Foraging for Your Food: 3 Edible Plants You Can Find in the Wild

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Earlier this month, an Alabama woman returned home safely after being lost in the woods for a month. Lisa Theris allegedly became disoriented when she ran into the woods at night and could not retrace her steps. In an interview with NBC News, Theris said she survived by eating berries and mushrooms and by drinking dirty water.

Theris’ story is an amazing one, and may have you wondering, “Could I do the same?” While we at Texas Hill Country hope you never find yourself lost and alone in the wilderness, there is certainly nothing wrong with educating yourself about the best methods of survival. Of course, a key component in making it through a situation similar to the one Theris found herself in is finding enough to eat. Dr. Mark Vorder Bruggen is a foraging expert from the Houston area. He has written several books including “Idiot’s Guide: Foraging” which was released in 2016. Additionally, he manages the website Foraging Texas under the pseudonym Merriwether the Adventurer as a means of sharing his vast knowledge of edible wild plants in Texas and the Southwest. Below are three of the plants Dr. Vorder Bruggen says can be eaten raw when found growing in the wild.

1. Agarita


Photo: Facebook/Amy’s Apothecary

According to Foraging Texas, Agarita can be found in abundance throughout the Hill Country. At the tail-end of winter, yellow blossoms will appear on the plant and red berries will take their place in spring. The berries can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of forms, however, be prepared for a slightly difficult harvest, as the leaves of the plant are not malleable and can be considered pointy. Merriwether also notes these plants typically grow amongst mesquite trees or other small tree species.

2. Amaranth


Photo: Facebook/Adaptive Seeds

Also a fairly common plant, the Amaranth is usually found in areas that are sunny and where the earth has been moved around. While it has many forms, a common characteristic of the plants are the “spikes of tiny, clustered flowers which are the same color as the rest of the plant.” Both the leaves and seeds of the plant can be consumed, and it is an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates, and the amino acid lysine.

3. Basswood/Linden


Photo: Facebook/Snaplant – the World of Plants

The leaves of this tree can be eaten raw, as can its buds and inner bark. Additionally, the tree produces nuts in the fall months, but Merriwether warns only the meat inside is edible, while the outside shell should be disposed of.

If you’re going to eat wild plants, it is important to educate yourself on how to properly prepare them. While few can be consumed in raw form, many require preparation before they are safe to ingest. If you are interested in learning more about edible wild plants in Texas, Dr. Vorder Bruggen will be teaming up with Texas Parks and Wildlife for a guided class called Foraging for Food. Two classes will be offered on Saturday, November 4. The first will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the second from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

While being lost in an unfamiliar area does not exactly sound like the epitome of a good time, educating yourself on what wild plants are safe for consumption could potentially help you make it home.