Yesterday was the second of my guided forage walks at Longmeadow Farm in Lebanon Ohio, hosted by Queen of Tarts bakery. We’ll be doing the final one in September, so if you’re interested, reach out to Sydney at 513-435-3002 to reserve a spot – for $15 you get coffee and a breakfast pastry before the walk, about 2 hours of hands-on forage walk and talk, and iced tea and pie afterwards! She’s an amazing baker, by the way. 

But this is the promised list of recommended resources for foragers to use for more learning – I can’t possibly do more than touch on the most common plants and such – on their own after the walk. If I managed to whet your appetites for the wild foods, great! I’m always happy to help with ID and questions, but these books and websites will give you more than I can possibly do on my own. 

A few of my field guides

Samuel Thayer’s books are excellent. Unlike many wild edible food guides, he’s taken the time to gather, prepare, and note down the tips for cooking, taste, and other details often overlooked. He’s based out of Michigan, so keep that in mind if you are looking for books regional to where you live (for my more distant readers!) 

Euell Gibbon’s books were among my first wild food books, and they are still favorites. They are definitely focused on his home region of Pennsylvania – I can remember being frustrated with them when I lived in Alaska and couldn’t find much of what he talked about! Stalking the Healthful Herbs has some interesting data in it, as he sent plants off to be tested for their actual nutritional information. I’d love to find an updated version of that data. 

As I talked about during the walk, I often weed my gardens and then use the weeds for dinner. Weeds of the Northern US isn’t strictly an edibility guide, but it’s very useful for identifying plants, and then you can use a solid identification to determine edibility. 

For my distant readers, I suggest you do a little looking around to find specific guides for your area. I have some very broad (and big!) books, but for carrying in the fields a small, specific pocket book is useful. For my area, these two books are great. Outside that area they would be of limited use. 

Trees of Ohio

Mushrooms of the Upper Midwest

Both of those are limited to the most common species you’ll find. Generally speaking, if you find a rarer species, you won’t want to forage it. Certainly never gather something to identify later – that’s not only wasteful, but could damage a potentially endangered population. Just because you can see a lot of it where you’re standing, doesn’t mean there’s a lot of it growing elsewhere. Always be respectful of the plants when foraging! (unless it’s Amur Honeysuckle. LOL) 

For some great online resources, check out these websites. Remember, never use just one source to identify a plant you plan to eat. Always verify with another source. 

Edible Wild Food

For more general plant identification, check out the USDA website, the Wildflower Center for identification of native species, this site for identification of flowering plants that does require some botany knowledge (see this site for photographic interpretation of common terms) but it’s very precise, and last but certainly not least: the Dave’s Garden plantfiles, which includes wildflowers, landscaped plants, and much more. I was a contributor there in years past, and it is very extensive indeed. 

For more interactive identification, you can find groups online who will be happy to help you ID from a photo, and some who will also offer ideas on edibility and possible medicinal uses. I have a couple I am active in, like this one based in Ohio, and this one focused on fungi. Please keep in mind with any group like this, that you are engaging with novices up to passionate Citizen Scientists and possibly an expert or two. Their identification of your plant or mushroom should always be verified with another independent source. 

Whew, that’s a lot to start out with. If you want to check out a few of the posts I’ve done on this topic before, click here.  I’ll be doing more posts in the future, so let me know in the comments or via email if you have something specific you’d like to know. 

Greenbrier, Smilax rotundifolia, is edible early on when the young leaves and shoots can be eaten raw or cooked. The berries, here, are not edible, however.


6 responses to “Forager’s Resources”

  1. Ohio is a little bit of a drive… ๐Ÿ˜€ i still think this is neat and still miss my little neat spiral bound laminated guide.

    1. Hence my comment about distant readers ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Laminated is great for a field book.

  2. Samuel Thayer has done foraging trips to other parts of the country, to try to widen the usefulness of his books, so his stuff isn’t just confined to his own area. However, I do think he’s most useful in the Midwest.

  3. I have an exquisitely developed ability to locate edible plants in the local grocery store.

    1. Lol! So do I. But I used to really love spending lots of time outside. Now I work too much.