Food Plant Appendix

There are two insurmountable hurtles in figuring out what the Potomac River Basin and Appalachian people ate. First we are faced with the irreparable damage done to habitats in exchange for “progress”. Secondly, we must come to terms with the irreplaceable loss of a people that knew the land better than its own soul who, at one time, would have been happy to tell us. We know that they hunted everything from mammoths to muskrats. We know that they cultivated corn, beans, and squash. But what did they gather from wild places?

I find myself entirely at the mercy of Daniel Moerman’s extraordinary work, Native American Ethnobotany, in order to identify some of the plants available as food. The material in this appendix is credited entirely to him and his intrepid team of researchers. By far, the Cherokee and Iroquois provided them with the most comprehensive information and I will draw on what is known of their diets in order to provide an overview of the edible plants found in Appalachia. Keep in mind that the list found here could include species indigenous to habitats beyond Appalachia and the Potomac Basin simply because Native peoples were on the move for centuries. Some of the species might well have been introduced by Europeans and assimilated by Natives. Nevertheless, the material provided offers more than glimpse into a diet that is far beyond the notion of a people eating nothing other than corn, beans, and squash.

This list is provided for informational purposes only. No attempt has been made to determine if any of these species are toxic. The authors are not responsible for any irresponsible use of this appendix.

Acer rubrum: sap as sweetener; bark dried, pounded, sifted into bread flour
Acer saccharinum: same as A. rubrum
Acer saccharum: same as A. rubrum
Alisma Plantago-aquatica: plant as tea
Allium canadense: bulbs boiled, pit baked or dried; seasoning and soup
Allium cernuum: same as A. canadense; also eaten raw
Allium tricoccum: bulbs and leaves boiled, fried, dried for later use
Amaranthus retroflexus: seeds and leaves
Amelanchier arborea: berries cooked or dried
Amelanchier canadensis: berries cooked or dried
Amelanchier laevis: berries cooked or dried
Amphicarpaea bracteata: roots, beans, and nuts cooked
Apios americana: seeds cooked or dried and ground into flour; roots boiled or roasted, dried and ground into flour
Aralia nudicaulis: fruit made into beverage; roots roasted
Arctium lappa: young leaves; roots dried and later boiled into soup
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi: fruit raw, dried, boiled
Arnoglossum atriplicifolium: powdered leaves as seasoning
Artemisia biennis: seeds
Asclepias syriaca: tender spring stalks, sprouts, leaves, immature flowers and seedpods cooked or dried for later use
Asimina triloba: fruit raw, cooked or dried
Asparagus officinalis: young stems raw or cooked
Barbarea verna: leaves boiled or fried; raw
Barbarea vulgaris: leaves boiled or fried; raw
Beta vulgaris: leaves and bulbs
Betula lenta: twigs steeped into tea
Brassica napus: leaves boiled or fried
Brassica nigra: leaves boiled, fried, raw
Brassica oleracea: leaves boiled, fried, raw
Brassica rapa: roots
Caltha palustris: leaves and stems boiled
Capsella bursa-pastoris: seed roasted and mixed with other food; seed ground into flour; leaves cooked
Cardamine concatenata: roots raw or cooked
Cardamine diphylla: root dried and ground; root eaten raw; root boiled; leaves and stems boiled
Carya alba: finely ground nut meat and/or shells boiled into beverage and soup or added to bread; nuts eaten plain; stored for winter use
Carya cordiformis: same a C. alba
Carya ovata: same as C. alba; also sap as sweetener
Castanea dentata: nuts ground into flour; crushed and boiled for beverage or mixed in other foods and breads; rendered into oil
Cercis canadensis: blossoms eaten
Chelone glabra: young shoots and leaves boiled or fried in grease until tender
