Asparagus and other wild edibles

Well, sure signs of Spring are appearing.

My favorite veg is asparagus, which I grow in my garden. It does, however, grow wild. My first foraging book was, “Stalking the wild asparagus” by Euell Gibbons. Lots more than asparagus there. Tastes great raw, too. It’s easier to find in the fall when the plants have matured. They’ll be 4-6’ tall with feathery foliage turning a golden brown after a frost. Mark the spot and go back in the spring. You might find you have competition for these roadside delicacies. One guy told me to get the hell away from his asparagus growing next to the road near his home. Touchy, touchy, but I left.

These are fiddlehead ferns. Snap the tips off by pulling lightly upwards and boil slightly. Serve with a bit of butter and S & P if you like. Very good.

This is Marsh marigold and is a pot herb. Ok, call it a pan herb if you like, but people might look at you weird. This is boiled like spinach, however it is a bit bitter and may need to be boiled in 1 or 2 more pans of clean water. It’s OK, but not my favorite. The unopened buds can be pickled like capers. Haven’t tried that yet.

This is Service berry shrub and has dark blue berries that look like blue berries. They taste good right off the tree and make a great jam. You’ll have to fight the birds for these!

These are wild leeks, wild onions, ramps, etc. Strong flavor and I prefer them for cooking. They are good creamed. If you thought garlic tainted your breath, this is their granddaddy!
CAUTION! There are look alike plants that could be poisonous. The gold tests are,wild leeks have only 2 leaves and if it smells like an onion it’s ok. If it doesn’t smell like an onion, DO NOT eat it.
There’s a spot a mile up the river from me that has about a 2 acre patch. Couldn’t believe it when I finally found it.


Yummie pictures Pepe.
Making my mouth to water.

My favorite Euell Gibbons book was one of his last.
Where he helped his living in California, Daughter and her family debt recover from living “the modern lifestyle”.
He was severely disappointing that his helping them to live-better-on-just-what-is-around-you lessons did not stick long term with them.

You are making him smile down from sustainable’s heaven. Knowing some did listen, and learn. All any of us can hope for.
Steve Unruh


Hi Steve,
Yes, a bit sad. I never met the man but missed a close opportunity. I was doing some carpentry for man named Gibbons a few miles down the road from me. Turns out he was Euell’s son. Cudda knocked me over with a feather. After a bit of discussion, he told me Euell had been there several weeks prior and had given a show at the local high school. Darn! I also have his book, “Stalking the blue-eyed scallop”.


I sure wuldnt eat that marygold its poisonus :confused: for humans and lifestock.

That wild garlic sure is a great thing! Here its called bear garlic as its the first thing that bears eat after ther hibernation in order to clean the organism.

A nother great asparagus alternative are young hops, just as they breake the ground. Realy great eating!


Hi Kristijan,
I guess I’m lucky, since I’ve eaten it cooked a dozen or so times in my life without so much as a stomach ache… A little more research turned up, some say poisonous, some say poisonous unless cooked, some say entire plant is edible, but bitter if eaten raw. If there is any doubt in anyone’s mind, of course, don’t eat it. It is not a member of the marigold family.
Thanks for warning.
I have hops and will try the shoots this spring. Bear garlic is a new name to me.

I found this info on line.
Every part of this plant is strongly irritant and so it should be used with caution. The whole plant is anodyne, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant and rubefacient. It has been used to remove warts and is also used in the treatment of fits and anaemia. The root is antirheumatic, diaphoretic, emetic and expectorant. A decoction is used in the treatment of colds. A poultice of the boiled and mashed roots has been applied to sores. A tea made from the leaves is diuretic and laxative. All parts of the plant can irritate or blister the skin or mucous membranes.

I might as well add that rhubarb leaves contain oxalates which make the leaves poisonous, but a 150 pound man would have to eat 11 pounds of leaves to die from it. The stems contain trace amounts and no danger.



In Quebec we used to call it ail des bois or woods garlic. It is endangered there. In Ontario it is wild leek and very abundant.


Great post Pepe,
I went out foraging last week but a bit to early. I was looking for wild leaks, fiddleheads , morals and watercress. I found some watercress but still kinda thin It seemed the foraging was better for the tics than I.
The asparagus is finial starting to come in the garden, I ate a few sprigs along with some chives today. It’s really starting to green up around here but temps in the low 20’s for the nights over the weekend. Two weeks ago there was no frost forecasted for the whole month. I have lived here long enough to know better. Tomatoes and squash started to blossom yesterday but still not in the ground.

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A favorite in these parts is Poke salad.

We had a big mess of it last week.

It is poisonous too.

But you boil it and drain it two or three times, and that gets the poison out.

It is quite delicious.


FunnyI haven’t heard of poke in over 20yrs when I was in Tenn. for a friends wedding

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You know, never been one to go foraging in the woods except for mushrooms.
We drive back roads in late june and into july picking wild raspberries and Elderberries. I did find a nice big patch of gooseberries a couple yrs ago but when I went back last yr. someone had dug them up. They worked hard for that big bush, that was a huge hole that was left in its place!!!


I have a gooseberry plant (bought it). They are delicious raw and great as a jam or jelly, but the plant will stab you if you’re not careful. I have to spray mine with rotenone as there is a bug that likes them more than I do.
I have morels pop up every once in a while. Weird they don’t come up every year in the same spot.


when harvesting morels always carry them in a mesh bag like an onion sack so the spores can be deposited as you walk to grow more.


The little corn cob on cat tails is top on my list…


Wait, what?! That’s edible? How?


Hi Brian, not sure if your asking about the cat tail but it’s not the brown big fuzzy part that can blow around in the fall it’s much smaller but in that area. I think it pollinates the big part. It doesn’t last long and then it’s gone.


Aren’t the “roots” edible also?

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A friend came over and brought some fried daisy flowers last year. They were surprisingly tasty.

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Cattail new shoots are edible and the starches in the roots are edible as well. Ifound it was a hell of a lot of work harvesting and getting the starch out of the roots. I did not do much just 20 or so root tubers smashed soaked drained dried… kind of tasteless white flower. At the time I was curious about the survival potential of it. Verdict was I would loose a lot of weight. The flower is a new one to me…


Yes, I was asking about your cat tail thing, but forum doesn’t mark it as a “reply” if one is replying to the last post. Sorry, I could have been more clear.

It depends. Cattails are Nature’s water treatment plants (in more ways than one) and filter out toxic gunk/pollutants. In cleaner water, the roots are edible; but areas that are polluted (or have been within the last few decades), the root tubers will be full of whatever nasty crap they’ve been filtering.

In one of the survival books I read growing up, the author talked about getting sick from Cattail tubers. He had them tested and they tested with toxic levels of jet fuel chemicals. It turns out that a passenger jet had been forced to dump it’s fuel before an emergency landing over 20 years previously and had done so in the hills above the author’s pond.