Most wild plants taste bitter compared to their cultivated counterparts. That's because domesticated plants have been bred to taste sweeter and, well, better, than their predecessors. But sweeter foods come at a cost -- bitter, wild plants tend to have more nutrients than domesticated foods.
But that doesn't mean you can't have it all! There are some delicious and nutritious wild plants out there, and the absolute best is wood sorrel.
Oxalis oregana is found in moist, temperate forests along the west coast of North America. It has three heart-shaped leaves, and many people mistake it for a clover or shamrock. Wood sorrel grows in mats along the forest floor, as a bright, delicate ground-cover. It blooms in late spring and remains bountiful throughout the summer months. Some of the best wood sorrel harvests can be found along the coast, where the fog meets the forest. When I vi
sited the redwoods in northern California, I was almost as impressed with the wood sorrel as I was with the trees.
And why? Because wood sorrel tastes so good! To me, it tastes like sour green apples. Bright, fresh, clean, and not at all bitter. I can't tell you how enjoyable it is to be hiking along, only to discover a patch of wood sorrel. You kneel down, break off a few leaves, and munch on them right there, as though you're a deer, or an elk, or some older version of a human -- a forager, a hunter-gatherer; a part of the forest.
Wood sorrel is a great plant for beginners. Out here on the west coast, nothing really looks like it except clovers, and those are edible, too. So, as long as the wood sorrel comes from a clean place, free from pollution (so, you know, not from the side of the road or anything), then forage away!