstraw alongside low-growing vegetation and disturbed soil sites. warning: acts as a mild laxative when eaten in quantity.
Clover, Trifolium spp.
above-ground parts can be eaten raw. Best when cooked or dipped in saltwater to counteract bloating. Flowerheads can be eaten raw, dried or cooked. Flowerheads and seedheads can be ground into flour. Sprouts have the best taste.
creeping stems and roots can be cooked. The flowers are white or rosy. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Red clover (Trifolium pratense), Alsike clover (Trifolium hybridum), White clover (Trifolium repens) and Springbank clover (Trifolium wormskioldii). Grows in a wide range of terrain, look in disturbed soil areas. Warning: difficult to digest, can cause bloating. Warning: red clover in autumn should be avoided or not be eaten in large quantities due to alkaloids.
Coltsfoot, Petasites spp.
Young stems with flowers can be roasted, boiled or stir-fried.
leaves can be cooked like spinach. Leaves can be rolled into tight balls, dried, and burned to ash as salt substitute.
grows in moist open plains, foothill and montane regions.
varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Arrow-leaved coltsfoot (Petasites sagittatus), Palmate Coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus var palmatus) and Sweet coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus var frigidus). Warning: should not be eaten in large quantity, due to alkaloids. Warning: may cause miscarriage in pregnant women if eaten in quantity.
Cow-lily, Nuphar spp.
Seeds are edible after drying, popping, or frying, and can subsequently be ground to flour. Seeds can be taken from dried capsules. Rhizome is edible after prolonged boiling with several changes of water. Rhizome can be roasted or boiled, then peeled and either eaten or thinly sliced for drying and then either stored or ground into flour. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Yellow cow-lily (Nuphar lutea) and Western cow-lily (Nuphar polysepala). Grows in shallow, calm water in plains, montane, and subalpine regions. Warning: eat in moderation, large amounts may be poisonous.
Dandelion,Taraxacum officinale
All parts of plant are edible raw. Young leaves or those growing where there is less/no sunlight are the least bitter.
older leaves are best when boiled in 2 changes of water and/or with midveins removed. Roots are best when collected in spring/autumn, peeled, sliced and cooked in 2 changes of water with pinch of baking soda. Roots can be roasted as coffee substitute. Unopened flower buds can be eaten raw or used in cooking. Seeds with the parachute removed can be eaten or ground into flower. A serving of dandelion greens contains the same amount of calcium as half a cup of milk. Is a good source of vitamin's A, B1, B2, B3, C, E, and minerals chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, selenium, silicon, zinc. As a medicine the dandelion plant has proved to be one of the safest and best diuretics because, unlike conventional diuretics, it is extremely rich in potassium so that it replaces what the body loses through water elimination. Dandelion is used as a liver and kidney tonic, a digestive stimulant, and is considered a remedy for high blood pressure. The latex contained in the leaves and stalks is used to remove corns. Grows in a wide range of terrain, look for dandelion in disturbed/cultivated soil areas.
Devils Club, Oplopanax horridus
Roots can be cooked and eaten. Young fleshy stems are edible when cooked. Young leaves lack the stiff spines and can be eaten raw. Berries are not edible. Grows in moist areas that are shaded from the sun, in both foothill and montane regions. Devil's club is used for arthritis, wounds, fever, tuberculosis, stomach trouble, cough, colds, sore throat, diabetes, low blood sugar, and pneumonia. It is also used for emptying the bowels and causing vomiting. Some people apply devil's club directly to the skin for swollen glands, boils, sores, and skin infections. The ashes have been used to treat burns. Devil's club contains chemicals that might fight some bacteria, fungi, and viruses.Warning: plant spines can cause infections or allergic reactions.
Dock, Rumex spp.
