Chestnut Herbal School

Wild Foods

The Ten Best Books on Foraging Wild Foods and Herbs

In the spirit of cold-season stockpiles and cozy reading nooks everywhere, we’ve gathered a list of our most cherished books on wild food and herb foraging. Plenty of fantastic field guides and wild food books didn’t make it into this post. We don’t receive any compensation for promoting the books in our list—they are simply our personal favorites. We’ve included links to purchase directly from the author, when applicable, but you can find almost all of these books online or order them through your local bookstore. Note that some of these books cover medicinal and edible uses, whereas some cover only wild foods.

Foraging for Wild Edibles and Herbs: Sustainable and Safe Gathering Practices

We herbalists have a unique take on the commonest of herbs: instead of dismissing them as mundane or maddening, we choose to embrace wily botanicals with enchantment and enterprise. These medicinal and edible weeds—vulgar villains to most—are the herbalists’ beloveds. This alchemical perspective, transforming the unplanned and uninvited into a veritable treasure, is a handy approach in life that needn’t be limited to weeds.

Violet’s Edible and Medicinal Uses

Violets are welcome “weeds” in my garden. In fact, the common blue violet—my particular brand of violet garden guest—is native to these parts, which is more than I can say for myself. The common blue violet (Viola sororia, Violaceae) is native to most of central and eastern North America. It is a common sight in lawns, gardens, sidewalk cracks and along trailsides. The common blue violet is typically considered a “weed” because of its relative ease in adapting to human disturbance, but it pushes the definition of weed because it has been on this continent for a very long time. The leaves and flowers of the common blue violet, along with many other species, are edible and medicinal. The “confederate violet” is an escaped cultivar (cultivated variety) of Viola sororia—it has white flowers with blue streaks and is a common inhabitant of lawns in the southeastern United States.

Passionflower – Ecology, Cultivation, Botany, and Medicinal and Edible Uses

Passionflower is ecologically intriguing, drop-dead gorgeous, and an incredibly useful herbal medicine and wild edible. So I introduce this passionflower materia medica with some ecological, botanical, and cultivation snippets specific to this amazingly charismatic native vine, and hope that you wont skip this juiciness for the medicinal information.

Cherry Chipotle Nopales Salsa and the Medicine of Prickly Pear

Cherry Chipotle Nopales Salsa and the Medicine of Prickly PearWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Cherry Calendula Nopales Salsa Salsa ingredients Ingredients: 2 medium tomatoes 2 medium sized nopales (cactus pads) * ½ sweet onion 1 cup black cherries ⅛ teaspoon sea salt 1⁄10 teaspoon chipotle powder 2 limes ¼ of a small bunch of cilantro [...]

Daylily greens garlic butter saute

Daylily Greens Garlic Butter SauteWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Daylily greens Lime-green succulent spears of winter’s released slumber, daylily greens are a relished early spring wild green. Daylily’s pleasant mild flavor is excellent paired with the more pungent creasy greens or wild turnip. To prolong the season, cut the greens right at the ground, [...]

Cold Season Wild Greens and Pecan Feta Wild Greens Pesto

Cold Season Wild Greens and Pecan Feta Wild Greens PestoWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Creasy greens Creasy greens (Barbarea verna, Brassicaceae), also known as wintercress, is a common weed in the Southeast and the pacific Northwest. Its close relative, Barbarea vulgaris, has a more widespread distribution, occurring throughout most of temperate North America. Here in the southern [...]

Chestnut Harvest

Chestnut HarvestWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Chinese chestnuts freshly picked and washed - Chinese chestnuts (Castanea mollissima, Fagaceae) are a common yard tree in the southern Appalachians, and can easily be found this time of year, with their spiny burrs and nuts falling from the trees. - - The Chinese Chestnut is not affected [...]

Partridge Berry

Partridge BerryWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Mitchella repens in fruit; notice the two "eyes", which are the evidence of the two flowers sharing an ovary to form one fruit. - Partridge berry is an evergreen trailing vine which stays close to the ground as it weaves its way over the roots of hemlocks and [...]