By August 3, 2013 48 Comments Read More →

52 Wild Plants You Can Eat

Waking Times

In addition to using the list below as a resource, consider the importance of properly educating yourself before consuming wild plants. Below are some resources to consider:

Stalking the Wild Asparagus and Stalking The Healthful Herbs by Euell Gibbons

Edible Wild Plants by John Kallas Ph.D.

Wild Cards: Edible Wild Foods and The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide by Linda Runyon

We all know which vegetables and fruits are safe to eat, but what about other wild edibles? Here are a few common North American goodies that are safe to eat if you find yourself stuck in the wild:

1. Blackberries – Rubus fruticosus

Many wild berries are not safe to eat, it’s best to stay away from them. But wild blackberries are 100% safe to eat and easy to recognize. They have red branches that have long thorns similar to a rose, the green leaves are wide and jagged. They are best to find in the spring when their white flowers bloom, they are clustered all around the bush and their flowers have 5 points. The berries ripen around August to September.

2. Dandelions – Taraxacum officinale

The easiest to recognize if the dandelion, in the spring they show their bright yellow buds. You can eat the entire thing raw or cook them to take away the bitterness, usually in the spring they are less bitter. They are packed with Vitamin A and Vitamin C, and beta carotene.

3. Asparagus – Asparagus officinalis


The vegetable that makes your pee smell funny grows in the wild in most of Europe and parts of North Africa, West Asia, and North America. Wild asparagus has a much thinner stalk than the grocery-store variety. It’s a great source of source of vitamin C, thiamine, potassium and vitamin B6. Eat it raw or boil it like you would your asparagus at home.

4. Elderberries – Sambucus

An elderberry shrub can grow easily grow about 10 feet and yield tons of food, their leaf structure is usually 7 main leaves on a long stretched out stem, the leaves are long and round and the leaves themselves have jagged edges. These are easiest to identify in the spring as they blossom white clustered flowers that resembles an umbrella. Mark the spot and harvest the berries when they’re ripe around September.

Elderberries are known for their flu and cold healing properties, you can make jelly from them and are very sweet and delicious. Yet, be aware that elderberries can be toxic if not properly prepared.

5. Gooseberries – Ribes uva-crispa

These are also common in the woods in northern Missouri, the branches are grey and have long red thorns, and the leaves are bright green and have 5 points. They have rounded edges and look similar to the shape of a maple leaf. The flowers in the spring are very odd looking, they are bright red and hang down, the berries ripen around late May early June.

6. Mulberries – Morus

Mulberry leaves have two types, one spade shape and a 5 fingered leaf. Both have pointed edges. The ripe fruit is edible and is widely used in pies, tarts, wines, cordials and tea.

7. Pine – Pinus

There are over a hundred different species of pine. Not only can the food be used as a supply of nourishment but, also can be used for medicinal purposes. Simmer a bowl of water and add some pine needles to make tea. Native americans used to ground up pine to cure skurvy, its rich in vitamin C.

8. Kudzu – Pueraria lobata

Pretty much the entire plant is edible and is also known for medicinal values, such as being an anti-inflammatory and helping in treating headaches and migraines. In developed areas, these plants are often sprayed with herbicides. We were blessed to find this great patch of Kudzu surrounded by Blackberries. The leaves can be eaten raw, steam or boiled. The root can be eaten as well.

9. Daylily – Hemerocallis

You can find this plant in many parts of the country, they have bright orange flowers and foliage that comes straight up from the ground, no stem. You can eat the flower buds before they open, just cook it like a vegetable.

10. Pecans – Carya illinoinensis

The trees mature around 20-30 ft, some can grow up to 100 ft tall. The leaves are bright green and long, smooth edges and the pecans themselves are grown in green pods and when ripe the pods open and the seeds fall to the ground. The pecan is a species of hickory, native to south-central North America. Pecans, if grown commercially have some of the highest nutrients per acre of any crop.

Prev1 of 5
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

  • Egregore

    Cool. I just don’t wanna be the star in “Into the Wild Part 2”.

