10 Wild Plants You Can Eat

  • 10 Wild Plants You Can Eat
June 03, 2022 2 Comments

10 Wild Plants You Can Eat

You find yourself lost in the woods, you search through your pockets for something to eat, and come up with a stick of gum, fine for now, but you have already been out here 3 days. After staring at some strange plant you think you have seen somewhere before, in an article on the internet or something..... hmmm.... maybe I could eat that.

Here are a list of 10, of the most popular varieties of edible wild plants, found in North America.


Grifola frondosa, Known as a ubiquitous weed worldwide, dandelion has been a staple part of many food cultures for millennia, as all parts of the plant, at every stage of its lifecycle, are edible. Dandelion is rich in vitamins A, B, and C, and it contains high levels of magnesium and ironcommonly known as hen-of-the-woods or maitake, is an edible mushroom that’s a favorite of mushroom hunters.

Part of the sunflower family, dandelion can be identified by its smooth and hairless leaves with toothed edges. The stems are hollow and lead directly to an expansive rootstock. Pick the leaves in early spring when they are most tender and nutritious, and harvest the bright yellow buds just before they flower, as they can quickly go to seed.


Spring and fall are typically the best times to go foraging for food, and one of the plants you are likely to come across is asparagus. Wild asparagus grows abundantly in the spring along sunny roadsides and irrigation ditches in loose, sandy soil. It is a perennial plant that continues to produce new growth each year, so, if you locate a good asparagus crop, remember to revisit your route the following spring.

You can identify wild asparagus patches in the fall by their bright yellow or orange stems and a scattering of berries underneath the bushy growth. Mark the spot and return in the spring to harvest the tender green stems. Look for stems with a white base and a tightly formed crown with a slight purple color.


One of the most nutritionally valuable wild plants around, stinging nettle has a rich, mineral flavor that makes it a delicious substitute for spinach or kale. Nettle plants grow to approximately three feet tall and have dark green opposite-growing toothed leaves. Small hairs grow on the underside of nettle leaves and can deliver a sharp sting to unwary foragers not wearing gloves. You can find nettle growing rampantly along river beds in partially shaded areas.

You can eat the nettle leaves fresh in salads if you pick them young, as they will not have the same stinging ability as mature plants. Otherwise, you can neutralize the stinging sensation and mildly bitter flavor by steaming, sauteing, or boiling the leaves to use in pies, casseroles, stir-fries, and pasta. You can also dry the leaves and store them for winter medicinal use as a tea.


Garlic mustard is an invasive weed that has infiltrated almost all areas of Europe and North America, and it is reviled by gardeners and forest rangers for devastating the botanical biodiversity of many areas. Seeds won’t sprout when planted where it grows. Fortunately for opportunistic foragers, it is as tasty as it is destructive.

Garlic mustard is easy to distinguish for its slightly rounded, serrated leaf edge, pronounced veining, and deep green hue. Look for a squat bushy herb on the forest floor in early spring, and keep in mind that garlic mustard plants also send up long, flowering stems with tiny, white four-petal buds. Garlic mustard has a distinctive appearance, but, if you’re unsure about your identification of the plant, crush a leaf or two in your hands to release the characteristic garlicky aroma.


Elderberries have been used for centuries in brewing and wine-making due to their musky aroma. They also have powerful medicinal properties, as they are high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and flavonols.

However, it is important to identify the plant correctly, as they have a similar appearance to deadly water hemlock. Only the flowers and berries of the elderberry plant can be eaten; the rest of the plant is toxic.

Elderberries grow in moist forest habitats, and the dense bushes can grow up to 12 feet tall. The stems are brown and woody, with a bark-like appearance near the base of the bush. The leaves are light green and have an elongated shape and serrated edges that grow in an opposite pattern.

You can distinguish flowering elderberry plants by their clusters of 5-petal, white flowers that grow from light green stems. In the summer, the dark purple berries form an umbrella-shaped cluster of 10-20 fruits, with each berry about ¼” in diameter.

Use the berries and flowers to make cordial, infusions, or tea, or bake them into cookies, cakes, and pies.


One of the most delicious wild plants you can find is a raspberry. Available in a wider variety of colors than their domestic cousins, wild raspberries grow abundantly in woodland areas, and the edible fruits emerge during the late summer months.

