red clover

70 Wild Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat

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Foraging for wild plants can be a fun and rewarding way to connect with nature and discover new flavors and ingredients. While most people are familiar with common wild edibles like berries and mushrooms, there are many other wild plants that are both nutritious and delicious. 

In fact, there are hundreds of wild plants that you probably didn’t know you could eat! Some of these plants are not native to the region, but have been introduced and are now either invasive or naturalized and growing wild. It’s important to be sure you have correctly identified the plant and that it has not been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals before consuming it. With a bit of knowledge and some caution, foraging for wild edibles can be a fun and sustainable way to expand your culinary horizons. Below are 70 of my favorite wild plants that I have known and eaten. 

Wild Plants -Table of Contents

wild plants

Edible Wild Plants List

1. Amaranth

(Amaranthus retroflexus): Amaranth is an annual wild plant that can grow up to 8 feet tall, with large, colorful leaves. It can be found in fields, meadows, and along roadsides throughout Connecticut. Every part of the plant can be eaten, but the young leaves and growing tips on older plants are the tastiest and most tender. The seeds are nutritious, edible, and are not difficult to harvest.

2. Asparagus

wild plants

(Asparagus officinalis) Wild asparagus is commonly found in fields, meadows, and along the edges of woodlands. Look for tall, fern-like plants with feathery foliage and a red berry-like fruit in the fall. In the spring, the plant will produce edible shoots that emerge from the ground and grow into tall stalks. These shoots are what you will want to harvest. 

3. Autumn Olive

(Elaeagnus umbellata) Autumn olive is a deciduous shrub that is native to Asia. It was introduced to North America as an ornamental plant, and has since become an invasive species in many parts of the continent. These wild plants can grow up to 20 feet tall, and has silvery-green leaves with small, fragrant, yellow flowers in the spring. The plant’s most distinctive feature, however, is its bright red, edible berries that ripen in the fall. The berries are rich in lycopene, antioxidants, and vitamin C, and can be used in a variety of culinary applications. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and are often used to make jams, jellies, and fruit leather.

4. Bittercress

hairy bittercress

(Cardamine hirsuta) Hairy bittercress leafs out in a basal rosette, and like other members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), its tender greens are edible. Don’t be fooled by the common name—its flavor is mild and peppery, not bitter. They are lovely little wild plants. 

5. Blueberry

(Vaccinium angustifolium) Native to New England forests, blueberry bushes grow very well in our region and are known for their sweet, juicy taste and as a great source of antioxidants. Although these wild plants are smaller than cultivated blueberries, wild blueberries grow in profusion and can be found in many parts of the United States. 

The berries are very small and have a more intense flavor than cultivated blueberries. They have a short growing season that lasts from July through August, depending on the climate where they grow. The fruit is ready when it turns from green to blue or purple-blue. 

Wild blueberries are a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They are also low in calories and contain no cholesterol or saturated fat. Wild blueberries are one of the richest sources of dietary fiber, which helps lower cholesterol levels and aids digestion. They are also rich in phytochemicals that may prevent cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.

6. Blue Vervain

(Verbena hastata) The wild plant Blue vervain, also called simpler’s joy and enchanter’s plant, is a herb native to North America and is closely related to vervain (V. officinalis).  It can grow up to 5 feet in height and produces small blue flowers. In the wild it is most often found in disturbed areas, moist prairies and meadows, around springs and stream banks, and in low, open woodlands.

The seeds of the Blue Vervain are the primary edible portions of the plant. The seeds are typically dried or roasted and ground into a flour substitute. Due to the bitter taste, the seeds are typically soaked in cold water to make the taste more pleasant.

7. Broadleaf plantain

(Plantago major) The broadleaf plantain is a common herbaceous wild plant found in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. These wild plants are known for their distinctive broad, oval-shaped leaves that grow in a rosette pattern close to the ground.

The broadleaf plantain has a long history of medicinal use and is still used today in herbal medicine. However, it is also edible and has been used as a food source for centuries. The young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and have a slightly bitter flavor. The seeds of the plant can also be used as a grain substitute or ground into a flour for baking.

Overall, the broadleaf plantain is a versatile and useful plant with both medicinal and edible properties.

8. Bull thistle

wild plants

Bull thistles (Cirsium vulgare) are flowering wild plants that are native to Europe and Asia but has naturalized in many other parts of the world, including North America. They have a tall, spiny plant that can grow up to 5 feet tall and has large, purple-pink flowers that bloom in the summer.

Although the bull thistle is often considered a weed due to its invasive nature and prickly foliage, some parts of the wild plants are actually edible. The young leaves and stems can be cooked and eaten like spinach, and the roots can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute. The flower heads can also be boiled and eaten like artichokes, although they require some preparation to remove the spines and bitter outer layers.

Overall, the bull thistle is a versatile plant with both ornamental and culinary uses, but it can also be a nuisance in some areas due to its aggressive growth and thorny nature.

9. Burdock

800px-ArctiumLappa1File name:800px-ArctiumLappa1.jpg

(Arctium spp) Burdock are biennial wild plants that can grow up to 6 feet tall and have large, heart-shaped leaves and purple-pink flowers that bloom in the second year of growth.

Both the root and young leaves of Greater Burdock are edible. The root is often used in traditional Asian and European cuisine, where it is sliced and stir-fried or pickled. The leaves of these wild plants can be cooked like spinach or used in salads. In addition to being a food source, the roots and leaves of the burdock plant have been used for centuries in herbal medicine for their purported health benefits, such as supporting liver and kidney function and promoting skin health.

10. Cattail

wild plants cattails

(Typha sp.) Cattails are fairly easy to identify wild plants and, in my opinion, more resemble a large corn dog than they do a cat’s tail. In the winter, the brown seed head that is visible far above any water it’s growing in will have lost its color and will be more of an off-white. 