Young leaves are edible raw, but sour. Leaves are best when boiled in several changes of water. Fruit can be winnowed to separate outer hull for collecting seeds. Seeds (collected during spring through summer) can be boiled to mush, or ground into flour. Seeds can be leeched in cold water before using as food. Use fresh in salads or add leaves to soups and stews. Steep into a liquid that can be used to create a lemonade-type drink. As leaves mature, they lose their sourness. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Curled dock (Rumex crispus), Western dock (Rumex occidentalis) and Willow dock (Rumex triangulivalvis).
grows in moist areas and disturbed sites in the plains, foothills, and montane regions. Warning: raw plant is toxic in large quantity due to oxalates, which interferes with nutrient absorption.
False Solomon's-Seal, Maianthemum spp.
Berry is edible. Berry transitions from green to mottled/dark red. Berry was traditionally stored in cooled grease.
berry is high in vitamin C. Young shoots and green parts of young plants are edible, and best when cooked.
rhizome is edible when cooked. Used by Native Americans as a food source and to treat many ailments from constipation to insanity. Made into a tincture can be used it to treat broken bones, sprains, injured tendons and ligaments, tendonitis, arthritis, dryness in joints and "slipped"/herniated discs. anti-inflammatoryVarieties in the Pacific Northwest are False Solomon's-seal (Maianthemum racemosum) and Star-flowered false Solomon's-seal (Maianthemum stellatum). Grows in thickets, forests, and moist open areas.
Fireweed, Epilobium spp.
Shoots are edible raw. Young leaves are edible raw.
flowers are edible raw. Flower bud clusters can be cooked as vegetable. Stem pith can be added to soups as thickener. antimicrobial, anti-viral, properties and oenothein B which appears to have 5-alpha-reductase inhibitory activity constituents responsible for the inhibition of the two enzymes which are involved in the aetiology of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Common fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) and Dwarf fireweed (Epilobium latifolium). Grows in open, disturbed areas in foothill, montane, alpine and subalpine regions. Warning: may act as a laxative if eaten in quantity.
Goldenrod, Solidago spp.
Plants can be cooked. Flowers are edible raw.
seeds are edible raw. Goldenrod is indicated for mental weakness, physical exhaustion, chilliness alternating with heat, sub-acute nasopharyngeal catarrh and acute or subacute kidney infections or debilitated, chronically inflamed kidneys. It is use as a astringent, diaphoretic stimulant, diuretic, antiseptic,anti-inflammatory, and analgesic. It is used for influenza, repeated colds, bronchitis with purulent expectoration, tonsillitis, sinusitis and allergies. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), Giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea), Missouri goldenrod (Solidago missouriensis) and Northern goldenrod (Solidago multiradiata). Grows in open plains, foothills, and montane regions.
Groundcone, Boschniakia spp.
Potato-like stem-base is edible raw. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Vancouver groundcone (Boschniakia hookeri) and Northern groundcone (Boschniakia rossica). Grows in shaded coastal forests, at the base of alders, salal or cranberry bushes.
Knotweed, Polygonum spp.
Seeds are edible. Seeds can be eaten whole or pounded into meal. Plants can be cooked and eaten. Knotweed is used for bronchitis, cough, gum disease (gingivitis), and sore mouth and throat. It is also used for lung diseases, skin disorders, and fluid retention. Some people use it to reduce sweating associated with tuberculosis and to stop bleeding. Knotweed might be able to reduce swelling. It might also prevent plaque from building up on teeth. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Common knotgrass (Polygonum aviculare), Common knotweed (Polygonum arenastrum), and Mountain knotweed (Polygonum douglasii). Grows as a weed in a wide range, including dry areas, plains, and subapline regions. Raw plants eaten in quantity may cause stomach upset and/or diarrhea.
Lamb's quarter, Goosefoot, Fat-hen, Pigweed, Chenopodium album
Plants can be eaten raw. Flower clusters can be eaten raw.
seeds are edible raw. Seeds can be ground into a bitter black flour. Seeds are best cooked before being ground. Leaves can either be steamed in their entirety, or cooked like spinach. Each plant produces tens of thousands of black seeds. These are high in protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Quinoa is a closely related species which is grown specifically for its seeds. It is also used as a medicinal plant in traditional African medicine. Grows in disturbed/cultivated areas in plains, foothills and montane regions. Warning: seeds eaten in quantity may be toxic. Raw plants should be eaten moderation due to oxalates, which interferes with nutrient absorption.
