Michigan Edible Wild Plants

Onion GrassOutdoor enthusiasts know Michigan is a great place to explore. For campers, backpackers and day hikers, the state offers a variety of environments to explore. It also offers a wide array of wild plants that can be harvested and eaten with relative ease and safety. Amateur foragers should still take care to make sure they know what they are eating. (Picture: Onion Grass)

Flowering Plants


Blue lettuce: It can be eaten as a wild lettuce, either raw or cooked.

Wild parsnip: The roots can be eaten raw or cooked.

Wild onion (pictured top): The leaves can be eaten before the flowers appear; after the flowers bloom, the bulbs can also 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 for 5 to 10 minutes. Whites should be eaten before the flowers appear.

Burdock (pictured above): The young leaves and inner roots and pith can be eaten as a salad, though the roots should be boiled first and the green rind should be removed from the pith.

Woody Plants


Common greenbrier: The young shoots, leaves and tendrils can be eaten in much the same way as spinach, either in a salad or cooked.

Pine trees: All variety 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) can be used as flour.

Wild fruits: Fruits such as cherries, cranberries (pictured above), blueberries and raspberries can be eaten fresh.

Wild nuts: Beech, hazelnuts, and chestnuts need only to be roasted to get at the kernels inside the outer husks. Hickory nuts are also edible once shelled.

Miscellaneous Plants

morel mushroom

Fiddleheads: Named for their shape, these are found on bracken or ostrich ferns. They may be eaten raw or boiled. Don't confuse these with hemlock, which is poisonous.

Chufa: The tubers of this plant, also known as yellow nut grass, can be nibbled raw or cooked as a vegetable. Roasted and ground, it can also make a coffee.

Wild rice: It requires a boat to harvest and needs to be dried to before rubbing the grains to remove the husks. Winnow, then soak and boil.

Mushrooms: There are edible mushrooms in Michigan, such as the morel (pictured above). However, only eat mushrooms you are 100 percent sure of. When in doubt, leave it.

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