Raspberries are differentiated from blackberries (also edible!) by their hollow-cored fruit and strong, vertical canes that have small to medium densely clustered thorns. Look for light-green, spade-shaped leaves that are serrated and more slender than those of a blackberry bush.

Wash the berries and enjoy them raw to get the most nutrition from the plant, or incorporate them into your favorite baking recipes for added tartness.


Found throughout Australia, Europe, and North and South America, young curled dock is characterized by its wavy, elongated bright green leaves which have a slightly sour taste when eaten raw.

The mature plant displays tightly clustered flower heads that change from green to reddish-brown throughout the pollination season and long, reddish stalks that are also edible. Be sure to remove the tough outer layer of the stalk and boil two to three times, changing the water between boils, to eliminate the bitter taste.

8. Amaranth

(Amaranthus retroflexus)Native to the Americas but found on most continents, amaranth is an edible weed. You can eat all parts of the plant, but be on the look out for spines that appear on some of the leaves. While not poisonous, amaranth leaves do contain oxalic acid and may contain large amounts of nitrates if grown in nitrate-rich soil. It’s recommended that you boil the leaves to remove the oxalic acid and nitrates. Don’t drink the water after you boil the plant. With that said, you can eat the plant raw if worse comes to worst.

9. Burdock

(Arctium lappa) Medium to large-sized plant with big leaves and purplish thistle-like flower heads. The plant is native to the temperate areas of the Eastern Hemisphere; however, it has been naturalized in parts of the Western Hemisphere as well. Burdock is actually a popular food in Japan. You can eat the leaves and the peeled stalks of the plant either raw or boiled. The leaves have a bitter taste, so boiling them twice before eating is recommended to remove the bitterness. The root of the plant can also be peeled, boiled, and eaten.

.10 Cattail

(Typha) Known as cattails or punks in North America and bullrush and reedmace in England, the typha genus of plants is usually found near the edges of freshwater wetlands. Cattails were a staple in the diet of many Native American tribes. Most of a cattail is edible. You can boil or eat raw the rootstock, or rhizomes, of the plant. The rootstock is usually found underground. Make sure to wash off all the mud. The best part of the stem is near the bottom where the plant is mainly white. Either boil or eat the stem raw. Boil the leaves like you would spinach. The corn dog-looking female flower spike can be broken off and eaten like corn on the cob in the early summer when the plant is first developing. It actually has a corn-like taste to it.

Bonus. Clover

Lucky for you, as you stand there staring at this plant at the edge of the woods, clovers are actually edible. And they’re found just about everywhere there’s an open grassy area. You can spot them by their distinctive trefoil leaflets. You can eat clovers raw, but they taste better boiled.

In Conclusion

Be sure to pick up a field guide, or at least tag along with someone that knows what they are doing for your first time wild edible foraging. I pick and pluck plants, all the time while I am hiking, but then I have years of experience and plenty of people that have helped me along the way.Do not be put off thinking you will be poisoned, while that is a risk, there are many books to help you identify the edible species. Heck, just download these pictures and print them out and you have your first beginners guide.


Though many wild Plants can be enjoyed safely, others pose a threat to your health.

Milky or discolored sap, Spines, fine hairs, or thorns, Beans, bulbs, or seeds inside pods, Bitter or soapy taste, Dill, carrot, parsnip, or parsley-like foliage, “Almond” scent in the woody parts and leaves, Grain heads with pink, purplish, or black spurs. Three-leaved growth pattern

Wild Plants You Can Eat

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Book on Amazon - The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants" Illustrated Guide to Foraging, Harvesting, and Enjoying Wild Plants"

Book on Amazon - The Forager's Harvest" A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants "

free e-book DownLoad - The Botanical Lore of the California Indians.zip

Bad Rabbit

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Tags : wilderness, survival, edible, plants


  • Mushroom eater
    2022-06-19 18:09:05
    Good Article, I could mention 20 more but these were good for beginners, I like the clover thrown in as a bonus. -------------Admin Reply: I add them to soup..... nice flavor--------------------
  • Erin R.
    2022-06-19 18:38:57
    all summer here in upstate new york, I add tiger lily to all my soups, it gives a nutty flavor. it grows all over the sides of the roads. ---------------- Admin Reply: Most lilies you can eat, but don't give it to your pets, causes kidney failure in cats.---------------

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