Elderberry (Sambucus . . .) is growing in several dense stands not far from the farmhouse. Its wand-like growth habit and stalks covered in warty bumps are distinctive. It also has compound leaflets, anywhere from 5-11, though I usually find 5 on this species common throughout the Atlanta area, both in forest and along waterways:
Both the flowers and berries are edible - the leaves and stems are reported as toxic.
I've gathered huge quantities of the ripe black berries . . . in ditches along raised roads in North Florida, along creeks in the Southern Appalachians, as well as along waterways by our land in Sunbright, Tennessee - and even right in the forest where there's plenty of sun in north Georgia mountains [Pigeon Mountain]. Though there is some debate about the edibility of the ripe berries (some sites say they're possibly emetic, need cooked, or dried, etc.), I've been eating raw elderberries for many years and they are perfectly good raw. We'd pull them right off the red-stemmed corymbs with our teeth like grapes, or turn the corymbs upside down and pull clusters of berries off to throw in our oatmeal. It is a very common wild edible plant, and important food source.
Here is some prickly pear (opuntia . . . ), doing okay even without much sun:
The pads of our native prickly pear in the Southeast are exceptionally mild. Even when old and out of season, once you've cleaned off the spines and glochids the pads are wonderful - a fresh lemony vegetable. This is in strong contrast to the prickly pear of the Southwest, where the old pads are more medicine than food, with flesh that's rather nauseating and lots of tough stringy fibers.
Take a pad that has good coloring and plumpness, and carefully pull it off. Scrape it with a rock or knife. Be patient . . . it usually takes a full five minutes to scrape all the tiny barbed spines (glochids) off the pads - otherwise they'll end up in your tongue and gums, and there to stay for several hours. If there's any kind of flowing water source nearby, it's good to give the pads a final rinse to take away any last miniscule spines. If not wipe the pad with a cloth to make sure it's clean. Blowing on it can also work once the tiny barbs are free.
The first time you bite into a fresh pad it will be a memorable experience - nothing like the bland old nopales you find in ethnic groceries. And what's great about prickly pear is how much food there is. Several pads is a very filling meal - something out West you usually only get in spring, when the pads are young and fresh. But our native opuntia humifusa is edible all year.
The fruit is also great, marketed commerically as 'tunas'. The fruits of our native southeastern prickly pear aren't very large - but they are still good. The best prickly pear fruits tend to be out west - anywhere from the flavor of a sweet steamed beet, to a fruity mix of fig and watermelon. And the tunas can be huge and in great abundance.
As with the pads, it's important to process them on the spot, then give them a final rinse with water or cloth. If you simply gather the fruit without cleaning and throw it in a basket or bag, spines and glochids will interpenetrate everything and become very difficult to remove. Though our native prickly pear fruits are small, many people have planted western varieties out front on their properties - and these can be an excellent food source.
The oregon-grape is here, mahonia bealei - it's from Asia, and has established itself throughout the South:
They often call it 'Leatherleaf Mahonia' here in the South, because we're so far from Oregon - where our native Oregon-grapes are everywhere. The berries are not as far along as the ones down by the Chattahoochee River - there's still no coloring yet:
They're still rather bitter at this stage, but eventually will taste like tart grapes. I've gathered large amounts of them in the mountains of Northern New Mexico.
The muscadine is getting its leaves:
I find taste and smell to be a far more precise way of pinpointing a plant rather than just a visual. If you rub hickory leaves, your fingers will get that strong unmistakable hickory nut fragrance. Native Americans used to cook their beans wrapped in hickory leaves to impart some of that fragrance to the food.
The greenbriar is putting out new growth:
The berries are also edible, even the ones still on the vine from last year. Greenbriar berries in general tend to be tasteless, but sometimes they can have a slight date-like sweetness:
Whereas the young leaves of tuliptree, even when tiny, are very strong:
The beech has yet to put out its young edible leaves - it's still holding on to last year's leaves: