Edible flowers are typically the most encountered type of edible plant in Europe. It is common knowledge that certain flowers, such as nasturtiums, sunflowers, jasmine flowers (pictured above) and honeysuckles are all edible. However, Europe is home to many other types of edible flowers. A wild example is the taraxacum flower, which is native to the continent and used for its edible seeds. The rose, also native to Europe, produces edible rose hips that are high in vitamin C. The purple syringa flower, found in most European countries, is also edible and sometimes considered to be a weed. Finally, the ubiquitous dandelion, found in many backyards and parks, is edible and can be used in salads and tossed greens.
The arctic willow, native to northern parts of Europe, produces edible shoots and roots that are high in vitamin C. The juniper tree, found growing wild throughout most of northern Europe, grows edible twigs and fruit. The beech tree, common in wild forests in eastern and southern Europe, produces edible nuts that are akin to chestnuts, another nut-producing tree found in southern and central Europe. Beech nuts were once used to make a coffee-like drink, while chestnuts are high in protein and a popular food for survival. A final nut-producing tree originally found in Europe is the filbert, commonly called the hazelnut tree in the U.S.
Shrubs and Annuals
Chicory, native to all parts of Europe, is considered a weed. Like the dandelion, it can be used in salad. The entire plant is edible, including its roots. Foxtail grass, found throughout eastern Europe, produces seed heads much like wheat and is likewise edible. Nettle, often referred to as stinging nettle, is native to much of northern Europe and is edible if you boil it for ten minutes to reduce its stinging properties. Finally, sheep sorrel is a common weed and can be eaten much like a salad green.
Many of the wild, edible plants found throughout the European continent are considered weeds. Exercise caution when harvesting wild edibles in public spaces, such as boulevards or parks, as the plants may have been sprayed with an herbicide.