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Seasonal Schedule of Edible Wild Plants in Southeastern Ohio

The following information lists the genera (where several species are used in the same way) or species of wild and naturalized vascular plants that can be foraged in southeastern Ohio (principally in Athens County and the surrounding region) for food products.

Rare species in the region, e.g., Zizania aquatica (wild rice), are not listed. Only those plants, and those parts of listed plants, are mentioned below that provide comparatively "edible" and palatable products (at least to some authors or their constituents); abhorrent or sickly products are excluded. Medicinal plants in the strict sense are not treated here unless particular preparations are also palatable condiments or confections, e.g., wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) tea with methyl salicylate, related to aspirin, and coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) drops used for millenia in Europe for colds but tasty as a lozenge, too. A few plants still widely used but recently reported to have carcinogenic or other adverse qualities in substantial quantities, e.g., Hemerocallis spp. (daylily) and Sassafras albidum (sassafras), are included but are indicated by an asterisk (*); these should be used sparingly and infrequently if at all. Finally, certain members of the Araceae, notably Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit) and Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage) are left off because of the 6-month drying time required to rid the corms of calcium oxalate and render them usable for food.

Guide to Plant Listings

Plants are listed alphabetically by family, genus and species. Where three or more species of a genus in the region have the same parts used in similar ways, these are lumped together under "spp.". Parts most commonly used are noted after the name. Scientific nomenclature follows Gleason and Cronquist’s "Manual of Vascular Plants", second edition (1991, New York Botanical Garden, New York); common names are based on ethnobotanical literature, state and regional floras and our experience in the area. The seasons during which each part is best harvested and utilized are indicated. For simplicity, the seasons are divided equally into three month-blocks: spring, March-May; summer, June-August; fall, September-November.

Plant | Parts | Seasons

Aceraceae

Acer spp. (maple) | sap | early spring

Acoraceae

Acorus calamus (calamus, sweet flag) | rhizome | spring, summer, fall

Alismataceae

Sagittaria spp. (arrowhead, wapatoo) | tubers | late fall

Amaranthaceae

Amaranthus spp. (amaranth, pigweed) | young shoot | spring

Amaranthus spp. (amaranth, pigweed) | seeds | summer

Anacardiaceae

Rhus spp. (sumac) | fruit [=berries] | summer

Annonaceae

Asimina triloba (pawpaw, custard apple) | fruit [="berries"] | fall

Apiaceae

Daucus carota (wild carrot, Queen Anne’s lace) | taproot | spring, summer, fall

Daucus carota (wild carrot, Queen Anne’s lace) | fruit [=schizocarp] | summer

Aristolochiaceae

Asarum spp. (wild ginger) | rhizome | spring, summer, fall

Asclepiadaceae

Asclepias syriaca [& other spp.?] (milkweed) | young shoots | spring

Asclepias syriaca [& other spp.?] (milkweed) | young  leaves | spring, summer

Asclepias syriaca [& other spp.?] (milkweed) | buds | summer

Asteraceae

Arctium spp. (burdock) | taproot | summer

Cichorium intybus (chicory) | young crowns | spring

Cichorium intybus (chicory) | taproot | spring, summer, fall

Helianthus annuus (sunflower) | fruits [=achenes] | summer

H. tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke) | tuber | late fall

Inula helenium (elecampane) | root | late fall

Lactuca canadensis, L. serriola [& other spp.?] (wild lettuce) | leaves/young shoots | early spring

Sonchus spp. (sow thistle) | young leaves | spring

Taraxacum spp. (dandelion) | young crowns | spring

Taraxacum spp. (dandelion) | taproot | spring, summer, fall

Taraxacum  spp. (dandelion) | flower [+head} | spring, summer, fall

Tragopogon   spp. (salsify, vegetable oyster) | taproot [first-year plants] | spring, summer, fall

Tragopogon  spp. (salsify, vegetable oyster) | young leaves | spring

Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot) | leaves | summer

Balsaminaceae

Impatiens capensis (jewelweed, touch-me-not) | young shoots | spring

Berberidaceae

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) | fruit [=berries] | summer

Podophyllum peltatum (May apple) | fruit [=berry] | summer

Betulaceae

Betula lenta (sweet birch) | sap | early spring

Betula lenta (sweet birch) | twigs | spring, summer, fall

Corylus  americana (American hazelnut) fruit [nuts] | fall

Brassicaceae

Arabis spp. (rock cress) | young leaves | early spring

Arabis spp. (rock cress) | buds | spring

Armoracia  rusticana (horse-radish) | rhizome | spring, summer, fall

Armoracia  rusticana (horse-radish) | leaves | early spring

Barbarea verna, B. vulgaris (wintercress) | leaves | early spring

Barbarea verna, B. vulgaris (wintercress) | buds | spring

Brassica nigra [& other spp.?] (mustard) | leaves | early spring

Brassica nigra [& other spp.?] (mustard) | buds | spring and summer

Brassica nigra [& other spp.?] (mustard) | seeds | summer

Capsella bursa pastoris (shepherd’s purse) | young leaves } | early spring

Dentaria spp. (crinkleroot, pepperroot) | rhizome | spring, summer, fall

Rorippa nasturtium aquaticum (water-cress) | leaves | spring, summer, fall

Rorippa nasturtium aquaticum (water-cress) | shoots | spring, summer, fall

Caprifoliaceae

Sambucus canadensis (common elder, elderberry) | flowers | summer

Sambucus canadensis (common elder, elderberry) | fruit [=berries] | summer, fall

Triosteum spp. (tinker’s weed, wild coffee, horse gentian) | fruit [=drupes] | fall

Viburnum spp. (black-haw, highbush cranberry, nannyberry or wild raisin) | Fruit [=drupes] | fall