Cattail are wetland wild plants that grow rooted in the mud at the bottom of shallow water. In the winter, you’ll want to harvest the root, or rhizome, where all the starch is being stored for their next growth cycle. 

The younger lateral rhizomes can be eaten raw or sautéed with a bit of butter and are tender and delicious. For the larger rhizomes, you can grill, bake or boil the root until it’s tender. Once cooked, eating a cattail root is similar to eating the leaves of an artichoke – strip the starch away from the fibers with your teeth.   The older mature rhizome is fibrous and difficult to eat, however, when you separate the starch from the fibers, you can use this as a thickener for soups or make into a kind of flour. 

11. Chickweed

(Stellaria media) Chickweed is one of those early spring “weeds” that many gardeners complain about. I think that’s because they just don’t realize its value as an edible wild plant. 

This highly nutritious edible grows nearly everywhere, and often with wild abandon, making it a wonderful plant for foragers.  There are usually no limits to how much you can harvest, as it’s typically considered invasive. 

Chickweed has four edible parts: the tender leafy stem tips (the top 1-2 inches of the plant), flowers, buds, and leaves.  

You want to skip the fibrous, stringy, and hairy stems and only harvest from the tender new growing tips. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy chewing on hairy plants! 

Chickweed can be consumed raw or cooked like spinach.  I like them either way, frequently adding them to a spring salad of other foraged greens or as you would sprouts on a sandwich.  I also like to cook them into Quiché or frittata…yummy!  Keep in mind that they will cook down significantly like spinach.  You’ll need around 7 cups to yeild 1 cup of cooked chickweed.

12. Chicory

chicory

(Cichorium intybus) During the summer, you may notice these pretty wild plants with blue flowers growing along roadsides.  This herbaceous perennial native to Europe central Russia and Western Asia has become naturalized over much of North America, and other parts of the world. It is common along roadsides, railroads and in disturbed sites or waste ground and may be seen in poorly maintained lawns, pastures, and abandoned fields. 

Chickory has been cultivated for centuries for its leaves, buds, and roots and was used medicinally. The young leaves can be eaten raw as a salad green with a very bitter taste, or can be cooked to reduce the bitterness.

13. Cleavers

cleavers

(Galium sp.) Cleavers are delightful wild plants that can be used to make soups and stews, or its shoots boiled and buttered as a vegetable. Cleavers belongs to the coffee family, so its seeds are ground to make cleavers coffee.

14. Coltsfoot

coltsfoot

(Tussilago farfara) A native of Europe, these wild plants are believed to be brought to this country by early settlers for their medicinal properties. Coltsfoot is a perennial herb in the Aster family.

Coltsfoot thrives in low-lying mesic areas including stream banks, moist field or pastures, roadsides, and disturbed areas. It can also be found in drier sites and in poor soils. It is intolerant of shade and is not commonly found in wooded areas, 

Solitary flowers are dandelion-like and bright yellow in color. The flowers, fleshy stems, and young leaves of coltsfoot can be eaten raw or cooked.

15. Common Mallow

common mallow
common mallow

(Althaea sp.) Mallow is one of those miracle wild plants where the whole plant is edible—roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits.

Mallow has a mild, almost nonexistent flavor, and that probably works to its advantage. Like tofu, it just takes on the flavor of everything else in your bowl. It is highly nutritious and exceptionally rich in vitamins A, B, and C, along with calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The tender young leaves actually have one of the highest amounts of vitamin A in any vegetable. 

 

16. Common Yellow Wood Sorrel

common yellow wood sorrel

(Oxalis stricta) Common Yellow Wood  Sorrel – A perennial herb with a sharp, lemony flavor. The leaves and stems are edible raw or cooked. It can usually be found growing in meadows, fields, parks, lawns and sometimes open woodland. The leaves and flowers of common yellow wood sorrel can be added to salads for a refreshing astringent flavor. 

17. Coneflower

echinacea

(Echinacea spp.) Coneflowers provide a key ingredient in many herbal tea blends. Although all parts of the plant are edible, the leaves and flower buds are most commonly harvested for herbal tea. I lovely pollinator in addition to being one of the prettiest wild plants. 

18. Creeping charlie

creeping charlie

(Glechoma hederacea L.) Creeping Charlie, also called ground ivy, is a common herbaceous perennial native to the British Isles. Creeping Charlie has since spread to North America, and has been present in our landscapes for nearly 200 years.

Creeping Charlie leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Their mild mint-like flavor makes them a great addition to salads, soups, and omelettes. Tea can also be made from them. People often complain about these wild plants taking over their lawns, but I think they’re quite lovely. 

19. Crimson clover

red clover

(Trifolium sp.) White and red clover were both planted by European settlers to provide forage for their livestock.  Red clover is a perennial herb that commonly grows wild in meadows throughout Europe and Asia, and has been naturalized to grow in North America.

Red clover is both medicinal and a valuable wild food source, and both the flowers and leaves can be eaten. 

Red clover flowers will give you a sweet nectar drop if you remove the attachment point. However, this won’t sustain you. If you dry and then grind red clover flowers, you can make flour from them that is highly nutritious.

20. Curly Dock

curly dock
curly dock

 (Rumex sp.) Curly dock, also known as Rumex crispus, are common wild plants found in Connecticut and many other parts of North America. It is a perennial weed that can grow up to 4 feet tall and has a distinctive curly leaf structure. The plant produces a tall, reddish-brown flower stalk that can be seen from June to September.

Many parts of the curly dock plant can be eaten, including the young leaves, stems, and seeds. The leaves of these wild plants have a slightly sour taste and can be cooked like spinach or added raw to salads. The stems can be peeled and eaten raw or cooked like asparagus. The seeds can be ground into a flour and used in baking. However, it is important to note that the mature leaves of the plant contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can be harmful in large quantities. Therefore, it is recommended to consume the young leaves in moderation.

21. Daisy Fleabane

daisy fleabane

(Erigeron annuus) Daisy fleabane is a common wildflower that grows in Connecticut and other parts of North America. It is also known as annual fleabane, sweet scabious, and eastern daisy fleabane.

These wild plants have a thin stem that can grow up to 3 feet tall that is covered with small, hairy leaves. The flowers of the plant are daisy-like, with white or pinkish petals surrounding a yellow center. The plant blooms from May to October.

Although daisy fleabane is not commonly used as a food source, its young leaves and flowers are edible and can be used in salads or cooked as a vegetable. The leaves have a slightly bitter taste, and the flowers have a mild flavor. 

22. Dandelion

dandelion root

(Taraxacum officinale) Dandelion is a perennial plant that’s easily identified by its bright yellow flowers and jagged leaves. The young leaves are edible raw or cooked, and the flower heads can be eaten as a vegetable or in salads.

Related Content: 

Eating Weeds: 22 Delicious Dandelion Recipes You Need to Try

Dandelion Root Tea: A Nutritious Gift From Mother Nature

How to Make Amazing Dandelion Jelly: Sunshine in a Jar

23. Elderberry

elderberry syrup
elderberry

(Sambucus nigra) Elderberry is a plant native to North America and Europe. It grows in many environments, from sides of freeways to suburban backyards to remote woodland edges, and can be found in full sun to part shade. Elderberries can be found near rivers or creeks, but not in them. 

The leaves, stems and unripe berries of these wild plants are toxic, so make sure to pick and use only ripe berries and flower heads. Avoid Red Elderberry, Sambucus racemosa, which are toxic regardless of ripeness. 

Raw elderberries are bitter and can cause stomach upset. The blue or purple berries are gathered and made into elderberry wine, jam or pie filling, while petals can be eaten raw or used to make an aromatic tea.

Related Content: Elderberry Syrup for Incredible Immune Support

24. Evening Primrose

evening primrose

(Oenothera sp.) The Common Evening Primrose is a flowering plant that has been used as a food source since ancient times, but it is best not eaten raw or in large quantities. It grows in parts of Europe and America. 

In its first year of life, it produces a rosette of basal leaves near the ground; in its second year, it sends up a tall stalk with alternate leaves and yellow flowers at the top. The flowers open quickly in the evening and fade by mid-morning. 

The roots –cooked–are edible; however, raw roots will irritate your throat. Young second year stalks can also be peeled and eaten as well. The leaves can be boiled more than once, but they are usually tough and gritty. Flower buds can be eaten raw or cooked and added to salads. The seeds are edible as well–try all parts carefully and sparingly. Some people may have a reaction to them even when cooked, so use caution when trying them for the first time.

25. Fiddlehead Ferns

(Matteuccia struthiopteris) Though the Ostrich fern looks very similar to several other edible ferns, its stalks bear a groove running its length on the upper side. The groove plus the fact that the stalks are not fuzzy make it easy to tell them apart from other ferns. Another identifying feature of the Ostrich fern is the presence of papery, brown scales loosely attached to the tightly coiled fronds. 

Fiddleheads prefer cool weather and wet, swampy ground with deep, rich soil. Be on the lookout for them near streams, creeks and rivers where the soil is moist. 

Most people prefer to eat the tightly curled fiddlehead tops, but the straight section of the unopened frond is good too. It’s really up to you and your taste preference. 

Sustainability is key– only collect half of the fiddles per crown, and never more than you need. As wild resources dwindle due to overharvesting and unethical practices, it’s increasingly important to be a conscientious forager.  You can learn more about ethical foraging and the principles of sustainable harvesting here: 9 Basic Principles of Ethical Wildcrafting for Beginners

26. Field Pennycress

field pennycress

(Thlaspi arvense) Field pennycress is an annual flowering plant that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It is commonly found growing in open fields, along roadsides, and in disturbed areas throughout Connecticut. The plant can grow up to 2 feet tall and has small white flowers that bloom in the spring.

Several parts of the wild plants are edible, including the leaves, stems, and seeds. The young leaves and stems can be eaten raw (in small amounts)  in salads or cooked as a green vegetable. The seeds, which resemble tiny pennies, can be harvested and used as a grain. They are high in protein, fiber, and oil, making them a nutritious addition to meals. The oil extracted from the seeds can also be used for industrial purposes, such as biofuel production. Additionally, the plant has been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, including respiratory and digestive issues.

27. Fireweed

fireweed

(Epilobium angustifolium) Fireweed grows best in disturbed areas such as where logging occurs, woodland borders, meadows, roadsides and after fires. Fireweed presents with a spike of colorful four-petaled flowers that grows in the middle of the stem, with leaf veins that circle the edges of leaves without terminating at their edges. 

Young shoot tips, flower stalks and leaves can be cooked and eaten, a tea with a sweet taste can be made from its dried leaves. The flowers and buds of these wild plants make a beautiful garnish and can be used to make fireweed jelly. 

28. Forget-Me-Not

forget-me-not

(Myosotis scorpioides) Water Forget-me-not or True Forget-me-not, is a herbaceous perennial plant. It is native to Europe and Asia, but can be found elsewhere, including much of North America, as an introduced species and sometimes a noxious weed. It grows in bogs and wet places and beside streams and rivers. It is an erect plant which ranges in height from 6 in. to two feet, bearing small flowers.  The plant is banned for sale in Massachusetts and Connecticut, where it is considered an invasive species. 

