Seeds are a wonderful source of food, a bit time consuming to collect but once done can make a yummy and nutritional addition to foods of all sorts. This list is of edible seeds from plants that grow in California, the land of plenty.
California native grass and other sources of seeds mature between August and October, however some you can collect in the spring as early as April or May. To harvest seeds you can knock them loose into a basket or sheet by sweeping a stick or smaller basket (seed beater) over the tops of the grass/plants. Once collected you’ll want to dry them well in the heat (or on coals to parch), and then toss them to remove the chaff. Then you can store them until ready to use.
They can be used as is, or mixed and pounded into a powder that can then be used in breads, cereals and other mixes.
Seeds used in Pinole:
Blue wild rye(Elymus glaucus)
Coastal tarweed (Hemizonia corymbosa)
Other Edible Seeds that can be gathered and stored:
Big leaf maple(Acer macrophyllum)
This tree has many uses. Seed are just one. The flowers and bark are also very useful parts of the tree. The flowers can be harvested in spring when budding and just about fully open. They can be eaten in salads or as a side garnish. They get a bit fuzzy when fully open so best to pick before they open all the way. They can be added to cupcakes, pancakes and breads and add a bit of sweet to them. They make yummy fritters! The bark can be infused for sore throats and lung problems.
Red maids (Calandrinia ciliata) April-May
You can eat the very young leaves shoots raw or cooked, however the leaves contain oxalic acid and so do have some toxicity. Take caution with this one, better used as an emergency food. The seeds however are rich in oil, can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s a bit time consuming to harvest too.
Sunflower,Mirasol (Helianthus annuus)
You can get black, yellow and purple dyes from this plant. It’s a good plant for papermaking. The seeds, besides being edible, make a decent flea repellent. They can be used for coughs and colds. Juice from the stems can speed healing of wounds.
Deadly seeds: More coming soon…
- Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)
- Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)
- Larkspur (Delphinium cardinale, Delphinium parishii)
- Jimson Weed (Datura stramonium)
- Hemlock (Conium maculatum)
- White Snake Root (Ageratina altissima)
- Wild Carrot (Pusillus)