Took a stroll with “Green Deane” in Port Charlotte a few weekends ago. Spent a few hours walking through Bayshore Live Oak Park and the surrounding neighborhood, checking out what Florida natives and non-natives were growing- identifying edibles and non edibles. For anyone interested in gardening with edibles and/or foraging, I highly recommend Deane’s classes, blog “Eat The Weeds” and videos.
I usually approach life from a positive perspective, but because I have chewed on my fair share of ‘unknown’ plants, main thing I learned from my first foraging class with Green Deane is- DON’T field test plants-EVER! Verify, verify, verify what you are sticking in your mouth. There are a multitude of plants out there with edible and/or medicinal properties. There are others that can kill you or make you very, very sick. Some plants make you sick right away, others take days or weeks to make you ill. Others have a cumulative effect. There are plants that are perfectly edible when cooked, but make you sick if eaten raw; and others that have both poisonous and edible parts. Some fruits are edible when ripe, but make you sick when eaten before they are ripe. Not all plants in the same genus or family are edible- There are some edible Jasmines, but make sure you know which ones! All of this aside- I am astonished at how many ‘weeds’ growing in my backyard are edible or usable in some fashion. I recommend Green Deane’s Eat The Weeds as one reliable resource for learning about the many native and non-native edibles growing in your area. Had a great time participating in this class, and I see myself signing up for more classes in the future!