There is such a thing as a free lunch, or almost free: The edible wild plants around you.

With a little specialized knowledge and a “guidance” system you can learn to spot edible plants where you live, even in a city. You can do it on your own but it’s better to learn from someone showing you the way. I’m confident you can do it. You only need to learn about a few plants, not every plant you see. And I’ll also tell you where you can learn from a teacher, usually for free. (You may also want to read “Foraging for Beginners“.)

So let’s get started.

You need to know something about foraging, and something about wild plants. Plants are really easy to tell apart. In this blog you’ll read about how to think like a forager. Remember, you’re not trying to learn all of botany or name every plant you see, just the tasty edibles in your area. There are over 120,000 edible plants world wide. About one thousandth of those end up in markets. Of those, about 30 of those are used the most. You’ll be looking for a couple dozen of edible plants in your area that are not in local markets, and they are easy to learn.

The main rule is: Never, ever eat a wild plant without checking with a local expert.

Where do you find a local expert, and is there a cost? You can locate a local expert through your local Native Plant Society online or in the phone book. There are chapters in most major cities. You’ll find them throughout the United States and Canada. Plant people are always happy to share knowledge and it’s usually free. They’re passionate about plants, particularly native local ones. You can go on “field trips” and learn from someone who knows what they are talking about. It’s hard to build confidence unless you are studying with someone who is willing to eat the plant in front of you. It is not impossible to learn foraging from books and websites, but it is more difficult and more dangerous. If there isn’t a Native Plant Society near you ask your local librarian: They usually know the main plant person in your area.

The second rule is even after you have the right wild plant — the expert agrees —and it is edible and you have “itemized” it, only try a little.

You may like it but it may not like you. Read my blog on Gallberry and Ilex Vomitoria.  Yeah. vomitoria… means what you think it means. Most edible wild plants never made it into the mainstream vegetable market in the United States for a reason (though many of them may be common fare in other countries. Purslane is a prime example.) You don’t know if you’ll have a reaction to a particular plant.  I am definitely not a person who has allergies, but there are one or two wild plants that just don’t agree with me even though I like them. So, take it easy first.

In fact, it is good advice to never eat a wild plant in the first week you find it. Even among experienced forages there is a strong temptation to make the plant fit the description. I had a friend do that with illness consequences. It’s best to separate the identification and the consumption by a good amount of time. And of course, try only a little the first few times.  And learn from an expert.

As for a system… Itemizing…

Every time you or anyone is looking at a plant that might be edible, you need to “itemize” it, put it through four major steps (even the experienced should do it.)  I use the word I.T.E.M. to remember what needs to be check out. It’s handy reference and is used in profiling most of the plants on this site.

So, let’s look at the word I.T.E.M.

First, it means (I)dentify the plant beyond doubt. Next, make sure it is growing or fruiting or otherwise available at the right (T)ime of year. Third is checking out the (E)nvironment. This involves two things. One is making sure it is growing in the right place. The other is making sure the plant is getting clean water and is not in polluted soil. And then, what is the proper (M)ethod of preparation.  I’m sure you can do that. I.T.E.M. You can rearrange the letters to spell T.I.M.E. if you like as long as you always remember to apply the four steps.

You’ll learn more about I.T.E.M in a moment, but think of it as four obstacles you must eliminate. And you can’t eat a plant until you have gotten rid of those four obstacles. If at any time one or more of them are in the way, that’s a warning sign. If you can’t resolve even one of the warning signs the plant is not eaten. A warning sign does not automatically mean the plant is inedible. But, it does mean you have to do more investigating and get rid of that obstacle before you can consider the plant consumable.

First is “I” identification.

You absolutely must identify the plant correctly, and that involves more than just comparing pictures. This site is NOT to be used for identification. This is site a guide to familiarize you with a particular plant. Identification is a botanical specialty and requires more specific information than appears in these pages. It is learning the physical characteristics of that plant. The best and quickest way is with a local expert and a good identification book used in tandem.  There are several reasons for this.

Pictures often don’t tell the entire story, one reason why illustrations of key points are still used. Also, in some areas of the country a plant will look exactly like the picture or illustration in the guide book but in other areas it will not but some other plant might — a non-edible. It is one thing to know a plant in your area is edible. What’s more important is to know what it usually looks like in your area and to identify it absolutely.

I forage in Florida, Maine, and Greece, which are all very different climates. In temperate Maine, the plants are usually identification book perfect. Foraging where there is an actual winter is very easy because the plants consistently look the way they are suppose to look. The closer you get to the equator the more difficult it becomes. In Florida plants are often very different because the extreme environmental changes can make plants look far removed from their published examples. Periods of excess water and periods of excess heat change their shape and often where they grow. There can be a lot of subspecies.  And in Greece the plants are just different altogether. They look familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.

