Edible Plants for the Garden

More than 18 native plants are currently harvested in B.C. for personal use or commercial sale. Most grow at forest edges or in sunny openings. Here is a selection that you can grow in your native plant garden. Most can be propagated from seed collected when ripe and stem or root cuttings. Use a field guide to ensure correct growing conditions and identification before consuming. Latin names have been

provided in italics for easy referencing. Plant the same species in bunches and ground label any bulbs so you are certain what you are collecting to eat.

When collecting, remember to only remove about 10% of the leaves or plants to preserve more for future harvest, either in the same season or the following year. If it produces prolific growth or is aggressive, you can harvest more liberally.

If this is your first time tasting these, eat only a small portion. See how your system deals with each plant, and try a little more each time, allowing 4 days between. This allows your system to build up good bacteria that helps to digest new foods. If you have allergies, avoid plants that are in the same family as plants you are allergic to.


Add these to your favorite dishes to enhance the flavor or to reduce sugar.

Mint leaves Mentha arvensis

Yerba Buena leaves Satureja douglasii

Wild Ginger root Asarum caudatum

Licorice Fern root Polypodium glycyrrhiza

Nodding Onion Allium cernuum

Fruits & Berries

These can be eaten fresh, frozen, in tarts and pies, jams and jellies, in cordials and juices or made into fruit leather.

Salmonberry (seedy): Rubus spectabilis

Black Raspberry (seedy): Rubus leucodermis

Trailing Blackberry: Rubus ursinus

Black Gooseberry: Ribes lacustre

Red Hucklebery: Vaccinium parvifolium

Evergreen Huckleberry: Vaccinium ovatum

Saskatoon: Amelanchier alnifolia

Thimbleberry (seedy): Rubus parviflorus

Coastal Strawberry: Fragaria chiloensis

Rose hips (remove the hairy seeds first): Rosa Gymnocarpa R. nutkana

Pacific crabapple: Malnus fusca.

Greens & Potherbs

Eaten fresh, these add a wild flavor to a salad or cook them up like spinach, changing the water at least once. Harvest them young before flowers form. Fresh only.

Miner’s Lettuce Claytonia perfoliata

Siberian Miner’s Lettuce: Claytonia sibirica

Salmonberry peeled inner stalk celery: Rubus spectabilis

Both Fireweed-inner stalk, leaves, roots and flowers: Epilobium angustifolium

Stinging Nettle leaves and stems of plants under 25 cm tall: Urtica dioica.


Used fresh or thoroughly dried, a handful of leaves makes a nice cup of tea. Berries can also be used.

Douglas Fir: Pseudotsuga menziesii

Yerba Buena: Satureja douglasii

Fireweed: Epilobium angustifolium

Nootka & Baldhip Rose flowers and hips: Rosa Gymnocarpa R. nutkana

Thimbleberry: Rubus parviflorus.


Roast these when ripe for a crunchy treat.

Broadleaf, Douglas and Vine Maple seeds Acer Macrophyllum, A. glabrum, A. circinatum

Hazelnut Corylus cornuta var. californica.


Broadleaf Maple: Acer Macrophyllum tree syrup has a more intense flavor than Sugar Maples. Gary Backlund (www.island.net/~maple) offers courses at Malaspina Continuing Education on how to tap and process sap from 10 to 45 cm diameter trees. Also the less seedy berries can be made into a tasty syrup for ice cream and pancakes.

Donna Hill is a freelance writer and naturalist who offers native plant workshops and is a Naturescape BC facilitator. www.naturepark.com