The flowers are the edible part of these wild plants. Eat them as a trail snack or use them to decorate cupcakes, toss them in a salad, or as a garnish on your dinner plate.

29. Garlic Mustard

(Alliaria petiolata) Garlic mustard is an invasive plant species that is found in Connecticut and other parts of North America. The plant is a biennial herb that can grow up to 1 meter in height, with leaves that are triangular and toothed, and small white flowers.

Garlic mustard is named for its distinctive garlic and mustard flavor and aroma, which comes from the essential oils present in its leaves and stems. The leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds of garlic mustard are all edible and can be used in a variety of recipes.

The young leaves of these wild plants are often used in salads or as a cooked green. The stems can be pickled or used like asparagus, and the flowers can be used to add a mild, garlicky flavor to dishes. The seeds can be ground into a flavorful mustard or used as a seasoning in cooking.

However, it’s important to note that while garlic mustard is edible and nutritious, it is also an invasive species that can damage native ecosystems. As such, forage to your heart’s content.

30. Groundnut

groundnut
groundnut

(Apios americana)  Sometimes called the potato bean, hopniss, Indian potato or groundnut (but not to be confused with other plants like peanuts, sometimes known by the name groundnut) is a perennial vine native to eastern North America, and bears edible beans and large edible tubers. It grows to 3–4 m long, with pinnate leaves 8–15 cm long with 5–7 leaflets. The flowers are red-brown to purple, produced in dense racemes. 

Almost every part of these wild plants are edible — shoots, flowers, the seeds that grow in pods like peas, but, most importantly, the tubers. These tubers (the groundnuts) are swellings that form along a thin rhizome.

31. Harebell

330px-Campanula_rotondifolia

(Campanula rotundifolia) This herbaceous perennial is found throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. 

The leaves of Harebell are edible and are best used in a salad or added to a smoothie, into your homemade dips, or anywhere else to add some of its vitamin C. They’re also pretty wild plants. 

32. Henbit

henbit

(Lamium amplexicaule) Henbit is a herb that grows by roadsides, in cropland, pastures, in waste areas, in gardens, and on lawns. These wild plants prefer light, dry soil and cultivated soil. They originated in Eurasia and Northern Africa, but also grows in Australia, South America, Western Asia and Greenland as well as throughout Canada and the United States. 

You can use henbit fresh or cooked as an edible herb or add it to teas; it’s high in iron, vitamins, and fiber. You can add it raw to salads, soups, wraps or green smoothies!

33. Herb Robert

herb robert

(Geranium robertianum) Saint Robert’s-wort is a member of the geranium family, and are attractive wild plants, but its leaves have an unpleasant odor when crushed. It is variously reported that it was named for Saint Robert of Molesme (whose festival date in April occurs at about the time the flowers bloom in Europe) or for Robert Goodfellow, who is known as Robin Hood. 

Fresh leaves can be eaten or tossed into a mug to make a tea. The flower and leaves can be dried and stored so that it can be used throughout the winter months as a tea or tossed into salads as a nutrient booster.

34. Highbush Cranberry

highbush cranberry

 (Viburnum trilobum) The highbush cranberry is actually not a cranberry at all, though its fruit strongly resemble cranberries in both appearance and taste. The berries of these wild plants mature in the fall, as cranberries do. Both are native to North America, but the highbush cranberry is a Viburnum, a member of the Honeysuckle family, in contrast to the ‘true,’ or lowbush cranberry, which is a member of the Ericaceae—Heather or Heath—family.

A deciduous shrub with edible fruits. The fruits can be eaten raw or cooked. The fruits/drupes can be eaten raw (though not very tasty that way) or cooked, and like cranberries, they are rich in vitamin C and so have a tart, acid taste (the taste is best after a frost and when picked slightly under-ripe).

35. Huckleberry

huckleberry
huckleberry

(Gaylussacia baccata) Huckleberries are closely related to blueberries, but are less well known than their cousins and typically remain overlooked by foragers. The huckleberry shrub grows to be about 2 to 4 feet tall. Its small, oval leaves with smooth edges are alternately arranged on the twigs. The leaves are green with a faint yellowish cast. The hint of yellow is due to yellow resin dots which you can only see up close with a magnifying glass. The leaves turn red in fall.

Huckleberry bushes produce sweet, juicy berries in late summer and early fall that can be used in the same ways as blueberries. One of my favorite wild plants!

Related Content: Identifying and Foraging for Wild Huckleberry

36. Japanese Knotweed

(Reynoutria japonica) Japanese knotweed is a large, herbaceous perennial plant native to eastern Asia. It is now considered an invasive species in many parts of the world, including Europe and North America. Japanese knotweed is known for its bamboo-like stems and heart-shaped leaves.

While these wild plants are not typically consumed in large quantities due to their strong flavor, they are edible and can be used as a food source. The young shoots and leaves of Japanese knotweed can be eaten raw or cooked, and are often compared to rhubarb in taste. The roots are also edible and can be prepared similarly to potatoes or other root vegetables.

37. Knapweed

knapweed

(Centaurea spp.) Knapweed is  a plant species belonging to the family Asteraceae. There are several different varieties of knapweed, but they generally have tall, slender stems with small purple or pink flowers.

While knapweed is not typically grown as a food crop, some parts of the plant can be eaten. The delicate purple flower heads can be eaten and look pretty as a garnish on salads. They should be snipped off at the tough, inedible brown bracts.

38. Kudzu

kudzu
kudzu

(Pueraria montana) Kudzu is a climbing, perennial plant native to eastern Asia, which is now widespread in many parts of the United States. These wild plants are known for their rapid growth and their ability to quickly overtake other plants and structures.

