Edible Wild Plants for Foraging and Fun

You may be surprised to learn that many of the plants and shrubs that grow wild in your area are edible, or produce edible flowers, fruit, or nuts. Identifying wild edibles can be a fun pastime, or a survivalist necessity. Always use caution and be sure to fully identify any plant you intend to consume. If there is ever any doubt when scouting for wild edibles, don’t take the risk. Proper identification and preparation is essential, and this guide has been created to help you add to the knowledge of an extensive edible plant study.

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Dogwood Trees are grown as ornamental flowering trees in many parts of the U.S. and beyond. While not a significant source of nutrition, parts of the Dogwood are edible and useful. The berries are edible and are said to be a traditional remedy for fever. The bark can also be boiled to make a tea used to treat nausea, fever, and headache.

Blackberries (Rubus spp)Blackberries are easy to spot with their rambling canes and dark black, juicy berries. The plants can be thorny, so use caution when harvesting. Look for Blackberries growing in damp areas along pond edges, or on the downward slopes between the fringes of a forest and the lower fields below. The berries are eaten fresh or used in baking.

Grapes (Vitis spp)Several varieties of Grape can be found growing wild in North America, Europe, and other parts of the world. The Grapes growing on wild vines may be more tart than their cultivated relatives, but they are still packed with vitamins and minerals. The leaves are also edible when boiled or steamed.

Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale)Dandelions have edible flowers, roots, and leaves. They are often thought of as a weed, but they grow wild in many woodlands, fields, and grasslands. Don’t eat them from a lawn that may have been sprayed with pesticide or herbicide, and always leave the best plants to help the colony of Dandelions keep thriving if you are picking them in the wild. Boil the roots and eat the flowers and leaves raw.

Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)Elderberries grow in large clusters of many black or dark purple berries. They are best eaten boiled or cooked, and in small quantities. Many wild trees have berries that look similar to Elderberries so use caution and be sure to clearly identify an Elderberry plant before sampling the fruit.

Wild Blueberries (Vaccinium spp)Blueberries grow wild in North America, parts of Europe, and Asia. They are high in vitamin C and are a good source of hydration. Blueberries have a white blush on the ripe fruit, and the shrubs they grow on like acidic soil. Wildlife also love Wild Blueberries, so be alert if you find a Wild Blueberry bush in bear country.

Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago major)Broadleaf Plantain is a wild weed that has wide leaves and grows in wooded areas and old forests. It is not related to the banana relative of the same name. The leaves can be eaten cooked or boiled, and the plant has many traditional uses for medicine and folk remedies.

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)Young leaves of the Sassafras plant can be used to make tea that has a lemony taste. You can also eat the leaves raw, in a stew, or boiled. Sassafras Root can be boiled to make tea that tastes like root beer and it is said to have many medicinal qualities.

Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora)Sweet Goldenrod is used to make tea by steeping the flowers or leaves in scalding water. Do not confuse Sweet Goldenrod with Ragweed, which looks similar and blooms at the same time of year, throughout spring.

Wild Peppergrass (Lepidium virginicum)

Wild Peppergrass has a peppery taste, as its name suggests, and the entire plant is edible. You can make tea from the leaves, the leaves and stalks can be boiled and eaten, or the mashed plant can be blended with vinegar and spices to make a condiment similar to mustard. ▲ 1