Common wild edible plants

Written by lisa newcomb
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Common wild edible plants
The prickly pear cactus is one example of an edible wild plant. (flowering prickly pear cactus image by Kathy Burns from

Wild plants can be help or harm humans who consume them. It is important to know the difference between edible and nonedible wild plants, should you ever be in a situation of survival in the wilderness. The Universal Edibility Test is a common way to identify whether a plant is edible. Once you can reliably identify these plants as safe to eat, you can use them in your everyday diet without worry.

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Asparagus Officinalis

Asparagus officinalis is a perennial. Garden variety asparagus is larger than its wild counterpart. This plant can be found in temperate climates and, according to the Wildcrafting website, resembles "a cluster of green fingers." The plant also features red berries and green flowers. The edible part of this plant is the stem. It's berries can be poisonous, and raw asparagus can cause nausea and diarrhoea, according to the Wildcrafting site. To eat wild asparagus, steam or boil it for 10 to 15 minutes.


This plant, also called Typha, is generally found in wetland areas in North America and in England. The rootstock of the plant can be eaten raw or cooked, according to the Art of Manliness website. It's leaves can also be boiled and eaten. The cylindrical brown flower on the top of female plants is also edible and, according to the website, tastes similar to corn on the cob.


This plant can be eaten in its entirety, from the flowers down to the roots. It can be found in weedy areas and along roads in North America, Africa, Europe and Asia. Also called Cichorium intybus, the main identifier for this plant is its purple-blue flowers. According to the Wildcrafting website, chicory roots can be used as a coffee substitute.


While this weed may be the bane of many landscapers, it is one of the most available wild edible plants around. The leaves are best eaten before maturity, as they can turn bitter. According to the Art of Manliness website, water used to boil dandelions in can be saved and drunk as a tea.


Also called Epilobium angustifolium, this plant is found in open forests, on hillsides and even along sea shores. It can grow up to 1.8 meters tall and has large pink flowers. The best time of year to eat this plant is in the spring, according to the Wildcrafting site. The leaves, stems and flowers are all edible.


This slippery plant found all over the world on ocean shores can be eaten raw or cooked. It is also called Alaria esculenta, and is a good source of folate, vitamin K and lignans, according to the Art of Manliness website.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Part of the Opuntia genus, this cactus is a staple in some South American diets, and it can also be found in desert areas of North America. It is a flat cactus with prickly spines sticking out. Both the cactus 'leaves' and the purple pear-like fruit can be eaten. Removal of the spines first, however, is a necessity.

Red Clover

This is a familiar plant in North America. Also called trifolium spp, this plant features a purplish-pink flower. Other clovers have white, pink or red flowers and can also be eaten. Clover leaves and the flowers are the edible parts of the plant. It is best to soak the plants in water or boil them before consuming them. The small flower heads are rich in protein, according to the Wildcrafting website.

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