On Friday June 22, 2018, I had the opportunity to attend a guided Wild Foraging program. This took place at Chinsegut Conservation Center, and was presented by Kristin Wood of Dade Battlefield Historic State Park. The purpose of the program was to educate the attendees in the wild edible plants native to Florida, and found in your backyard.
Along the hour and a half hike we encountered many plants I’ve seen in my own backyard that can be eaten, some of which we tried and turned out to be very tasty. The poor man’s pepper is a leafy green that truly has a very rich pepper taste. Need a potato substitute, then try the root of a stinging nettle, it’s great used in a soup. Do use caution when handling the stinging nettle, because it is called that for a reason. Did you know a pine cone is edible? Well the seeds are, just open a pinecone and remove the seeds. Pine nuts can be purchased in a local store but are usually more expensive than other nuts. They are very tasty, and can also be made into a oil. Why not grab some pine cones from your back yard and save the cash. Certain acorns can be rinsed well and eaten, or ground up and used as a gluten free alternative to flour.
Some of the other edible plants native to Florida are Spanish Needle, both the leaves and flower are edible. Pokeweed, Pawpaw, wild grape, you can eat the leaves. American Beauty Berry, and the Prickly Pear Cactus- just remove the thorns and you can eat it. Kristin displayed several books which can be found at the local library, bookstore, or online that can help you find edible plants.
After attending the wild foraging seminar, I discovered that many “weeds” in my yard are actually edible with numerous health benefits. Please be sure to do your own research before attempting to eat anything from the wild. Chinsegut Conservation Center and Dade Battlefield periodically offer Wild Foraging classes, be sure to check their websites or contact the parks for further information.
Dade Battlefield Historic State Park
Phone: (352) 793-4781
Chinsegut Nature Center
Phone: (352) 754-6722