If you are ever lost in the wilderness of Colorado or just want some things to add to your side salad in camp, you need to know these edible plants.
Foraging for edible plants can seem like a daunting challenge. We're raised to be cautious of the outdoors and all the peril she holds, but she has a lot of good to offer as well.
The first step is being well-informed and knowing what to look for. Check out some these local plants in Colorado that you may find on your next day hike or weekend camping trip next summer.
1. Raspberry - Rubus idaeus
These guys can be hard to find, but seem to be abundant in the Four Corners, particularly in the San Juan Mountains. They tend to grow on southern facing rocky slopes and usually fruit in September and August. Look out to forage for them next year along sunny dirt trails. Raspberries are high in Vitamin C and one of the easiest berries to forage for.
2. Wild Mint - Mentha arvensis
Wild mint is a great plant to forage for at camp when you want a little extra flavor for your meals or a breath mint after. Look for them in moist areas and near water such as streams and ditches. They generally bloom June to October. Wild mint can be easily identified by the smell.
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3. Chanterelle - Cantharellus cibarius
Be cautious with chanterelle. There are some look-a-likes that will leave your stomach in bad shape. The easiest way to identify a true chanterelle is to examine its gills. They are false gills and as a result should not be separate but one mass, seemingly melted on. The ridges that make up these false gills should also run down and along the stem. Look for them along the ground of hardwood forests, particularly in areas with disturbed dirt (such as trails). They tend to grow in mid-summer to early fall.
4. Porcini - Boletus edulis
Generally found in high altitudes, 7,000 feet to the treeline and in large numbers at 10,000 feet, porcini can be identified by the brown or reddish brown and often sticky cap. They have a thick stem and there is a spongy underside to the cap. These are a well sought-after edible, and you can tell with grocery store prices. Get past the expense by foraging your own next summer to early fall.
Remember these the next time you are lost or on a trip to the backcountry of Colorado. They can either save your life or add to a great meal. The most organic you can find!