Often your local plant can be a bad brother of the one in the guide book, or a close cousin, so it may look only a little different or have different characteristics, such as not being edible.  Each plant is a little chemical factory, and one tiny change can make a big difference in the chemicals it makes and affect its edibility.  Getting the identification right is crucial.  I had a friend, who did not study with me, who call one day about a plant he had been eating. He wanted to know how to get the seeds out of the berries. The plant he named, however, didn’t have berries, and I knew immediately what he had done and which plants he had mixed up. He had misidentified a plant and was eating one that had some toxicity because he was not preparing it the right way. He had been wondering why his family had been experiencing bad headaches after eating the plant.

Identification is important when you know what you’re doing, and even more important when you don’t. That said, don’t be intimidated by the idea of identifying plants. Humans were passing along the knowledge of edible plants long before writing or botany was invented. You’ll come to recognize plants and trust your judgment.

Regardless of how you know a plant is edible you must know it with errorless certainty. That means you have found it many times, prepared it many times, eaten it many times and every time you see it anew you make sure it is the right plant. It is one thing to be wrong and endure all that entails by yourself, it is another to be wrong and have people get sick over it.  It is wise always to cross reference what you read. There is a plant in central Florida which only takes one pea-size seed to kill you, though it will take several painful days to do so and there is no antidote. Two reports, however, say that it is edible after cooking. That brings me to the advice of a fellow you will read about in these pages. His was a forager named Dick Deuerling. When told a plant he thought was not edible was edible he would say this: “Invite me over, let me watch you harvest it, let me watch you prepare it, let me watch you cook it and let me watch you eat it. I’ll come back the next day and if you’re still alive I might try it.”  My point is you can’t be wrong, so work hard at making it right.

Next in the word in  I.T.E.M is “T” time of year.

If your plant is supposed to be flowering in September and you see it flowering in June, you might have the wrong plant, and a good look alike. That of course depends upon where you live. Some plants that bloom or fruit once a year in a northern climate may do so twice in a warmer climate.  As an example, my pyracantha fruits twice. Read the blog on Firethorn Jelly. If a plant is not doing what it is supposed to be doing at the right time of year, you need to answer why, which is another reasons to study with a local expert. And let me add that studying is fun. You usually just join in with a group of plant people as they visit a field or forest. Sometimes those field trips are only a few hundred feel long because there’s a world of plants to look at and the experts are more than happy to share what they know with you. They are pleasant people. The point is, if you ask around you will find someone who knows about wild edibles in your area who is willing to share. I’ve even been the botany lesson of the month for several home schoolers. With the help of local experts you can learn the local plants and how they (usually) differ from the text books.

The next step in the general approach has two parts: “E” Environment.

The first part is to make sure the plant is growing in the right environment. If the plant likes its feet wet and it is growing in a sand trap you might have the wrong plant. Some plants can tolerate extreme changes in their environment but usually they have a significant preference. Another possible answer is the sand trap may flood often enough to have a bog plant growing there. Or, it might be an overwatered lawn.  Here in Florida we have seasonal lakes with cactus. When the plant is in the wrong environment, you have to answer why. It could be you have the wrong plant, or a varying environmental condition. Again, learning from a local expert will get you that specialized knowledge because they have seen it before.

The second part of the environment is checking the area for pollution of the water, soil or air. You don’t want to eat an aquatic plant in a pond that has parking lot run off — a very common issue here in Florida. You don’t want a plant that is growing in the cracked tar of a parking lot.  Plants growing down hill from a major highway are suspect, or on a golf course where pesticides are used, or your neighbor’s lawn for that matter or an inner city park. It’s a matter of common sense, but in reality deciding whether a plant is in good soil and getting clean water it is the greatest challenge facing a forager especially in an urban area. Compared to that, identifying plants is relatively easy. (Incidentally, the most common accidental plant poisoning is kids eating landscape plants in your yard, next is eating landscape plants in your neighbor’s yard.)

The next word in the I.T.E.M. system is “M” Method of preparation.

Many wild edible require particular methods of preparation to make them edible. Sometimes those methods kept that plant from entering the mainstream food supply. Pokeweed is a good example. It must be boiled at least twice, if not three times. If you boil it once like many other greens you might get ill from it.  Despite several efforts in the United States to get that plant into the food supply the need to boil pokeweed more than once kept it out. Another plant may need to be soaked in salty water, or peeled. Some tubers have to be cooked twice. Method of preparation is important. Know it.

