7 Wild Edible Plants that Grow in Wisconsin

Some plants found in the wild are edible. Which ones in Wisconsin can you eat?

Harvesting wild edible plants is a practical and smart way to replenish your pantry and refrigerator. It can also be an enjoyable outdoor activity.

It’s important to be cautious about the plants you harvest and the locations from which you gather them. Wild edible plants located near roads or fields could be contaminated with fertilizer, herbicides, and/or pesticides that can harm you.

Many edible wild plants grow in Wisconsin. Let’s explore a few common plants that you can harvest and eat.

1. Lamb’s Quarters 

Lamb’s quarters is a weed commonly found growing in Wisconsin fields and along highways. It is related to quinoa, beets, and spinach and tastes like chard or spinach.  

These plants grow medium-sized leaves and bunches of small green flowers. Its leaves have a white coating that gives the plant a dusty appearance from a distance. 

Their leaves, shoots, seeds, and flowers can be eaten raw in salads or added to smoothies and drinks. It can also be steamed or added to soups or other dishes.

quinoa chenopodium plant growing in the home garden

2. Black Raspberry 

Black raspberries, or black caps, are native Wisconsin fruit. It is common to see them growing on shrubs in and around undisturbed areas such as woodlands and near roads.

Black raspberry shrubs have prickly branches, but it doesn’t detract from the taste of their berries. Black raspberries are often larger, darker, juicier, and sweeter than red raspberries.

Birds, small animals like foxes and raccoons, and black bears all enjoy wild black raspberries. They also attract butterflies and other insects.

ripe and black raspberries

3. Prairie Onion 

Prairie onion is a native Wisconsin plant that mostly grows in the rocky soil of limestone glades, rocky prairies, and bluff ledges.

Prairie onion leaves and its bulb have a stronger flavor than garden onions. Wild prairie onion bulbs can be eaten raw or cooked.

purple texas flowers in the garden

4. Wild Leek 

Wild leeks resemble scallions in that they have large leaves and purple stems. The entire plant is edible. 

Wild leeks are also comparable to onions and garlic in flavor and smell and can be prepared and eaten like garden leeks or spring onions.

This plant grows in the rich soil near deciduous woodlands and lowlands. Their onion-like perfume distinguishes them from the other forest plants.

young sprouts wild leek scallions

5. Wintergreen 

Wintergreen is a low-growing wildflower with glossy, evergreen leaves that range in length from 1 – 4 inches. The leaves also form a dense groundcover.

Wintergreen plants produce small white flowers that bloom in summer. The flowers give way to bright red berries that remain on the plant through the winter.

Wintergreen berries are edible and have a strong, spicy flavor. They’re sometimes used to make pies and jams. The plant’s leaves are also edible; they can be used to make tea.

white wintergreen flowers on the garden

6. Canadian Wild Ginger 

Canadian wild ginger is a low-growing perennial with heart-shaped leaves and small flowers. Landscapers often use it as a dense groundcover.

This plant tastes great in savory and sweet dishes and tea. It has a flavor like that of tropical ginger, but it is darker in color and more delicious.

young wild ginger plant in the home garden

7. Cattails 

Cattails are tall, uniquely shaped grass plants with sturdy stalks and cigar-shaped brown heads.

Their green female flowers can be harvested and fried before pollination. They’re also great in stir-fry dishes.

Cattails taste a little like bitter cucumbers. Their young shoots can be eaten like asparagus but may require additional cooking time to soften.

tall cattails grass in the field
Phillis Butler
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