Guide to Wild Edible Plants For Dummies


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Categories: Food

There are over 20,000 species of plants that have been recorded as edible, yet in our current society you'll be lucky to find more than 25 of them in your local supermarket!

Edible weeds are a great addition to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. They are local, sustainable, and free so they help cut your food bill. Edible wild plants contain no packaging & no chemicals.

Can You Point Me to a Fools Guide to Edible Wild Plant Identification?

Most wild food books only give cursory plant ID specifics and generally not enough to ensure absolute certainty.


Initially I always used photo ID books, and that was great to begin with, however you will want to get stuck into learning wild flower keys, and using illustrated ID books as these are better than photos. Don’t forget – If you can’t ID a plant with 100% certainty then never eat it.

Robin’s Top Picks For Edible Wild Plant Identification Books

Cassell’s Wild Flowers of Britain & Northern Europe
Author: Marjorie Blamey, Christopher Grey-Wilson
Publisher: Cassell

This is a beautifully illustrated book covering over 2400 wild flowering plants. A hefty tome, but worth having on your shelf.

Wild Flowers of Britain & Ireland
Author: Marjorie Blamey, Richard Fitter, Alastair Fitter
Publisher: A&C Black

Illustrated by Marjorie Blamey who did the illustrations for the book above. This is one you can pop in your backpack, and stomp out into the wilds. The descriptions are not as comprehensive as Cassell’s Wild Flowers of Britain & Northern Europe, but worth having.

Concise British Flora in Colour
Author: W. Keble Martin
Publisher: Ebury Press / Michael Joseph

A classic wild flower guide covering more than 1480 species. As old as the ark but still worth getting a copy.


Wild Flowers of Britain & Northwest Europe
Author: Christopher Grey-Wilson
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley

The best photographic plant ID book, and the one I started out with and still use. Dog-eared as hell!

Wild Flower Key: How to Identify Wild Flowers, Trees and Shrubs in Britain and Ireland
Author: Francis Rose
Publisher: Frederick Warne

Wild flower keys can be hard to get your head around if you aren’t a trained botanist, however they are well worth having, as the detail of each plant species is listed in minute detail thereby ensuring you can correctly ID a plant.

Vegetative Key to the British Flora
Author: John Poland, Eric Clement
Publisher: Botanical Society of the British Isles

One of things about wild food is that you need to often ID a plant before it has flowered. This can cause a problem for beginners as they have to wait a full year after the plant has flowered to be able to ID it again. Normally you would ID a plant once it is in flower. With Vegetative Key to the British Flora the aim of the authors is to “enable reliable identification at any stage of growth”. So depending on your skill level, you should be able to ID a plant pre-flowering which is when you generally want to eat it.

Found via EatWeeds

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