Wild Plants Used for Medicine and Food

Learning wild plants used for medicine, food, and tools is also known as the study of ethnobotany (how people utilize plants). Edible and medicinal plants can provide healthy alternatives to highly processed foods and pharmaceuticals, bringing greater health into our lives.

To effectively use wild plants, one must learn basic plant identification skills, especially for poisonous plants, as well as proper collection and preparation methods.

This section of the online library provides articles on wild plants used for medicine, food, and utilitarian purposes. Articles often include references to excellent books, resources, and classes. We hope you enjoy these resources that can help you discover ways to bring wild plants into your life.

You can peruse the articles below and/or sign up to the Alderleaf eNewsletter to get updates on new articles.


Information and Articles on Wild Plants Used for Medicine and Food:

Wild Edible Plants: Benefits, Hazards, and Major Groups
We are surrounded by wild plants used for medicine and food everyday. Here are some important consideration for getting started with wild edibles... (read more)

Coniferous Forest Plants in the Pacific Northwest
Coniferous forest plants are a unique and beautiful part of our world’s biodiversity. They provide food, medicine, wildlife habitat, and materials for tools... (read more)

Plants That Repel Mosquitoes
There are a variety of both wild and cultivated plants that repel mosquitoes. Almost anywhere you go, it is reasonable to find several plant species that you can use to ward off these pesky critters. (read more)

Pacific Bleeding Heart Plants
Pacific bleeding heart plants are found throughout the moist lowland coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest. It is a delicate, low-growing beauty, also known as the western bleeding heart. (read more)

Red Huckleberry Plants: A Valuable Northwest Native
Red huckleberry plants are abundant in the northwest. These delicate translucent berries have been a source of food for generations of Northwest natives, animals and people alike. (read more)

Medicinal Uses of Elderberry Plants
Blue and red elderberry plants have been used for generations by the native people of the Pacific Northwest as both powerful medicine and vitamin-packed food supplements. (read more)

Wild Strawberry Plants: The Sweetest Little Gift of the Forest
Though smaller than the cultivated garden varieties, their flavor and sweetness is unmatched. Wild strawberries are rich in vitamins A and C, as well as high in iron, potassium and calcium. (read more)

Cottonwood Salve, Part 1: Jan 2008 issue of the Alderleaf eNewsletter
Early February is often the best time in the Pacific Northwest to collect sap-filled buds of cottonwood trees for making medicine. The sweet-smelling sticky sap, also known as... (read more)

Cottonwood Salve, Part 2: Feb 2008 issue of the Alderleaf eNewsletter
Now that you have created cottonwood oil, you can use the following recipe to create your very own medicinal salve. The advantages of a salve is that the medicine is turned into an ointment... (read more)

Five Temperate Rainforest Plants to Know in the Pacific Northwest
Temperate rainforest plants used for medicine, food, or made into tools. The following wild plants are some of the most useful species in the Pacific Northwest. (read more)

List of Medicinal Plants in the Temperate Rainforest
A thorough listing of wild plants used for medicine found on the west side of the Cascade Mountains and nearby habitats of the Pacific Northwest. (read more)

Identifying Wild Mushrooms
There is nothing quite like the feeling of coming upon a strange and wonderful mushroom on a walk or wander! For many of us the next step is mushroom identification... (read more)

Medicinal Herb Gardening Using Permaculture Techniques
Medicinal herb gardening is a wonderful way to begin incorporating permaculture into your life. Growing plants used for medicine allows you experiment with small-scale sustainable gardening... (read more)

List of Deer Resistant Plants
When working with nature in gardening or landscaping it is often helpful to know which plants to consider when deer are a potential concern. Deer can eat a variety... (read more)

Edible Weeds: A Different Perspective
Everywhere you walk, you are probably surrounded by wild edible weeds. These plants likely have among them some great edible as well as medicinal species. It is truly amazing... (read more)

Blackberry Plants : One of the Tastiest Wild Fruits
One of the tastiest of all wild fruits grows on the vines of blackberry plants. It is a well-known and well loved plant found throughout the United States. Humans have... (read more)

Fiddlehead Ferns
Of all the wild edible plants, fiddlehead ferns are some of the most unique and flavorful. Fiddleheads are the unfurled new leaves of a fern. They vary in size, shape and palatability from... (read more)

Edible Berries
The most delicious treats to be found foraging in the wild, edible berries are a delight to find and to eat! There is a wealth of wild edible berries throughout North America, and a great number of them grow... (read more).

