Not-quite-Canadian Rockies edible plants: what's the best reference?
August 24, 2008 6:30 PM   Subscribe

I'm going backpacking for a couple of weeks in the Beartooth mountains next summer. I'll be above the tree line most of the time. I'd like to have some local herbs and greens to make trail food more palatable. Is the flora described in Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies going to be the right stuff for this trip? Is there another pack-reference which will better describe this biome?

Feel free to recommend whatever plant reference you've had good experience with in this area of the country.
posted by a robot made out of meat to Science & Nature (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: answer your actual question, yes, Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies is a common reference book here in the West.

To butt in where I'm both unasked and unknowing of the depth of your experience in wild food foraging, my usual two recommended rules are:

1. Unless you are 100% sure of your identification of a western plant, don't eat it.

2. See rule #1.

It is really, really easy to poison yourself out here through foraging. False Wintergreen (Gaultheria spp) and creeping snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.) are easily confused, and snowberry isn't nicknamed 'corpse berry' for nothing. Ditto hemlocks and queen anne's lace/wild carrots/wild parsnips, and dozens of other plants and plant families.

Apologies if my warnings are an insult to your botanical experience level; consider it a compulsive twitch of my Naturalist training.
posted by faineant at 2:12 AM on August 25, 2008

Response by poster: Sure. I'm not dumb; I'm just from the east coast. I'm not planning on starving to death, so I won't be taking chances. My understanding is that E&MPotR has a good notes on lookalikes.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:33 AM on August 25, 2008

I understand - and did not in any way mean to imply that you would be foolish. I own the book, and if you would like me to scan a couple of pages for you to look at, I'd be happy to - that way you can judge for yourself if it gives you enough info. Mefi mail me if you'd like the scans.
posted by faineant at 1:52 PM on August 25, 2008

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