Guest post bt Tom Brown
Few things are more satisfying than popping a juicy wild blackberry on a hot summer day. When you spot a thicket of berries growing, you know you hit the jackpot. If you know which plants you can eat, the experience is quite rewarding. However, if you are unfamiliar with which plants are edible you may end up sick. Although most cases of poisoning from foraging or mushroom hunting have minor outcomes there are still a few cases every year that result in death. Never eat something unless you are absolutely certain it is edible.
Guide books are a necessity if you plan to spend time foraging or mushroom hunting for edible specimens. For those just getting started, make sure you are absolutely certain before popping something into your mouth. If you have the opportunity to forage with someone with experience, use this as an opportunity to learn from them. Work together and use a guide book to be familiar with the identification process and what experienced foragers look for.
Become familiar with plant terminology and what subtle differences to look for among species. Plants are some of the hardest organisms to identify since they change so much throughout the year. The best time to forage and identify plants is when they are blooming. Flowers are often the most unique characteristic of a plant and are necessary for some species to get a correct identification. Without the flowers, some spices of plants become indistinguishable from one another or unidentifiable all together.
As you gain experience and confidence foraging, you can start to collect plants and mushrooms to add to your camping or hiking meals. Get creative and see where you can add wild plants to your camp dishes to make them more interesting. There are numerous recipes that include wild plants in the ingredients list.
Foraging for edible plants is a great skill to master and can be a rewarding experience once you learn your way around. To learn more check out Thrifty Outdoors Man guide: Foraging for free and eat clean seasonally – Hikers and Campers.