Edible Wild Mushrooms
Do you want to learn how to find and identify edible wild mushrooms? Learning about edible wild mushrooms can seem like an overwhelming process, but don’t get discouraged... (read more).

Poisonous Mushrooms
Some poisonous mushrooms can kill you! It is essential to learn to identify the poisonous mushrooms properly and avoid them carefully. The good news is that... (read more)

Types of Evergreen Trees
How can you tell the different types of evergreen trees apart and which ones are your best allies in a survival situation? Where are they found and what do they look like... (read more)

Tree Identification
Do you need help with tree identification? Tree identification is most easily done if you look at the parts of a tree in front of you, and using them, look up the tree in a ... (read more)

Tincture Recipes: Making Home Remedies
Looking for some great tincture recipes to help you heal and stay healthy? For starters, tincture is typically an alcoholic extract of plants used for medicine... (read more).

Plant Identification: A Practical Approach
Plant identification in the field can be a challenge. Learn about a simple, straightforward system for identifying plants used at many of Alderleaf's courses... (read more)

Herbal Cold Remedy from Wild Plants
Learn how to make your own herbal cold remedy from wild harvested local plants. Cedar fronds combined with roots or inner bark of the Oregon grape make a powerful herbal cold remedy... (read more)

Floating Pond Plants: For Habitat, Food and Beauty
Learn what plants to bring to your ponds for food, beauty and wildlife habitat. Unlike emergent pond plants the floating pond plants, serve a completely different and yet necessary role in your pond...(read more)

Types of Mushrooms: For Medicine and Permaculture
Mushrooms are a rich source of both foods and medicines. Read about what mushrooms you can use as medicine and the enhance your garden or other permaculture projects...(read more)

Water Hemlock: A Deadly Poisonous Plant
When you begin learning about wild plants, a great place to start is with the most dangerous species found in your area. Learn to recognizes and how to avoid this highly toxic member of the Carrot family... (read more)

Antifungal Herbs: Healing Allies
A variety of truly wonderful antifungal herbs are used by herbalists to help treat different ailments...(read more)

How to Grow Blueberries
Learning how to grow blueberries is simple and they can provide a unique addition to our diet... (read more)

Herbs for Allergies: Common Allies
Utilizing herbs for allergies can be an effective way to lessen and to treat allergic symptoms... (read more)

Plants in the Desert: Living Survival Aids
There are many plants in the desert that can serve as vital aids in wilderness survival. Some serve as a source of food, some as material for shelters and others serve as the perfect material for friction fires...(read more)

Pacific Northwest Trees
Pacific northwest trees are one of the most important resources to survival, providing firewood, shelter, tools, food, medicine, wildlife habitat, and so much more to the ecosystem...(read more)

Urban Foraging: Eat Your Weeds
The practice of urban foraging can help benefit you and your family during times of emergency...(read more)

Natural Cold Remedies
Here's the recipe for one of our favorite natural cold remedies that uses ingredients found in your kitchen and backyard...(read more)

Chantrelle Mushrooms: Gifts of the Forest
Chantrelle mushrooms – which are also called “chanterelles” – are one of the most harvested and most widely enjoyed wild mushrooms in the world...(read more)

How to Make a Tincture
Learning how to make a tinctures is a great way to preserve and use medicinal plants, however they do not replace the nourishment you gain from eating wild foods...(read more)

How to Make Cottonwood Salve
Cottonwood salve is an amazing medicine made of natural ingredients, read more to learn how to make it... (read more)

Antiviral Herbs
Are you familiar with any antiviral herbs? You’ve probably heard the terms antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial. Learn more hear about antiviral herbs...(read more)

Nettle Infusions
Do you know the health benefits of using nettle infusions? Nutritionally speaking, nettle infusions are high in iron, potassium, calcium, manganese and vitamins A, C and D...(read more)



Salad made from wild flowers and greens


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