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Foraging in San Diego's Canyons
Balboa Park

Could you live off Mother Nature in San Diego? Maybe, says Jon Rebman, curator of botany at San Diego's Natural History Museum, but only if you know what you're doing. In Balboa Park's Florida Canyon alone, the list of edibles is surprisingly long. The prickle pear's cactus pads and (delicious!) fruit, native elderberries, live oak acorns (after leaching), buckwheat, yucca flowers, fennel, nasturtium leaves, amaranth seed, not to mention the rabbits, gophers, rats, and -- why not? -- pigeons. Also in the region: chickweed, nettle, loquats, kumquats...the list goes on. But be careful! Poisonous plants like milkweed, castor beans, and hemlock also grow there and can be deadly. Know absolutely what you're picking. Wild carrot (edible) looks like the lethal hemlock. And another warning: a City Parks and Recreation gathering permit is required.

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