Along with my interest in traditional and herbal medicines, I also have a huge interest in wildcrafting. Wildcrafting is the act of harvesting plants from their wild habitat for use as food or medicine. My interest in wildcrafting started when I was a child walking in the woods with my grandmother. In the spring we would go out looking for morel mushrooms and she would point out plants to me and tell me what they were used for.
She would point out all the plants that we could eat, such as dandelion and nettles. I don't remember all the information she gave me specifically, but every year when I'm walking through the woods on my own land I remember my time in the woods with her.
I spend a lot of my time identifying the plants growing here and finding out if they are useful or not. I know that even if I don't remember what my grandmother taught me, it was that time with her at such a young age that fueled the desire I have as an adult to know more and make use of what nature has provided me.
I've taught my kids what things they can snack on while they are playing. Of course the wild raspberries are a huge favorite, but so are the red clover flowers. My younger daughter, Meg, watches and waits all year for the Autumn Olive berries to ripen in late September or October so she can enjoy them.
You might be amazed to find out what is useful in your own backyard, even if you live in the city. A great source of information is http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/. Steve Brill has been leading groups through parks and woods for years and teaching people about the wild foods around us.
If you scroll down on the left, under the heading "For Sale" you will see "Wild Cards". I highly recommend these to anyone who wants a nice, easy to carry reference. I have these and find myself reaching for them because they are so easy to carry along and the pictures make it easy to identify plants.
I do have several books and use them often. But rather than try to carry them in the woods with me, I use them to study what I've found. And if I do come across something I can't identify with my cards, I generally have my camera with me, so I can take a picture and use the internet to identify it later.
Always remember that if you are not sure about a plant to NOT ingest it. When at all possible take someone into the woods with you who has experience. Or at least start with things you already know, but may not realize are edible such as violets, dandelions or daisies.