Home      Proper Identification
Proper plant identification is extremely important when you are learning about new edible plants and wild edible plants. There are some that are deadly. I'll say this first however, I have found far more edible and useful plants than I have poisonous or toxic. With a little bit of proper education and experience it is not hard to identify the edible and good plants.

One thing I found frustrating about the books on the topic of wild edibles is that the images were either hand drawn or limited to one time  period in the plant's life. I would read for example how wild prickly lettuce is a good edible when young and before it grows a big stock and then guess what image they showed me to identify it? The old plant with a big stock. 

How is that helpful? 

It was so frustrating for me when I was trying to find and identify plants, that the resources were so poor. This is what inspired me to create this site and it will forever be a work in progress but I will do my best to share what I have learned to help you if you are interested in learning about wild edibles.
 
Let's talk about the life of a plant. 

John Kallas and Samuel Thayer have done the best job of anybody as far as I am concerned when it comes to teaching about wild edibles. Their books go into the details that all the others left out. While they do not cover all of the plants we will find in our area, the details they give are extremely helpful and clear. One of the things they explain very well is that a plant looks different in every stage of its growth. 

This is what I needed when I was new to finding the plant. It is amazing how much easier it is when you understand some of these differences. Before I started learning about wild edibles all the little seedlings looked the same. Now I can identify many plants even when they are seedlings and that has been extremely beneficial. Here are some examples for you to understand the concept.

I have also noticed as my knowledge has grown that some plants have many parts that are edible so while I try to organize them into edible flowers, roots, greens, fruits and so forth, many of these plants offer all of these in one plant so you may see them noted in multiple top level categories.

Can you identify any of these plants?

The seedlings on the left were found under some leaves growing in the spring in a vacant lot. 
The plant in the middle is common in most of our yards and gardens.
The noxious weed at the far right with the little yellow flowers is also a weed that many may see often. That last is the type of picture I usually saw in the books telling me that I could eat the plant when it was younger than pictured.
 
 
All three of these images are different stages of life for the prickly leaf lettuce. The seedlings at the left are palatable when added to a spring salad or sandwich. The stage in the center might be palatable based on water, how fast it grew, how you prepare it and what kind of soil it grows in and the one on the right is not real palatable but offers some medicinal uses. Notice how different each looks? It bugs me to no end that a published book on edible plants would show me the inedible stage of the plant for identification. I hope I will not do this to you as I update my site.