Edible Plants of the Yokuts Indians



Currant (Ribes) - the black berries are edible raw, cooked or dried.
Elderberry (Sambucus) - the blue or black berries can be eaten raw, but are a laxative. Indians on the East Coast used them to flavor pemmican. Beware the red berries, which are poisonous!
Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) - the berries can be eaten raw, cooked, crushed (for cider), or dried and ground (for flour). This is an important food for bears in the wild.
Rasberry (Rubus) & Thimbleberry (Rubus) - the berries are edible raw and when ripe are delicious.
Toyon (Christmas) Berry (Heteromeles)- Be Careful! These red berries are a powerful laxative!

Seeds and Nuts

Acorns (Quercus) - are edible, but are bland and must be specially prepared to remove the tannic acid. A staple of the Yokuts Indians
Chamise (Adenostoma) and Greasewood (Adenostoma) - though tedious, the seeds can be collected and eaten.
Pine Nuts (Pinus) - Another staple of the Yokuts Indians
Tule Grass (Scirpus) - though tedious, the seeds can be collected and eaten. The roots are also edible.
Also, Manzanita berries - see above

Leaves, Stems and Roots

Cat Tail (Typha) - the tuberous roots may be boiled.
Cow Parsnip (Heracleum) - eat the roots like carrots. The young stems can cooked.
Clover, Sour Grass (Oxalis) - the leaves can be eaten raw in salads, but give you gas (cook them in salt water to remove the effect).
Dandelion (Taraxacum) - actually a native of Europe, so the Yokuts didn't eat it, but Dandelions are edible nonetheless. The stems and leaves may be eaten raw in salads, and the roots boiled in salt water.
Miners Lettuce (Montia) - the leaves may be eaten raw in salads (formic acid from ants adds a vinegar taste), and the roots may be cooked.
Snow Plant (Sarcodes) - the stalks are cooked like asparagus, but this is a protected plant.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica) - cooked leaves and stems are a spinach substitute.
Thistle (Cirisium) - all species are edible. The roots may be boiled, stems peeled and steamed, and a tea can be made from the leaves.
Tule Grass (Scirpus) - the tuberous roots may be boiled. The seeds are also edible.
Yellow Mustard (Brassica) - the leaves and stems can be steamed or eaten raw.


Dandelion (Taraxacum) - actually a plant native to Europe. Nonetheless, the roots when dried and ground are a popular coffee substitute. The leaves when seeped make a good tea.
Mint (Mentha) - the leaves can be steeped for tea.
Willow (Salix) - an ancient Greek and American Indian folk medicine. The inner bark is steeped for a tea that contains the same drug (Salicylic Acid) as aspirin.
Also, Thistle leaves, Elderberry flowers, and crushed Manzanita berries - can be used to make cider.


Prickly Pear (Opuntia) - cut off the outer skin and spines from the pads (called "nopales" in Spanish to eat pulpy inside. The red flower buds, called apples, are very tasty.
Lord’s Candle, Spanish Bayonet (Yucca) - the flowers, buds and young stalks are all edible (cut the stalks into slices and cook them until the outer rind comes off).
Mushrooms (Fungi) - beware of many poisonous varieties. However, massive ones growing from tree trunks are safe, though some, such as the common Pine Destroyer (Fomes pinicola), taste awful. The easily identified Chicken Mushroom (Polyprus sulphureus) is a delicacy. Go for the tender edges and avoid the woody center.


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