Wild Edible Plants of BC

Oxalis oregana (Shamrocks)

Sweet shades.

Sweet shades.

Now, let me introduce Oxalis oregana. As a species of the wood sorrel family, it goes by many names; Redwood sorrel, shamrocks, or just sorrel! Its got a definite tangy taste, like lemon, and is a great addition to salads or stir fries, or any other dish you are cooking up. Munching on a bit will give you a boost of vitamin C!

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Native to moist Douglas-fir and Coast Redwood forests, Oxalis oregana has long been collected by coastal First Nation tribes from South Western B.C, down to Northern California. The Cowlitz tribe of Northern Washington state harvests this species to make a poultice for sore eyes and as a remedy for a digestive tonic. The sour taste of the plant comes from the compound oxalic acid, which is also found in spinach. Steaming or boiling the plant will reduce the amount of oxalic acid, which can disrupt nutrient absorption (please don't eat too much RAW sorrel, or raw spinach for that matter!). 

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So, if you are frolicking in the Redwoods this summer, or even taking a stroll in your Pacific Northwestern back yard, impress someone and point out this common ground cover. They are easy to identify as they have three heart shaped leaves with a burgundy or pink underside. You will see them during most of the year. From spring to summer, look for small white flowers stretching a couple centimeters above the green foliage. Maybe even stay and watch them a few hours to observe how they bend downwards in direct sunlight and stretch again when the shade returns! Have a "Double Rainbow!" experience! Thanks guys, and stay tuned for the delicious Rubis ursinus otherwise known as the trailing blackberry!

Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion) by Jade Bisson

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Its SPRING! Well, not yet. But after a long winter of eating pine cones and cattail roots, it is a nice treat when you can finally eat something green. Now, the best motto for this edible is 'if you can't beat 'em, eat 'em'. HA! That is exactly what we'll do. I can't say enough about these plants. I love them. I once thought of getting a tattoo of it on my leg or something. Maybe not. Last time I had this idea, I almost got a Canadian flag tattooed on my derrière.

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Uhhh, anyway......Taraxacum officinale! The Common Dandelion. Tidbit: From the old French words Dent-de-lion, which means Lion's tooth. Appropriate because of its long, lance-shaped leaves. And the color. Lion's teeth are green because they can't hold tooth brushes with their paws, right? Riiiiiggggghhhhhtttttt. Lets get serious! I hope you have all seen a Dandelion. The are ubiquitous alright! However, the best place to harvest them is in the wild. And the best time to harvest them is in the spring or fall when they are young and not flowering. The flowers make the leaves much more bitter. Look for rich soils and moist, shady conditions to get the best results. Definitely not on the sidewalks or the grass in front of Tim Horton's. Many-a-gallon of Round-Up and other deadly chemicals have been put in to the earth trying to eradicate these poor things. You will get sick. That is why spreading the word about their medicinal, nutritional and delicious properties is very important.

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Spring is a wonderful time of year to collect because the greens are so fresh and tender, perfect for a camp salad, in a chip sandwich, steamed or raw-dawg. And! There are no poisonous look-a-likes, so you're set. There is a list of nutritional values and medicinal properties of the dandelion. They are the most nutritious green you can have. They have more beta-carotene than carrots, and the iron and calcium content is phenomenally greater than spinach!

Medicinally, it stimulates the liver and gallbladder, aids in digestion by promoting the proper levels of hydrochloric acid in your stomach and reduces inflammation in the bile ducts to help get rid of gall stones (an increasing disorder among 25-35 year olds, look out!). You can also do many things with the flowers (such as wine)  and the roots (dandelion coffee, or hippie coffee, I love that stuff!). Amazing! Have I sold you on these yet? Are you going to go pick some right now for dinner? Ok, good! DANDELION RESPECT Y'ALL! 'Til next time.......