Wild Edible Plants in Ontario

Wild Edible Plants in OntarioOntario is rich with fun for the outdoor enthusiast, be it camping, backpacking or whitewater rafting. While exploring the province's backcountry, you can take advantage of a number of plants that are harvestable for their edibles. Most require minimal preparation and are easily identifiable.

Flowering Plants

Skunk Cabbage: Although edible when cooked, the leaves must be thoroughly dried before cooking. Do not eat raw.
Sheep, Garden Sorrel: Can be eaten raw, in a salad, or boiled for 3 to 5 minutes.
Mints: Various mints, including peppermint, can be made into tea or nibbled.
Wild Onion, Garlic: The leaves can be eaten before the flowers appear; after the flowers bloom the bulblets 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 5 to 10 minutes; whites should be eaten before the flowers appear.
Great, Common Burdock: 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

Staghorn Sumac (pictured above): The red berry clusters can be soaked in cold water and, once strained, made into a cold tea.
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) used as flour.

Wild Fruits: Fruits---such as cherries, currants (pictured above), blueberries and raspberries---can be eaten fresh. In addition to its edible fruit, the leaves of the creeping snowberry make a nice tea.

Wild Nuts: Beech (pictured above), 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

Great Bur-reed: The tubers of this plant are often difficult to gather but can be used like a potato.
Fiddleheads: So-called because of their shape; off bracken and ostrich ferns, they may be eaten as-is or boiled (recommended for the bracken). Do NOT confuse them with hemlock, which is poisonous.
Wild Rice: An aquatic plant that requires a boat to harvest; once dried and winnowed it can be easily cooked.
Moss: Reindeer and Icelandic mosses can be dried and ground to make flour.

morel mushroom
Mushrooms: There are edible mushrooms in Ontario, such as the morel (pictured above). However, only eat mushrooms you are 100 percent sure are not poisonous. When in doubt, leave it.

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