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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - July 29, 2013

From: New York, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Edible native plants in New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

In your plant database- which is great by the way- it does not say whether or not the plant is edible. Do you have any way to search for edible plants? Or do you have a separate database? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Thank you for the compliment!

Our Native Plant Database will occasionally mention that a plant has edible fruit [e.g., Prunus americana (American plum)], but we don't have a means to search our database for plants that are edible.  However, I can guide you to other resources for identifying edible wild plants in New York.  First, let me refer you to the webpage of "Wildman" Steve Brill.  He does foraging tours and field trips in and around New York City.  He also has a list of Wild Plants with information about identifying them as well as recipes using the plants.  Not all of the plants he lists are native, but most are and they all can be found wild.  The Foraging Pictures site has photos of most of the plants discussed by Brill.

Brandeis University has A Guide to Edible Plants and Fungi of New England where you can search by name, by use or by growth type.

Also, check out the Urban Forager from the New York Times for articles about edible wild plants.

You can search in our Native Plant Bibliography for books on edible plants that you can potentially purchase at a bookstore. You can also find a host of books by searching "edible wild plants" on Barnes & Noble or Amazon or visit your local book store to see what they might have in stock for your area.

Finally, searching the internet for "foraging New York" or "wild edible plants New York" will give you still more leads.

 

 

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