Edible Wild Plants in New York

Edible Wild Plants in New YorkAlthough the Big Apple gets all the attention, the state of New York has vast wilderness areas that are worthy in their own right. Upstate New York is home to hundreds of plant species, including several edible varieties. Native Americans and early settlers turned to these forests for food, sustaining themselves on many of the plants that today are considered weeds.

Common Edible Plants

Also known as pigweed, amaranth is a champion of forest edibles. All parts of the plant can be eaten, including roots, leaves, stems, flowers and seeds. For best results, boil the seeds and eat the new or young growth parts of the plant.
Best known for its savory root, burdock (pictured above) is one of the most nutritious wild plants in New York. Its leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Its root is best boiled or baked. Burdock root contains high levels of vitamins A, B, C and E, along with iron, magnesium and calcium.


Stinging nettles (pictured above) may not sound like something to sink your teeth into, but the plant is one of the most protein-rich in the forest. For best results, harvest the plant when it is young and boil the leaves for one to two minutes. The boiling removes the stinging chemical. Pair the leaves with sauteed garlic for a delicious side dish.

Edible Flowering Plants

The nasturtium (pictured at the top), a wild native plant, provides both beautiful flowers and delicious edible parts. All parts of the plant are edible and high in vitamin C. The leaves have a slight spice to them and are a great addition to soups or salsas that need a little kick.

All parts of the chicory plant are edible. Its leaves can be eaten in salad or boiled. The chicory's roots can be boiled and eaten or roasted and ground to use as a coffee substitute.

Although not a native plant of New York, garlic mustard grows wild across the state. It is best used in salads, mixed with other greens. It may have a sharp taste, which can be softened by steaming or boiling for five minutes.

Edible Wild Berries


Mulberries (pictured above) can be eaten raw or as a cooked dish. Mulberries also dry well for storing or eating later as a dried fruit.

The fruit and flowers of elderberry plants are edible. The flowers are usually used to make tea, while the berries are often cooked down to form a syrup. Eaten raw, the berries can have a bitter taste, but they make an excellent syrup or base for jams. Elderberries contain large amounts of vitamin C.

Wild raspberries, with their bright red berry clusters, grow in tangled thatches of undergrowth. The bushes have countless thorns on their twisting stems, but the sweet fruit is worth the care you must take in harvesting it. Wild raspberries are best eaten fresh but can be made into syrup or jam or cooked in recipes.

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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