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How to Forage for Wild Edible Plants

There are probably wild plants growing in your own backyard—or at least in a nearby public park—just waiting to become a free, tasty meal. Just make sure they’re actually edible.


  • : Ingesting unknown vegetation is always dangerous. If you have any doubt about something, don’t eat it.
  • Step 1: Educate yourself Learn about the plants that grow wild in your area and are edible. Your local Horticultural Society or librarian can help you.
  • Step 2: Locate foraging areas Locate areas with natural plant life. Even large cities often have parks where edible wild plants can be foraged.
  • TIP: To avoid pesticides, don’t forage near railroad tracks or power line rights-of-way.
  • Step 3: Bring a book Bring an illustrated plant reference book with you to help identify plants and determine whether they are safe to eat.
  • Step 4: Know the edible parts Make sure you know which part of a plant is edible. Sometimes the roots are edible but the leaves are not, and vice versa.
  • Step 5: Know what to avoid Do not eat unknown plants that have a milky sap or a sap that turns black when exposed to air; are mushroom-like; resemble onions, garlic, parsley, parsnip, or dill; or have carrot-like leaves, roots, or tubers.
  • TIP: Follow this rule when foraging for mushrooms: If it ain’t hollow, don’t swallow; if it’s wavy, don’t make gravy; if it’s reddish, you could be deadish.
  • Step 6: Wash before eating Wash foraged food before eating it, especially anything picked lower than waist high.
  • Step 7: Don’t be greedy Don’t be greedy: Don’t pick every single berry, nut, or plant from an area--leave some for your fellow foragers!
  • FACT: Out of 85,556 questionable mushroom ingestions reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers in an 11-year period, only 14 resulted in fatalities.

You Will Need

  • Patience
  • A plant reference book
  • Daring

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