Wild foodssuch as herbs, greens, Flowers, fruits, berries, roots, nuts, seeds, and mushrooms abound in backyards and local parks throughout the country. Harvest a small fraction of these plants where they're highly abundant, and you'll come home with tastier, more healthful produce than you can buy anywhere, and without spending a cent. Also, most are renewable resources, so foraging for these foods and herbs will strengthen your ties to the earth and make you a better, more 'grounded' environmentalist.
Many wild foods are easy to recognize, an essential requirement before you eat any wild plants since some species are poisonous. One of the best ways to start is by harvesting brambles, plants in the genus, Rubus, commonly known blackberries and raspberries. Brambles are flavorful and nutritious, serving as excellent sources of potassium, manganese, and vitamin C.
Brambles are a large group of common, widespread species that grows in thickets, fields, and partially shaded areas in the woods or along the woodlands' edges throughout North America. Brambles have arching, woody stems called canes. Their canes bear only leaves the first year. Then, they yield leaves and flowers, followed by fruit, during their second year. After this, the canes die to the ground, but the roots live on, allowing the cycle to repeat.
Most bramble species are thorny. The toothed (serrated) leaves are usually divided into three to seven segments originating from one point, like the fingers from the palm of a hand. Clusters of small, five-petaled, short-stalked, radially symmetrical flowers, usually white, attract insect pollinators in the spring. These blossoms are followed by ovoid aggregate fruits, connected clusters of tiny fruits each containing one seed, that ripen from the middle to the end of summer.
Raspberry and blackberry plants have distinctive characteristics that may help you tell them apart, even when their fruit isn't ripe. For example, raspberry species have cylindrical branches, while blackberry branches feature flat surfaces or planes. When the fruit ripens during the summer, raspberries may be red or black, while blackberry species are always black. Also, the receptacle, the enlarged part at the end of the stalk that serves as the berry's base, behaves differently when ripe fruit is picked. The receptacles for all raspberry species remain attached to the stalk when you pick them. If you see a plant with empty receptacles, you can be sure that it yields raspberries. In contrast, the receptacle comes off with the fruit when you pick blackberries. The ends of the stalks will be completely bare.