Snacks on the go – edible items to pick and try on your next hike

Posted on 27 March 2024 By Louise Bell

Unsplash\Vije Vijendranath

South Africa provides some of the best hiking trails as it is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world to enjoy and explore. From the tapestry of succulents in the Karoo to the network of fynbos on Table Mountain, you’ll be able to see a wonderful array of plant species while travelling on outdoor trails.

As hiking provides sensory splendours, such as stunning sights and fragrant scents, one sense is highly underrated when it comes to exploring nature – which is taste. Unsure how to identify the tasty treats the South African outdoors provide? We’ll guide you through some unique edible items to try and forage on your next expedition.

Wild Sorrel

These green, slender plants you’ll be able to spot in open fields are usually seen as weeds as they have a knack for spreading and growing at a rapid rate. The entire plant is edible, but the stems have been known to produce the most juice to consume.

The leaves and stems have a sour and lemon-y taste, but be aware that this plant has oxalic acid so it should not be consumed in large quantities.

How can it be identified? The leaves have a clover-like appearance and the stems can be long in length.

Natal Plum 

A stunning shrub that bears the ‘num-num’ fruit, the Natal Plum can be found in coastal areas or sand dunes and is native to the Natal area. The fruit has been said to have an interesting flavour with sweet and tangy undertones. While this wild produce can be enjoyed raw, you can also forage this fruit to make jam.

How can it be identified? Beyond the red berries, the plant often has white, scented flowers present and has thorns to look out for.

Cape Asparagus

Also referred to as ‘katdoring’, this spiky plant can be often discovered in a variety of regions, which include the Western and Eastern Cape. This species can be tricky to harvest as the plant is adorned with needles. The young shoots of the plant are edible and have been said to contain high dietary fibre, but are more used by the local population for medicinal purposes.

How can it be identified? It has long stems which can have white, scented flowers present in the summer and spring times. When the flowering process has concluded, this plant grows round berries that have a red hue when fully matured.

Various mushrooms

If you’re looking for a true foraging experience while on a hike, mushrooms in South Africa are the perfect product to harvest on an outdoor adventure. There are a variety of edible fungi scattered throughout the country, but be sure to know how to identify them properly to ensure you don’t eat any toxic items.

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