I want you to know the best foods to eat in the wilderness by telling you to eat wild edibles that grow in your own area. I am talking about edible weeds and plants that are just as delicious as they are healthy.
Mushrooms are difficult to learn and many that are edible are hard to identify, so go slow with learning them and be careful, MANY are extremely toxic. Some that you may want to begin with are Oyster, Lobsters, Chanterelles, Morels, Boletes, and Puffballs because they are easily identifiable.
Avoid places that you know have been sprayed by pesticides, but aren’t grocery store foods the same way? Good chance that sprayed wild edible are still better than grocery store food, but I still have to caution against sprayed food.
You must be 100% sure of identification of wild plants BEFORE eating it. Some edibles have extremely poisonous look-alikes. If you can’t be sure, don’t eat it.
If you want to try an edible, you need to understand that you may have an allergy, so start with small amounts at first.
Some plants are fine when young but are poisonous as they mature. Some are poisonous during certain seasons. Some have just certain parts of the plant that is poisonous.
Spines, Fine hairs or thorns
Beans, bulbs or seeds inside pods
A grainy head with pink, purple or black spurs
Three-leaf growing patterns
I am not responsible for your proper identification and preparation of wild edible plants. YOU ARE!
Genetically stronger than other food with a longer root system to make them drought-resistant.
They are usually more nutritious than the grocery version of that food.
They are usually beneficial to your immune system for being in your environment already.
You get outside and get some exercise, vitamin D from the sunlight, and you can relax in a natural setting.
Know where food normally grows in your region. In humid regions it would grow near the edge or in a clearing in full sun. In dry regions it will mostly be near water.
Get a great guide book and learn the top edibles in your area. “Weeds” are the best because they are abundant, because they are pioneering species. I would memorize the top 20-30.
Look in your yard. Anything cleared regularly that doesn’t have tones of glyphosates sprayed all over have lots of edible pioneering species: Dandelion, Chickweed, Plantain, Wild Onion, Violets, Wood Sorrel, Clover, Nettle and thistle. These are all edible. All non-weeded grass is edible.
Find other cleared areas like roadsides, fields, and parks for “weeds.” I Hear a lot of people say to be careful because of herbicide, but I don’t think I have ever seen herbicide use roadside, they usually just bush hog with it gets out of hand.
Look for berries on ornamental shrubs. Silverberry is a good one. Look for them on trees like laurel cherry. These need to be fully ripe and almost shriveled.
Check ornamental trees like cherry, crabapples, or plums.
Check below trees for fallen nuts, like walnuts and hickory.
Find fruiting tree on roadsides (note), forest edges, and beside water. Fruit must sun ripen, so most will be on the edges and that is where they would be most productive. Here you can find persimmons, wild apples, mulberries, autumn olives, hackberries, ect.
Look for plants growing in wet areas, like cattail, bulrush, and watercress. The pollen of cattails tastes like cake flour and is considered a “super food”.
Know your safe flowers. Taste the petals of flowers you know to be nonpoisonous. Some would be daylilies, azaleas, violets, and honeysuckle. Flame azaleas taste really cool. Probably stick to the petals of flowers because the base would typically be bitter.
Thorny brambles are difficult to get through, because they hurt. This is where some good food it, like rose, blackberry, raspberry, and greenbrier. Each of these have different edible parts, so please pay attention to your guide.
A common vine plant in the U.S. is the Muscadine Grape, but you wouldn’t know that if you didn’t know local plants.
Some deciduous trees have edible leaves like sassafras, linden, sourwood, or box elder. They can be tasty raw. Beech leaves are good when young (2-4 weeks). Want a cool salad, try some of these. You could use the huge linden leaves as a tortilla wrap.
In the spring, many conifers grow new young shoots at the tips of their branches that are tasty raw. Many of the male pollen cones are also edible, not the outside though… ouch. Pollen is super nutritious, and those that know this spend lots of money on jars of the stuff. In the late summer to fall, many pines have edible nuts.
Amaranth (Amaranthus retroflexus and other species)
American Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis)
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
Blueberry (fruit) (Vaccinium sp.)
Brambles (Rubus sp.)
Bull Thistle (Circium vulgare)
Burdock (Arctium lappa)
Cattail (Typha latifolia)
Clovers (Trifolium) White or Red??? Red: (Trifolium pretense)
Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Common Burdock (Arctium minus)
Common Camas (Camassia quamash)
Common Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius)
Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum)
Cranberry (Vaccinium sp.)
Curled Dock (Rumex crispus)
Currants (fruit) (Ribes sp.)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Field Pennycress (Thalspi vulgaris)
Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium)
Garlic Mustard (green plant) (Alliaria petiolata)
Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum)
Green Seaweed (Ulva lactuca)
Gooseberries (fruit) (Ribes sp.)
Indian Cucumber Root
Jerusalem Artichoke (tubers) (Helianthus tuberosus)
Kelp (Alaria esculenta)
Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
Nettles or Stinging Nettles (young whole plant) (Urtica dioica)
Ostrich Fern (fiddleheads) (young plants)
Plantain (Plantago major)
Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia)
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella)
Trout Lily (tubers)
Violets (Viola sp.)
Western Dock (Rumex occidentalis)
White Mustard (Synapsis alba)
Wild Carrot (roots)
Wild Onion (whole plant)
Wild Garlic (whole plant) (Allium ursinum)
Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis)
Wild Rose (Rosa sp.)
Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)
Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)
Agave Root (root)
Wood Sorrel (Oxalis)
Obviously, I would love to give you a ridiculous description of each of these, but that would make this post extremely long, since I am down to 4 pages already, although it is hard to tell in a scrolling website.
Google and A REALLY GOOD WILD EDIBLES BOOK can do you wonders. Be careful, but enjoy the awesome flavors of nature’s free foods.
Here are three different books to choose from for more information:
As I write tips for your adventures and hear about cool gear, I will let you know all about it!