Part I - Getting Started!
Parents, we encourage you to complete this chapter with your children, to ensure safe identification of wild plants and enjoy the wonders of discovery together.
Before we begin...
This is a big and exciting journey! But before we begin, we need to go over our wild food foraging rule! At Greenwood....
We ONLY eat a wild plant picked if it has been positively identified AND we have permission from our parent.
Did you notice how Sir Malcolm got carried away chomping down on plants in his chickweed patch and almost ate honeysuckle leaves instead. Raw honeysuckle leaves aren't edible and have a very bitter taste, so he would have realized his mistake pretty soon if Jane hadn't stopped him. Some plants around your house are poisonous and can make you very, very sick if you eat them, so we always follow this rule and go through the following steps when learning new plants.
Sir Malcolm’s Steps for Identifying Wild Edibles:
Initial Identification - compare the plant to one in your field guide.
Careful Identification - go through all of the identifying characteristics in the book one-by-one and make sure every single one matches up!
Cross-Reference - check a couple more more field guides or reliable websites and make sure they match as well.
Find more of that same plant in different places to practice identifying them. This is how you will learn them well!
Find a look-a-like and make sure you can tell the difference between them.
* If you gather a lot of plants, it’s easier for a different plant to sneak in with the others. After your harvest, make sure to look through it all and ensure you only have the plants you’ve identified!
**Only harvest in clean, safe areas. Never harvest wild plants from a yard where chemicals are used in landscaping, or close to a road.
Write down in your journal our rule for safe harvesting as well as Sir Malcolm's identification steps.
Locate a field guide with edible plants in your area, or find a reliable website.
A good field guide that covers lots of bioregions is the Peterson's Guide to Edible Plants. For more in depth information, we really love Samuel Thayer's wild food books. The Secrets of the Forest books by Mark Warren are also wonderful. A favorite wild food website of ours is