Top 10 Wild Edible Plants
This Top Ten is ideal for the Novice forager and the perfect introduction to wild plants and berries for kids of all ages. All of these finds are easy to ID and super delicious.
10. Wild Cherry
The Wild Cherry is a deciduous tree that produces beautiful displays of white, five-petalled flowers on it's branches during the spring. It is common all over the UK and can be found almost anywhere, town or country. Wild Cherries are just like supermarket ones, delicious, tasty and sweet, but free!
9. Lady's Smock
Lady's Smock, also called Cuckoo Flower, is a flowering plant native throughout most of Europe. The Latin specific name pratensis means "meadow", Which is where you're most likely to find this little gem of a herb. Lady's Smock has a wonderful flavour, being at first sweet, fruity and voilet-like, followed by a wasabi-like burning heat. The flowers, stalk and leaves are all edible and make a fantastic and pretty addition to any dish, used either as a garnish or herb.
8. Flowering Currant
The Flowering Currant is quite a popular garden plant in the UK due to it's stunning Springtime displays of hanging, decorative blooms. It is related to other edible currants, such as the blackcurrant and redcurrant, and does produce edible berries, but these are lacking in flavour. The real appeal of this plant comes from it's edible flowers, which have a strong herby aroma and taste a little like sweet hibiscus. They can be used for a range of purposes, including raw in a salad or garnish, or infused into syrups, teas or vinegars.
7. Common Sorrel
Common Sorrel, also called narrow-leaved dock, is a very common herb found mostly in grassland habitats, but is also cultivated as a garden herb or salad vegetable. The shiny, green-to-reddish leaves of this plant may be puréed in soups and sauces or added to salads and pastries such as tarts. They have a flavour that is similar to sharp, sour apple skin, due to the prescence of oxalic acid. Common Sorrel is very hardy and can be found all year-round.
6. Water Mint
Water Mint is a perennial flowering plant in the mint family. It grows in moist places, often partly submerged in slow running water, and is native to much of Europe. It has a beautiful aroma, a mix of menthol and aniseed, and imparts this lovely flavour when crushed and added to dishes, or made into a tea.
Bilberries, sometimes known as European or Swedish Blueberries, Whortleberry, or Blaeberry in Scotland, is a species of low-growing shrub that is native to Europe, bearing edible, dark blue berries in late summer. Bilberries were the first foraged item that Arthur was introduced to and are one of his favourite berries. We use them in lots of recipes, from crumbles and fools, to pies and pastries, and add them to porridge, smoothies, fruit salads, yogurts, and ice cream. We also use them to make syrup or cordial.
A staple of every forager's yearly harvest, the flowers of the Black Elder Tree, a deciduous shrub growing up to 6 meters tall, are simply magnificent. The flowers have a long culinary tradition being used to create cordial, wine, gin, champagne, fritters, jams and preserves. This versatility, coupled with their abundance and ease of identification means they had to be in this top ten!
3. Wild Raspberry
The Wild Raspberry is super-common throughout the UK and can be found in open woodland, along woodland trails, and even on roadsides verges. The fruits are often smaller and less 'plump' than garden varieties, but they are still delicious, and very versatile in the kitchen, being used to make syrups, sauces, desserts, pies, fruit salads, smoothies, or just eaten as a they are.
2. Wild Leek
Few-Flowered and Three-Cornered Leek are invasive wild onions that have been introduced to the UK from overseas. These plants are in the Allium Genus of plants, and so are related to onions, garlic and leeks and share a resemblance in flavour to both spring onion and garlic. Despite being invasive, they are also extremely delicious, and have a huge number of culinary uses. When combined with other wild greens, such as Wild Garlic and Garlic-Mustard, the collective flavour they impart is just wonderful.
1. Wild Garlic
Despite being quite abundant in damp woodland and easy to spot (in fact, you'll probably smell them before you see them!), Wild Garlic is often overlooked as the choice edible that it is. These leaves are packed with wonderful garlicky flavour and can be used to take any dish to the next level. We regularly use them as an ingredient in ragus, sauces, kebabs and burgers, or to infuse mayonnaise or yogurt. We also use the unopened buds to make one of the best pickles I've even eaten. Being freezable as well, wild garlic a delicious staple food that can be stored for use all year round.