Chenopodium album: young leaves and stems boiled or fried; seeds ground into flour
Chimaphila maculata: leaves
Citrullus lunatus: fruit peeled and dried, or boiled and mashed and mixed into other foods; fruit baked in ashes and mashed; fruit fried; seeds parched and ground for mush and other dishes; seeds dried
Claytonia virginica: corms and roots cooked
Coix lacryma-jobi: seeds ground into bread flour
Corylus americana: nuts crushed and boiled into beverage; nuts stored for later use; nuts ground into flour; nuts crushed for mush; nuts in soup; nuts eaten raw or roasted; nut oil expressed and used
Corylus cornuta: same as C. americana
Crataegus macrosperma: fresh fruit
Crataegus pruinosa: fruit mashed, formed into cakes and dried for later use; fruits used to make bread; fruits dried or eaten raw; cooked into sauce
Crataegus submollis: same as C. pruinosa
Cucumis melo: fruit boiled, mashed and eaten, also mixed into other foods; cut into strips and dried
Cucumis sativus: same as C. melo; also baked in ashes
Cucurbita maxima: fruit fresh, boiled, mashed, baked in ashes, dried, mixed into other foods; blossoms
Cucurbita moschata: same as C. maxima
Cucurbita pepo: seeds roasted; fruit dried and ground into flour; fruit boiled, roasted, baked; dried and stored
Dentaria species: cooked as greens
Diospyros virginiana: fruit cooked into pudding; fruit baked
Eupatorium purpureum: root ash used as salt
Fagus grandifolia: nuts eaten, crushed and boiled into beverage, crushed and mixed into bread, oil extracted by boiling, crushed and added to soup, stored for winter
Fragaria vesca: fruit eaten raw, included in other dishes, dried for winter use; leaves dried and used to make tea
Fragaria virginiana: same as F. vesca
Gaultheria procumbens: leaves for tea; fruit eaten raw, included in other dishes, dried for winter use
Gaylussacia baccata: fruits mashed, formed into cakes and dried for future use; fruit eaten raw and included in other dishes
Gaylussacia ursina: same as G. baccata
Gleditsia triacanthos: seed pulp and juice used to make beverage; ripe, raw pods eaten
Hamamelis virginiana: leaves and twigs for tea
Helianthus tuberosus: root eaten raw, roasted or boiled; stalks edible
Hydrangea arborescens: peeled branches and twigs boiled for tea; young twigs peeled, boiled thoroughly and fried
Hydrophyllum virginianum: young plants and leaves cooked
Ipomoea batatas: tubers eaten like potatoes
Ipomoea pandurata: same as I. batatas
Juglans cinerea: nuts eaten raw, crushed and boiled, added to other dishes, oil extracted through boiling, stored for winter use
Juglans nigra: same as J. cinerea
Lactuca canadensis: leaves cooked and eaten as greens
Lagenaria siceraria: gourds eaten young before rind has hardened
Lathyrus japonicus: young stalks eaten as greens; immature seeds eaten like peas
Lepidium campestre: young plants boiled, fried, and eaten
Lepidium virginicum: same as L. campestre
Ligusticum canadense: fresh greens dried or blanched for later use; young growth boiled and fried
Lilium canadense: roots dried and ground into flour (famine food)
Lindera benzoin: stems and leaves for tea or seasoning for strong flavored meat
Liquidambar styraciflua: bark for tea; sap used like chewing gum
Liriodendron tulipifera: used to make honey (I don’t know what that means)
Malus angustifolia: fruit dried and used as food, added to other dishes
Malus coronaria: same as M. angustifolia
Malus sylvestris: same as M. angustifolia
Mentha arvensis: leaves for tea, seasoning, eaten with dried fish
Mentha x piperita: same as M. arvensis
Mentha spicata: same as M. arvensis
Mitchella repens: fruit eaten raw or mashed and dried for later use
Monarda didyma: leaves for tea; leaves dried, crushed, and sprinkled on meat as preservative
Monarda fistulosa: same as M. didyma
Morus alba: fruit used for food; mashed and dried for later use; fruit mixed into other dishes; whole fruits dried for winter use
Morus rubra: same as M. alba
Oenothera biennis: leaves cooked and eaten as greens; root boiled; seed used for food
Oenothera fruticosa: leaves boiled, rinsed, fried in grease
Onoclea sensibilis: roots cooked and eaten
Oxalis corniculata: leaves, flowers, bulbs eaten raw or boiled
Oxalis stricta: same as O. corniculata
Oxalis violacea: same as O. corniculata
Oxydendrum arboretum: used to make honey (I don’t know what that means)
Oxypolis rigidior: roots baked and eaten
Passiflora incarnata: crushed fruit strained and made into beverage; fruit eaten raw; young shoots and leaves boiled, fried and mixed with other greens
Pedicularis canadensis: cooked leaves and stems
Pedicularis lanceolata: same as P. canadensis
Penthorum sedoides: leaves cooked as greens
Phacelia dubia: young growth boiled, fried, and eaten; leaves cooked and eaten as greens
Phaseolus coccineus: seed cooked and ground into paste before adding to bread; seedpods boiled and dried for later use; seedpods added to soups and stews, cooked and mashed; seedpods cooked in hot ashes
Phaseolus lunatus: same as P. coccineus
Phaseolus vulgaris: same as P. coccineus
Physalis heterophylla: fruit eaten raw, dried for later use; mashed, made into cakes and dried for later use; mixed in other dishes
Phytolacca americana: berries crushed and strained into beverage; young shoots and leaves cooked and eaten; leaves dried for later use; stalks fried; young stalks eaten as greens
Pisum sativum: seeds and young seed pods for food
Plantago major: young leaves cooked as greens
Podophyllum peltatum: fruit as food; fruit mashed, formed into cakes and dried for later use
Polygonatum biflorum: dried roots ground into flour; young growth boiled, fried, and eaten; roots boiled and eaten
Polygonum cuspidatum: cooked leaves as food
Polygonum hydropiper: young growth boiled, fried, and eaten; leaves and stems as seasoning
Polystichum acrostichoides: fiddleheads as food
Portulaca oleracea: greens eaten raw or cooked; greens dried for later use; seed used for food
Prenanthes serpentaria: leaves cooked
Prenanthes trifoliolata: same as P. serpentaria
Prunella vulgaris: leaves cooked and eaten; plant soaked and used as beverage
Prunus americana: fruit raw, cooked, dried for later use, mixed into other dishes, ground into flour to make soup; fruit mashed, formed into cakes and dried for later use
Prunus cerasus: same as P. americana
Prunus nigra: same as P. americana
Prunus pensylvanica: same as P. americana
Prunus persica: same as P. americana
Prunus serotina: same as P. americana
Prunus virginiana: same as P. americana; also twigs and leaves for tea; fruit with seeds included mashed, dried in thin cakes, and stored for later use
Pycnanthemum flexosum: used as food (unspecified)
Pycnanthemum incanum: used as food (unspecified)
Pyrus communis: fruit raw, cooked, dried, mixed into other dishes
Quercus alba: acorns soaked in lye water (from wood ashes) to remove bitterness then rinsed numerous times with warm water; acorns boiled, simmered to remove lye, ground, sifted into flour for mush or soup, mixed into bread, roasted, steeped into tea, or dried for later use
Quercus bicolor: same as Q. alba
Quercus prinus: same as Q. alba
Quercus rubra: same a Q. alba
Ranunculus abortivus: leaves cooked and eaten as greens; roots eaten as winter food
Ranunculus acris: same as R. abortivus
Ranunculus cymbalaria: same as R. abortivus
Ranunculus recurvatus: same as R. abortivus
Rheum rhaponticum: used as food (unspecified)
Rhododendron calendulaceum: fungus apple formed on stem eaten to quench thirst
Rhus copallinum: berries as food
Rhus glabra: berries as food; also bark; sprouts peeled and eaten raw; berries and seed heads into tea
Rhus hirta: same as R. copallinum and R. glabra
Ribes americanum: fruit fresh or dried; fruit mashed, formed into cakes and dried for later use
Ribes cynosbati: same as R. americanum
Ribes rotundifolium: same as R. americanum