Caryophyllaceae

Stellaria media (chickweed) | shoots | spring, summer, fall

Chenopodiaceae

Chenopodium spp. (lamb’s-quarters) | young shoots | spring, summer, fall

Chenopodium spp. (lamb’s-quarters) | seeds | summer

Cupressaceae

Juniperus virginiana (red-cedar) | shoots | spring, summer, fall

Cyperaceae

Cyperus esculentus (chufa, yellow nut-grass) | tubers | spring, summer, fall

Ebenaceae

Diospyros virginiana (persimmon) | fruit [=berries] | late fall

Diospyros virginiana (persimmon) | leaves | summer

Ericaceae

Gaultheria procumbens (wintergreen) | leaves | spring, summer, fall

Gaultheria procumbens (wintergreen) | fruit [=berries] | fall

Gaylussacia baccata (huckleberry) | berries | summer, fall

Vaccinium spp. (blue-, cranberry) | berries | summer, fall

Fabaceae

Apios americana (groundnut, Indian potato) | tubers | spring, summer, fall

Robinia pseudo-acacia (black locust) | flowers | summer

Trifolium pratense (clover) | flowers | spring, summer

Trifolium pratense (clover) | tops (flowers and shoots) | spring, summer

Wisteria spp. (wisteria) | flowers | summer

Fagaceae

Fagus grandifolia (American beech) | fruit [nuts]

Quercus spp. (oak) | fruit ["acorns"=nuts] } fall

Juglandaceae

Carya spp. (hickory) | fruit [=nuts] | fall

Juglans cinerea, J. nigra (butternut, black walnut, respectively) | fruit [=nuts] | fall

Lamiaceae

Hedeoma pulegioides (American pennyroyal | leaves | fall

Marrubium vulgare (horehound) | leaves | summer, fall

Mentha piperita, M. spicata (peppermint, spearmint, respectively) | leaves | summer, fall

Nepeta cataria (catnip) | leaves | summer, fall

Monarda spp. (bee- balm, wild bergamot, horsemint, Oswego tea) | leaves | summer, fall

Lauraceae

Lindera benzoin (spicebush) | twigs | spring, summer, fall

Lindera benzoin (spicebush) | fruit [=berries] | fall

Sassafras albidum (sassafras)* | root | spring, summer, fall

Liliaceae

Allium canadense, A. tricoccum (wild onion, wild leek or ramp, respectively) | leaves | spring

Allium canadense, A. tricoccum (wild onion, wild leek or ramp, respectively) | bulb | spring

Medeola virginiana (Indian cucumber) | rhizome | spring, summer, fall

Asparagus officinalis (asparagus) | young shoot | spring

Hemerocallis spp. (daylily)* | buds | summer

Malvaceae

Malva neglecta (common mallow) | fruit [=mericarps] | summer, fall

Moraceae

Morus alba, M. rubra (mulberry) | fruit [=aggregate "berries"] | summer

Onagraceae

Oenothera spp. (evening primrose) | roots | spring, summer, fall

Phytolaccaceae

Phytolacca americana (pokeberry) | young shoots | spring

Pinaceae

Pinus spp. (pine) | needles | spring, summer, fall

Plantaginaceae

Plantago spp. (plaintain) | young leaves | spring

Polygonaceae

Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed) | young shoots | spring

Rumex spp. (dock)` | young leaves | early spring

Portulaceae

Claytonia virginica (spring beauty) | "tuber" [=cor m] | spring

Portulaca oleracea (purslane) | shoots | spring, summer, fall

Portulaca oleracea (purslane) | seeds | summer, fall

Ranunculaceae

Caltha palustris (marsh marigold) | leaves | spring, summer, fall

Caltha palustris (marsh marigold) | buds | spring

Rhamnaceae

Ceanothus americanus (New Jersey tea) | leaves | summer

Rosaceae

Amelanchier spp. (Juneberry, service-berry, shadbush) | fruit [=pome] | summer

Crataegus spp. (hawthorn) | fruit ["haw"=pome] | fall

Fragaria vesca, F. virginiana (strawberry) | fruit [=aggregate "berries"] | summer

Prunus spp. (cherry, peach, plum) | fruit [=drupes] | summer

Pyrus [Amygdalus, Malus] spp. (apple, crabapple, pear) | fruit [=pomes] | fall

Rosa spp. (rose) | flowers [pink, fragrant best] | spring, summer

Rosa spp. (rose) | flowers [fruit ["hip"] | fall

Rubus spp. (black-, dew-, raspberry) | fruit [=aggregate "berries"] | summer

Rubus spp. (black-, dew-, raspberry) | leaves | spring

Rubiaceae

Galium aparine (bedstraw, cleavers) | shoots | spring

Saxifragaceae

Ribes spp. (currant, gooseberry) | fruit [=berries] | summer, fall

Smilacaceae

Smilax spp. (greenbrier) | young shoots | spring, summer

Solanaceae

Physalis spp. (ground cherry) | fruit [=berry] | fall

Tiliaceae

Tilia americana (American linden, basswood) | flowers | spring

Typhaceae

Typha spp. (cattail) | rhizome | early spring

Typha spp. (cattail) | young shoot | spring

Typha spp. (cattail) | young spike | spring, summer

Typha spp. (cattail) | pollen | summer

Ulmaceae

Celtis occidentalis (hackberry) | fruit [=drupe] | spring

Urticaceae

Urtica dioica (stinging nettle) | young shoot | spring

Violaceae

Viola spp. (violet) | young leaves | spring

Viola spp. (violet) | flowers [blue spp.] | spring

Vitaceae

Vitis spp. (grape) | leaves | summer, fall

Vitis spp. (grape) | fruit [=berry] | fall

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