Foraging has become a popular hobby in recent years--of course considering that foraging is how we have survived for most of our human history. But as a hobby the act of foraging is making a resurgence.
Foraging is the act of finding edible foods from nature. These can be plants, berries, nuts, mushrooms, etc,. The world around you can be filled with common household ingredients simply growing out in the wild for you to enjoy for free! But, knowing which plants are edible in your region is crucial for your own safety.
So, let’s take a look at what plants you can eat in Colorado!
Oregano de la Sierra - Wild Bergamot.
Bergamot is a wild herb that can be found all throughout Colorado. It is a member of the famous mint family, which also includes oregano. This strain showcases small and soft purple flowers and usually grows on dry hillside locations. It can be used in teas as well as spicing meats. The flavor is very similar to a citrus oregano mixture, and is sought after by many local foragers!
Allium cernuum - Wild Onion.
Often when hiking along dry hillsides in Colorado, you may be greeted by a strong aroma of onion bulb. That’s because wild onion grows all over Colorado! They can be identified by their lavender/white flowers and the obvious aroma. These earthy little onions provide a deliciously sweet and spicy flavor to your foods, and can be an amazing addition to any meal! Be careful though, as they sometimes resemble a dangerous lookalike known as Death camas. Look for the pink/lavender flowers and the strong onion aroma to properly identify these wild treats.
Fragaria virginiana - Wild Strawberries.
Wild strawberries grow in abundance across the low Colorado wetlands. In moist environments you can often find these little bushes littering the forest floor. They are easily identifiable by their vibrant red color and distinctly ‘strawberry’ look--seeds and all. While usually quite a bit smaller than store bought strawberries, their flavor is very similar. These treats are always fun to come across.
Opuntia - Prickly Pear.
It’s probably no surprise that when discussing edible wild plants in Colorado, a variety of cactus makes an appearance. These spike covered plants can be found all over the dry and arid climate regions of Colorado, and are easily identified by their shrub-like formation paired with vibrant red fruits at their crown. The green pad, the flowers, and the red fruit of the cactus are all edible. But, make sure to wear gloves when harvesting and preparing! The massive spikes--and small prickly hairs--can cause a lot of pain!
Colorado is littered with wild treats that can fill your stomach and save you a trip to the grocery store. Knowing where to look, and what to look for, can lead you to hours and hours of fun foraging throughout the year.