  • 63R01d

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>Not all pine is safe!! This article is dangerous! You can poison someone with this information!!

  • Nicole

    Another one you forgot is wild Rose Hip. Pretty bitter but very nutritional and super high in Vitamin C and A. Oh, and you can dig and cook the bulbs of Spring Beauty flowers. They’re small and taste kinda like potatoes. Not bad.

  • JUDY


  • Kelly

    I think that some of these posts of herbs need more information. There are many species of pine that can cause gastrointestinal illness and one that actually kill you.
    I paraphrased your wording: “Go grab some pine needles and make some tea.”

    I wonder the extent that people believe this information and many other lightly-informational articles to be absolute and follow all the suggestions given with no research or education.

    Please do more research or take down this article and re-write all the herbs with warnings and proper information. is a great source for herbal information. They don’t provide chemical interactions between plants but there is a lot more information.

    I noticed there are precautions on some plants. Thank you for those.
    Plants are a very important medicine and must be treated with great respect.
    Learn what you can, but be unwaveringly careful.

  • Lupe

    this info is useful but some have the wrong pictures.

  • Anonymous

    No indian herbs shrebs plants which r important medicinals?

  • angel

    okay, i think that if you have a problem with the article, you should probably just find another website. or as many of you suggest, go do the research yourself. though i do appreciate that I’ve been made aware of the errors, it’s going off of the deep end to scorn whoever made the article.

  • DEBL

    I can’t believe you forgot these two:

    Horehound, which can be eaten raw (wash first if possible) and gets rid of coughs and sore throats (what do you think Ricola uses for their cough drops and lozenges?). If it can grow in dry west Texas it can grow anywhere.

    Hyssop, another great herb for colds, best for use in teas. Again, if it can grow wild in far west Texas it can grow anywhere.

    As for Lambquarter, great in cooked greens and for salad…problem is once it grows in your garden it starts to take over if you know what I mean.

    Glad you mentioned mullein, another cold fighter.

  • Scott Z

    No one has mentioned Spanish Moss yet. This is surprising to me.

    Spanish Moss is neither Spanish nor is it a moss. It is actually an air plant. Spanish Moss grows extensively on trees and fences throughout warm and humid regions of North America, especially in the Southeastern United States.

    Spanish Moss is edible in its entirety. It is also useful as stuffing, as Henry Ford noticed when he used it for padding the seats of his very early Model T Fords. You might want to microwave or boil it to kill any bugs which might have claimed your bundle of Spanish Moss before you found it.

    Here is the catch. Spanish Moss won’t kill you, but it has zilch nutritional value. It has no protein, vitamins, minerals, nor anything else you would want in your healthy diet. There might be some fiber in there for all I know. It is useful for filling a hole in ones stomach temporarily, but that’s about it.

  • JOHN

    When growing up in Northern Minnesota,in summer and spring we regularly harvested and ate lambs quarters,dandelion, stinging nettles,cowslip(proper name ?),purslane,and would have tried cat tails if I had known of its edibility.(How’s that for a new word?) lots of stuff out there, but you have to know your plants !!

  • Frank Marshall

    The subject matter of this article is useful and thus has value. It must be said, however, that the article ITSELF is ILLITERATELY WRITTEN in so many, many ways.

    The author has no understanding of punctuation, poor spelling skills, and awful syntax. It is SHOCKING that high schools (and even the low-ranking universities) are even ALLOWING such illiterates to graduate.

    These people are just passed through the system without learning to use the English language properly. Naturally, the author’s extremely shaky command of English composition makes his claimed expertise in the subject matter at hand open to great doubt.

  • fmrl

    An elderberry plant can produce tons of food!? I sincerely doubt that. At most it can produce a few punds.

