Spring Wild Harvest List: Midwestern & Eastern U.S.

Foraging can be quite exciting but do you know what can be harvested during the different times of the year? This list is for the midwestern and eastern U.S. since I’m from Ohio these are the plants available in my area and surrounding areas.

Spring is always so exciting because the snow is finally gone and we start to see green again. There are so many flowers that pop up in spring and it’s just a beautiful time of year. There are so many plants that can be wild-harvested in spring so this is by no means a complete list of plants and it does not include mushrooms.

Before we get into the plant list let’s talk about wild harvesting.

Practicing Sustainable Wild Harvesting

  1. Only harvest plants you know are safe and can identify
  2. Only harvest plants in safe areas that are not contaminated or polluted
  3. Do not harvest on private property without permission
  4. Harvest no more than 10% or use the method: take 1 leave 2
  5. Know how to handle and prepare the plants you are harvesting
  6. Always check the legal status of the plant you want to harvest (is it endangered?)

The most important thing to do is to make sure you correctly identify the plants you are harvesting. Some plants have poisonous look-alikes so you must be 100% sure. If you aren’t sure, don’t harvest or eat it! Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America is a great field guide for medicinal plants in the area. Also, look at joining some online identification groups to get second opinions. Facebook and Reddit are a great place to find some of these groups.

Spring Wild Harvestable Plants

Pigweed (Amaranthus spp.)- young shoots
Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota)- roots
Wild Ginger (Asarum spp.)- rhizome
Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)- young shoots & leaves
Chicory (Cichorium intybus)- young crowns & taproot
Wild Lettuce (Lactuca canadensis)- leaves/young shoots
Sow Thistle (Sonchus spp.)- young leaves
Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)-young crowns, taproot, flower
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)-young shoots
Sweet Birch (Betula lenta)- sap & twigs
Rock Cress (Arabis spp.)- young leaves & buds
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)- rhizome & leaves
Wintercress (Barbarea verna)- Leaves & buds
Mustard (Brassica nigra)- leaves & buds
Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa pastoris)- young leaves
Water-cress (Rorippa nasturtium aquaticum)- leaves & shoot
Chickweed (Stellaria media)- shoots
Lamb’s-quarters (Chenopodium spp.)- young shoots
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)- leaves
Indian potato (Apios americana)- tubers
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)- flowers and shoots
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)- twigs
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)- roots
Canadian Onion (Allium canadense)- leaves & bulb
Indian cucumber (Medeola virginiana)- rhizome
Evening primrose (Oenothera spp.)- root
Pokeberry (Phytolacca americana)- young shoots
Pine (Pinus spp.)- needles
Plantain (Plantago spp.)- young leaves
Dock (Rumex spp.)- young leaves
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)- shoots
Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)- leaves & buds
Rose (Rosa spp.)- flowers
Black/raspberry (Rubus spp.)- leaves
Greenbrier (Smilax spp.)- young shoots
Basswood (Tilia americana)- flowers
Cattail (Typha spp.)- rhizome, young shoot, young spike
Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)- fruit
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)- young shoot
Violet (Viola spp.)- young leaves & flowers
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)- leaves & flowers
Redbud (Cercis canadensis)- flowers
Ramps (Allium tricoccum)- bulbs & leaves

Click on the common name of the plant to learn more about the plant, its identification, and its uses! Feel free to comment or send me a message if there’s a plant you think should be added to the list. What plants are you planning on harvesting this spring?

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