Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

Photographer Jimmy Fike thinks often of the stories his grandmother liked to tell him, in a lively Southern drawl, about her youth on a farm in rural Alabama. She hunted for wild game and picked persimmons, filberts, and blackberries for cobblers. In 2008, feeling disillusioned with traditional landscape photography and inspired by these family memories, Fike decided to start photographing and digitally illustrating the United States’ rich diversity of wild edible plants.

So far, he’s photographed between 140 and 150 edible plants native or common to communities across 15 states. He isn’t a botanist, so he trusts his instincts and consults field guides to determine which ones are edible. “You learn as you go,” he said. “Really look at stuff closely, get to know it, and invariably stuff we’re surrounded by is edible, useful, medicinal. It’s got a reason to be here.”

Hear more about edible plants, and get recipes for cocktails you can grow yourself, on this episode of Bite:

Once he chooses a plant, Fike carefully digs it up, cleans it, and takes it back to the studio, where he pins it to a white backdrop, quickly arranging the plant to showcase its distinct features before it wilts. He photographs multiple specimens of the same plant and digitally combines the best features of each in Photoshop. The edible parts are highlighted in color.

Fike has found at least 10 wild edible plants while walking around his downtown Phoenix neighborhood.  Some of his favorites include raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, lemonade berry (a fruit that can be soaked in water to create a tart drink) and miner’s lettuce (a leafy vegetable with healthy doses of iron and omega-3s).

Fike hopes his photographs can connect people to their environment, and serve as a historical archive of plant life during a changing climate. “If you start eating plants that grow around where you live, you’d probably start to worry a little bit more about the health of that ecosystem,” he said.

Wapato
Sunflower

 

Marsh Mallow
Chokeberry

 

Ginseng
Indian Cucumber

 

Stone Crop

Canadian Violet
Ground Cherry

 

Echinacea
Heal-all

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate