Edible Wild Plants - Which are Safe to Eat and Grow in your Garden?

Edible wild plants taste so much better than domestic plants. See how to get free wild plants from your neighborhood and how to relocate them so that they grow successfully.

The first time I tasted a domestic raspberry was last winter. It came from the local store and I spat it out thinking it was bad. It tasted like cough syrup to me. Came to find out that it was not bad, it just wasn't what I thought of as a raspberry.

The raspberries I have always had were half the size of the one from the store, and have more seeds, this could be why they made them larger and less seeded. However in doing that they lost the flavor. I have found the same thing in strawberries and many other sorts of fruits and berries I have tried both wild, and domestic. Even the white mushroom you buy at the store has a completely different flavor when picked in the wild.

The wild plants don't get the same bugs, and illness that domestic plants do either. I know they say they have bred them to be resistant, but to what? I have yet to figure out.

Edible Wild Plants: Strawberries

wild strawberriesMy garden has strawberries  that have never have done well. I planted 75 the year before last and they have yet to impress me. 

My wild ones that I dug up in the local woods were brought home mashed in my saddle bags. I think I had about 6 plants. They are my trouble makers. 

They spread so fast that I have an on going strawberry relocation program spring, fall and many times in-between. They produce the sweetest tiny berries that no Tea Cup strawberry could match.

The strawberry jams and cobblers I make with them would turn someone who doesn't care for strawberries into a strawberry lover. While I have yet to taste a berry from my domestic plants who have been around for years. They are still working on establishing themselves.

Edible Wild Plants: Raspberries

I have also purchased raspberries from nurseries over the years. They die. The raspberries I dug up along ditches are thriving. 

If I find them in a sunny ditch, I relocate then in the sun. If I find them in part-shade I take note what part of the day they would be shaded and relocate then to such in their new home. They are unstoppable. 

Due to their relocation I can also fertilize them, making their produce abundant. I can honestly tell you it's worth the drive down a country road to dig them up. If I have to eat another store bought or "altered" berry I would rather starve.

Other wild plants that are great for relocation are asparagus, mushrooms, blackberries, and even ginseng. 

Edible Wild Plants: Ginseng

wild ginsengI have been told you can't relocate ginseng however I beg to differ. I take note always of where I find a certain plant. Not all plants even from the same species like the same things. Put that plant back exactly where you found it. 

If you found ginseng in the deep woods, put it back where years of leaves have accumulated and with the same moisture and sun. If you find ginseng where it gets sunlight only in the evenings, take note how far away its shade source is, and plant it the same distance from a shade source and the same angle, east, west etc, that you found it.

In doing this, you can transplant ginseng. I have had more trouble with blood root then I have ginseng. Only because my blood root was given to me and I wasn't there to see where it used to live before its relocation at my home.

Edible Wild Plants: Mayapples


My Mayapples are another success. They grow in force about 100 miles south of where I live, but do not grow naturally in this part of Iowa. I'm on my third year of the May apples reoccurring. Mayapples are also known as Mandrake. Like ginseng they enjoy a shaded, wooded area. The ripened fruit is edible in moderate amounts, though when consumed in large amounts the fruit is poisonous. 

Edible Wild Plants: Grapes

wild black grapes

I am, however, about ready to go have a long conversation with my wild grapes.

Wild grapes are something once established need to really be culled back.

The male grape plants don't produce and take up as much room as the female grape plants.

Wild grapes like most wild plants don't produce that much, so culling in some cases is the only way you can get produce in the space allowed.

Edible Wild Plants: Loganberries


My Loganberries are another example of a take over. I brought home 4 plants years ago and now its all I can do to maintain them.

Like my strawberries loganberries are in a constant relocation project. Like the wild grapes and strawberries they reproduce so fast that I'm able to sell many each year.

Thus the wild plants have given me a small income that the domestic plants do not. So, another reason to consider taking a walk in the country or in the woods and just keeping your eyes open for what you can find.       

Edible Wild Plants: How to Make Sure they Grow

Over the years I have brought home thousands of dollars of plants that have never grown. Everything I have relocated from the forest has produced well. Everything from Boletus Mushrooms, white horse mushrooms, hen of the woods, and more, to raspberries, garlic, wild onions and chamomile.

Looking at what is available to you naturally will not only save you a lot of money and heart ache, but give you a better flavored produce to work with. Take a walk down a dirt road and really look at what's around you. Take a plastic bag and a small shovel and a knife. You will come home feeling like you spent a fortune at the local nursery.

The biggest thing to remember after you relocate your wild plants is to leave them like you found them as these plants are not used to, nor made for, a lot of fertilizer. You can kill them or make them sick if you don't just plant them, and walk away. I don't prune them either. I clean up after them, but I do not prune. They don't seem to like that. Like a wild animal they don't care for the attention of people much. They are a 'plant-and-ignore' project.

One of my favorite parts of finding wild plants is the walk. Its always peaceful. I always enjoy that as my "Zen time" and when I have a friend with me its always a special time, quiet enough to really talk and spend quality time together.

I would love to hear from you about what you find in the woods to bring home this spring. Its always fun to know what different areas have to offer and what people have success with. You can let me know by just typing in the box below.

By Gypsy, our resident homestead blogger from One Sky Ranch

Gypsy's Wanderings Homestead Blog

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