ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Find Wild Edible Plants

Updated on June 30, 2012
Getting started with harvesting wild plants is not as difficult as many people think
Getting started with harvesting wild plants is not as difficult as many people think | Source

Getting Started With Wildcrafting

Getting started with wildcrafting and the identification of wild edible plants is also not nearly as hard as it seems. Yet, many people who have a vested interest in the area shy away from gathering wild plants because it seems as though it may be too difficult, or they are afraid that they won't be able to make something taste good enough to eat, or worry that they will eat something poisonous. The truth is, there are ways to enter the realm of wildcrafting that are safe, enjoyable and easy enough for the most inexperienced person to find delicious wild edible plants.

Finding a large variety edible plants is something that does take time, but getting yourself educated and comfortable with collecting delicious common species is something that just about anyone can do. However, there are specifics that you should consider and a few rules of thumb that will help you get started successfully.

Going out for a hike with someone who has a great amount of knowledge will quickly increase your skills
Going out for a hike with someone who has a great amount of knowledge will quickly increase your skills | Source

Know Your Area, Get and Get a Guide

Know Your Area

Knowing your area seems pretty simple, but there is a lot of detail involved that many people will overlook. Regarding edible plants, there is a basic need to identify plants but more so to familiarize yourself with as many common plants as possible. This means getting outside and going for a walk, looking at plants on the side of the road, your driveway, in the woods. Turning leaves over smelling the flowers, looking at stems and the bark of trees. It is not so important at first to know what they are, as much as it is that you can identify the same plant repeatedly, recognize where they grow and the variations on their appearance.

You should familiarize yourself with the typical vegetation of fields, roadsides, swamps, and forests in your region. Knowing the vegetation of areas will make it easy to locate edible plants, and identify them without a guide, it seems like a simple idea, but going out to collect edibles when you don't know the basic composition of an area's vegetation will make it a frustrating experience.

The Next Steps

OK so you are an avid outdoors man or you have (or plan to) familiarized yourself with the landscape. On to the next basic fundamental step, getting guide. Well, there are two kinds of guides we are talking about here. First the obvious kind, a book (preferably specific to your area) that will help you identify common plants. The second is an actual person simply who knows more than you about finding them.

When looking for a written guide to start with, you want to find something that is easy to use rather then crammed full of info. A book with dark or faded pictures will make it difficult to compare plants you find in the field. Likewise, a good identification 'key' will make it easy to accurately identify the plants you find or suspect to be edible. Finding a guide specific to your area is a plus, but often you may only be able to find generalized guides that cover a large region. Regardless, make sure you choose a guide you feel comfortable with. When looking to learn about plants, doing online searches or finding local nature organizations are other ways of finding guides and information about what may or may not be edible. Other sources include medicinal plant guides which often give you detailed information about how wild edible plants can improve your health.

Personal Help

Finding a personal guide is a bit more difficult. The best way I have found to get a guide when I have moved to a new area is to visit the local nature organizations. Conservancy's, parks, and outdoor educational centers usually have close ties with very proficient nature guides. Don't be afraid to contact these seasoned outdoorsmen, as most are more than willing to share their knowledge especially if it means a chance to get out into nature for a hike with someone interested in what they know.

Starting small can really build your confidence with wild edibles
Starting small can really build your confidence with wild edibles | Source

Start Small and Build

Where to Start

Start by looking for common plants that are widespread in areas around where you live. I have outlined several common species in this hub that should help you get started. If you look carefully, you can find a bounty of edibles often in your backyard. Focus on common plants, nuts, fruits and berries as you get into wildcrafting. From there branch out into greens, roots and shoots. Once you have become comfortable with your identification skills you can begin to go after edibles that are harder to identify such as mushrooms, and medicinal plants.

Use your guide often, even to id common plants. It is good to get a sense of how to identify characteristics, even if the plant is an obvious find. Take a log with you and record when and where you find plants you have a specific interest in, this helps when you want to find them in the future especially with seasonal plants like fiddleheads, and types of mushrooms.

Where to Harvest

As you begin to build your skills and passion for harvesting wild plants, you will be able to branch out into day hikes and more focused collecting excursions. You may find yourself selling certain plants and mushrooms to restaurants as you develop your skills. A word of caution however, make sure you have permission to collect on a property. Many conservancy, state and national parks do not allow for wild harvest, and private landowners could have you arrested or fined for trespassing without permission. It is always better to get permission to harvest and many people do not have a problem with someone pulling a few cattails, or mushrooms from their property.

With a bit of patience and passion it is east to build the skills necessary to find wild edible plants that will bring you delicious new food experiences.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      I've never heard of wildcrafting until today. This is a great idea especially if you have kids who love nature. Keeping a written log is a wonderful idea for repeated hikes. Very interesting hub! -K


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)