While not typically grown for food, some parts of the kudzu plant are edible. The leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach, or used as a wrap for other foods. The flowers are also edible and can be used in salads or fried. The roots of the plant can be harvested and processed into a starchy powder, which can be used as a thickener in recipes or made into noodles. However, it’s important to note that consuming large quantities of kudzu root can have potential side effects, and it should be consumed in moderation.

39. Lady's Thumb

(Persicaria maculosa) The plant commonly known as “lady’s thumb” is an annual flowering plant that is native to Europe, but can now be found worldwide in temperate regions.

Lady’s thumb can grow up to about 2 feet tall and has slender stems with lance-shaped leaves.

The leaves, young shoots, flowers and seeds are edible. The leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach or used in salads, but they have a slightly bitter taste. The seeds of the lady’s thumb plant are also edible and can be ground into flour. However, the seeds are very small and can be difficult to collect in large quantities.

40. Lambs Quarters

(Chenopodium album) Lamb’s quarters is a plant species that belongs to the family Amaranthaceae. It is also known as goosefoot or wild spinach. It is a fast-growing annual herb that can grow up to 3 feet tall, and it is found in many parts of the world.

Lamb’s quarters have green leaves that are shaped like the foot of a goose, which is where it gets its common name. The leaves are covered with a whitish, powdery coating and have a mild flavor that is similar to spinach. The plant also produces clusters of small green flowers that can be eaten.

Almost all parts of the lamb’s quarters plant are edible, including the leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds. The young leaves and stems can be eaten raw in salads, or cooked and used as a spinach substitute. The flowers can also be used as a garnish in salads, and the seeds can be ground into flour or used as a cereal substitute. Lamb’s quarters is a highly nutritious plant, containing high amounts of vitamins A and C, as well as iron, calcium, and potassium.

41. Milkweed

(Asclepias syriaca) Common milkweed is a perennial plant native to North America that can grow up to five feet tall. It is a member of the milkweed family, which includes over 100 species of plants. The plant has large, oval-shaped leaves and produces clusters of small, fragrant pink or purple flowers in the summer. The flowers are a valuable source of nectar for many species of butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.

The common milkweed plant has several parts that can be eaten. The young shoots, leaves, flower buds, and immature pods can all be cooked and eaten. The shoots and young leaves can be boiled or steamed and served as a vegetable, while the flower buds can be cooked and eaten like broccoli. The immature pods, which resemble green beans, can be cooked and eaten as well. It is important to note, however, that the plant contains toxic compounds called cardiac glycosides, which can be harmful if ingested in large quantities. Therefore, it is recommended that milkweed be eaten only in moderation and after proper preparation.

42. New England Aster

New England Aster

(Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) The New England aster, also known as is a herbaceous perennial plant that is native to North America. It is a member of the Asteraceae family and is commonly found in moist meadows, prairies, and along stream banks.

These wild plants typically grow to a height of 3 to 6 feet and produces clusters of pink, purple, or blue flowers with yellow centers in late summer and early fall. The flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies and are a popular choice for gardens and landscaping.

The flowers can be eaten fresh and added to a salad, as can the leaves. When harvesting in late summer and early fall, be sure the plant is dry (dew is gone) and cut stem about 10 cm above the ground. Hang upside down in a cool, dark location until totally dried (crumbles easily). Most of the flowers will become white and fluffy, but they can still be used. Add dried plant to salads, main dishes or make a cup of tea.

43. Peppergrass

peppergrass

(Lepidium virginicum) Perennial pepperweed may be found in a variety of places: waste areas, wet areas, ditches, roadsides, cropland and in dry habitats. In coastal areas, the plant invades brackish marshes.

All parts of the plant are edible, and peppergrass uses have a wide range. The leaves can be eaten raw or used in cooking the way arugula or other mustard greens would be. The seeds can be ground up and used in the same way pepper is used.

 

44. Pineapple Weed

pineappleweed

(Matricaria discoidea) Pineapple weed, also known as wild chamomile or disc mayweed, is a low-growing annual plant that is native to North America, but is also found in Europe and Asia. The plant gets its name from its yellow-green, pineapple-scented flowers, which bloom from late spring to early fall.

The plant has a number of medicinal properties and has been traditionally used for various ailments such as colds, fever, and stomachaches. The plant’s leaves and flowers are also edible and can be used to make teas, salads, or garnishes.

The leaves and flowers of pineapple weed are best harvested before the plant blooms, as they tend to become more bitter as the flowers develop. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and have a slightly sweet and fruity flavor with a hint of chamomile. Some people also use the leaves and flowers to make a refreshing and soothing tea.

45. Pickerelweed

pickerelweed

(Pontederia cordata) Pickerelweed is a common aquatic plant throughout New England. Its leaves are rather variable, but it is easily recognized by the large, dense inflorescence of blue-purple (occasionally white) flowers. Pickerelweed can be found in marshes, sluggish streams, and ditches in shallow water.

Pickerelweed is an edible plant. The leaves can be eaten as greens and the seeds can be roasted and eaten as nuts.

46. Purple Dead Nettle

(Lamium purpureum) Purple dead nettle is another of those early spring “weeds” that are often found abundantly growing in most backyards, making them easy targets for foragers. 

Purple dead nettle is a nutritious wild edible food that is often overlooked as simply a weed to be eradicated from garden beds and lawns. However, because of its nutritive properties, should be included in your spring diet.  

This plant is abundant in vitamins, particularly vitamin C, along with iron and fiber, while the oil in its seeds is packed with powerful antioxidants. Its leaves and tops can be eaten both raw and cooked, although to be honest, I’m not a fan of eating it raw since its leaves are hairy.  