  • Joe W Cullen

    The plant you call fireweed is misnamed. There is a plant in CO that occurs at higher altitude and a plant called fireweed that grows in Kansas and the prairie states. These two plants are not the same and not the same as the plant you call fireweed.
    The plants you designated as edible are mostly salad plants. You cannot survive on salads.
    Never rely on blog articles about plants. Always check to see if your state has an official listing of plants that occur in your state. Many of these lists also contain references to what part of the state the plants occur in.
    Most of these plants DO NOT occur in the area where I live. Those that do produce fruit are stripped by the deer and other omnivores. Deer can reach up to 7/8 feet high on their hind legs to get wild grapes, mulberries, walnuts and persimmon.
    Many of the plants you recommend only produce for a matter of days. Leaf structure gets tough to eat the longer it is in the sunlight.
    Always check the identification of plants recommended on the internet. Look them up in SPN (scientific plant names). This is the bible of plant names.
    In our area everybody calls one particular tree here the Chinese Elm. Why? Because all there ancestors called it that. But they are wrong. The tree is really the Siberian Elm. Name changed by the people who were selling them to the pioneers and their subsequent generations because they wanted an exotic Asian name.
    Who am I? What do I know with a BS in Botany and a MS in plant ecology. Extensively trained in taxonomy.
    Do not rely on these article to be correct.
    Start a library on plant identification. Learn how to use a taxonomic key and get the taxonomic keys that cover your area. Get a good handlens and learn to make a homemade plant press. Collect and study.
    Nothing worth doing is easy.

    • leetrav

      Very sound advice. Common names can ‘fool’ the best of em’. Foraging is fantastic but safety is paramount. Thanks for the advice…

  • Stephanie

    Worst article I have ever read. Filled with mass amounts of errors! Your readers have corrected for you in the comments, please re-write the article. This is how people poison themselves, crappy articles and a blind faith in the internet.

    • SuperLuminal Elf

      “Stephanie”: you have specific evident to back up the claims you make here in your rant?

  • am

    The information is great and useful. Please make some corrections; the photos for the following plants should be replaced for the right ones: cloves (here is the hemlock), Herb Robert (two plants on the photo, none of them right), lamb’s quarters (a wrong plant again), the same about wild garlic.

    • Lupe


  • Anonymous

    The information is great and useful. Please make some corrections; the photos for the following plants should be replaced for the right ones: cloves (here is the hemlock), Herb Robert (two plants on the photo, none of them right), lamb’s quarters (a wrong plant again), the same about wild garlic.

  • Kellie

    Lot’s of mistakes in the article as several people have mentioned in the comments. I appreciate all the clarifications ya’all made in the comments.

    One should ALWAYS check a GOOD plant ID book before consuming wild plants. And one should ALWAYS be aware of any possible allergies. Don’t just go out and eat a bunch of wild plants in your yard.

    Look around, see what is around the plants also. For example, in my area, I would NOT eat pigweed since this is a huge farming area and tons of pesticides are used each year and pigweed is one of their favorite targets. The pigweed around here has been contaminated by all the GMO’s. In fact, I won’t eat ANYTHING from any of the ditches around here due to the chemicals they use in farming. And that is sad because they have a few nice patches of cattails.

  • Erica Marciniec

    In addition to what Henriette said, I don’t think “wild asparagus” is thinner than cultivated asparagus unless, potentially, you are talking about Asparagus africanus? The Asparagus officinalis picture in this post, which is MY photograph and I’m racking my brain here but I don’t recall giving permission for its use (!?), simply shows thin stems because they were at the end of their season and I was foraging anything left I could get my hands on.

    • Cindi

      Actually, for educational purposes, photos can be used without permission.

      I believe that everyone should get themselves good identification books for their area! Several of what is on here does not grow in Iowa.

      Remember, more than one book to do identification! Better safe than dead!

  • Henriette

    A great big Nope! on coltsfoot (Tussilago). It contains livertoxic pyrrolizidines.

    Also, the chicory leaf pic can be any dandy at all. Add a pic of the flower, or better, the flowering plant.

    The clovers looks to me to be an Oxalis (not a Trifolium).

    The “herb robert” pic is a mix of Stachys and Centaurium … not a Geranium robertianum in sight. (Also, I’d love to hear from anybody who’s actually eaten herb robert. That herb _stinks_.)

    The garlic grass pic is of chives.

