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Thread: What leaves are edible?

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    Question What leaves are edible?

    I'm not sure about a lot of leaves, but I know that oak leaves are edible. Anybody know anymore?


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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    There is a huge difference between edible and palatable. While oak leaves are not toxic you are welcome to eat my share of them.

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    Even though Dandelion greens are edible you can have mine as well!
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    around here we have a Cress plant that grows as a weed, dandelions, clover, Salal, cranberry and blueberry relatives, alpine strawberry in the hills.... you should find yourself a regional book for your area and go from there. If you are talking trees specifically, willow leaves are chewable to help with pain relief and you can make tea from basswood flowers although I haven't ever been bored enough to try.

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    Senior Member Celticwarrior's Avatar
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    Tree leaves will likely make you sick if you eat more than a few of them, especially ones like Oak, mainly because of the high Tannic Acid content in them. Just like eating acorns without boiling them in a couple changes of water to leech them out, if you eat enough of the leaves without removing some of the tannin, you will find yourself mighty unhappy for doing so. It is incredibly bitter.

    Most pine and spruce needles are edible or make good teas. They have a lot of vitamin c, but the taste is much like sucking on a christmas tree branch. Not all that great, but palatable if you have nothing else. Don't try this with cedar, hemlock, or other fern-type evergreens.
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I like both pine and spruce tea. The trouble with spruce is the needles are like...well...needles.

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    Grape leaves are ediable.
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    Many smaller plants have edible parts although the nutrition might be lacking. Daylily blooms, violet (AKA Pansy) blooms, Nasturtiums (maybe a good protein source if they are covered in aphids?)

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by survivelist View Post
    I'm not sure about a lot of leaves, but I know that oak leaves are edible. Anybody know anymore?
    Pretty general question....lots of kinds of oak out there.
    Need location, terrain, season......
    I would get a book for your area and start looking thins up that you can idenify, and learn the local trees, bushes, and plants.
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    a friend who is from liberia said that during their civil war when people couldnt get to the store for food. they began eating leaves, and there hands and feet swelled up. just a thought.

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    Human digestion isn't made to handle roughage like 'leaves'. While you may feel full, and sick later, you should really think more about nutrition. Think roots, edible stems, boiling thing into a stew. Anything that will feed the body rather than just fill you up.

    I was reading a John White (mid 1500s) account of the Algonquian Natives he encountered while in North Carolina. He described them having clay pots constantly cooking over a fire and when something was gathered it went in the pot - plants, animal, fish, whatever. And whenever anyone was hungry they just scooped from the pot. The natives ate other things as well but it made me wonder what such a constantly boiling concoction like that could possibly taste like. It obviously served a nutritional need though.

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    Another thought, leaves are seasonal, they won't be there in the winter time, best to bone up on hunting and fishing skills as well. Edible plants and leaves are okay for short term, but still can have side effects.

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    It wasn't just the native Americans. Settlers kept stock pots on the fire for days just adding to it as needed. As long as the temp is kept there is no concern about spoilage/bacteria. It's a lot of work preparing all meals from scratch and cleaning all utensils so keeping a meal available and adding to it was a simpler way to cook. Back in Illinois we used to have church chowders in which everything was thrown into a large pot and cooked down. Early on it was a lot of game meat then the health departments nixed that so it became chicken, beef, pork and lamb, sometimes all in the same pot. The consistency was little more than a light "pudding" since everything just falls apart after hours of cooking. The taste was wonderful with all the flavors blended together.

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    When I was a little kid, I use to eat clover leaves when I would play in the back yard. I dont remember ever getting sick from it, or having the screaming SHTF's. Have any of you ever eaten clover?

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    If memory serves me correctly Doesn't poison Oak grow in a vine that's on Oak trees?
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    "peas porriage, hot.....peas porriage cold, ...peas porriage in the pot...nine days old".....yeah pretty common.

    Leaves are not on my menu unless I know for sure what they are, in a location, where am/ or going, what time of year, how to prepare......not worth being sick and "surviving" hard enough if you are healthy.
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    Personally i wouldn't recommend eating any leaves off a tree, and poison oak likes to grow near oak trees in their shade and it can be really easy to confuse them with saplings. my advice with most wild greenery would be moderation some things are ok to eat in moderation but just about any plant will make you feel sick if it is what makes up your entire meal. I know that Manzanita berries are edible although they can leave a bit of a film in your mouth so its kind of an acquired taste. They can actually make a decent cider if you do it right, and the natives use to use the leaves to clean their teeth with. Another good one to keep in mind is pine nuts found in pine cones they can make a good snack. Also dandy lion greens are edible but can be somewhat bitter. although, if you eat the young dandy lion leaves they can actually be real tasty and kinda sweet.

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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    young basswood leaves are edible and palatable. Of course best in spring and early summer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by survivelist View Post
    I'm not sure about a lot of leaves, but I know that oak leaves are edible. Anybody know anymore?
    While you are at it, you might consider what trees have edible cambium "inner bark", that way you will have something for winter. As others have stated, I wouldn't make that my only source of food. There are lots of edible roots, berries, leaves, nuts, fruit, flowers, shoots etc. but you have to do your homework. It takes years so best to start right away.

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    I noticed that a goat we had and a llama at a camp where I was a counselor were crazy about maple leave, so I popped one. It was awful (bitter).

    There are a lot of wild versions of salad and pot greens in your lawns and along the highway. Frankly, I like dandelion. The wild lettuces are also edible as are docks, wood sorrel (I really like those as they taste like green apples). You haven't lived until you've cooked up a pot of wild mustard with sausage. Modern vegetable have had all the taste cultivated out of them.

    Something else that's been cultivated out is alkaloids. The first time I made a salad out of wild lettuce, a few minutes later, I mellowed out really nicely. Wild lettuce still has a mild tranquilizer in it.

    The tender shoots of greenbrier (brier or Blaspheme Vine, to some of you) are nice.

    Hmmmm......what else - oh yeah, wild onion and wild garlic. They sometimes have a sorta bitter taste according to where they're growing (and who's been peeing on them - yeah, it's a good idea to wash off the vegetation, especially the ones that grow low to the ground.)

    Sassafras is a nice chew but doesn't seem particularly digestible.

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