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Thursday, September 22, 2011

10 common edible wild plants of Maharashtra (India)

--Be sure of your identification of the wild edible plant BEFORE you eat it! Some wild edible plants have very poisonous look-alikes.
--You may be allergic to some wild edible plants. If you are at all unsure if you will be allergic to a particular plant, eat just a little bit at first.
--*YOU* are 100% responsible for properly identifying and properly preparing wild edible plants that you eat. NOT me!

I sat back last night to watch an all time fav movie Into the wild tells the story of a 20-year-old college graduate who cashes in his law school fund and, in the words of Mark Twain, lights out for the territory. He drives west until he can drive no farther, and then north into the Alaskan wilderness. He has a handful of books about survival and edible wild plants, Months later at the abandoned bus, life for McCandless becomes harder and he becomes less discerning. As his supplies begin to run out, McCandless realizes that nature is also harsh and uncaring. In the pain of realization, McCandless concludes that true happiness can only be found when shared with others and seeks to return from the wild to his friends and family. However, he finds that the stream he had crossed during the winter has become wide, deep, and violent due to the thaw, and thus he is unable to cross. Saddened, McCandless returns to the bus, now as a prisoner who is no longer in control of his fate and can only hope for help from the outside. In a desperate act, McCandless is forced to gather and eat roots and plants, but he confuses similar plants and becomes ill as a result. Slowly dying...i had to make a list iv forayed into the wild several times to be true i feel most at home there... among the wild trees the bird sounds the freedom...heres a brief list of plants that you could keep an eye out for if you ever decide to foray into the Indian wild...

Hers a brief list of plants that could be eaten....

1)Cattail (Typha)
the typha genus of plants is usually found near the edges of freshwater wetlands. Cattails were a staple in the diet of many Native American tribes. Most of a cattail is edible. You can boil or eat raw the rootstock, or rhizomes, of the plant. The rootstock is usually found underground. Make sure to wash off all the mud. The best part of the stem is near the bottom where the plant is mainly white. Either boil or eat the stem raw. Boil the leaves like you would spinach. The corn dog-looking female flower spike can be broken off and eaten like corn on the cob in the early summer when the plant is first developing. It actually has a corn-like taste to it.

2)Clovers (Trifolium)
Lucky you-clovers are actually edible. And they’re found just about everywhere there’s an open grassy area. You can spot them by their distinctive trefoil leaflets. You can eat clovers raw, but they taste better boiled

3)Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium)
This pretty little plant is found primarily in the moonsoon. You can identify fireweed by its purple flower and the unique structure of the leaves’ veins; the veins are circular rather than terminating on the edges of the leaves. Several adavasi tribes included fireweed in their diet. It’s best eaten young when the leaves are tender. Mature fireweed plants have tough and bitter tasting leaves. You can eat the stalk of the plant as well. The flowers and seeds have a peppery taste. Fireweed is a great source of vitamins A and C

4)Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia)
Found all over the ghat regions beed,vidharba,pune highways, the prickly pear cactus is a very tasty and nutritional plant that can help you survive the next time you’re stranded in the desert. The fruit of the prickly pear cactus looks like a red or purplish pear. Hence the name. Before eating the plant, carefully remove the small spines on the outer skin or else it will feel like you’re swallowing a porcupine. You can also eat the young stem of the prickly pear cactus. It’s best to boil the stems before eating

5)Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
While considered an obnoxious weed in the books of horticulture, purslane can provide much needed vitamins and minerals in a wilderness survival situation. Ghandi actually numbered purslane among his favorite foods. It’s a small plant with smooth fat leaves that have a refreshingly sour taste. Purslane grows from the beginning of summer to the start of fall. You can eat purslane raw or boiled. If you’d like to remove the sour taste, boil the leaves before eating.

6)Abelmoschus ficulneus (L.) Wt. & Arn. ex Wight. (V. Ran Bhendi). Fam. Malvaceae
Young fruits used for making vegetable. Fruits are covered by tubercle based hairs, which become strigose as fruit matures, making it unfit to eat. However, in a short time capsules become hard and woody; seeds from mature capsules used to make curry.

7)Chlorophytum tuberosum (Roxb.) Baker (V. Safed Musali, Turshi, Pulum Musali). Fam. Liliaceae.
Tubers eaten raw, supposed to be very nutritious. Now a days tribals do not use them personally, but collect to sale to the traders. Young leaves used as vegetable.

8)Mangifera indica L. (V. Amba, Aam, Marka). Fam. Anacardiaceae.
by far my favourate wild tree wild mangoes have such a pure taste...takes me back to the college days where we went insect hunting in the jungles and feasted on these small yet delicious mangoes.Though fruits are well known, tribals, in addition use tender leaves (when still reddish in colour). Tender leaves are made intochutteny. It tastes like young fruits and has very pleasant aroma.

9)Dendrocalamus strictus (Roxb.) Nees. (V. Basa, Velu, Keltha). Fam. Poaceae.
Young shoot sprouts produced above ground after first rains are collected and cut into pieces. These are boiled in a pot, without covering the pot, so that steam is released free. Boiled shoots prepared into vegetable, pickled or cooked with rice

10)Agave vera-cruz Mill. (V. Kekti, Kektad).Fam. Agavaceae
Flower buds and young flowers are eaten raw. They are made into chuttney. (In old days chuttney was made with red ants. This is not now in practice). Flowers are also made into vegetable.The raw root is supposed to be caustic - so one needs to be careful when handling it.
A root this size needs to cook for a couple of days in a fire pit.Once cooked it is actually a little sweet and quite tasty

Plants to Avoid
If you can’t clearly identify a plant and you don’t know if it’s poisonous, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Steer clear from a plant if it has:
1) Milky or discolored sap
2) Spines, fine hairs, or thorns
3) Beans, bulbs, or seeds inside pods
4) Bitter or soapy taste
5) Dill, carrot, parsnip, or parsley-like foliage
6) “Almond” scent in the woody parts and leaves
7) Grain heads with pink, purplish, or black spurs


  1. Hello,I am a new follower.I stumbled upon your blog whilst looking for some info about Clover.
    I didn't knew,It is edible.
    Could you inform more about clover?
    Is it a house plant? or what is it called in Local language: hindi/marathi?
    Thank you :)

  2. R u still in UK, Do u know about "Chivyachi Bhaji " (thts what we call in Marathi. It is also wild veg and mostly eatern in "Khandesh area" (Disticts of Jalgaon Dhule ) of Maharashtra. Or Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is same.. confused

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  4. also interesting to read is natural wild superfoods...lot more nutrition than kale and spinach.