Cherokee Wild Foods

Here is a list of 71 plants and three mushrooms, 61 of them drawn from the 78 listed in “Food Use of Wild Plants by Cherokee Indians.” I included only those that I know to be common in Western North Carolina today. I added more, marked in bold, that I believe are likely to have been used. There are surely many, many more,  not to mention medicinals like ginseng as well as dozens of animals including deer, bear, crawdads, grubs, grasshoppers, and definitely yellow jackets and hornets.

Another potential resource might be “Contemporary Usage of Native Plant Foods by the Eastern Cherokees.” Local ethnobotanist  Marc Williams, has a list of over 300 wild edibles in our area; he wrote a thesis on it. Here is my list of the 125 most common. Two other people who would know a lot are Doug Elliott and Ila Hatter. The person who might know the most about traditional Cherokee use is David Cozzo.

acorn
angelica
angelico
bittercress
blackberry
black birch
black locust
black walnut
bolete mushrooms
branch lettuce
burdock (since about 1650; fresh root)
butternut
chaga
chestnut
chickweed (arrived from Europe probably by 1700)
corn salad
crabapple
creasy greens
dandelion
elderberry
evening primrose
gooseberry
grape: fox, possum, muscadine
ground cherry
groundnut
hawthorne
heal all
hen of the woods
hickory
hog peanut
honey locust
honey mushrooms
horseradish
Japanese knotweed (since 1800)
lambsquarter
may apple
morel
nasturtium
onion grass
passionflower
paw paw
pennywort
persimmon
pin cherry
plantain
poke
queen of the meadow
ramp
raspberry
raspberry, black raspberry, thimbleberry
sassafras
serviceberry
sochane
solomon’s seal
sourwood
spicebush
spiderwort
strawberry
sugar maple
sumac
sunchoke
toothwort
violet- purple, white, and yellow
wild ginger
wild hydrangea
wintergreen
witch hazel
wood betony
wood nettle
wood sorrel
yellow dock