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17 Wild, Edible plants in your BC Backyard

One of the great things to come from the pandemic is our renewed interest in making our own food. Due to safety concerns and food shortages, many of us tried our hand at baking bread and even starting our own gardens.


We’re lucky in BC to be surrounded by so many edible plants. The benefits of growing and foraging are numerous and include the following:

  • It is an excellent alternative to GMO and pesticide-laden mass-produced produce from the grocery store.

  • It supports local (if you can’t find these plants in nature, many local farmer's markets and vendors may have them).

  • Many act as fun, edible garnishes to liven up your meals

  • They add new, unique flavour profiles to your foods.


17 Wild, edible plants in BC


With those benefits in mind, here are some wild, edible BC plants you might find in your backyard (or that you can grow in your garden).


Bracken Fiddleheads

These young fronds of the fern plant are easy to find in BC forests. They taste like asparagus and green beans and are packed with potassium and antioxidants.


Brassicaceae (Mustard)

These yellow flowers are edible as cooked greens. If they’re an older plant, reduce bitterness by boiling in 2 changes of water before eating. You’ll find them in the open, disturbed areas of plains, foothills, and mountain regions of BC.


Cattails

Cattails are commonly spotted growing in shallow waters in BC, and many parts of the plant are edible, including the white inner part of the shoot, the pollen, green flower spikes, and roots.


Chocolate Lily

You might find the Chocolate Lily when hiking around the BC coastal trails. The coastal first peoples enjoy boiling and steaming the roots for eating or drying to preserve them for winter months.


Clover

You’ll likely spot these flowers growing in your grass. The above-ground portions are edible. They’re best cooked in salt water, so they don’t cause bloating. The sprouts taste the best, but the flowerheads make great garnishes on salads, but avoid any red varieties as they’re high in alkaloids.


Dandelion

Dandelions are another common plant many consider a weed in their garden. However, the flower, stems, and leaves are edible. Young leaves are the least bitter, and unopened flower buds can be eaten raw on salads or cooked. These flowers are an excellent source of calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and C.


Fireweed

Fireweed is found in the wild in previously burned landscapes. You can eat raw shoots, young leaves, and flowers, but we recommend cooking the stem pith and flower bud clusters. Don’t overeat, as it can have a laxative effect.


Maple Blossoms

Look in maple trees in early spring for these delicious blossoms. They taste sweet, like sugar peas, and they are high in vitamin C and can help reduce inflammation.


Morels

These wild mushrooms are recognized by their sponge-like holes and hollow black, white, or yellow caps. They’re commonly found in areas after a fire in early spring (black varieties) or late spring (white). Always cook before serving.


Pickleweed (Glasswort or Sea Asparagus)

If you live near the ocean, you’ll likely find these in saltwater marshes in high-tide areas. While you can eat them raw, they taste much better cooked. Keep sustainability in mind and only harvest the top half of the stems to allow for regrowing shoots. These shoots have a slightly salty taste and are best harvested before they begin to flower.


Red Huckleberries

Huckleberries are also very easy to find in BC. They’re recognized by their small red berries and will taste slightly sour when eaten right after picking. Use them for baked goods and jams as they’re filled with Vitamins A, B, and C.


Skunk Cabbage

Yeah, it stinks, and you can actually eat it (if you don’t mind a mild burning sensation in your mouth and tongue). Skunk Cabbage is better used for topical medicinal purposes. Skunk cabbage has healing properties for alleviating respiratory problems, soothing nervous system disorders, stopping external bleeding, curing headaches and toothaches, reducing swelling, and much more.


Stinging Nettle

While this is an edible plant, its name signifies caution. Be sure to cook these before eating, so the fine hairs fall off. If ingested, these hairs can cause irritation. The leaves taste a bit like spinach and can help treat urinary infections.


Sunflowers

This is an easy flower to grow in your garden, or challenge yourself to find one in the wild (open, disturbed areas are best). Many parts are edible, including seeds, shells, and kernels. You can also boil the crushed seeds in water to get sunflower oil.


Thimbleberries

These red berries look a bit like a raspberry but are more seedy and tart. If you find a good haul of thimbleberries, consider dehydrating them for use later in the season. Save a few leaves and use them for a tasty fresh tea that can help ease nausea.


Violet

Another common and pretty flower is the violet. Its purple colour adds intrigue to salads and as a garnish. No need to cook these edible flowers.


(Wild) Mint

Mint is another plant easy to grow and find in the wild. If growing at home, we recommend planting them in a pot as mint is invasive and will quickly spread if uncontained. Mint makes for great teas and minty flavours for mixed drinks.


Foraging tips

Always tell a friend where you’re going and when you’ll be back. If you go out in the wild foraging for wild edible plants in BC, here are a few things to bring.

  1. Trail map

  2. Steady hiking shoes

  3. First aid kit

  4. Plant ID book

  5. Small knife to dig up plants

  6. Containers or bags to transport your foraging finds


If you’re new to foraging, bring an experienced forager to help identify the safe varieties of edible plants. In the meantime, we can help you design a garden full of these and other edible plants. Contact us to learn more about edible landscaping today.


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