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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Foraging Native Plants: Look to Your Own Backyard

Native plants play an important role in living sustainably.  They furnish habitat, create shade, improve the soil and provide edible and craft materials.   To put it simply, California natives are remarkable additions to the garden ecosystem. But it’s important to remember that these plants are also critical components of natural ecosystems.

The increased interest in edible and medicinal native plants creates several unintended consequences.   Most important is the overuse of natural stands of native plants growing in the wild.   This is not just a problem in California; over-collecting of native plants is a critical issue world-wide, leading to the extinction of entire plant species.

While some California native plants are still common, others are rare – even endangered - in the wild.  Humans have played a key role, primarily by destroying habitat (building houses, roads, etc.).  Global climate change is putting further pressures on wild plants and animal populations. 

To stress wild populations further by wild foraging is unsound.  In fact, there are legal, health/safety, practical and ethical/stewardship reasons to limit wildland foraging.  For more see: