Wild Edible Plants . . .

This site is a database for wild edible plants of North America. I encourage any users to leave comments reflecting their experiences with a certain plant. Much of our knowledge of edible plants is either lost, superstitious or incorrect. There's a lot of hype about how dangerous wild plants can be, when in reality most are not only safe they're critical for your health.

My perspective is somewhat unique in that my family and I have camped as a lifestyle for over a decade - essentially lived with edible plants and used them on a daily basis. We have also been raw fooders for a very long period. Becoming 100% raw vegan sparked my interest in edible plants like nothing else. Every day I was out hiking the trails barefoot, eating grass, eating flowers, trying parts of the many plants I came across with a clean palate . . .

Using wild edible plants is the best way we can defy the system, maintain our health, and get our independence back.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Laurelcherry [prunus caroliniana]

Laurelcherry is a small evergreen tree native to the Southeast. It's in the rose family, and related to all other cherries, plums, apples, etc. The cherries remain on the tree often until spring. Because of its smooth bark, evergreen foliage, and winter fruit - at first it looks like a holly with black berries. But it is a cherry.

The fruit is essentially a thin edible rind over a large green seed. It is strong, bitter and unripe up into the winter - like all wild cherries, bitter until soft. Since the flesh is so thin, it shrivels rather than softens - but the softening is when most of the bitterness goes away - it's still strong though, with an intense cherry liquor flavor. You're really almost eating just the skin of the cherry.

To be certain a cherry's a cherry I always eat a leaf. It's bitter usually the first 5 to 8 seconds, then an unmistakable cherry flavor hits - and there's no question. The leaves have a trace of cyanide (hydrocyanic acid), and so do the pits . . . it's interesting that Native Americans used to pound whole cherries including the pits into a mash and dry into cakes. So our understanding of hydrocyanic acid might need reevaluated.
Many sites refer to the fruit of the laurelcherry as either poisonous or inedible. But here's a report put out by the Forest Service. They refer to the fruit as "suited for human consumption".


  1. lol on your other site you asked what this was. Seems I was right too! Too cool that it can be eaten.

  2. Witchy,

    There is laurelcherry everywhere in bloom right now, with some trees' blooms right beside last year's cherries.

    The cherries on the trees are still firm and very, very strong. I think they might benefit from being picked and set out through a hot afternoon sun - this is a technique I used successfully on chokecherries out in New Mexico. What were once very bitter cherries, after several hours in the sun, became sweet dried cherries, without a trace of bitterness.

    Some of the laurelcherries have old fruit littered below them, and this may be the next-best alternative for harvesting them. Many had lost all bitterness and softened - however some had begun to ferment! So behind all that medicine in the cherry must be a nice amount of sugar.

  3. I haven't seen an update since 2009? I am in Tennessee also.