Mariposa-lily, Calochortus spp.
Bulbs are edible raw. Bulbs are best when cooked.
bulbs can be dried for storage. Dried bulbs can be boiled for soups or ground into flour. Variety in the Pacific Northwest is Three-spotted mariposa lily (Calochortus apiculatus).
grows in foothill and montane regions.
Miner's Lettuce, Montia Perfoliata
All parts of the plant, including roots are edible raw or cooked. Grows in moist shaded woods and fields. The leaves are gently laxative. Apart from its value as a nourishing vegetable that is rich in vitamin C, it can also be taken as an invigorating spring tonic and an effective diuretic. A fairly bland flavor with a mucilaginous texture, it is quite nice in a salad. The young leaves are best, older leaves can turn bitter especially in the summer and if the plant is growing in a hot dry position. Bulbs can be eaten raw or the boiled and peeled root and has the flavour of chestnuts. A poultice of the mashed plants has been applied to rheumatic joints.
Marsh-marigold, Caltha spp.
Leaves are edible when cooked; boil 10-60 minutes, until tender. Roots can be cooked and eaten. People take marsh marigold for pain, cramps, menstrual disorders, swollen airways (bronchitis), yellowed skin (jaundice), and liver disorders. They also take it for constipation, fluid retention, high cholesterol, and low blood sugar. Some people put marsh marigold directly on the skin for cleaning wounds and sores.Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are White marsh-marigold (Caltha leptosepala) and Yellow marsh-marigold (Caltha palustris). Grows in wet, open areas in montane, subalpine and alpine regions. Warning: eat in moderation, avoid uncooked young leaves and flowers.
Mountain sorrel, Oxyria digyna
Leaves are edible raw. Leaves can be chopped into water with sugar to make lemonade-like drink. Plants can be cooked. Plants were traditionally boiled with berries and/or salmon roe and poured into thin cakes. The leaves have a fresh acidic taste and are rich in vitamin C.They were used by the Inuit to prevent and cure scurvy, and can be used in salads. Grows in moist, open areas in montaine, subalpine and apine regions. Warning: eat raw plant in moderation due to oxalates, which interfere with nutrient absorption.
Mustard, Brassicaceae
Edible as cooked greens. Boil older plants in two changes of water to reduce bitterness. Used as a treatment for stomach and intestinal disorders and diabetes, as a natural ntibacterial agent, to stimulate vomiting, and as a massage oil to improve blood circulation, muscular development, and skin texture. Mustard plaster (a mixture of flour and mustard powder) has been traditionally applied to the chest and abdomen to promote healing. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are True mustards (Brassica spp.), Wintercresses (Barbarea spp.), Tansy mustards (Descurainia spp.) and Tumble-mustards (Sisymbrium spp.). Grows in open, disturbed areas in plains, foothills, and montane regions.
Pearly everlasting, Anaphalis margaritacea
Leaves and young plants can be cooked. The whole plant is anodyne, antiseptic, astringent, expectorant and sedative. Used internally, it is a good remedy for diarrhoea, dysentery and pulmonary affections. A poultice of the flowers or the whole plant is applied to burns, sores, ulcers, bruises, swellings and rheumatic joints. An infusion of the plant is steamed and inhaled in the treatment of headaches. A cooled infusion of the roots and shots has been used as a laxative and emetic to treat "poison stomach". Grows in open, disturbed areas in foothill, montane, and subapline areas.
Peppergrass, Lepidium virginicum
Leaves are edible raw. Green seed pods are edible raw. Seeds are edible and can be used as a pepper-like seasoning and can be used to season soups and stews; the young leaves are used in salads or cooked as greens. Grows on roadsides and disturbed areas.
