Wild Edible Plants Of Utah and The West

I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about wild edible plants over the past couple years and while it was tough in the beginning finding the identification and finding resources for the plants I was seeing it has been a thrill to learn how much there is available in the wild. I have to stay I am often stunned at the number of wild edibles available even in the Utah desert where I live. Not only are there a lot of wild edibles but many of them are quite tasty. With spring just around the corner I am thinking about it again and looking forward to some foraging and looking forward to a better diet. I’ll bet you didn’t think that eating wild edible greens could actually improve your diet!

That is one of the things I found as I began this journey. What most people don’t realize when it comes to wild edibles is that these plants we call weeds and wild greens and such were once cultivated. Many of my favorite wild plants were brought to the USA as a vegetable and some are still grown here as a vegetable. These wild vegetables are often far more nutritious for you than what you can find in the stores. One such example is the famed Lamb’s Quarter or Wild Spinach. It is known by many names but the truth is simply that the plant we all call Lamb’s Quarter is a Spinach brought to the US by early immigrants and it has been strong enough to propagate itself easily and so we now have it all across the country. It now grows “wild” even though it is not a native plant. this is quite often the case.

Spring brings one of my favorites which is a mustard plant. I love the blue mustard and I wish I could keep it growing year round but it simply does not like hot dry weather so here in Utah we have it abundantly in the early spring sometimes as early as February. It is a delicious radish flavored green with a mild spicy flavor. I like it on sandwiches and in salads and it even makes a great cooked green. It can be added to any recipe in place of spinach as can many greens. This is the plant that offers you a beautiful view when the little lavender flowers poke up. It will often cover entire fields coming up before farmers plant their crops. The blue mustard also has quite a pungent smell that some find distasteful. Personally it brings back memories for me of rolling green hills I played on as a child. I did not know what the smell was at that time and did not know why the soft green plant did not stick around all summer for me to roll in but now that I recognize the plant the smell brings nothing but joy to me.

Jacqueline M. Faulkner

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