40 Most Common Edible Wild Plants in North America

wild edible plants

Foraging for food is a skill that has been practiced throughout history. It is a great way to find free and healthy food, and it can also be useful in a survival situation. In this blog post, we will discuss over 40 common edible wild plants. We will provide information on how to identify these plants, as well as how to distinguish between edible plants and poisonous ones. Keep in mind that some of these plants may look similar to deadly lookalikes, so be sure to exercise caution when foraging for food!

Why You May Want to Forage for Edibles

Foraging for food is a great way to find free and healthy food. It can also be useful in a survival situation. Whether you’re looking to be self sufficient, or whether you’re choosing a semi-subsistence lifestyle, knowing how to recognize and forage for edibles is a must. Not only is foraging fun, but it’s also a great way to connect with nature.

Learning How to Identify Edible Plants

There are many ways to learn how to identify edible plants. One way is to take an online course or class from an expert. There are also many books and websites that can teach you how to identify edible plants. We recommend that you start with a few basic resources and then build up your knowledge over time. Once you have a good understanding of the plants in your area, you can begin to experiment with foraging.

Distinguishing between Edible Plants and Poisonous Ones

One of the most important things to know when foraging for food is how to distinguish between wild edible plants and poisonous ones. This can be difficult, as some plants may look similar to others. It is important to exercise caution when foraging, and to always consult a reliable source before eating any plant.

55 Edible Plants

Here are 55 edible plants that you may find in the wild. Click on the links to see an image of each.

Acorns  (Quercus)

Technically a nut and high in calories, acorns were an important food source for many indigenous peoples. They can be eaten raw, roasted, or ground into flour.

Amaranth  (Amaranthus)

Amaranth is a nutritious grain that can be cooked and eaten like rice. It is high in protein and vitamins, and it has a nutty flavor.

American Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis)

The berries of the American elderberry can be eaten raw, cooked, or made into a jam. They are high in vitamins and antioxidants.

Arrowhead (Sagittaria)

The tubers of the arrowhead plant can be boiled or roasted. They have a starchy flavor and are high in carbohydrates.

 Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

Asparagus can be eaten raw or cooked. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and is high in vitamins A and C.

Bamboo (Bambusa)

Bamboo shoots can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet flavor.

Blackberries  (Rubus spp.)

Blackberries can be eaten raw, cooked, or made into a jam. They are high in vitamins and antioxidants.

Blueberries  (Vaccinium spp.)

Blueberries can be eaten raw, cooked, or made into a jam. They are high in vitamins and antioxidants.

 Bull Thistle (Circium vulgare)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the bull thistle can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a bitter taste and are high in vitamins A and C.

Burdock (Arctium minus)

The roots of the burdock plant can be boiled or roasted. They have a starchy flavor and are high in carbohydrates.

Camas (Camassia quamash)

The bulbs of the camas plant can be boiled or roasted. They have a starchy flavor and are high in carbohydrates. Do not confuse the Camas with the Death Camas, which is poisonous. You can tell them apart by their flowers: Camas has blue or purple flowers, while Death Camas has white flowers.

Cattails (Typha)

The shoots, leaves, and roots of the cattail plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet flavor.

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

The leaves and stems of the chickweed plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

The roots of the chicory plant can be boiled or roasted. They have a starchy flavor and are high in carbohydrates.

Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum)

The leaves, stems, and roots of the cow parsnip plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet flavor. Do not mistake the cow parsnip for other wild parsnips because they can be poisonous. Poisonous parsnips include the water parsnip, which has white flowers, and the hogweed, which has large white flowers.

Curled Dock or Curly Dock (Rumex crispus)

The leaves of the curly dock plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They are bitter tasting and are high in vitamins A and C.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

The leaves, stems, and roots of the dandelion plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a bitter flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva)

The buds, flowers, and leaves of the daylily plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet flavor.

 Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)

The roots of the echinacea plant can be boiled or roasted. They have a starchy flavor and are high in carbohydrates.

Fiddleheads (Matteuccia struthiopteris)

The fiddleheads of the ostrich fern can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet flavor.

 Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the fireweed plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Garden Huckleberry (Solanum nigrum)

The berries of the garden huckleberry can be eaten raw, cooked, or made into a jam. They are high in vitamins and antioxidants.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the garlic mustard plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Wild Grapes (Vitis spp.)

The grapes can be eaten raw or made into wine. They have a sweet flavor and are high in sugars.

Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)

The roots of the Jerusalem artichoke plant can be boiled or roasted. They have a starchy flavor and are high in carbohydrates.

Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the lambsquarters plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

 Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

The buds, flowers, and leaves of the milkweed plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet flavor.

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Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)

The leaves of the miner’s lettuce plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

 Plantain (Plantago major)

The leaves of the plantain plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

 Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia)

The pads of the cactus can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet flavor. Be sure to remove the needles before cooking.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the purslane plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

 Ramps (Allium tricoccum)

The leaves, stems, and roots of the ramp plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, onion flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

 Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the red clover plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius)

The roots of the salsify plant can be boiled or roasted. They have a starchy flavor and are high in carbohydrates. Called the “Oyster Plant” because its flavor is similar to oysters.

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the shepherd’s purse plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

 Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the sheep sorrel plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a sour flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Spruce Tips (Picea spp.)

The tips of the spruce tree can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a crunchy texture and a slightly sweet flavor.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the stinging nettle plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C. Be sure to wear gloves when handling this plant as the needles can sting.

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

The leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds of the sunflower plant can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C. The seeds have a nutty flavor and are high in protein.

 Violets (Viola sp.)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the violet plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the watercress plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a peppery flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Western Dock (Rumex occidentalis)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the dock plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a sour flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

 White Mustard (Synapsis alba)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the white mustard plant can be eaten raw or cooked. This wild mustard has a peppery flavor and is high in vitamins A and C.

Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the wild garlic plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, garlic flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum)

The roots of the wild ginger plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Wild Leek (Allium ampeloprasum)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the wild leek plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, onion flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the wild mint plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a minty flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

 Wild Onion (Allium bisceptrum)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the wild onion plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, onion flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

 Wild Rose (Rosa sp.)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the wild rose plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

The roots of the wild sarsaparilla plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the wild strawberry plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C. The berries have a sweet flavor and are high in vitamin C.

Wood Sorrel (Oxalis)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the wood sorrel plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a sour flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

The leaves, stems, flowers, and berries of the woodland strawberry plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a sweet flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

 Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the yarrow plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a bitter flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Yellow dock (Rumex crispus)

The leaves, stems, and flowers of the yellow dock plant can be eaten raw or cooked. They have a sour flavor and are high in vitamins A and C.

Deadly Lookalikes to Keep in Mind

There are many plants that look similar to edible plants, but are actually poisonous. Here are a few of the most common deadly lookalikes. Click on the links to see an image of each.

Be sure to consult with a knowledgeable forager or reference guide before consuming any plant you are not 100% sure about. And always err on the side of caution: when in doubt, throw it out!

Foraging for food can be a fun and rewarding way to get back to nature. But it’s important to know what you’re doing before you go out and start picking things off the ground! With a little knowledge and preparation, you can safely enjoy the bounty of the wild. Happy foraging!

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2 thoughts on “40 Most Common Edible Wild Plants in North America”

  1. A weed is only a weed if the Gardener does not want it to grow on their property. The first ‘weed’ I discovered was purslane… now I grow it intentionally in an area of my Garden every year. It is a spring plant for us in zone 7. We live on an acre and have ‘wild’ Berries, Black Walnuts, Roses, Strawberries, Sorrel, Sassafras, Onion, Garlic, Violets, Plantain, Dandelion, Chicory, Red Clover, and Acorns. We’ve planted others intentionally in days gone by that are on your list, such as Prickly Pear Cactus, Asparagus, Blackberries, Blueberries, Asparagus, Sunflowers, Amaranth and Elderberries.

    Am learning about others that are growing wild or that we’ve intentionally planted on our little acre. Although I am not a Prepper I do enjoy your blog… a I like to grow our own and to be self sufficient in a lot of our ways.

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