Pickleweed, Glasswort, Sea Asparagus
Plant is edible raw but better when cooked/boiled. Top-half of stems can be harvested, allowing the bottom to grow a new shoot. Plant has a salty taste. Plant is best when gathered before flowering. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Red Glasswort (Salicornia rubra) and American Glasswort (Salicornia virginica). Grows in saltwater marshes and in the salty soil near high-tide areas.
Pineapple-weed, Matricaria discoidea
Flowerheads are edible raw. Plants can be eaten raw, though bitter. Plants can be powdered and sprinkled on meat to reduce spoilage and keep away flies. It is a type of chamomile and smells like tropical pineapples mixed with convention chamomile. Grows on roadsides and disturbed ground in plains, foothills, and montane regions.
Plantain, Plantago spp.
Young leaves can be eaten raw.
leaves are best finely chopped or when cooked with fibers removed. Leaves are very rich in vitamin B1 and riboflavin. The plant contains anti-toxins as well as ascorbic-acid, apigenin, baicalein, benzoic-acid, chlorogenic-acid, citric-acid,ferulic-acid, oleanolic-acid, salicylic-acid, and ursolic-acid. The leaves and the seed are medicinal used as an antibacterial, antidote, astringent, antiinflammatory, antiseptic, antitussive, cardiac, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, haemostatic, laxative, ophthalmic, poultice, refrigerant, and vermifuge. Seeds can be dried and ground into flour/meal. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Common Plantain (Plantago major) and Narrow-leaved Plantain (Plantago lanceolata). Grows in a wide range of areas, including disturbed/cultivated soil in plains, foothills, and montane regions.
Queen's Cup, Clintonia uniflora
Young leaves are edible. Raw leaves have mild sweet taste. Older leaves are best when cooked.
grows in shady forest areas.
Roseroot, Rhodiola spp.
Young leaves and shoots are edible raw.
older plants may be bitter. Rhizome can be boiled and eaten. Rhodiola is used for increasing energy, stamina, strength and mental capacity; and as a so-called "adaptogen" to help the body adapt to and resist physical, chemical, and environmental stress. It is also used for improving athletic performance, shortening recovery time after long workouts, improving sexual function; for depression; and for heart disorders such as irregular heartbeat and high cholesterol. Some people use rhodiola for treating cancer, tuberculosis, and diabetes; preventing cold and flu, aging, and liver damage; improving hearing; strengthening the nervous system; and enhancing immunity. The variety in the Pacific Northwest is Western roseroot (Rhodiola integrifolia). Grows in dry, rocky areas in subalpine and alpine regions.
Salsify, Goatsbeard, Oyster plant ,Tragopogon spp.
Roots are edible raw. Roots can be dried and ground. Roots can be roasted as coffee substitute. Young leaves can be eaten raw.
Young stalks and root crowns can be simmered. Salsify is considered to be a useful remedy for the liver and gallbladder. It appears to have a detoxifying effect and may stimulate the appetite and digestion. Its high inulin content makes this herb a useful food for diabetics since inulin is a nutrient made of fructose rather than glucose units and therefore does not raise blood sugar levels. The root has medicinal properties that has been used for its ability to contract tissue, purify and cleanse the blood, induce urination, induce the removal (coughing up) of mucous secretions from the lungs, increase weight, and give strength and tone to the stomach. A syrup made from the root gives great relief in cases of obstinate coughs and bronchitis. A decoction of the root has been given in the treatment of heartburn, loss of appetite and disorders of the breast or liver. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. The fresh juice of young plants is said to be a good dissolver of bile, relieving the stomach without side effects. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Commom salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius), Yellow salsify (Tragopogon dubius), Meadow salsify (Tragopogon pratensis). Grows in dry, disturbed areas.
