A Salad from the Backyard: Wild Edibles of Idaho. There are many plants that commonly grow in Idaho that are edible. Dandelions, clovers and sunflowers are probably the most common and recognizable of these edibles.
However, some edible species you may not be aware of include Arrow-leaved Balsamroot and Stinging Nettle.
All parts of the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) can be eaten raw. Dandelions are a good source of calcium, vitamins A and C and potassium. The roots can be roasted and then used as a coffee substitute. Dandelions are delicious and can add a pop of color to your summer salad.
Clovers (Trifolium spp.) are also a great addition to salads. The leaves and flowers can be eaten raw and the roots can be cooked and eaten. The seeds and flowers can be dried and used in cooking. The sprouts also have great taste. But beware, eating too much can cause bloating!
Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.) are a no-brainer. Everyone has had a handful of sunflower seeds before. The sprouts and the seeds are what you want to focus on for this delectable plant. Sprouts can be used in cooking or salads and the seeds can be eaten raw or baked with a pinch of salt for a cheap trail mix.
Arrow-leaved Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) is an Idaho native that can be consumed. The roots are bitter unless you slow cook them and the sweet taste comes out. The seeds can be eaten and the leaves are best when they are young. You can find this plant on stone slopes in the foothills. Pick with caution, this plant looks similar to Arnica -which causes severe stomach aches!
Lastly, you may be familiar with Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). If you have ever brushed up against it in the woods, you know the hairs on this plant itch and burn for a good while. However, all parts of this plant are edible, but they do need to be boiled. Otherwise you may have a very unpleasant sensation in your mouth. Make sure you wear gloves when collecting this tasty edible.
CSR can provide many of these species for an edible garden in your backyard. These plants are beautiful and delicious, but remember to always bring your ID guide when collecting edibles. Many plants are dangerous to consume!