Wild food foraging is on the lips of everyone lately, with new trends popping up like mushrooms after the rain. And we’re not surprised. Research about the adverse effects of heavily processed food is hard to ignore as we see a steady rise in health problems related to it.
To provide beginners with a basic guide to using natural ingredients, foraging edible wild berries, and incorporating edible wildflowers into their diet, we have compiled an essential guide for beginners. With this guide, you can begin your journey to a more healthy and natural diet with these 13 wild berries, flowers and fruits.
And if you can’t physically forage for wild fruit, berries, and flowers yourself, use your newfound know-how to buy them from valid food sources.
Safety and Precautions — How To Identify Wild Berries, Fruit, and Flowers?
The golden rule is to never eat or pick any fruit, berry, or flower that you’re not 100% sure about. When in doubt, it’s best to leave the plant alone. Before consuming any berries/fruit/flower, you must perform an edibility test first.
You can easily identify many berries and fruits based on their leaves and fruit bodies. With a little know-how, you can start enjoying eating fruit picked straight from the earth, the way nature intended.
POCKET FIELD GUIDE SURVIVAL KIT
Take these weatherproof info cards when foraging in North America.
SMALL FORAGING BAG KIT
Comes with knives perfect for pruning and harvesting mushrooms, fruits, and vegetables.
Edible Wild Berries To Forage In North America
1. Wild Blueberries
Depending on their ripeness, blueberries can be sweet or tart. The deep blue berries and raised crown make it easy to identify them. You can find wild blueberries like these in rocky hill regions and fields across North America and many consider it one of the nation’s most popular edible wild berry varieties. This superfood is packed with nutrients that can provide you with a variety of health benefits, including increased antioxidant levels.
2. Wild Blackberries
Blackberries grow in clusters resembling miniature grape clusters and possess a deep purple color that can seem black. Blackberries also closely resemble dewberries, both of which are edible.
You can find blackberries growing in woodlands and roadsides, as this plant enjoys a wide range of habitats. With high levels of vitamin C and vitamin K, blackberries are loaded with health benefits. Nothing is as delightful as picking a blackberry from a bush and immediately enjoying its sweet taste.
Huckleberries are mainly found in forests and bog areas, with blue or black fruit, and look similar to blueberries, often with a stem sticking out of the top of each berry. These berries, like many other varieties, are jam-packed with antioxidants and a wide variety of minerals and vitamins. They are best eaten raw and uncooked and are often used for oral hygiene in natural medicinal practices.
Elderberries can be identified by their purple and blue colored fruit. They come from the Sambucus plant, loved for its sweet and tart taste. Make sure to cook these berries before eating them, because eating raw Elderberries may often cause stomach pain and discomfort. Further, never consume the green versions of these berries raw, as the chemicals our bodies react to are more concentrated in the green berries. You can find elderberries growing in woodlands, shrublands, and wastelands throughout North America.
Elderberries have a leading place in medicine among berry relatives and have special interest due to their potential effect at boosting the immune system and fighting off viruses in the body.
Gooseberries have 2 stages. When green and young, they should be cooked and have a tart flavor. When they change to oranges and reds they can be eaten raw and have a sweeter taste.
Gooseberries look like grapes and you can often see the veins under the skin of the fruit. These shrubs have a scalloped-edge leaf with thorns on the shrub, and you can find the berries growing beneath the branches. Gooseberries are a great source of edible wild berries with an amazing range of vitamins and minerals that will boost your overall health.
Mulberries are a sweet-tasting fruit easily identified by its clustered bumpy skin. As the berries ripen you can see a wide range of colors from white, to green, to purple and red. Children in the past use the soft leaves to grow and breed silkworms as a hobby, and many childhood memories are filled with stained t-shirts and delicious red berries. This edible wild berry is a powerhouse of nutrients and minerals and has a phenomenal range of health benefits, like preventing cancer and improving blood sugar levels.
Edible Wild Fruit To Forage In North America
Many foragers seek out wild strawberries for their powerful flavors that store-bought varieties often lack. It seems domestication of strawberry crops has tamed the natural flavor of the fruit. And although the fruit is smaller than the cultivated kind, they have far more flavor.
You can find these delicious edible wild fruit in grasslands and forest edges, open woodlands, and other areas that have well-drained soil.
8. Prickly Pear Cactus
Find these hardy and durable plants throughout North America on rocky hillsides, around boulder crops, or in dry sandy areas. And they have wild edible fruit you can forage – very carefully. The Prickly Pear is also known as the Paddle plant, and there’s clear evidence the indigenous people used the Prickly Pear Cactus for medicine, food, as a source of needles, and much more.
9. Wild Crabapples
Wild Crabapple trees are easily spotted by their fragrant and showy flowers and by their tart fruit easily identified. You can often find these trees on field edges or in forest areas, providing the birds and animals with a rich source of food – and foragers looking for delicious edible wild fruit.
Edible Wild Flowers To Forage In North America
10. Viola Flowers (Viola Odorata)
Viola flowers are some of the most common edible wildflowers you can forage in the regions of North America. Although they’re not native, these little wonders have naturalized well – and we can almost guarantee you’ve seen Violas, or their relative the Pansy, growing on a verge or in a shady patch. Their stunning splashes of color and sweet earthy tastes make them a perfect addition to your salad or garnish.
11. Redbud Flowers (Cercis Canadensis)
Found often on valley slopes and in hardwood forests, these native flowers are one of the earliest to bloom in Spring. They are a welcomed sight with their uplifting display of purple and dark pink flowers. The redbud flowers’ complex palate is a major draw, and you can taste slight lemon/sweet notes with a hint of peas. These bright flower petals are an obvious choice to liven up your salads or cordial.
12. Dandelion Flowers (Taraxacum Officinale)
Probably one of the most common edible wildflowers – you either love them or hate them. But before you turn your back on the Dandelion forever, try preparing the leaves and flowers, and even root, in a way that will best balance the earthy flavors of the dandelion.
Packed with minerals like magnesium and potassium, and soluble fibers found in the roots that help the digestive tract, the powerful antioxidants found in dandelions are reason enough to forage and eat. Its bright yellow flowers and edged leaves make the dandelion a tiny sun resting on the ground.
13. Wood Sorrel Flowers (Oxalis)
There are several species of Wood sorrel, like the Wild sheep, Common sorrel, and Blood sorrel, and most of them share the soft lemon taste associated with sorrel flowers. Found in woodlands, you’ll often see these soft-leaf plants growing in shaded patches and moist areas. The shape of the sorrel leaf is very similar to the Clover, with 3 heart-shaped leaves connected at the ends. Much like the other edible wild flowers and edible wild berries, Wood sorrel is packed with antioxidants and other powerful nutrients that have a great effect on your overall health and wellness.
The Bottom Line: Wild berries, flowers & fruits have better health benefits
Wild foods like edible berries and flowers may seem like a small step towards your goal of a more healthy, natural lifestyle and diet, but the difference it will make to your overall health and mental wellness is beyond measurable.
Take the power of your life back into your hands by using them to build a better life, one wildflower at a time.
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