Wild Edibles of Alberta – You Can Eat that?
There are many wonderful wild, edible, plants available in the Province of Alberta. The first step is to get to know those plants. I grew up in the province of British Columbia and we would routinely find and eat wild asparagus, stinging nettle, lamb’s quarters, wild hazelnuts, wild rice, and wild mushrooms of all sorts. These, however, were not the only plants that we would eat. We would make wonderful teas from firewood and dandelion as well. They are the Wild Edibles of Alberta.
Out of interest and love of hiking and foraging around in Alberta I was surprised to find some of my favourite edibles right here in the province and I felt that I could help others with a similar interest by compiling a list of these plants. This list contains only the “basic” safe plants that I became familiar with as a child. These are easily identifiable, and none of them will have the appearance of poisonous plants. Most of the plants can be eaten raw but I would recommend cooking as some can be very tasty.
This plant has soft, green leaves that are approximately 3 to 15 cm long. The leaves and stems are hairy, and the tips come off when touched. This plant is similar in flavour to spinach mixed with cucumber when cooked, and is rich in vitamin A and C.
Lamb’s Quarter is often considered a weed but has many culinary and health uses. It is high in protein and should be cooked in a similar manner to spinach. It is also high in vitamin A, potassium, and calcium.
Dandelions are easily identifiable by their yellowish orange flower heads that are open in the daytime but closed at night. They can be used in a variety of foods, including being blanched like spinach or used to create coffee, wine or tea. It can treat bile and liver problems as well as inflammation and swollen lymph nodes.
Fireweed is a purple flowering plant that can be found all over the northern hemisphere. It can be used to treat pain and swelling, fevers, tumors, and wounds.
These scared the heck out of me as a kid and I would avoid them because the thorns looked quite scary but yes, they are an edible plant. This shrub with large leaves and woody stems is also known as Alaskan Ginseng due to its similar properties. The charcoal from the stalks can be used for protective face paints, and the flowers can be used to treat symptoms of diabetes and arthritis.
I never thought of any kind of clover as being a legume but sweet clover is actually considered a “fast growing legume” that can be found all over the world. It can be used a diuretic as well as to treat varicose veins and improve blood circulation.
Cattails are herbaceous perennial plants that grow on a single stem that bear a sausage like resemblance. They are rich in protein and can be processed into a flour that can be used to make an interesting and flavourful tortilla or bread.
Watercress is a green, leafy vegetables, and one of the oldest known of its type that has been consumed by humans. It is rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, riboflavin, and calcium. It can be used to make tasty salads and added to other vegetable dishes or sandwiches to add a slightly bitter, piquant flavour.
Shaggy mane is a gilled fungus that is edible when it is young. It has a mild taste and can be used in mushroom soup or risotto.
Puffballs are large round mushrooms that often don’t contain stems. They are relatively bland but can be added to soups and salads and seasoned to your
It is so important to learn about all of the things in nature that are edible because you just never know when this knowledge will come in handy.
For more information on Canadian Foraging check out our Canadian Forage & Grassland Association
Custom Bodies Fitness and Massage is looking to partner with an individual or a group who would be interested in blogging on the topic of wild edibles not only here in Alberta but in Canada. Contact us to discuss.