How to Identify Edible Wild Plants

How to Identify Edible Wild PlantsHave you ever dreamed of living off the land? Edible plants grow wild everywhere, but few have the ability to identify and make use of them. Learning to recognize common edible plants in every season and how to prepare them will help you take advantage of this healthy food source.


The seeds, roots, stems and leaves of most bladed grasses are edible and are packed with vitamins, minerals and protein. When young grass shoots are about six inches tall, they are edible raw. Avoid the hard-to-digest cellulose in more mature grasses by swallowing the juice and spitting out the fiber. Always roast grass seeds before eating them, and stay away from purple or black seeds, as they might contain a toxic fungus.


Cattails are found in marshes, swamps and waterlogged areas. The shoots, roots and seed heads can all be eaten at different times of year. In early spring, you can peel and eat young shoots that are less than two feet tall. When summer begins, the pollen heads can be eaten or dried for flour. Late in the summer and into early winter, the horn-shaped sprouts at the base of the plant are edible.

Pine Trees

Pine trees are a great source of vitamin C and you can boil the needles to get even more of this antioxidant vitamin. In spring, you can eat the high-protein male pollen anthers. The seeds of mature pine cones are also highly nutritious and even the inner tree bark is edible.

Acorns (pictured above)

Every acorn from an oak tree is edible and high in protein. The acorns from pin and white oaks can even be eaten raw, and the rest are ready for consumption after boiling in several changes of water (to eliminate the bitter-tasting tannic acid). White oaks can be identified by their blunt-tipped leaves and pin oaks get their name from the dead branches that protrude, like pins, from their trunk. All acorns are a great survival food. A handful delivers the same nutrition as a pound of ground beef.

Article Written By Dan Eash

Dan Eash began writing professionally in 1989, with articles in LaHabra's "Daily Star Progress" and the "Fullerton College Magazine." Since then, he's created scripts for doctor and dentist offices and published manuals, help files and a training video. His freelance efforts also include a book. Eash has a Fullerton College Associate of Arts in music/recording production and a Nova Institute multimedia production certificate.

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