Edible Wild Plants Reference

Chickweed, Stellaria Media

The term "chickweed" most notably describes Common Chickweed (Stellaria media), although there are several other chickweeds, all in the genus Stellaria

Common Chickweed is a cool weather plant native to Europe that has widely naturalized in the United States and throughout the world. It’s often found in lawns and other areas of shady, moist soil.

Depending on climate, chickweed normally appears during the cooler temperatures of fall and dies back in the late spring or early summer heat. It thrives between 53° and 68°F.

Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), or sunchoke, is a wild sunflower native to the central United States. Sunchokes grow up to 12 feet tall. Leaves may be up to three inches wide and eight inches long, while the yellow flowers, occurring in August and September, are generally between one and a half and three inches in diameter. The tubers of jerusalem artichoke have been used as food by Native Americans since before the arrival of Europeans. They have been planted throughout much of the U.S. and Europe and are generally considered invasive.

Common plantain

Plantain, (genus Plantago), is a common weed that originated in Europe but has naturalized throughout the U.S. Common plantain (Plantago major) has rounded leaves, while English plantain, or Narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata) has elongated lance-shaped leaves. Plantain has a vast history of medicinal use and has long been considered an important herb. Emerging in early spring, it may be harvested and used until freezing weather kills it.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is one of our most nutritious wild food plants. Originally from Europe, stinging nettle has naturalized throughout most of the United States. The stinging hairs that cover its leaves and stems impart a painful sting and rash that can last hours or days. 

watercress

Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is a water plant that can be found throughout the United States, southern Canada, Europe and Asia. It's actually native to Europe and Asia. 

Watercress grows in shallow running water where it normally forms dense mats. Its stems usually have 3 to 9 small oval leaves and grow 4 to 10 inches high. It flowers from April to October. Watercress flowers are small and white and occur in long clusters like many other mustards. 

wood sorrel

Wood Sorrel (genus Oxalis), or sourgrass, is a medium sized weed that occurs throughout most of North America. Within the genus Oxalis, there are several species. Wood sorrel typically grows a maximum of 15 inches tall. Its small heart-shaped, "folded" leaves grow in groups of 3.

Its tiny flowers are typically white or yellow though they can be pink or violet depending on species.

Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) is an evergreen shrub native to the southeastern U.S. Yaupon holly produces small white flowers in the spring followed by red berries on female plants that remain through fall. Its small dark green ovate to elliptical leaves are scalloped and occur alternately on the stem. Ilex vomitoria may reach heights of up to 25 or 30 feet. The leaves contain more caffeine by weight than both coffee beans and green tea and it has the highest caffeine content of any plant native to North America. Yaupon holly is also high in antioxidants and less bitter than green tea. It's a close cousin of the South American yerba maté (Ilex paraguariensis) and its tea is similar in flavor and quality.