Wild Edible Plants in Michigan

Wild Edible Plants in MichiganBeing in Michigan means being near wilderness. Its lush forests and freshwater lakes are full of flora and fauna of countless varieties. Much of the foliage in Michigan's wilds is edible. With some basic knowledge of what plants you can and cannot eat, Michigan's outdoors will take on a whole new flavor. From nuts and berries to mushrooms and wild onions, Michigan has a lot to chew on.

Edible Flowering Plants

burdock Burdock: The root of the burdock plant can be eaten after boiling. The inner root is the most edible part and imparts the most flavor. Save the leaves to use for salad.

Alpine Smartweed: Isolated to the northern part of the state, the roots of this plant can be eaten. Roasting the roots will make them less bitter. Add this to soup or stew for extra sharp flavor.
Wild Onion: The bulbs at the base of the wild onion's flowers are edible and delicious. You can eat them fresh from the plant. Dig up the onion and boil or roast the bulbs.

Edible Fruits, Berries and Nuts

Cranberries (pictured at the top): Growing wild in the bogs and wetlands of Michigan, fresh cranberries are tart and tasty. Let them dry in the sun or eat them fresh.

blueberries Blueberries: In the late summer, northern Michigan is loaded with fresh wild blueberries. Gather them to eat fresh, make pies and muffins or squeeze them for their juice.


sumac Sumac: Soak the large clusters of red berries in water and strain them to make a refreshing tea.


Hazelnuts: Hazelnuts are abundant in areas of forest underbrush and crowded foliage.
Pine needles: Pine needles are rich in vitamin C and can be crushed into a paste or powder, or boiled to make a fresh tea. The inner bark of pines can also be ground into a simple flour.

Other Edible Plants

morel mushroom Morel Mushrooms: Located near fallen elm trees and shady forest dales, the highly prized morel mushroom can be found in Michigan during mid-Spring. They are extremely rare, but worth the search.

Wild Rice: Wild rice grows along the shallows of lakes and slow-moving rivers. Shake the stalks when the rice is ripe and remove the husks before roasting or boiling.
Fiddlehead Ferns: When young ferns begin pushing their way up out of the earth in the early spring, get ready to harvest them. These fresh-tasting, delicious ferns are prized delicacies and fetch a hefty price at the grocery store.

Article Written By Jake Kulju

Jake Kulju is a Minneapolis-based freelance outdoors writer with 10 years' experience. He is an outdoors guidebook author for Avalon Travel and his work is regularly published in "Outdoor Traditions Magazine" and "Naturescape News." His nature-based poetry is published in "Poetry Canada" and "Farmhouse Magazine." Kulju holds an English degree from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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