Ribes triste: same as R. americanum
Robinia psuedoacacia: bark steeped as tea
Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum: young leaves and stems raw or cooked, boiled, fried
Rubus aculeatissimus: fresh shoots peeled and eaten raw; same boiled and fried
Rubus allegheniensis: fruit as food, juice, raw, fried, or cooked, dried for winter use; fruit added to other dishes; mashed, formed into cakes and dried for later use
Rubus argutus: same as R. allegheniensis
Rubus canadensis: same as R. allegheniensis
Rubus flagellaris: same as R. allegheniensis
Rubus idaeus: same as R. allegheniensis
Rubus occidentalis: same as R. allegheniensis; also young leaves as tea
Rubus odoratus: same as R. allegheniensis
Rubus pubescens: same as R. allegheniensis
Rubus trivialis: same as R. allegheniensis
Rudbeckia laciniata: tender leaves and stems boiled, fried, and eaten or boiled as greens; dried or blanched for later use; young stems eaten like celery
Rumex acetosa: leaves for food
Rumex acetosella: leaves eaten raw or cooked
Rumex crispus: same as R. acetosella; also seed parched and ground into flour; roots pit baked
Sambucus canadensis: berries raw or cooked; dried for later use; mashed and formed into cakes and dried for later use; mixed into other dishes; flowers for tea
Sambucus nigra: same as S. canadensis
Sassafras albidum: roots and bark as tea; leaves dried and used as seasoning
Saxifraga micranthidifolia: young leaves raw or wilted, boiled, fried as greens
Saxifraga pensylvanica: same as S. micranthidifolia
Sisymbrium officinale: leaves cooked, fried, or raw; seed parched and ground into meal for mush, soup or stew
Sisyrinchium angustifolium: mixed into other greens and eaten
Smilax glauca: roots for food
Smilax herbacea: roots for food; fruit edible
Smilax psuedochina: roots for food
Smilax rotundifolia: roots for food
Solanum nigrum: young leaves cooked
Solanum tuberosum: cooked roots for food
Streptopus amplexifolius: tender shoots raw or cooked; berries edible
Streptopus roseus: leaves cooked
Symplocarpus foetidus: young leaves and shoots cooked and eaten
Taraxacum officinale: leaves and stems raw or cooked
Taxus canadensis: fruit, leaves, cold water and maple water fermented into beverage; twigs for beverage
Thlaspi arvense: leaves for food: seed edible
Tradescantia virginiana: leaves and stems parboiled as greens, mixed with other greens, fried
Tragopogon sp.: young leaves boiled, fried and eaten; milky latex chewed and later swallowed
Tsuga canadensis: leaves into beverage; branches and maple water for tea; bark into tea
Urtica dioica: plant tops cooked and eaten as greens; steeped into tea
Uvularia perfoliata: plants boiled, fried, eaten as greens
Uvularia sessilifolia: same as U. perfoliata
Vaccinium angustifolium: fruit raw or cooked; dried or mashed, formed into cakes and dried; mixed into other dishes; flowers edible
Vaccinium corymbosum: same as V. angustifolium
Vaccinium macrocarpon: same as V. angustifolium
Vaccinium myrtilloides: same as V. angustifolium
Vaccinium oxycoccus: same as V. angustifolium
Valerianella locusta: leaves cooked and eaten as greens
Viburnum lentago: fruit eaten raw or cooked; added to other dishes; dried; mashed, formed into cakes and dried for later use
Viburnum opulus: same as V. lentago
Viola blanda: leaves and stems cooked, fried as greens
Viola pubescens: same as V. blanda
Vitis aestivalis: plant used as food (unspecified)
Vitis cinerea: fruit eaten raw or dried for later use
Vitis labrusca: fruit used to make juice or dumplings
Vitis rotundifolia: same as V. labrusca
Vitis vulpina: fruit eaten raw, cooked, added to other dishes, or dried for later use; mashed, formed into cakes, and dried for later use
Zea mays: seeds ground into meal and cooked into mush, soup, stew; seeds roasted; seeds parched and ground into flour; seeds cooked and eaten; ears pit baked; dried for later use (Zea mays is corn and it has endless uses and preparations)