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Edible Plants and Foraging

10 Wild Edible Plants Every Hiker Should Know About

10 Wild Edible Plants Every Hiker should Know About


Hiking and trekking are among the most popular outdoor activities that people enjoy. They provide an opportunity to explore nature and experience a sense of adventure. When you hit the trail, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of the plants you may encounter. Some of these plants are edible, and if you know how to identify them, they can provide nourishment, energy, and even medicine.

Here are ten wild edible plants every hiker should know about:

  • Berries
  • Dandelions
  • Chickweed
  • Wild onions and garlic
  • Cattail
  • Fireweed
  • Mushrooms
  • Wild rose
  • Nettles
  • Burdock


Berries are the most abundant and easiest to identify wild edible plants. They come in various colors and sizes, making them easy to spot while on the trail. Some of the berries you can find on the trail include blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and elderberries. Berries are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, making them a healthy snack.


Despite being considered a weed by many people, dandelions are a nutritious and tasty edible plant. The whole plant can be eaten, including the flowers, leaves, and roots. Dandelions have a bitter taste, but if prepared correctly, they can add flavor and nutrition to your meals. They are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.


Chickweed is another nutritious and tasty edible plant that hikers can find while on the trail. The leaves and stems of chickweed can be eaten raw or cooked. Chickweed is high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

Wild onions and garlic

Wild onions and garlic are pungent and flavorful wild edible plants that are easy to identify. Hikers can find them growing in moist areas in the woods. The leaves and bulbs of these plants can be eaten raw or cooked, and they add flavor to soups, stews, and other dishes.


Cattail is a versatile wild edible plant that has many uses. The roots, shoots, and pollen of cattail can all be eaten. Cattail roots can be boiled or roasted, while the shoots and pollen can be eaten raw or cooked.


Fireweed is a beautiful wildflower that has many medicinal qualities. The leaves, buds, and flowers of fireweed can be eaten raw or cooked. Fireweed is rich in vitamins A and C and is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties.


Mushrooms are a delicious and nutritious wild edible plant that hikers can find in the woods. However, hikers should be careful when harvesting mushrooms as some species can be poisonous. The best way to identify edible mushrooms is to go on a guided mushroom hunt with a trained professional.

Wild rose

Wild roses are a beautiful and edible plant that hikers can find in the woods. The rose hips of wild roses are high in vitamin C and can be eaten raw or made into tea, jam, or jelly.


Nettles are a nutritious wild edible plant that hikers can find in the woods. The leaves and stems of nettles can be eaten raw or cooked, and they are high in iron, calcium, and vitamin A.


Burdock is a root vegetable that has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. The root of burdock can be eaten raw or cooked, and it is high in fiber, calcium, and potassium.


Hiking and trekking provide an opportunity to explore nature and experience adventure. However, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of the plants you may encounter on the trail, some of which are edible. The ten wild edible plants discussed in this article are just a few of the many wild edible plants hikers can find on the trail. Before eating any wild plants, hikers should be certain they have correctly identified the plant and know that it is safe to eat.

FAQ – 10 Wild Edible Plants Every Hiker Should Know About

Q: What are some common wild edible plants that I can find while hiking?

A: Some common wild edible plants that you can find while hiking include dandelions, wild strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, elderberries, chickweed, lambsquarters, plantains, purslane, and wood sorrel.

Q: How can I identify these plants?

A: It is important to have a good field guide or to do your research beforehand. Pay attention to the leaves, shape, color, and other distinguishing features of the plants you’re looking for.

Q: Are these plants safe to eat?

A: Yes, as long as you can positively identify the plants and they have not been treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals. It is important to properly prepare and cook some wild plants before consuming them.

Q: Can I eat the entire plant or just certain parts?

A: Some plants, like dandelions and plantains, can be eaten in their entirety. Other plants, like lambsquarters and purslane, are typically just eaten for their leaves. It is important to research each specific plant before eating it.

Q: Are there any precautionary measures I need to take before foraging for wild plants?

A: Yes, it is important to properly identify plants before consuming them. Wear gloves and take any necessary precautions when handling plants that could potentially be toxic or harmful.

Q: Can I forage for these plants in any location?

A: No, it is important to only forage in areas that are legal and safe. Avoid private property, national parks, and areas that may have been treated with harmful chemicals.

Q: How can I prepare these wild edible plants?

A: Many wild edible plants can be eaten raw, like berries and wood sorrel. Others, like lambsquarters and purslane, can be boiled or sautéed as a side dish. Dandelion greens are often used in salads and chickweed can be added to soups or stews.

Q: Are there any harmful effects to eating wild plants?

A: Some wild plants, like poison ivy and certain mushrooms, can be harmful if ingested. It is important to research each specific plant and take necessary precautions.