47. Purslane

(Portulaca oleracea) Purslane is a low-growing, wild edible succulent herb that can be found growing in cultivated and disturbed soil. Also called little hogweed, moss rose, pigweed, portulaca, purslane, and pusley, purslane is a nutritious wild edible that grows in many parts of the United States. 

The edible parts of purslane are its seeds, stems and leaves.  Eaten raw the stems and leaves have a pleasant tart, lemony flavor with a peppery undertone. Cooked, they are more like other greens that you are used to such as spinach or kale. 

The seeds can be used as a tea and can be eaten raw or added to cooked dishes and baked goods as you would poppy seeds. The seeds taste like linseed/flaxseed, but are crisper. Indigenous Australians used purslane seeds to make flour for seed cakes. Each plant can yield thousands of seeds., but because they are so tiny it may take you a long while to collect any significant amount.

48. Queen Anne’s Lace

queen anne's lace

(Daucus carota) Queen Anne’s Lace is a wild plant that is commonly found in fields, meadows, and along roadsides in North America. It is also known as wild carrot. The plant has delicate, lacy white flowers and feathery green foliage, and it grows up to three feet tall. 

The young roots of the Queen Anne’s Lace plant are edible and have a sweet, carroty flavor. The leaves are also edible and can be used as a garnish or added to salads. However, it is important to note that the plant closely resembles the highly toxic poison hemlock, so it is essential to be absolutely certain of the plant’s identity before consuming any part of it. It is always a good idea to consult a field guide or experienced forager before attempting to eat any wild plant.

49. Roses

(Rosa sp.) Foraging for edible wild roses can be a fun and rewarding activity, as most states are home to several species of wild roses. 

The most common edible wild rose species in Connecticut is the Rosa rugosa, also known as the beach rose. 

The petals, hips, and leaves of the plant are all edible, and can be used in a variety of culinary applications. The petals have a delicate, floral flavor and can be used to flavor syrups, jellies, and baked goods. 

The hips, which are the fruit of the rose plant, are rich in vitamin C and can be used to make teas, jams, and sauces. 

The leaves can be used to make a mild, herbal tea or can be added to salads and other dishes for a peppery flavor. 

50. Rampsons (Wild Leek)

(Allium tricoccumRamps are perennial plants that belong to the onion family. They’re also called wild leeks and have a similar taste to green onions, garlic, or shallots. Ramp bulbs start out as small white beads in early spring, but will turn into clusters of juicy blades by late April if they’ve been left undisturbed. 

Ramps have slender white bulbs that grow from 2-3 broad, smoothe  leaves on long, burgundy colored stems with broad pointed tips.They also appear quite leafy at ground level due to its low-lying foliage which typically grows close together. Another way to identify ramps is by its strong onion-garlic aroma.   The leaves, bulbs, and stems are edible raw or cooked.

51. Sheep's Sorrel

sheep's sorrel

(Rumex acetosella) Sheep’s sorrel is a wild plant that is commonly found in meadows and fields throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. These wild plants have a tart, lemony flavor and are often used in salads, soups, and sauces. The leaves of sheep’s sorrel are the most commonly consumed part of the plant, and are frequently used fresh or cooked in a variety of dishes. The leaves are high in vitamin C and have been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including fever, diarrhea, and skin conditions. 

However, it is important to note that sheep’s sorrel contains oxalic acid, which can be toxic in large amounts. Therefore, it is recommended that sheep’s sorrel be consumed in moderation and not by individuals with kidney disease or other health conditions that may be exacerbated by high levels of oxalic acid.

 

52. Shepard's Purse

shepard's purse

(Capsella bursa-pastoris) Shepherd’s purse is a common wild plant that grows in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. The plant gets its name from the shape of its seed pods, which resemble little purses. Shepherd’s purse is edible, and the leaves, stems, and flowers can all be eaten raw or cooked. 

The plant has a slightly bitter and peppery taste, similar to watercress or arugula. In addition to its culinary uses, shepherd’s purse has also been used for its medicinal properties, particularly as a treatment for menstrual and digestive issues. Overall, shepherd’s purse is a versatile and nutritious plant that can be a valuable addition to any forager’s diet.

 

53. Staghorn Sumac

(Rhus typhina) Staghorn sumac is a wild plant native to North America that grows in open fields, forests, and along roadsides. The plant is known for its distinctive, fuzzy red fruits that resemble antlers or the horns of a male deer, hence its name “staghorn.” 

The leaves, shoots, and berries are edible and can be used for culinary purposes. The young shoots can be boiled or steamed and have a flavor similar to asparagus. The dried and ground berries can be used to make a tangy and slightly sour spice that is often used in Middle Eastern cuisine. The leaves can also be used to make a refreshing tea. 

When foraging for staghorn sumac, it’s important to be sure you have correctly identified the plant and that it has not been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals.

54. Stinging Nettles

(Urticia dioica) Stinging nettles are an herbaceous perennial that looks similar to mint, with toothed margins and pointy tips joining square stems in pairs. The whole plant is covered in little stinging hairs and no noticeable scent, unlike the mint. Stinging nettle is found throughout most of the world.  As a herb, it prefers moist environments, but it isn’t too picky about soil quality or exposure to sunlight. You can find it in fields, along streams and rivers, and in many gardens and backyards.

The tender leaves, tops, and stems are all edible, but must be cooked or blanched before eating due to their stinging nature. Wear gloves when working with nettles!

55. Teasel

teasel

(Dipsacus fullonum) Young leaves are edible, although one must take great care to avoid the spiny, stout hairs. Teasel leaves can be consumed raw, cooked or added to a smoothie. The root can be used in a tea or for making vinegar or tinctures. 

