On a Learning Spree, Part 2: Foraging

This cute and friendly llama has nothing to do with foraging, other than I met him at the baby shower for my grape-foraging friends Jenecia and Burt! Burt reports he HAS made some wine.

I’ve talked about this before, but I’m still really thrilled with the idea of eating things found right here on the ranch. It started when Sean Wall spoke at the Master Naturalist meeting a while back. I was gobsmacked to know that some of the plants that I saw every day were not only edible, but delicious.

I immediately devoured his book (get it, devoured? edible natives?) and ran around tasting things.

Passion vine is another vine with deliciousness associated with it. I am watching the passion fruit across the road very carefully so I can harvest some. Mmm.

Thanks to what I learned from Monique Reed on our plant identification expedition, I ended up eating a lot of smilax shoots this year. I was a bit irrationally happy that the irritating prickly vine I used to dislike so much was actually delicious.

Then I was doing the research for my post on mustang grapes a week or two ago and found the Foraging Texas blog of  Mark Vorderbruggen, which blew my mind. His writing was fun on the blog, so I went to find a book by him.

Oh yeah, I found a book he wrote on foraging throughout the US (most of which applied here). I also found books on medicinal herbs and a small book on just plants found in Texas (all are linked below).


Wow, is this an interesting topic! Vorderbruggen’s “idiot guide” to foraging was so much fun to read that I kept reading passages aloud to my husband and roommate. He is a charming fellow and the bits of humor he puts in the book make you want to read every description of every plant carefully. Especially handy are clear pictures and descriptions to help you avoid eating something that will make you sick.

And here is one that makes you sick. Don’t eat these pretty fruits off the plants with the pretty purple flowers. Silverleaf nightshade is everywhere around here, but not delicious.

I do want to point out that the book has some typos, including the description of one flower appearing under another one, but that only will matter a lot to you if you happen to be an editor, like me. If you have to buy any one book to start your foraging “career,” run out and get that Foraging book!

The Texas book will be great to keep handy whenever I go out and explore in Texas. Most of the plants do grow either here at the ranch or in Austin, so I’ll have lots of chances to see what I can find and do. Kane packs in a lot of helpful info into such a small book.

As for the medicinal herb book, it’s next on my list. I know Gladstar is famous, so I’m looking forward to it.

Whew, I’ve learned a lot. I can see me grinding up a lot of things to put in extra healthy smoothies in my future. And I promise to make some mesquite flour.

It seems like practically every weed I’ve ignored for the past 20 years is actually really good for me. Who knew?

Next time I will talk about another new curiosity of mine!


The links are to Amazon to buy the books.

Vorderbruggen, Mark



Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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