Wild Edible Plants in Kentucky

Wild Edible Plants in Kentucky
Kentucky is famous for being the Bluegrass State, and its best-known wild plant is the wild cannabis, which can be found by a sharp-eyed enthusiast just about everywhere. However, the state is also home to a wide variety of edible wild plants. Beyond their obvious survival applications, wild edible plants can also be harvested and served on the dinner table, where their strong flavors more than compensate for their small size.

Tubers and Bulbs

The best of the wild tubers is the wood sorrel, or oxalis. The plant has a root tuber similar to a small potato. However, the stems, leaves and flowers are mildly toxic and should not be consumed. Ordinary onion grass, which grows virtually everywhere in Kentucky, is also edible. This includes both the grassy stem and the bulbs. Spring onions, or "ramps," are also easy to find and can be eaten.


Fruits and Berries

The most common wild berry in Kentucky is the blackberry, the briars of which can be found fringing numerous farms and vacant suburban lots. The American elderberry is also found in the state, but it should be carefully studied before consumption since it superficially resembles several varieties of poisonous berries. The ill-informed can easily make a mistake and quickly come to regret it. Ground cherries are also present in Kentucky, but since these plants thrive on bad, well-watered soil, it would be best to look for them in the sandy and/or rocky areas around the state's creeks and rivers.


The ponds and lakes of Kentucky are home to wild watercress, which can be harvested and eaten. Often mistaken for thistles, wild prickly lettuce is just as edible as its domesticated counterpart and arguably tastier to boot.


Walnuts in Kentucky can be had from the American black walnut tree, which needs plenty of water and good soil. It, therefore, grows best close to rivers and streams. The state also has a good climate for hickory trees, which produce edible (and often ignored) nuts. The Kentucky coffee tree produces a semi-edible product, meaning that the seeds can be used as a substitute for coffee if they are roasted for three or four hours. However, even after being roasted, the seed remains marginally toxic and should never be consumed in large quantities.

Other Plants

Chickweed is a wild herb that can provide some nutrition if consumed, and the entire plant is edible. The ordinary, humble dandelion has long seen its flower petals used for making tea and recently has become popular for use in salads. It is easy to find and can be eaten straight from the field.


Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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