Top 5 Field Guides for Foraging Wild Edible Plants in Alaska
Spring is bursting forth here in Southeast Alaska, as the once-bare tree branches being to unfurl their fresh new leaves and the muddy soils give way to plants popping up underfoot.
The change in season has us itching to get outside and start exploring the forest, meadows, and coastline for our favorite wild foods!
Alaska’s wild and abundant landscape offers a wealth of nutritious foods and medicinal plants. These early spring days are the perfect time to grab a botanical field guide in the form of a book or a knowledgeable friend, get familiar with the plants in your neighborhood, and brush up on ethical harvesting practices before heading out to see who’s growing where.
Here’s a roundup of my favorite field guides for foraging wild plants in Alaska:
Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska; Pojar & Mackinnon
The all-around most comprehensive book for botany and plant identification in the Pacific Northwest. This book will help you learn to identify ALL the plants on your next hike – not just the edible or medicinal ones. The authors tuck in lots of great info on traditional and cultural uses of plants as well.
The Boreal Herbal – Beverley Gray
Though this book is technically based on the boreal forest of Canada’s Yukon territory, you’ll find lots of overlap with the plants of Alaska’s southern coastal and northern forests. This book is super accessible and great for beginners interested in medicinal and food uses of wild plants. Beverley includes great info to easily identify plants, as well as recipes and tutorials for creating teas, syrups, and body care treatments.
Discovering Wild Plants – Janice Schofield
Janice Schofield’s book covers a wide range of micro-environments found in Alaska, and highlights the unique edible and medicinal plants found in each. She also offers up delicious recipes and practical uses for wild plants, along with some historical and traditional use information.
Common Edible Seaweeds in the Gulf of Alaska – Dolly Garza
A must-have for anyone living near the coast! This little guidebook fits into your back pocket for low tide walks and makes it easy to identify the tasty edible seaweeds you can find lining Alaska’s many miles of rocky coastline.
Southeast Alaska Traditional Foods Guide – Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium
This handy (and free!) downloadable pdf features SEAK’s wild edible foods harvested by season, with the traditional Tlingit name for each plant. Find tips for properly harvesting, preparing, and preserving traditional foods.