Wild Foraging in NJ

by lilla on April 20, 2010

red bud flowers

Hey guys! Here is my photo album of some of the wonderful wild plant foods you can find locally in the NY/NJ area. These were taken during a foraging tour with Wildman Steve Brill in Central Park in early April. I highly recommend going foraging with someone who knows there stuff just to be sure you don’t pick something poisonous.

The availability changes seasonally so foraging every week can produce new and different edibles. Just make sure you select an area away from traffic and that is not treated with pesticides. Ever since I took the class, I can’t walk outside without spotting something edible – cool!

Black Birch Tree

Chew on the black birch twigs. It has the anti-inflammatory oil of wintergreen. If you steep the twigs in tea, it is equivalent to half an aspirin.

"Blach Birch Tree"

"Black Birch Tree"

Garlic Mustard

Best in early spring – has a strong mustardy taste. Yum!

"Garlic Mustard - Love it!"

"Garlic Mustard - Love it!"

Japanese Knotweed

Young stems are edible in April & May with a flavor similar to rhubarb. Peel and chew on the stem or dice it up and steam. Good source of the antioxidant resveratrol.

"Japanese Knotweed"

"Japanese Knotweed"

Mica Cap Mushroom

Edible when young but not the best-tasting. Turns into black ink. Um…I’ll pass.

"Inky Mica Cap Mushrooms"

"Inky Mica Cap Mushrooms"


Doesn’t taste good raw, but can be dehydrated into chips. Mashed up leaves are good for cuts and mosquito bites.

Plantain "band-aids"

Plantain "Band-Aids"

Poison Ivy

The three red-tinged leaves in the center. Do not touch or eat!

Poison Ivy - Stay Away!

"Poison Ivy - Stay Away!"


Supposedly delicious when cooked, but requires several boilings.



Red Bud Tree

The red buds right now in Spring are yummy! Beautiful little flowers with a hint of sweetness.

"Sweet red bud flowers"

"Sweet Red Bud Flowers"

Shepherd’s Purse

From the cruciferae family, this herb is good for stopping haemorrhages of all kinds. Leaves look a bit like dandelion, but it has tiny white flowers. I wasn’t crazy about the taste.

"Sheperd's Purse"

"Shepherd's Purse"

Trout Lily

The trout lily leaves have a refreshing taste reminiscent of cucumber. I like these!

"Trout Lily Plant"

"Trout Lily Plant"

Wood Sorrel

Three heart-shaped leaves that resembles clover attached to the tip of a long stem. This has a nice lemony flavor. It’s high in oxalic acid, so don’t eat huge quantities.

"Wild Sorrel"

"Wood Sorrel"

Field Garlic

Smells and tastes oniony – love it! You can eat the whole thing – stem and root bulb. There’s an imposter that looks almost the same and is poisonous! You can distinguish the real field garlic because the stem is cylindrical and smells strong of onion, while the stem of the imposter is flat and has no smell.

"Field Garlic - Looks like Green Onions"

"Field Garlic - Looks like Green Onions"

Blue Violet

Pick in April & May and eat the leaves and flowers of the blue violet. Not much taste imho, but would make a pretty garnish in salads or ice cubes.

"Lovely Blue Violet - Look Great in Salad"

"Lovely Blue Violet - Beautiful in Salads"

Common Mallow

Leaves and shoots of mallow are edible raw or cooked. When cooked in liquid, it will thicken the liquid similar to okra.

"Common Mallow"

"Common Mallow"


Chickweed can be steamed or cooked in soups, eaten raw salads or dry the leaves to make tea. The stems, buds, 5-petal flowers and leaves are all edible. It’s often recommended for weight-loss aid and skin irritations.

"Nutritious Chickweed"

"Nutritious Chickweed"

Common Evening Primrose

Leaves and root of of common evening primrose are edible. The root contains essential gamma-linoleinc acid (GLA), a valuable fatty acid not often found in plants.

"Primrose Root"

"Primrose Root"

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  • Jace87

    Thanks for the ideas! I went foraging in my garden today! Not as exotic as CP though! :)

    We have loads of Knot Weed around here – people freak out when they see it – you have just given me a part of my menu tomorrow :) I will update you on what I think – Rhubarb I love so hopefully will like that too!

  • http://www.HealthySimpleLiving.com/ Kali Lilla

    Cool! Can't wait to hear what you make!
    I spotted some sorrel on my walk home yesterday. I hope to dig up one of the
    plants and transfer to my garden.

  • http://jessicasbento.wordpress.com Jessica

    Wow, such beautiful photos of delicious looking treats! Last Saturday I went to the Earth Day celebration in Morristown and discovered the NJ Mycological society. You've inspired me to join so I can go on forrays such as this, looks like a ton of fun!!!

  • http://www.HealthySimpleLiving.com/ Kali Lilla

    Oooooo…I've been thinkinga bout joining the NJ Mycological society too!
    maybe I'll see you on a foraging trip one day. :)

  • http://animalfriendlyeating.blogspot.com/ kelli

    wow, great post! i live in southern nj and would love to go foraging. i think i've actually got some field garlic popping up in my square foot garden.=)

  • http://www.HealthySimpleLiving.com/ Kali Lilla

    Cool Kelli! Field garlic is all over the place! It's easy to spot thes time
    of year while grass is still short.

  • http://www.thislittlegreenbook.com Thislittlegreenbook

    This is a great post, I've recently had the chance to learn some forage cooking in southern italy and learned this lovely common mallow recipe that i'd love to share with you all. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks, Oni. http://www.thislittlegreenbook.com

  • http://onepalate.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/babys-first-forage/ baby’s first forage | one palate, many plates

    [...] internet search led me to information about wild foraging in New Jersey, but I think it is going to take my own footwork to actually glean a sizable amount of food from [...]

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