Texas is a state diverse in both native plants and wildlife. Almost anyone that has spent time in the beautiful outdoors of the Lone Star State has probably thought more than once about the edible plants of Texas. Using native plants for human consumption is not only cool in my opinion, but there is something to be said of having natural foods in our diets.
First, let me say that before consuming any wild food, be absolutely certain of its proper identity. Many plants have look-a-likes that appear very similar. So when in doubt, do not eat it. So after doing a little research, here are some of the edible Texas plants you can enjoy:
Wild onion (Allium canadense) – There are many bulb forming plants that resemble wild onions, some are toxic. Only harvest plants with the distinct odor of onions. The chopped green leaves can be used like chives and the bulbs are cooked as any other onions. Perennial.
Chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata) – Flowers used for seasoning. Perennial.
Chile pequin (Capsicum annuum) – Small and very hot red pepper. Perennial.
Pecan (Carya illinoiensis) – Edible nuts. Tree found along drainages and over sandy loam soils.
Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana) – Sweet black fruit. Small tree or shrub found on limestone soils in the western portion of the state. Common in the crosstimbers and the Edwards Plateau/Hill Country.
Eastern persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) – Sweet orange fruit. Small tree found primarily in the eastern portion of the state.
Anacua (Ehretia anacua) – Yellowish orange fruits are sweet and good for jams. A tree found in South Texas and the more arid regions of the state.
Mock pennyroyal (Hedeoma drummondii) – Leaves and flowers used for flavoring foods. Perennial.
Little walnut (Juglans microcarpa) – Small edible nut. A tree found throughout the state.
Black walnut (Juglans nigra) – Edible nut. Tree.
Agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata) – Sweet red berries that are great raw, put into cobblers, or made into jelly. A shrub found in Central Texas and north and west.
Barbados cherry (Malus glabra) – Bright red fruit that are high in Vitamin C. Shrub.
Blanco crabapple (Malus ioensis) – Yellowish green 1 inch diameter fruit that are good for jelly and cider. Small tree or large shrub.
Turk’s cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) – Bright red fruit that are bland but colorful. Perennial.
Horsemint (Monardo citriodora) – Leaves used raw or cooked for flavoring in salads, cooked foods, and for tea. Annual.
Pink Evening Primrose, Showy Primrose (Oenothera speciosa) – Cook as greens or in salads. Best flavor when collected before flowering. Perennial or annual.
Prickly pear (Opuntia ellisiana or Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri) – Edible fruit, tender new pads are also edible when cooked as “nopales” or “nopalitos.” Cactus.
Wood sorrel (Oxalix spp.) – Add a few leaves, flowers, or green seedpods to a salad or soup as you would French sorrel. The flavor is strong and sour, so add sparingly. Rich in vitamin C, it also contains high amounts of oxalic acid. Similar to spinach, when eaten in large amounts, may tie up calcium. Perennial.
Corona de Cristo passionfruit (Passiflora foetida) – Fruits are mildy sweet, sometimes tart. Young leaves and plants tips are edible. Perennial vine.
Maypop passionfruit (Passiflora incarnata) – Fruit with edible pulp. Perennial vine
Yellow passionvine (Passiflora lutea) – Small edible fruit. Perennial vine.
Mexican plum (Prunus mexicana) – Fruit used for preserves and cooking. Tree.
Dewberry or Blackberry (Rubus spp.) – Fruit used for table, wines, cobblers, pies, and jelly. Perennial vine found in Coastal, East-Central, and East Texas.
Giant spiderwort (Tradescantia gigantea) – Above ground parts may be sauteed or eaten raw. Perennial.
Grape (Vitus spp.) – Purplish or blackish fruit good for table, wine, or jelly. Perennial vine.
That’s all the plants that I know about. If you know of any other edible plants in Texas please leave a comment below and share with everyone. Have fun, but be careful!