56. Toothwort

Cardamine_concatenata_Radnor_Lake

 (Cardamine concatenata) Toothwort is a wild plant that is found in various regions throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. It grows in wooded areas, often in patches, and can be identified by its distinctive white or pinkish flowers. While toothwort is not commonly eaten, some parts of the plant are edible. The root of toothwort can be harvested and eaten raw or cooked, and has a spicy, horseradish-like flavor. 

57. Trout Lily

(Erythronium americanum) Trout lily, also known as dogtooth violet or yellow trout lily, is a spring ephemeral wildflower that is native to North America. It can be found in woodland areas, often near streams or other bodies of water, in eastern regions of the United States and Canada. The plant produces one or two leaves that are mottled with brown and green and resemble a trout’s markings. It also produces a single yellow flower that blooms in early spring.

While trout lily is edible, it should be consumed in moderation as it contains oxalic acid, which can be toxic in large quantities. The plant’s leaves and flowers can be eaten raw or cooked and have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. The leaves can be used as a spinach substitute or added to salads, while the flowers can be used as a garnish or added to baked goods for a pop of color. When foraging for trout lily, it’s important to leave enough of the plant behind to allow it to reproduce and sustain its population.

58. Watercress

watercress

(Nasturtium officinale) Watercress is a semi-aquatic wild plant that is found in or near freshwater sources, such as streams, ponds, and ditches. These wild pants have small, round leaves and a peppery taste, similar to arugula. Watercress is highly nutritious and is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and iron. It can be found in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia.

Watercress should only be harvested from clean, unpolluted water sources, as it can absorb pollutants and harmful bacteria. It’s also important to avoid harvesting all the plants in a given area, as this can damage the local ecosystem and reduce the availability of the plant for other foragers.

The entire watercress plant is edible, including the leaves, stems, and flowers. The plant can be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches, or cooked in soups, stews, and other dishes. Watercress can also be used to make pesto, or blended into smoothies for a nutritional boost. When foraging for watercress, it’s best to choose young, tender plants with bright green leaves and avoid any plants that appear wilted or discolored.

59. White clover

white clover

(Trifolium repens) White clover is a common and widespread wild plant found throughout the United States, including in many regions of Connecticut. It is a low-growing plant that has distinctive white or pinkish flowers that bloom in the spring and summer months. White clover is a member of the legume family and is often used as a natural fertilizer and soil conditioner.

White clover is a highly edible plant and has a mild, sweet flavor that makes it a popular choice for salads, teas, and other culinary applications. The leaves, flowers, and stems of the plant are all edible and can be used in a variety of ways. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, and have a slightly tangy flavor. The flowers can be used as a garnish, or can be infused in water to make a refreshing tea. The stems can be eaten raw or cooked and have a slightly crunchy texture.

Foraging for white clover is relatively easy, as the plant is abundant. It can be found in meadows, fields, and along roadsides. When foraging for white clover, it’s important to make sure that the plant has not been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals, and to only harvest plants that are healthy and free from damage or disease.

60. Wild Grape

wild grape

(Vitus sp.) Wild grape is a deciduous vine that is native to eastern North America. These wild plants are typically found growing along the edges of forests, near streams, or in other moist, shady locations. It can be identified by its large, heart-shaped leaves and clusters of small, dark purple grapes that ripen in the late summer or early fall.

The grapes of the wild grape vine are edible and can be eaten fresh, cooked, or used to make jams, jellies, and wine. The leaves of the plant can also be eaten and are often used as a wrapping for savory dishes, such as dolmas. The leaves are best harvested when they are young and tender, and can be blanched before using to remove any bitterness.

6`1. Wild Bee Balm/Bergamot

wild bergamot

(monarda fistulosa) Wild bergamot, also known as bee balm, is a herbaceous perennial plant that is native to North America. It typically grows to be around 2–4 feet tall and has showy, pinkish-purple flowers that bloom in mid to late summer. The plant is commonly found in fields, meadows, and along roadsides throughout much of the United States and Canada.

Foraging for wild bergamot can be a fun and rewarding activity, as these wild plants have a number of edible and medicinal properties. The leaves and flowers of the plant can be used to make a flavorful and aromatic tea, which has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments including colds, headaches, and digestive issues.

In terms of edibility, the leaves and flowers of the plant are both edible and can be used in a variety of culinary applications. The leaves have a slightly spicy, minty flavor and can be added to salads, soups, and other dishes for a burst of flavor. The flowers have a sweet, floral taste and can be used as a garnish or added to baked goods for a subtle flavor boost.

62. Wild Blackberry

(Rubus sp.) Wild blackberry is a deciduous shrub that is native to North America and can be found growing in various habitats including forests, fields, and along roadsides. The plant produces thorny stems that can grow up to 10 feet long and produce white or pink flowers in the spring, followed by small, juicy, and edible blackberries in the summer.

Foraging for wild blackberries is a popular activity for many outdoor enthusiasts, as the fruit is abundant, easy to identify, and delicious. 

The ripe berries of the wild blackberry plant are edible and can be eaten fresh or used in a variety of culinary applications, including jams, jellies, and pies. The leaves of the plant can also be used to make tea, and the roots and bark have been used in traditional medicine.

When foraging for wild blackberries, it’s important to be mindful of the thorns on the plant and wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and gloves.

63. Wild Black Cherry

wild black cherry
wild plants

(Prunus serotina) Wild black cherry is a deciduous tree that is native to eastern North America. It can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, fields, and along roadsides. The tree is known for its dark, shiny bark and clusters of white flowers that bloom in the spring. In the fall, the tree produces small, dark berries that resemble cherries, which are edible. 