Sheep sorrel, Rumex acetosella
Leaves are edible raw. Raw leaves may have bitter taste. Leaves are best when boiled in several changes of water. Uses include: blood disorders, skin conditions, fevers, inflammation, diarrhea, excessive menstruation, and for throat and mouth ulcers. Crushed, fresh leaves are applied as a poultice to boils and carbuncles. Sheep sorrel assists the body in throwing off any viral infection. Leaves are rich in vitamin C, and have been used as an antiscorbutic for centuries. No doubt, the high vitamin C content is one reason the plant has been called one of the strongest antioxidant herbs we can use. Warning: eat only moderate quantities of the raw plant due to oxalates, which block nutrient absorption.
Shepherd's-purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris
All parts of plant are edible raw. Older plants can be tenderized by adding pinch of baking soda to cooking water. Pods and seeds are edible, and taste peppery. Seeds can be parched and ground to flour. Roots can be eaten fresh or dried. Burning the plant results in ash that can be used as salt substitute and/or tenderizer. Shepherd's purse is used to stop heavy bleeding and hemorrhaging, particularly from the uterus. When taken internally, shepherd's purse can reduce heavy menstrual periods, and it has been used to treat postpartum hemorrhage. Still, it is considered most effective for the treatment of chronic uterine bleeding disorders, including uterine bleeding due to the presence of a fibroid tumor. Can also been used internally to treat cases of blood in the urine and bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, such as with bleeding ulcers. When used topically, shepherd's purse is applied to lacerations and traumatic injuries of the skin to stop bleeding and promote healing. Herbalists also use the herb topically for eczema and rashes of the skin. An astringent agent, shepherd's purse constricts blood vessels, thereby reducing blood flow. Shepherd's purse is also thought to cause the uterine muscle to contract, which also helps reduce bleeding. Grows in a wide range as a weed, especially in disturbed or cultivated areas. Warning: seeds may blister skin.
Silverweed, Cinquefoil, Argentina spp.
Rhizomes are edible raw, though possibly bitter.
rhizomes is best when roasted, boiled, or fried for several minutes. Roots can be dried for storage. Roots are best when collected in autumn or spring. A strong infusion of Silverweed, if used as a lotion, will check the bleeding of piles, and when sweetened with honey, constitutes an excellent gargle for sore throat. It is also an excellent remedy for cramps in the stomach, heart and abdomen. Can be applied externally to the affected parts as a compresses. On the Continent, a tablespoonful of the herb, boiled in a cup of milk, has been recommended as an effective remedy in tetanus, or lockjaw. The dried and powdered leaves have been successfully administered in ague: the more astringent roots have been given in powder in doses of a scruple and upwards. As a diuretic, Silverweed has been considered useful in gravel. Ettmueller extolled it as a specific in jaundice. The decoction has been used for ulcers in the mouth, relaxation of the uvula, spongy gums and for fixing loose teeth, also for toothache and preserving the gums from scurvy. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Common silverweed (Argentina anserina) and Pacific Silverweed (Argentina pacifica). Grows in moist, open areas in plains, foothills, and montane regions.
Sow Thistle, Sonchus spp.
Young leaves are edible raw. Young leaves are best after boiling in at least one change of water. The young leaves are used as an ingredient in salads, soups and boiled like spinach. Considered to have nearly the same properties as Dandelion and Succory. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Perennial sow thistle (Sonchus arvensis), Prickly sow thistle (Sonchus asper), Annual sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus). Grows by roadways and in disturbed areas.
Stinging nettle, Urtica dioica
Young leaves are edible raw, though they will sting in the mouth for a short time. Young shoots and young plants are edible when steamed/cooked. Roots are edible when cooked.
roots are best when collected in spring/autumn.
