You can eat some of these!
BY HAILEY MINTON
Aside from the Indian paintbrush, the flowers themselves aren’t necessarily edible. The flowers do serve as a way to identify these plants you can eat. The information here, unless otherwise indicated, came from the Utah State University Extension Field Guide: Wildflowers & Other Herbaceous Plants of Utah Rangelands. The digital version of the book is free online, so if you’re serious about foraging, look it up to help you make sure you’re identifying your plant species correctly. Also, keep others in mind as you forage. Try not to take away from the scenery other visitors will enjoy along the trails.
Young shoots can be cooked like asparagus, while young leaves can be used in salads and steeped for tea. The pith of the stem can be used to flavor and thicken stews and soups.
Young common plantain leaves are edible and nutritious. It is rich in vitamins A, C, and K. The leaves and juice have been widely used to treat insect bites, rashes, sunburn, blisters, burns, and cuts.
Camas were harvested in large quantities by Native Americans and stored for winter use. Bulbs were eaten raw or cooked.
The seeds of the Lewis flax are very nutritious and edible when cooked. They have a pleasant, nutty taste.
The blossoms of Indian paintbrush are reported to be edible but may accumulate selenium if growing in selenium-rich soils. Selenium is a trace mineral that is good for us, but too much of it can lead to poisoning. Grazing animals have been poisoned by ingesting forages grown on seleniferous soils that have accumulated selenium in relatively high concentrations. Soils containing high concentrations of selenium are commonly found in many parts of the world, including the western United States.* Based off my research, I don’t think you will be able to tell how much selenium is in the soil by instinct or the five senses alone. You probably won’t be any smarter after grabbing a handful of soil and wistfully staring into the distance as it falls back to the ground. Perhaps the Indian paintbrushes should be left for the bees.
Find the online Field Guide here: digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2768&context=extension_curall
*T. Zane Davis, Jeffery O. Hall, in Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology (Second Edition), 2017