Your Guide to Roadside Foraging: Loquats, Figs, Wild Plums, and More!

published Jul 12, 2012
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Taking a road trip this summer? If you keep a look out, you could find yourself within easy reach of an afternoon fruit snack foraged right near the road! The following guide explains what types of fruit you’re likely to find, and how to go about getting them:

Alistair Bland of Smithsonian Magazine shares his best bets for roadside foraging in July. Here are a few selections:

Loquats: Very common in American backyards, but most homeowners don’t even know the fruit is edible! Bland’s recommendation: “When picking loquats, leave a quarter-inch of stem attached to each fruit, which will reduce bruising, and carry them home wrapped in a sweat shirt for padding. Peel the skins and savor the sweet, juicy, zesty flesh. If you have a real bounty to work with, try juicing a portion and making loquat cider.”

Avocados: First off, it’s illegal to swipe avocados from an orchard, so don’t even think about it! But if you’re south of Santa Barbara, there are plenty of wild trees along the roadside. Bland’s advice: “Watch the roadsides for avocado trees, and, when you see one, look to the ground below, or in the culvert along the road. These are the places where ripe avocados go–and if you don’t get them, the rodents will.”

Figs: Many varieties of fig produce a summer crop (prior to the main crop in September and late Fall). Look for wild or feral fig trees grown along small rural roadways, particularly in Texas and other Southern states. Bland’s advice: “Breba crop figs grow from the old-growth wood of the previous year, and so they may often be concealed by summer foliage. Push back the leaves and behold the whoppers. Only take them if they’re splitting, sagging and dripping with juices, as figs will not ripen once picked.”

Wild Plums: In parts of coastal California, wild plums are everywhere! (They’re also abundant alongside the roads in New Zealand!) Bland’s advice: “A quick skirmish with the brambles, and you’re among the trees. Taste through them until you find the best. You’ll find that the plums fallen and hiding in the grass are exceptionally sweet, ripened by days in the sun. Enjoy them on the spot, or take them home to make jam–or even wine.”

Do you roadside forage? Have any secret spots you’re willing to divulge to other readers?

Related: Foraging Resources: Books, Websites, and Organizations

(Image: Emily Ho)