Stinging nettle root is used for urination problems related to an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia [BPH]). These problems include nighttime urination, too frequent urination, painful urination, inability to urinate, and irritable bladder. Root is also used for joint ailments, as a diuretic, and as an astringent. Above ground parts are used along with large amounts of fluids in so-called "irrigation therapy" for urinary tract infections (UTI), urinary tract inflammation, and kidney stones (nephrolithiasis). The above-ground parts are also used for allergies, hayfever, and osteoarthritis. Some people use the above ground parts of stinging nettle for internal bleeding, including uterine bleeding, nosebleeds, and bowel bleeding. The above ground parts are also used for anemia, poor circulation, an enlarged spleen, diabetes and other endocrine disorders, stomach acid, diarrhea and dysentery, asthma, lung congestion, rash and eczema, cancer, preventing the signs of aging, "blood purification," wound healing, and as a general tonic. Above ground parts are applied to the skin for muscle aches and pains, oily scalp, oily hair, and hair loss (alopecia). Extract is used as an ingredient in hair and skin products. Leaf used primarily as a diuretic and laxative in ancient Greek times. Contains ingredients that might decrease inflammation and increase urine output.Warning: don't confuse stinging nettle (Uritica dioica) with white dead nettle (Lamium album). Grows in moist soil and disturbed areas in plains, foothills, and montane regions. Warning: wear gloves when collecting to avoid stings.
Stonecrop, Sedum spp.
Young leaves and shoots are edible raw.
older plants may be bitter. Rhizome can be boiled and eaten. People take common stonecrop for coughs and high blood pressure.
Common stonecrop is sometimes applied directly to the skin for wounds, burns, hemorrhoids, warts, eczema, and mouth ulcers.
Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Lance-leaved stonecrop (Sedum lanceolatum) and Spreading stonecrop (Sedum divergens). Grows in dry, rocky areas in subalpine and alpine regions.
Strawberry-blite, Chenopodium capitatum
Young plants including flowers are edible raw. The plant has been used as a lotion for treating black eyes and head bruises. The juice of the seeds and an infusion of the plant has been used to treat lung congestion. Seed are small and fiddly, and should be soaked in water overnight and thoroughly rinsed before they are used in order to remove any saponins.Grows in open or disturbed areas in foothills, montane and subalpine regions. Warning: seeds eaten in quantity may be toxic. Raw plants should be eaten moderation due to oxalates, which prevent nutrient absorption.
Sunflower, Helianthus spp.
Prouts are edible. Seeds can be eaten raw.
seeds can be dried, parched, ground lightly to break shells, and placed in water to separate shells from kernels. Shells can be roasted to make coffee substitute. Kernels can be ground into meal. Kernels can be boiled in water to make gruel. Kernels can be mixed with bone marrow or grease to make cakes. Crushed seeds can be boiled in water and oil collected by skimming surface. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and Prairie sunflower (Helianthus petiolaris). Grows in open sites and disturbed areas.
Swamp hedge-nettle, Marsh woundwort, Stachys palustris
Rhizome is edible raw. Rhizome is best when collected in autumn. The leaves, stems and roots of this plant have been found to have antibacterial properties Roots can be dried and ground to make flour. Young shoots can be cooked, and were used in Europe prior to the advent of potatoes. A syrup made of the juice can be used for wounds, ruptures of veins, bloody flux, broken vessels, spitting, peeing, or vomiting blood. Flowers are edible. Seeds are edible. Grows in moist plains and foothill regions.
Common sweet clover, Melilotus officinalis
Young leaves gathered before flowering can be eaten raw.
Seeds and flowers can be used as flavoring. Sweet clover is used to increase the loss of water from the body through the urine (as a diuretic). It is also used for varicose veins and to relieve symptoms of poor blood circulation (chronic venous insufficiency) including leg pain and heaviness, night cramps, itchiness, and fluid retention (edema). Sweet clover is sometimes used along with regular medicines for treatment of blood clots in the veins. Other uses include treatment of hemorrhoids and blockage of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system drains fluid from tissues. Some people apply sweet clover directly to the skin for bruises. Sweet clover contains ingredients that can thin the blood and help wounds heal. Grows in disturbed sites. Be careful not to confuse sweet clover with red clover. Warning: do not ingest moldy plants due to the presence of dicoumarol, which reduces the ability of blood to coagulate.
Sweet Gale, Bog Myrtl, Myrica gale
Leaves are edible raw. Leaves and nutlets are suitable for soups and cooking. Leaves can be used to repel insects.
