Tag Archives: wild edible plants Texas

Sow Thistle

(Sonchus oleraceus)

Come findĀ  out how to identify, harvest and eat sow thistles and other wild edibles at my upcoming plant walk on Saturday, February 25th! See the classes page for registration details.

Prickly Pear Flowers

They’re some of the most beautiful wild edible flowers available this time of year. Pluck off the petals and eat them raw in salads, on sandwiches or anywhere else you’d like a colorful, crunchy, nutty nibble.

Wood Sorrel

Be on the lookout for wood sorrel (Oxalis spp.) emerging on the edges of your garden, in the woods, along streams and especially in sidewalk cracks. (Though be weary of eating anything growing out of the sidewalk!) All the above ground parts of this plant are edible and make a wonderful addition to salads, sandwiches or soups. Some species even have edible underground tubers! The heart-shaped leaflets are easy to see and the taste is distinctly sour-tangy-lemony-sweet.

Farkleberry Forest

 

How does that saying go – You’ll find what you’re looking for when you least expect it? Or stop looking and you’ll find it…? Well, the hike we took on our land near Smithville was intended to be just that – a hike. But we stumbled upon a grove of loaded farkleberry trees and snacked until our bellies were full. I often talk about how cool it would be to walk around the forest all day eating wild berries – well, that’s exactly what we did!

Joe Henry finds some lower limbs

The berries were undiscovered by birds and still hanging from the tree! They were slightly dried with a subtle sweetness. The farkleberry or sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum) is related to blueberries and is similar in sweetness and texture though the berries are smaller than cultivated blueberries. The small understory tree or shrub grows east of Austin in the lost pines and in east Texas.

Garner finds even lower limbs

Handful of Farkleberries

Henbit

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)

Eat the stems, leaves and flowers raw or cooked

Henbit growing in my garlic patch

Acorns

Burr Oak Acorn on Nutcracker

There are thousands of wild edible plants that grow in Texas and the folks over at Useful Wild Plants of Texas Inc. are working hard to document them all in their multi-volume, groundbreaking work titledĀ  Useful Wild Plants of Texas, the Southeastern and Southwestern United States, the Southern Plains, and Northern Mexico. The focus of my much-smaller book is simply on the wild edible plants of Texas that are:

  • easy to find;
  • abundant and not endangered;
  • tasty;
  • useable in everyday cooking;
  • relatively easy to identify (and therefore difficult to mistaken for a toxic plant);
  • found in urban and rural areas; and
  • present in at least half of the state.

Acorns definitely make the cut. However, making them tasty does require a bit of work. Here’s a quick rundown on how to process them:

1. Shell them and discard the rotten ones

Burr Oak Acorn – 1. Shelled & 2. With Cap

2. Boil or soak them in hot water to leach out tannins. The quickest method is to boil the acorns, changing the water every 15 minutes or so, for a few hours or until they taste less bitter.

Acorns boiling on stove – the yellowish-brown water is a good indication that it’s time to change the water

3. Once leached, the acorns should taste sweeter (though they might still have a slight hint of bitterness) and can be eaten or dried in an oven and then roasted, stored or ground into acorn meal for cooking.

After boiling, the acorns will turn brown

For a slightly longer article on processing acorns, check out my Edible Austin column from last winter at this link.

Wild Persimmons

Watch out for Diospyros virginiana this time of year! These persimmons are gorgeous and perfect for your holiday baking or your Thanksgiving table. I found this American persimmon (also commonly known as eastern persimmon or common persimmon) near the University of Texas campus in Austin. Over the next month or so, you might notice the orange fruit clinging to the branches of this medium-sized tree. Here in Austin, these trees are shedding their beautifully colored leaves for the Fall. Wild persimmons can be used in cooking or eaten raw but make sure they’re squishy-ripe when you eat them since unripe persimmons are very astringent.

Persimmon Leaves changing colors

Though not a great shot, here’s the tree I found

American persimmons in the canopy