Another plant that is found in the Pacific Northwest is clover. This plant can be eaten in a variety of ways. Here is a great picture of clover in bloom.
All above-ground parts can be eaten raw. It is best when cooked or dipped in saltwater to counteract bloating. The flowerheads can eaten raw, dried or cooked. They can also be dried and ground into flour. The seeds can be processed in the same manner. The sprouts actually have the best taste, but even the creeping stems and roots can be cooked.
Clover grows in all sorts of terrain, but look in disturbed soil areas. The four varieties that grow here are the red, alsike, white and springbank clovers. Each one is edible, although red clover should be avoided in fall due to alkaloids.
Just be aware that it can be difficult to digest and can cause bloating.
Today I decided that a great edible plant to cover would be the camas. The two varieties that grow here in the PNW are the Great Camas and Common Camas. Considering that fact that I live near the town of Camas, it actually made me happy to cover it here.
Camas around here have a blue bulb that is edible. Be careful because it is actually very similar to the Death Camases that are poisonous. The bad ones have white flowers where the edible ones have blue. They actually grow in similar areas so it would be easy to confuse the two.
The best tasting preparation for the blue camas varieties is to roast or boil the bulb slowly and then dry it. You can find the blue camas in foothill regions or on moist plains.
If you travel around the foothills of Western Washington much at all it is very common to run across the blue camas. From what I have been told the best time to harvest this plant is in the fall once the flowers have withered. The bulbs taste very similar to a sweet potato. From what I understand the bulbs can also be dried and pounded into a flour for baking.
Next time you are out in the bush here in the PNW and see some of these guys, harvest a few bulbs and try them out.
In keeping with my edible plant posts, I am including the bedstraw. This plant is actually quite prevalent around here. I see it a lot while up in the hills.
The stems, leaves and flowers can all be eaten raw. If you eat a lot it can and will act as a laxative, so be careful. It is a good source of vitamin C, however.
There are a few varieties to include cleavers, Northern bedstraw and sweet-scented bedstraw. You can find it and all of the various varieties alongside low growing vegetation and disturbed soil sights. I see it a lot around relatively fresh clear cuts before all the new production is planted.
This plant is best when cooked, by the way. It will have little to no taste if you get a young plant. Older plants are a bit nasty tasting and you will think you are eating something out of a bale.
Keep your eyes peeled for bedstraw and give it a try!
In continuing my ongoing foraging and edible plant series, I have picked the bitterroot as the next installment.
Bitterroot is an edible plant when cooked. It does, obvious through reading the name, have a bitter taste although it is best when gathered just before the flower blooms.
To prepare it, remove the dark outer layer and the orange-red core of the root. You can either dry them for later consumption or you can cook it immediately. If you dry it and then reconstitute it, the root will grow to about 5 times the previous size. It also will have a jelly like consistency and a bitter taste.
You will find bitterroot in dry, open grassy areas in the foothills or mountain regions.
This plant is also the state flower of Montana and has shares a name with the Bitterroot Mountains there.
Here is yet another addition to my edible plants posts. Chicory is a flowering plant that has several edible uses.
This is a good picture of what chicory looks like. If you look closely at the flower petals you can see that their shape is quite distinctive.
The plant itself grows on long stems with multiple flowers blooming off that stem.
The leaves can actually be eaten raw no matter how old the plant is and younger plant roots can also be eaten raw. Older plants are best cooked with several changes of water while cooking. The roots can be split, dried and roasted to make a coffee substitute.
You will find chicory in disturbed ground anywhere from plants to foothills and even in higher elevation meadows.
One thing to note is that prolonged use of chicory may damage your retinas and cause sluggish digestion. Use it in moderation, but just know that chicory coffee is actually quite good.