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The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants

Easy to Pick, Easy to Prepare

Lytton John Musselman and Harold J. Wiggins

Publication Year: 2013

A recent rise in the popularity of urban farming, farmers’ markets, and foraging from nature means more people are looking for information about plants. In The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants, botanists Lytton John Musselman and Harold J. Wiggins coach you on how to safely identify, gather, and prepare delicious dishes from readily available plants—and clearly indicate which ones to avoid. More than 200 color illustrations, accompanied by detailed descriptions, will help you recognize edible plants such as nettles, daylilies, panic grass, and tearthumbs. For decades, Musselman and Wiggins have taught courses on how to prepare local plants, and their field-to-table recipes require only a few easily found ingredients. They offer instructions for making garlic powder out of field garlic and turning acorns into flour for Rappahannock Acorn Cakes. To toast your new skill, they even include recipes for cordials. The Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants is a great gift for the beginning naturalist or the perfect addition to every serious forager’s library.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. vii-x

With any project that extends over many years, there are numerous people to acknowledge for their help and support. We thank Bill and Denise Micks, Mike Hicks, Jennifer Alexander, Rick and Beth Blanton, We are thankful for the support of our colleagues at Old Dominion University and the Army Corps of Engineers for their insight and helpful criticism. Among these are David Knepper, J. Paul Minkin, and Peter Schaf-...

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pp. 1-12

...about fifty books on edible plants covering most of North America are currently in print. Is another one needed? Many of these books empha-size the obvious food from plants, such as berries and nuts; some require considerable preparation and added ingredients when cooking. In some the recipes use main ingredients like sour cream or some other component that ...

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Deadly Harvest: Plants You Should Avoid

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pp. 13-20

...anyone who is a wild food forager needs to recognize the most seriously harmful plants they might encounter. Throughout much of the United States, this means Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) and its lesser-known evil cousins, Poison Oak (T. pubescens) and Poison Sumac (T. vernix); all of these cause dermatitis. We also include two of the most deadly plants to ...

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Nature’s Storehouse of Edible Plants

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pp. 21-28

...there are many examples of edible plants that the novice can easily iden-tify and collect by simply walking through forests and fields, paddling lakes, rivers, and streams, or perusing your backyard. Before going out into the field, water, or woods, learn as much as you can about plants you intend to find as food and their unique characteristics. If you have to eat something ...

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pp. 29-34

...few of our native plants provide suitable condiments. A condiment is something used to enhance the flavor of food. We usually think of spices and herbs in this context. A spice is usually derived from a fruit or seed, and an herb comes from leaves. While not precise, this is a helpful working definition. The few condiments we discuss would be, in a more technical ...

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pp. 35-40

...bay leaf, the common herb so frequently used in Mediterranean dishes, is a member of the laurel family (Lauraceae), which also includes such aromatic plants as Cinnamon, Sassafras, Camphor, and Swamp Bay. Swamp Bay (Persea palustris) and the closely related Red Bay (Persea borbo-nia) inhabit acid swamps in the southeastern United States. A simple way ...

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pp. 41-62

...greens are the simplest of all wild foods to harvest and cook. Because they are leaves, they are a good source of vitamins and fiber but provide little in the way of carbohydrates. And they are seasonal, which limits their utility. However, greens can be dried and stored in closed containers for use during the winter. Older literature refers to greens as potherbs, an accurate ...

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pp. 63-82

...serious wild food foraging requires the collection of starchy plants to provide the carbohydrates essential in our diet. Wild plant starches are the meat and potatoes for the wild food forager. For this reason some of the best-known edible wild plants have abundant starch and have been widely utilized. Some favorites are Groundnut and Arrowhead, and we also ...

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Grains and Plants Used Like Grains

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pp. 83-96

...we are a nation of grain eaters. Grain is the technical term for the one-seeded fruit of members of the grass family. Each day most of us eat wheat or corn in one form or another. Corn provides oil, starch, and a host of other products that make it the basis of our food security. Wheat and barley, on the other hand, are the staff of life in much of the rest of the ...

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pp. 97-110

...flowers may seem like an unusual source of food, yet such common foods as broccoli, cauliflower, and artichoke are flowers—though in the bud stage. Pollen, the male cells of the plant, is nutritious but is seldom available in quantities suitable for harvest. One of our most common wetland plants, Cattails, has been a source of pollen for food for millenia. The other flowers ...

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pp. 111-118

...obvious sources of sweets are the numerous native berries and other fruits in the flora of North America. Because most of these are so well known, we have highlighted two that are seldom included in discussions One of the best known and most widely used of all native sweeten-ers is maple syrup. We do not cover syrup production in this book. Those ...

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pp. 119-122

...a cordial is a sweetened alcoholic drink produced by infusion, that is, by soaking material in alcohol. Originally produced as a health tonic, cordials are now used as after-dinner drinks. The name derives from the Latin word for heart in reference to the putative effect of such drinks. We are not tout-ing the health benefits of our cordial but rather the great taste....

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pp. 123-132

...mushrooms are not plants; they are in the Kingdom Fungi but were traditionally included in the study of plants because they have plantlike characteristics. We include them in this book because any wild food enthu-siast will encounter mushrooms while foraging and also because there are several that are easy to identify. The features used to distinguish among ...

Index of Recipes

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pp. 133-134

E-ISBN-13: 9781421408729
E-ISBN-10: 1421408724
Print-ISBN-13: 9781421408712
Print-ISBN-10: 1421408716

Page Count: 144
Illustrations: 116 color photos
Publication Year: 2013