Native North American plants that have been used as culinary herbs in kitchens for 200+ years include the following; wild mint, horse mint, love root, california bay, tarragon, sagebrush, juniper, and wild onion. All can be found in the great outdoors, are safely edible, and delicious. You just need to know where they are commonly located, how to spot, and how to harvest. It can be a truly fun and freeing experience while connecting with the great outdoors.
As I started my research to prepare the article I figured best to start with one of the most common items that is used daily and in high quanity across the country ( onions ). Wild onions can be used in a virtually endless variety of meals.
Wild onion is sometimes also called wild garlic. Full disclosure when harvested they will rarely amount to a third of the size of store bought varieties. The genetics in the strains are just plain different. Also like anything being harvested in the wilderness, beware of mistaking other plants for wild onions. There are a few close imposters that can trick an amature and some of these are poisioness.
Personally I am a huge fan of mint. The flavor is enjoyable and so it peaked my interest and lead my search in that direction. Mentha canadensis is a species of mint commonly known as American wild mint and is of course native to North America.
Wild mint can be eaten raw or cooked. It is most commonly found in fields in the central US. When abundant it is reported that the pleasant scent can be smelled well before being spotted.
This article which started with a simple plan for a hike and a quick list of wild items I could educate myself on, look for, potentially harvest and bring back home narrowed quickly to the 2 items I thought, 1 would be most useful, and 2 would be most enjoyable personally. ( Who doesnt like a savory meal with some onions or the smell and taste of mint ).
I thought the odds of randomly finding a limited list of 2 items on a half day hike…. well I better have at least 1 backup. Spotting love root which I am currently unfamiliar with I thought… I could use a little love on the search and so why not.
Ligusticum porteri, known as Osha or oshá, is a perennial herb found in parts of the Rocky Mountains.
Osha root apparently has many many touted benefits. So with the list of common North American herbs narrowed to 3 I head out on a journey to find them. Hopefully this inspires others to do the same where they are from and connect back with the simple herbs and spices native and available in the great outdoors that have a sought after basis for health and flavor for centuries on end.