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Edible Native Plants For the Garden

When you think of how you connect to your native garden, you may not immediately think of it as a place you find something to nibble on. However, whether it be traditional veggies or some Berberis berries to roast for your rice, there is something immensely pleasing about growing food to put on the table! Native Americans, slow food enthusiasts and survivalists alike have found rewarding sustenance from our hills and valleys for generations. Below you’ll find a list from which to start your research on how to prepare our native edibles. You can find salad additions, make syrup or sip tea; California truly does have it all!

Take a look at our list of CA Native edibles! There are many more out there and our gift shop ‘Casa La Paz’ has tons of literature and pamphlets if you want to learn more.

Acer macrophyllumBigleaf maple Large TreeFlowers raw or fired, sap cooked for syrup 
Allium spp. Wild onions BulbBulb and leaves 
Atriplex lentiformis Quail bush ShrubYoung leaves raw, older leaves boiled, used to salt other foods 
Berberis sp. BarberryVariety of Sizes Berries raw or cooked 
Cercis occidentalis Western redbudSmall Tree Flowers raw, seeds cooked
Dichelostemma capitatum Wild hyacinth Bulb Corm boiled 
Fragaria vesca Woodland strawberry Ground Cover Berries fresh or cooked into jams and sweet toppings 
Justicia californica ChuparosaShrubFlowers raw 
Linum lewisii Blue flax Small perennial Seeds cooked and ground 
Monardella spp. Native mints Small perennial Leaves and flowers for tea, syrup, jelly 
Opuntia spp. Prickly pear cactus Variety of sizes Pads cooked, fruit pulp raw or cooked for jelly or sweet toppings 
Peritoma arborea Bladderpod shrubFlowers cooked and immature seeds boiled 
Prunus ilicifolia Holly leaf cherry Tree Fruit pulp eaten raw or made into fruit leather or juice 
Pycnanthemum californicum Sierra mint Small perennial Used similar to other familiar mints 
Rhus integrifolia
R. ovata
Lemonade berry
Sugar bush 
Large shrub Fruit used to flavor drinks 
Ribes aureum Golden currant Shrub Fruit raw or cooked into jams, pies, etc 
Rosa californica California wild rose ShrubFlowers for tea, hips raw or boiled, avoid seeds hips raw or boiled, avoid seeds 
Rubus ursinusCalifornia blackberryShrub/Vine Berries raw or baked into pies, muffins, etc 
Salvia leucophylla Purple sage ShrubLeaves as seasoning, seeds raw or as seasoning
Sambucus nigra caerulea Blue elderberry Small Tree Flowers and ripe berries fresh also baked or dried
Trichostema lanatumWoolly bluecurlsShrubLeaves can be added to sweet treats and beverages

Umbellularia californica 

California bay laurel 

Large Tree 

Leaves added to stews or soups, buds as seasoning, nuts roasted
Vitis girdiana,
V. californica 
Wild grapeVine Fruit raw or in jam or wine, young leaves steamed 
Cooking With Native Plants