Edible Wild Plants of North America

plantainThe normal diet in North America comes from sources domesticated, cultivated and sent to market. Natural sources of nutrition occur in all areas of the world. While some wild plants are nutritious and delicious, others can taste horrible or even kill you when eaten. Correct identification of anything you put in your mouth is your responsibility.
Even correctly identified edible plants can cause adverse reactions in some people, just like any new food you find at the supermarket. Start out eating small quantities of foraged food until you know how it will affect you. (Picture: Plantain)



The dandelion grows in sunny locations throughout North America. Although there are many varieties, all parts of the plant can be eaten and brewed as teas for a good source of calcium and vitamins A and E. Leaves can be cooked or eaten raw. Dandelion root can be boiled and used as a vegetable, or roasted and ground for a coffee substitute.


The daylily grows in temperate areas of North America. The orange blossoms, if you can find them on the one day they are open, taste better cooked than raw. They can be fried for storage.
The sword-like leaves of the daylily can be eaten raw as well as cooked. The youngest leaves are the best choice for eating.
The root system of the daylily is a mass of tubers that can also be boiled, roasted or eaten raw.

Foxtail Grass

Growing throughout North America, foxtail grass has a narrow, cylindrical head with long hairs. The grains are less than 6 millimeters long but are dense enough to make the heads droop when they are ripe.
Boiling makes the hard, bitter grains of the foxtail more palatable.



Although the hair-like bristles of the nettle make harvesting a bit uncomfortable since they irritate the skin on contact, the young shoots and leaves are very nutritious. Boiling will take away the stinging properties.
Nettle grows to heights of several feet and can be found throughout North America.

Plantain (pictured top)

The plantain grows in yards and along roads throughout North America. The broad hairy leaves grow in a ground-hugging rosette, surrounding a spike containing the inconspicuous flower and seeds. Young, tender leaves can be eaten raw, while the older leaves should be cooked. The plantain seeds can be roasted or eaten raw.

Wild Rose

Flowers of white, pink or yellow on stalks with alternating leaves and thorns easily identify the wild rose that grows in open woods and dry fields across North America. The fruit of the wild rose, or hip, stays on the plant after blooming, making this a year-round source of food. A great source for vitamin C and very nutritious, the hip can be eaten raw, boiled or ground into flour.
Leaves and buds of the wild rose can be eaten raw or boiled, and young shoots can be peeled and eaten.

Article Written By Patrice Campbell

Patrice Campbell, a graduate of Skagit Valley College, has more than 20 years of writing experience. She has worked as a news reporter and features writer for the "Florence Mining News" and the "Wild Rivers Guide," penned promotional material for various businesses and charities, and written for various websites.

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