People take sweet gale for digestion problems. In Sweden, a strong brew of sweet gale dried bark is used to treat intestinal worms and to relieve itching. Sweet gale contains ingredients that might help reduce skin redness and swelling (inflammation) and have a drying (astringent) effect on the tissues. Grows in thickets and moist areas at low elevations.
Warning: this plant should not be consumed by pregnant women, since it can induce abortions.
Sweetflag, Bitterroot, Acoru spp.
Rhizome is edible raw. Rhizome can be made tender by prolonged boiling. Rhizome is best when peeled and cooked, either by boiling or roasting. Central core of young shoots is edible raw. Young spadix is edible raw. Plant is an effective insect repellent. Plats is used to treat throat colds, sore throats, irritable coughs, chest colds, and head colds. Bitterroot is strongly antimicrobial; chewing the root not only fights the infection and is also considered an effective antihistamine; clearing stuffy sinuses and helping dispel mucous. Variety in the Pacific Northwest is American sweetflag (Acorus americanus). Grows in marshes, quiet water, and wet, open areas.
Thistle, Cirsium spp.
Roots of unbolted young plants in autumn are edible raw but may cause gas. Roots are best when boiled or roasted.
roots contains the starch inulin, which breaks down into a sugar when cooked. Cooked roots can be dried and ground to flour. Stems and leaves are edible raw, after peeling to remove prickles. Immature flowerheads are edible raw, but best when steamed. The Navajo and Hopi Indians use thistles (Cirsium spp.) for medicinal purposes. Used to treat chronic liver disease and protect the liver against toxins.The extracts contain silymarin, a compound that may inhibit toxins from translocating across liver cell membranes. It has also been used to treat hepatitis, cancer prevention and high cholesterol. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Canada/Creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense), Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare), Indian thistle (Cirsium brevistylum), Hooker's thistle (Cirsium hookerianum) and Leafy thistle (Cirsium foliosum). Grows across wide range, in plains, foothills, montane, and subalpine regions. Qarning: eat in moderation, some thistles are carcinogenic.
Tiger Lily, Columbia Lily, Lilium columbianum
Flowers, seeds and bulbs are edible raw.
bulbs are best when boiled in several changes of water, though still bitter/peppery. Cooked bulbs can be dried whole or mashed and then dried for storage. A tincture is made from the fresh plant and has proved of great value in uterine-neuralgia, congestion and irritation, also in the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Tiger Lily flower essence helps in suppressing aggressive tendencies in individuals Grows on foothill, montane, and subalpine slopes.
Violet, Viola ssp.
Both the leaves and flowers are edible and can be added to salads. Although edible, eating yellow violets in high quantities can cause gastrointestinal problems. High in vitamin A, C, and E. Best to eat in the spring. Leaves become tough during summer. A poultice of the leaves has been used for headache pain and skin abrasions.Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Early blue violet (Viola adunca), Canada violet (Viola canadensis), Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor), Marsh violet (Viola palustris) and Yellow prairie violet (Viola nuttallii). Grows in plains, foothills, montane, and subalpine regions.
Watercress, Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum
Plants are edible raw. Tastes like peppery lettuce or radishes.
can be dried for storage. Grows in calm water. Plants significant amounts of iron, calcium and folic acid, in addition to vitamins A and C. Used as a remedy for scurvy. Said to act as a stimulant, a source of phytochemicals and antioxidants, a diuretic, an expectorant, and a digestive aid. Antiangiogenic cancer-suppressing properties.The content of phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) in watercress inhibits HIF, which can inhibit angiogenesis. Due to its high iodine content, watercress has a strengthening effect on the thyroid gland, thus it is beneficial for sufferers of hypothyroidism. Watercress is mentioned in the Talmud as being able to stop bleeding, when mixed with vinegar. Warning: do not eat plants from sites with polluted water.
Wild bergamot, Horsemint, Monarda fistulosa
Plant can be cooked as potherb. Smells strongly of mint.
