James R. Freed, Washington State University Natural Resources Extension Professor

No matter what the scope is for your forest management plan, wild edibles can be a major component of it. Forests produce hundreds of products that can be eaten or used for medicinal purposes by humans, pets and domestic livestock.

The key to safe and sustainable use of native plants as a source of food and medicine is correct identification. There is little margin for error when you are eating or drinking products made from native plants.

Books are always a good source of information – two that are specific to the Pacific Northwest are “Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West” (Moore) and “Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington Oregon, British Columbia” (Pojar). There is also a variety of organizations and electronic resources that you can turn to. What follows is a partial list of some the more user friendly sites and organizations.


  • Master Gardeners of Washington State University  Master gardener programs exist are in every county and they have great training on basic horticulture skills, plant identification and plant care.
  • Washington Native Plant Society There are native plant society chapters in all the major cities in the State of Washington. They meet regularly, offer workshops and field trips, and also provide access to a range of conservation and plant identification resources.

Government Plant Identification Sites

Mycological Societies

Like the Native plant societies, mycological societies offer programs on the identification, harvest, and use of wild mushrooms. They also conduct guided field trips for members to learn safe harvest methods.