Wild Plants That Are Edible (Celebrity Chefs Love Them!)

Wild plants that are edible are free!


foraging is freeIn my previous post on why it’s good to forage for food, I noted that celebrity chefs had made it popular again, and that even in big cities it’s possible to forage for wild plants for food.

And of course, foraging for wild plants is a wonderfully green and ecofriendly way to eat and protect the planet!

How To Be Safe When Foraging

Of course, safety is important.  To avoid danger, you need to know which are the wild plants that are edible.  And today, that’s easier than ever.

Your main options are:

  1. Buy a reference book and learn from it
  2. Go on a course / guided walk to see how it’s done
  3. DIY option: Use a ‘foraging map’ and follow its route to find wild plants that are edible
  4. A combination of all or some of the above

Which method is best?  It depends on your preferred learning style.  If you prefer to be with a group, do a public course or walk and enjoy the company as much as the course.  If you prefer to learn by yourself, buy a book or a forage map and find wild plants that are edible without other distractions.

Here are my recommendations.

 Related:  My Top 10 Tips for Foraging

Courses & Walks to Find Wild Plants that are Edible

In the US:  For the New York area try Steve Brill’s site , or here for San Francisco foraging.  Visit http://foraging.com/ for a comprehensive listing of foraging experts county-wide.

In the UK visit Abundance London, it’s a super site with lots of foraging activities and pick-it-yourself forays.   See foraging courses throughout the UK to help you find wild plants that are edible. Or try Food Safari in Suffolk for training courses.

In Australia go here if you live in Sydney for some general info, with a list of resources at the end of the article, or here for the Melbourne area.

My Top Picks – Foraging Book Recommendations

Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods From Dirt To Platewild plants that are edible book 1
This book is great for beginners because it focusses on a limited number of plants.  Instead of being overwhelmed by choice, you can easily identify what you forage from the exceptionally clear photographs.  The colour photos are the biggest advantage of this book, because they make identification so easy.  Based on North American wild plants that are edible, the book also includes helpful hints like the best season to pick each plant.  Plus there are wild plant recipes.

A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides)wild plants that are edible book 2
What I like about this book is that it details poisonous look-alikes of plants you may forage, so it’s great for safety.  Although it’s paperback, the covers are stiffened and that’s useful when it gets stuffed into a rucksack or opened with wet fingers!  The photographs and drawings are good, but not as clear as “Edible Wild Plants”, and it covers more species of plants.  It’s not as easy for a beginner to identify a particular plant from this book as it is with my first recommended book.  Therefore I think the Peterson Guide is better suited to more experienced foragers who need more information on a broader range of plants in Central and Eastern North America.
wild plants that are edible book 3
The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
This book limits itself to a relatively small number of plants.  I like this book particularly for the author’s humour and wit.  He is also quite scathing about other authors who make careless mistakes or perpetuate common myths.  Everything in this book seems to have been ‘tried and tested’ by the author personally.  He lists plant species which he enjoys eating (to be honest, some plants are perfectly edible but don’t taste great), so you know the recipes he suggests will work.  Beginners will appreciate his hints on getting started with foraging, while more advanced foragers will probably feel this book is not enough for them.  It’s the first-hand knowledge that makes this book shine through.  Also appreciated are the pictures of the plants at different times of year, which makes identification much easier.

Choosing any one of these books, or any of the courses or walks above, will significantly improve your ability to safely find wild plants that are edible – and free!

Next:  Top 10 Tips for Foraging

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17 comments… add one

Your thoughts and opinions are important to me! Do tell me in the comments below!

  • Sonya Lenzo 14th May 2012, 6:05 PM

    Thanks for moreinformation on foraging.One of the local hotels uses only organic and locally grown produce and has just begun offering a foraging tour.
    Sonya Lenzo

    • Clare Delaney 14th May 2012, 6:22 PM

      That’s excellent news – but then of course Costa Rica has an enviable reputation for bring eco friendly!

  • Covert Hypnosis Online 14th May 2012, 12:23 PM

    I may have to give that a shot….show my daughters that a supermarket isn’t the start of it all.
    Be Well.

    • Clare Delaney 14th May 2012, 4:29 PM

      Hugely important! When I was growing up I had no clue about the more exotic stuff. I thought bananas grew in the crates in which they arrived off the cargo ships!

  • Covert Hypnosis: Where Is The Rest Of The Pool? 13th May 2012, 8:00 PM


    thanks for recommending those resources. I mainly use wild greens in salads. But I can still use them in soups. I always prepare vegetable soup with all available vegetables at home.

  • Lyle R. Johnson: The Sales Wizard & Mentor 13th May 2012, 6:10 AM

    I must read some of your referenced works. I have used edible flowers in salads when attempting to be exotic. That is the extent of my harvesting the neighborhood.

    Lyle R. Johnson

    • Clare Delaney 13th May 2012, 4:53 PM

      Well done Lyle, edible flowers look great in salads and as garnishes!

  • Bryan 13th May 2012, 12:42 AM

    I think i will give it a try! Ordering from amazon now

    • Clare Delaney 13th May 2012, 4:54 PM

      Excellent, well done!

  • Suzanne Laramore 12th May 2012, 7:33 PM

    I have used Peterson’s guides in the past and they are pretty good for identifying wild plants that are edible. I will have to look at the others. A foraging class is really helpful also. Plus you get to eat while learning.

    • Clare Delaney 12th May 2012, 10:21 PM

      Yes, I believe the Peterson’s Guides have a pretty sound reputation.
      Eating while learning is great, you’re right!

  • The 7 Steps To Amazing Health 12th May 2012, 7:32 PM

    I have two staff members that took a foraging class and they loved it. Every so often they go out and get their greens.

    Yours In Health!

    Dr. Wendy

    • Clare Delaney 12th May 2012, 10:19 PM

      That’s wonderful Dr. Wendy, really nice to hear about that, thanks!