Edible Wild Plants of Michigan

Michigan has variety of wild areas to explore, from the shores of the Great Lakes to the more remote regions of the Upper Peninsula. Whether backpacking, camping or just simply foraging, these wild areas also contain a number of plants that can be eaten safely with little to no preparation. Many of these are easily identifiable even to an amateur forager.
Edible Wild Plants of Michigan

Flowering Plants

Alpine smartweed: Found mostly in northern Michigan, the bulblets can be nibbled off the stem, but the rootstocks should be roasted.
Nodding wild onion: The leaves can be eaten before the flowers appear; after the flowers bloom, the bulblets also can be eaten. The underground bulbs can be cooked or eaten raw.
Clover: Both red and white clover can be eaten. Reds should be soaked and boiled 5 to 10 minutes; white should be eaten before the flowers appear.
Burdock (pictured below): The young leaves and inner roots and pith (remove the green rind) can be eaten as a salad, though the roots should be boiled first.


Woody Plants

Dwarf sumac: The red berry clusters can be soaked in cold water and, once strained, make a cold tea.
Pine trees: All varieties of pine needles can be steeped to make a hot tea rich in vitamins. Young, male cones can be cooked in an emergency, and inner bark (as well as the inner bark of spruces and firs) used as flour.
Black locust: The flower clusters may be dipped in batter and fried as fritters.
Wild fruits: Fruits such as cranberries, blueberries and raspberries can be eaten fresh. Other fruits such as elderberries require some cooking. The northern fly-honeysuckle has blueberry-like fruit.
Wild nuts: Beech, hazelnuts and chestnuts (pictured below) need only to be roasted to get at the kernels inside the outer husks. Hickory nuts also are edible once shelled.



Miscellaneous Plants

Fiddleheads: So-called because of their shape, off bracken and ostrich ferns (pictured below) may be eaten as-is or boiled (recommended for the bracken). Do NOT confuse them with hemlock, which is poisonous.
Great bulrush (pictured top): Found in mud or shallow waters, the young shoots may be eaten as greens and the tips of the rootstocks may be prepared like potatoes. Pollen and seeds can be made into flowers.
Wild rice: Although it requires a boat, it is easy to harvest and only needs to be dried to prepare it before rubbing the grains to remove the husks.
Mushrooms: There are edible mushrooms in Michigan. However, only eat mushrooms you are 100 percent sure of. When in doubt, leave them.


fiddlehead fern

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