Q: Can foraging for wild plants be sustainable?

A: Yes, foraging for wild plants can be sustainable if done correctly. Only take what you need and be sure to leave plenty for other animals and for the plant population to regenerate.

Q: Are there any other resources for learning about wild edible plants?

A: Yes, there are many resources available such as books, websites, and workshops. It is important to do your research and learn from a knowledgeable source before foraging for wild plants.

Wild Edibles for Hikers – Related Products

  • Water Filters or Purifiers:

    Water filters or purifiers are an essential item for any hiker or trekker, especially when foraging for wild edibles. Avoid using untreated water sources as it can cause gastrointestinal issues. The Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System can filter up to 100,000 gallons and removes 99.9999% of all bacteria.

  • Field Guides:

    A field guide that can help identify plants, flowers, and berries, can be extremely helpful in finding wild edibles. The “Edible Wild Plants” guidebook by Thomas Elias is a comprehensive guide for hikers and backpackers who want to learn more about the plants around them.

  • Reusable Food Containers:

    Hikers and trekkers often carry food in disposable plastic bags, which can be harmful to the environment. Reusable food containers such as Stasher Silicone Food Bag or Eco-Friendly Collapsible Water Bottles can not only reduce waste but also help store and transport foraged wild edibles.

  • Portable Stove:

    A portable stove such as Jetboil Flash lets hikers and backpackers cook or prepare foraged wild edibles quickly and efficiently. It is lightweight, compact, and easy to use, making it a popular choice among hikers and backpackers.

  • Collapsible Water Bottle:

    A water bottle is a must-have item for any hiker or backpacker. A collapsible water bottle such as Platypus SoftBottle is space-saving, lightweight, and easy to pack. It also enables hikers and backpackers to drink water while on the move, without adding much weight to their backpacks.

  • Hiking Poles:

    Hiking poles can be a lifesaver for hikers, especially when carrying a backpack and foraging for wild edibles. It can help with balance, reduce the strain on the knees and legs, and can even be used to remove thorny bushes. Carbon fiber hiking poles such as Black Diamond Distance Z are lightweight and adjustable, making them a popular choice among hikers and backpackers.

  • Knife or Multi-tool:

    A reliable knife or a multi-tool such as Leatherman Wave can be handy for cutting and preparing foraged wild edibles. Ensure to keep the blade sharp, clean, and safely secured in a sheath or pouch while not in use.

  • Bear Canisters:

    Bear canisters can help protect hikers’ food, including foraged wild edibles, from being eaten by bears or other wildlife. The BearVault 450 is an easy-to-use, lightweight, and durable option for hikers and backpackers who frequent bear country.

  • Hiking Boots or Shoes:

    Hiking boots or shoes are essential for any hiker or backpacker, especially when foraging for wild edibles. Invest in a well-fitting and supportive pair of hiking shoes such as Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent hiking shoes, which are designed for breathability, comfort, and durability.

When foraging for wild edibles, ensure to follow safe foraging practices and avoid eating anything unless you are 100% sure it is safe and edible. Even if the plant looks like something you recognize, there is always the possibility of confusing it with something else. Always pack out what you pack in and leave no traces behind.

Pros & Cons of Knowing about 10 Wild Edible Plants Every Hiker Should Know About


  • Health Benefits: Wild edible plants are full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help you stay nourished on your hike.
  • Cost-effective: By foraging for wild edible plants, you can save money on food supplies during your camping or hiking trip.
  • Taste and Variety: Many wild edible plants offer unique tastes and textures that can add excitement to your diet and give a break from ordinary packaged foods.
  • Learning Opportunity: Foraging for wild edible plants can be a fun and educational activity that deepens your knowledge of nature and the environment.
  • Sustainable Lifestyle: Foraging for wild edible plants can promote a sustainable lifestyle and reduce your reliance on store-bought foods.
  • Convenience: If you are out in the wilderness and run out of food, knowing about wild edible plants can be an extremely convenient and life-saving skill.


  • Risk of Poisoning: If you eat the wrong part of a plant or if you misidentify a poisonous plant, consuming wild edible plants can be dangerous and can put your health at risk.
  • Dangerous Locations: Wild edible plants may be located in areas where dangerous animals or natural disasters occur like high winds, heavy rains, and flash floods.
  • Legal Issues: In some foraging locations, it may be illegal to take or damage any plant life.
  • Environmental Damage: Improper foraging practices can cause damage to the ecosystem and reduce the availability of wild edible plants.
  • Seasonal Availability: Wild edible plants may only be available seasonally, and if you are not familiar with the plant’s growing season, it may be difficult to collect them.
  • Time and Effort: Foraging for wild edible plants requires patience, effort, and time. It may take longer to collect enough food than it would with store-bought foods.

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