    You need to mention giardia (and similar waterborne diseases) whenever you talk wild watercress.

    The “lamb’s quarters” pic is a yellow dock (or similar).

    Joe Pye weed contains livertoxic PAs. (I remember the aboveground parts being quite bitter as well, but I’m not quite sure on that part.)

    Mullein edible? Tell me more! I’ve never even thought about eating it. Both the leaf and the flower are SO HAIRY that they’ll itch all the way down, and they’re really not very tasty.

    Oh yes, and don’t do just common names, whenever you talk wild edibles. Botanical binominals are a MUST.

    • Mackenzie Sanders

      Thank you for writing this response so I don’t have to. That would’ve kept me up at night.

      • Fred Bove

        amen to that. There is a woman in Australia named Isabelle Shippard who has done a considerable amount of research on Geranium robertianum aka “Herb Robert” CHeck out her web site “herbs are special”, I see that plant every day in my garden, so it riles me when I see factual errors in articles like this.

  • Anonymous

    Elderberries can be toxic if not properly prepared ( COOKED)

    • Ndamcollins

      Elderberry stems contain cyanide! A lost outdoorsman in Idaho several years ago survived by eating elderberries, but was hospitalized to treat the cyanide poisoning. The berries are fine, if often bitter.

  • c.wright.thru.u.

    thank you for this wisdom.

  • Anonymous

    Coltsfoot warning!!! Contains extremely potent mutagenic (damages DNA) alkaloids. There are documented cases of Coltsfoot tea causing severe liver problems in an infant, and in another case, an infant developed liver disease and died because the mother drank tea containing coltsfoot during her pregnancy. Please do not eat anything just because a website says it’s ok. Do some research first and make sure.

  • Nick

    Awesome!! Thanks for this great article!

  • Sev

    Awesome. Book marked.

  • Arlene Menzel

    Great stuff…thanks good to know if I am ever in the woods or camping…

  • Susan Hitchcock

    Great piece but that picture is not lamb’s quarters, it’s curly dock gone to seed. Lamb’s quarters is green and leafy and often called “wild spinach.”

  • Douglas Westerman

    Pecans, when grown comercially have some of the highest nutrients per acre of any crop. Berries are highly nutritious. There are not enough calories and protein in most of these things, however. Still, good information.

    • Anonymous

      Pecans are high in calories and protein they have 750 calories per cup and 10grams of protein.

  • hp

    Articles like this are a public service of the highest order.

    “Stalking the Wild Asparagus” is one of the greatest books of all time.

    Written by one of the greatest Americans of all time.

    Euell Gibbons.

  • john

    thank you, very useful knowledge.

  • david

    Got a problem with the lambs quarters. In England they’re known as ‘dock leaves’ and they’re a pest. Edible but i’d rather be eating something else.
    The yellow flowering plant behind is the problem. Over here it’s called ‘Ragwort’ and it is highly toxic. You can absorb it through your skin and it leads to kidney failure. Horses seem to like it. One of England’s most dangerous plants.

    Wear gloves and pull it out. Forward and back, left and right to release the roots and then pull. Burning is the only way to rid yourself of the problem.

    Just letting you know…

    • Anonymous

      How r u identifying that plant??

      • kyl

        its easy i look at a book to see the answer
        you can eat daisy petals raw and even put them in garnish salads

      • kyl

        By their leaves and colour modifying the size, flowers and patterns, and where they grow within the bondary

    • stacy

      Im glad i saw this! I thought the yellow plant WAS the plant i was supposed to be looking at.

    • penawan

      You get poisoned by ragwort only from ingesting the plant, not from touching, although you may be allergic to the plant and a rash may result. Ragowrt is a useful plant for 150 species of insects, including bees and butterflies. For more, go here:

    • Lilith

      Lambs quarters of ‘fat hen’ isn’t dock, its an entirely different plant.

      • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    Another informative article; very useful. Keep up the good work, WT. Thanks much…

Thank you for sharing. Follow us for the latest updates.

Waking Times Newsletter

Your email address will remain confidential.
Subscribe To Waking Times!