 The flesh of the fruit is safe to eat, but the pits should be avoided as they contain high levels of cyanide. The leaves and bark of the tree also contain cyanide and should not be consumed. Wild black cherry can be used to make jams, jellies, and syrups, and the fruit can also be used in pies and other baked goods. When foraging for wild black cherry, it is important to only harvest ripe fruit, which will be dark in color and slightly soft to the touch. 

64. Wild Lettuce

wild lettuce

 (Lactuca virosa) Wild lettuce is a tall, leafy plant that is found throughout much of North America, Europe, and Asia. The plant is known for its milky white sap, which has mild sedative and pain-relieving properties. Wild lettuce can be found in a variety of habitats, including fields, meadows, and along roadsides.

While wild lettuce is not commonly used as a food source, some parts of the plant are edible. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, and have a slightly bitter, earthy flavor. The young shoots of the plant can also be eaten, either raw or cooked. It’s important to note, however, that wild lettuce can be toxic in large quantities, and should not be consumed in excessive amounts.

Foraging for wild lettuce is relatively easy, as the plant can be found in a variety of locations. It’s important to be sure that you have correctly identified the plant before consuming any part of it, as some other plants can look similar to wild lettuce.

65. Wild Onion

(Allium canadense)  Wild onion is called both an onion and garlic because while it is a wild onion, it has a very strong garlic aroma.  It is a member of the onion family and is found throughout North America in fields, meadows, and woodlands. 

All parts of this particular Wild Onion/Garlic are edible, the underground bulbs, the long, thin leaves, the blossoms, and the bulblets growing on top.  The small underground bulbs can be dug up and eaten raw or cooked, and have a pungent, garlic-like flavor. The leaves and stems of the plant are also edible and can be used in cooking as a mild onion or garlic substitute. 

66. Wild Raspberry

(Rubus idaeusWild raspberry is a species of raspberry plant that is found in many parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. These wild plants are a member of the Rosaceae family and is closely related to other brambles like blackberries and dewberries. Wild raspberries are typically found in forested areas, along roadsides, and in other disturbed habitats.

Wild raspberries are known for their delicious and nutritious fruit, which can be harvested in the late summer and early fall. The fruit is high in vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, and has a sweet and slightly tart flavor. In addition to the fruit, the leaves of the plant are also edible and can be used to make a tea that is said to have medicinal properties.

When foraging for wild raspberries, look for the distinctive leaves, which are compound and have three to five leaflets, and the prickly stems that are covered in thorns. The berries should be plump and ripe, and should easily come off the stem when gently pulled.

67. Wild Strawberry

wild strawberry

(Fragaria virginianaWild strawberry is a small perennial plant that is commonly found in North America, including in the United States and Canada. The plant produces small, juicy, and flavorful berries that are edible and highly sought after by foragers. Wild strawberries can be found in a variety of habitats, including meadows, forests, and along the edges of fields and roads.

The berries of wild strawberries are edible and can be eaten fresh, used in baking, or made into jams and preserves. They have a sweet, juicy flavor and are packed with vitamins and antioxidants. In addition to the berries, the leaves of wild strawberries are also edible and can be used to make tea or added to salads for a tangy flavor.

When foraging for wild strawberries, it’s important to be aware of the look-alike plants, such as Indian mock strawberry, which produces small berries that are bland and dry. The best time to forage for wild strawberries is in the summer months, when the berries are ripe and at their sweetest. When harvesting the berries, be sure to leave some on the plant for the animals and to ensure the growth of future crops.

68. Wild Violets

(Viola sp.) Wild violets are a small, delicate flowering plant that can be found growing in moist, shaded areas throughout much of North America.  These plants have heart-shaped leaves and produce beautiful, purple or white flowers in the spring and summer.

Wild violets have a number of culinary and medicinal uses. Both the leaves and flowers of wild violets are edible, and can be used in a variety of dishes. The flowers have a sweet, floral flavor and can be used as a garnish or added to salads. The leaves are rich in vitamins A and C and can be used as a spinach substitute in cooked dishes, or added to salads for a fresh, peppery flavor.

69. Yarrow

(Achillea millefolium) Yarrow is a perennial herb that is found throughout North America and Europe. It is commonly found in meadows, fields, and along roadsides. Yarrow has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for various ailments, and is also used as a culinary herb.

The leaves of the yarrow plant are edible and have a slightly bitter taste. These wild plants can be used fresh or dried to make tea, or can be added to soups and stews for flavor. The flowers of the yarrow plant are also edible, and can be used to make tea or as a garnish in salads.

When foraging for yarrow, it’s important to be sure you have correctly identified the plant, as it can be mistaken for other plants that are toxic. Yarrow can be identified by its fern-like leaves and clusters of small, white or pink flowers. It is best to forage for yarrow in areas that have not been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals.

70. Yellow Salsify

yellow salsify

(Tragopogon dubius) Yellow salsify, also known as oyster plant or yellow goat’s beard, is a biennial plant that is native to Europe and Western Asia, but has been introduced and naturalized in North America. These wild plants can be found in meadows, pastures, and along roadsides, and are recognizable by their yellow, dandelion-like flowers and long, narrow leaves.

Yellow salsify is an edible plant, and its young leaves, stems, flowers, and roots can all be eaten. The roots have a mild, oyster-like flavor and can be cooked and served like a vegetable, while the young leaves and stems can be added to salads or cooked like spinach. The flowers can be used as a garnish or added to soups and stews. 

Disclaimer: outdoorapothecary.com is informational in nature and is not to be regarded as a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. While we strive to be 100% accurate, it is solely up to the reader to ensure proper plant identification. 

Some wild plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects. We are not health professionals, medical doctors, nor are we nutritionists. It is up to the reader to verify nutritional information and health benefits with qualified professionals for all edible plants listed in this website.  The information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the guidance of your qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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