Leaves can be dried and sprinked on meat to repel insects. Used most commonly to cure colds, and was frequently made into a tea. Strong antiseptic action, and used poultices of the plant for skin infections and minor wounds. A tea used to treat mouth and throat infections caused by dental caries and gingivitis. Bee Balm is the natural source of the antiseptic Thymol. Also used as a carmative herb by Native Americans to treat excessive flatulence. Grows in open plains, foothill and montane regions.
Wild Ginger, Asarum spp.
Rhizome is edible raw. Rhizome can be dried and ground. Dried root is burned as incense and is said to repel insects. The root and rhizome were slowly boiled in a small quantity of water for a long time and the resulting liquid taken as a contraceptive by the women of many American Indian tribes. A spray made from the decoction is a good deodorant and is an antiseptic and insecticide. A very strong decoction is used as a herbicide. Gather roots only (flowers and stems are not edible, said to be poisonous) in spring to late fall. Dry for later herb use. Variety in the Pacific Northwest is Western wild ginger (Asarum caudatum). Rrows in moist, shaded foothill and montane regions.
Wild licorice, Glycyrrhiza lepidota
Rhizome is edible raw. Rhizome was traditionally roasted in coals, pounded to remove tough fibers from the center of the rhizome, and eaten. Blackfoot Indians used wild licorice leaves to make poultices for earaches. Roots were used for toothache and fever. Root tea used treat coughs, diarrhea, chest pains, fevers in children, and stomach aches. It was also used as a wash or poultice on swellings.
Useful against gastric and duodenal ulcers, bronchial asthma and is an additive in cough syrups. Wild licorice can increase blood pressure. Licorice can induce a hypermineralocorticoid syndrome. Grows near water in moist, well-drained sites in plains and foothills. Warning: large amounts consumed over time are toxic.
Wild mint, Mentha spp.
Plants are edible raw. Best used to improve flavour of other food. Powdered leaves can be sprinkled on berries/drying meat to repel insects. Varieties in the Pacific Northwest are Wild mint (Mentha arvensis), Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Peppermint (Mentha piperita). Grows in moist areas in plains, foothills, and montane regions.
Wild Rose, Rosa spp.
All parts of the rose are cooling and astringent. Used for bladder infections, diarrhea, and rashes. Used for tincture, tea, decoction. The rose hip is high in Vitamin C. Rose hips used in beverages, preserves, jams, on cereals, in breads, in butter, soups, etc.
Wood Lily, Lilium philadelphicum
Flowers, seeds and bulbs are edible raw. Bulbs are best when boiled in two changes of water, though still bitter/peppery. Cooked bulbs can be dried whole or mashed and dried for storage. Cooked bulbs can be applied to sores, bruises, swellings or wounds. Tea can be used for treating stomach problems, coughs and fevers and for helping women in labor delivery the afterbirth. Grows in moist areas in plains, foothills, and montane regions.
Yellow glacier-lily, Snow-lily, Erythronium grandiflorum
Bulbs are edible raw. Bulbs are best after long slow cooking, which turns them chocolate brown. Bulbs can be dried for storage after cooking. Dried bulbs are soaked and then boiled or steamed. Leaves are edible raw. Fresh greed seed pods can be cooked, taste like string beans.The pulverized root was applied to boils and as a wet dressing on skin sores by the Montana Indians. The Okanagan-Colville tribe used the corms as a treatment for bad colds. Grows in moist areas with rich soil in montane, subalpine, and alpine regions.
Warning: bulbs can cause burning sensation, too many can cause vomiting. Warning: do not confuse with poisonous members of the lily family.
Yellowcress, Rorippa palustris
Plants are edible raw. Tastes like peppery lettuce or radishes.
can be dried for storage. Plant is high in Vitamin C. Grows in muddly areas in plains, foothills and montane regions. Warning: never eat plants from sites with polluted water.

Flickr Creative Commons Images

Some images used in this set are licensed under the Creative Commons through Flickr.com.
Click to see the original works with their full license.