Harvesting Wild Greens

Learn about spring harvesting of waterleaf, nettles, miner's lettuce, watercress, wild lettuce, sow thistle and ferns.

| May/June 1977


Find out how to make Wild Wilted Salad using watercress salad greens, one of several edible wild plants.


A few years ago, the outdoor editor of our local (Kamiah, Idaho) daily newspaper approached me with a story idea. "Why don't you put together a complete meal — salad, main course, side dishes, dessert, everything — comprised entirely of wild plants ... and write it up for our next `outdoor recreation' supplement?"

Being a natural foods forager from way back, all I could think of as an answer was: "Sure!"

The editor's response: "OK. Have the story on my desk in four days."

Holy mackerel! What had I done? There I was in early May and many — if not most  — of the wild edibles I normally foraged (things like lamb's-quarters, green amaranth, purslane, mustards, and other frost-sensitive fare) weren't out yet! Even such hardy volunteer plants as the docks and sorrels weren't far enough along to eat.

But I had committed myself, so — accompanied by my sister, Nita — I took to the countryside fully expecting to find few — or no — wild vegetables worth eating (let alone writing about). Imagine our surprise, then, when we ran up against copious quantities of miner's lettuce, watercress, yellow monkey flower, spearmint, dog-tooth violet, wild hyacinth, plantain, salsify, burdock, and other delicious "free eats!" Even in early spring, we had learned, foraged fare was out in abundance ... and, as a result, I got my story.

From this experience I learned that it is possible to gather wild foods (whole sack-loads of them, in fact) even as far north as Idaho and as early as spring or late winter ... if you know which plants to look for.

mother earth news fair


Feb. 17-18, 2018
Belton, Texas

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, hands-on workshops, and great food!