Before I get started with the actual material, I want to express a few words of caution. Even though all the plants I am listing here are known to be edible, and I have sampled them all myself with no ill effects, I advise you to exercise caution as I did at first by sampling only small tastes to make sure my own body doesn't react or show an allergic response to a new food. I want to state as firmly as I can that you are never to so much as taste a plant that you don't know about, or have been taught by someone who does. Study all parts of a plant. Some parts may be edible, and other parts toxic. A plant may be edible in Spring, but toxic at all other times. Study, and come to know the plant intimately before ever eating it. I have included a standard universal edibility test to follow specifically to the letter when investigating a new plant that you want to integrate into your diet. It is a good idea to study plants and cross reference them with a number of sources. Be careful, and be sure of what you are dealing with.
Now that I have gotten all that out of the way, I invite you to check out the following plants I have been enjoying in my own neighbourhood in Lexington, Kentucky. Please feel free to email me at any time should you have questions or comments. A comments form can be found on the "contact" page of this site. Thanks, and enjoy.
How to Test Plants for Edibility
There are many plants throughout the world. Tasting or swallowing even a small portion of some can cause severe discomfort, extreme internal disorders and even death. Therefore, if you have the slightest doubt about a plant's edibility, apply the Universal Edibility Test before eating any portion of it.
Before testing a plant for edibility, make sure there are enough plants to make the testing worth your time and effort. Each part of a plant (roots, leaves, flowers and so on) requires more than 24 hours to test. Do not waste time testing a plant that is not relatively abundant in the area.
Remember, eating large portions of plant food on an empty stomach may cause diarrhea, nausea or cramps. Two good examples of this are such familiar foods as green apples and wild onions. Even after testing plant food and finding it safe, eat it in moderation. You can see from the steps and time involved in testing for edibility just how important it is to be able to identify edible plants.
To avoid potentially poisonous plants, stay away from any wild or unknown plants that have --
* Milky or discolored sap. * Beans, bulbs or seeds inside pods. * Bitter or soapy taste. * Spines, fine hairs or thorns. * Dill, carrot, parsnip or parsley-like foliage. * "Almond" scent in woody parts and leaves. * Grain heads with pink, purplish or black spurs. * Three-leafed growth pattern.
Using the above criteria as eliminators when choosing plants for the Universal Edibility Test will cause you to avoid some edible plants. More important, these criteria will often help you avoid plants that are potentially toxic to eat or touch.
THE UNIVERSAL EDIBILITY TEST:
1 - Test only one part of a potential food plant at a time. 2 - Separate the plant into its basic components — leaves, stems, roots, buds and flowers. 3 - Smell the food for strong or acid odors. Remember, smell alone does not indicate a plant is edible or inedible. 4 - Do not eat for eight hours before starting the test. 5 - During the eight hours you abstain from eating, test for contact poisoning by placing a piece of the plant part you are testing on the inside of your elbow or wrist. Usually 15 minutes is enough time to allow for a reaction. 6 - During the test period, take nothing by mouth except purified water and the plant part you are testing. 7 - Select a small portion of a single part and prepare it the way you plan to eat it. 8 - Before placing the prepared plant part in your mouth, touch a small portion (a pinch) to the outer surface of your lip to test for burning or itching. 9 - If after three minutes there is no reaction on your lip, place the plant part on your tongue, holding it there for 15 minutes. 10 - If there is no reaction, thoroughly chew a pinch and hold it in your mouth for 15 minutes. Do not swallow. 11 - If no burning, itching, numbing, stinging or other irritation occurs during the 15 minutes, swallow the food. 12 - Wait eight hours. If any ill effects occur during this period, induce vomiting and drink a lot of water. 13 - If no ill effects occur, eat 0.25 cup of the same plant part prepared the same way. Wait another eight hours. If no ill effects occur, the plant part as prepared is safe for eating. CAUTION: Test all parts of the plant for edibility, as some plants have both edible and inedible parts. Do not assume that a part that proved edible when cooked is also edible when raw. Test the part raw to ensure edibility before eating raw. The same part or plant may produce varying reactions in different individuals.