I.T.E.M. is the word to always keep in mind whenever you are foraging. You should use it always no matter how much you know about edible wild plants. It’s a system to keep you healthy and happy as a forager.  There six other little guidelines to help you later on but I’ll share them with you now and remind you later.

The first one is if it looks like a mint and smells like a mint it is a mint and is edible. But, it must do both. If it looks like a mint but does not smell like a mint, don’t eat it. If it smells like a mint but does not look like one, don’t eat it. What does a mint look like? You’ll learn that later.

This same rule applies to garlic and onions. If it looks like a garlic and smells like a garlic it is a garlic. If it looks like and onion and smells like an onion it is an onion. But both elements must be present. Here in Florida we have a plant which before blossoming looks just like a garlic, even has a bulb, but NO garlic odor. It can make you very sick if not kill you.

The fourth guideline you’ll learn in this blog is that almost all plants with white sap are NOT edible. There are some exceptions and you will learn those along the way. White sap is a huge warning sign a plant is not edible. As for white berries, 99.9999 percent of those are indeed toxic. Don’t eat them. I know of one exception and it is geographically very isolated.

The fifth rule is real short: All mustards are edible. Some taste better than others, or are more digestible than others, but all mustards are edible.

The sixth one is that all mallows are edible in some way except cotton (excluding refined cottonseed oil.) It will vary which part of the mallow is edible, but other than cotton, mallows are edible in some way.

In the various article on site you will learn about specific plants. The articles on this site are not about plant identification but about the plant, its history, and uses. For exact identification you need a manual. The green and blue boxes on this site about plants are just general descriptions. You should have more exacting ones if you indeed intend to eat or use wild plants. Read the stories behind the edible plants on this site. You probably have the plants, or a local version near you including cactus. If you have any questions, email me.

You can easily and safely learn to forage, and there is a world of plants to explore and enjoy. Reading articles like this, and identification books, and visiting other sites, is a way to get started. But the greatest peace of mind and the quickest success is to study with an expert. (A link to a list of foraging instructors is at the bottom.)  It is one thing to read a plant is edible. It is another to see the person in front of you identify it AND eat it. Watching someone put something in their mouth where their words were builds trust, trust and knowledge builds your personal confidence. It allows you to say with certainty that you know this plant IS edible and you don’t know if that one is. When foraging with others people will ask about this or that plant and if you don’t know, and most plants you won’t know, tell them so. If you’re honest with yourself regarding what you know and don’t know, you’ll be honest with them and mistakes can be avoided.

Lastly, on nearly every page you will find Green Deane’s “itemized” Plant Profile.  It is a general guide, especially regarding identification. For certain identification refer to publications that specialize in identification. There will also occasionally be an herb blurb, about reported herbal uses of the plant.

To possibly find a foraging instructor near you, click here.

{ 108 comments… add one }
  • Julie Brannon October 14, 2011, 10:52 am

    I have an herbal apothecary in Safety Harbor, and learned about your group from a client, Dick Estes. I’m curious about foraging expeditions, and would like information I can pass on to clients…. flyers, brochures, foraging schedule, etc.

    Look forward to hearing from you!


    • Green Deane October 14, 2011, 11:32 am

      Thanks for writing, Julie. If you click on the “classes” button on the first page you can see my immediate teaching schedle. Deane

    • Joshua January 16, 2018, 4:04 pm

      Hi from brooksville fl and give a shout out to you to in the craft of foraging.

  • Ram December 24, 2011, 12:47 pm

    I just found your site and like it very much- I live in Florida in the winter and in the Greek Islands/Turkey most of the year where I forage , you may find this short clip of intrest

  • Shane December 24, 2011, 4:04 pm

    Hi Hope you Christmas is good. If you could chose four weeds to be more source of food and medicine here in Florida what would they be thanks Shane

    • Green Deane December 24, 2011, 6:11 pm

      And to you to… I can’t remember… did I name some already?

  • Charles December 26, 2011, 1:58 pm

    Hello sir!!
    I have been a huge fan of your videos on Youtube and have become a big fan of this site as well. Thanks to you and your inspiration, this last year I have foraged dandelions, pink wood sorrel and some wild growing onions from my yard, and also thanks to your direction I have found my local Native Plant Society and will begin attending some presentations in mid-January. Also, I hope to coincide a visit to friends in Tampa with attending a class of yours sometime in 2012. Just wanted to Thank You for the information and entertainment you so wonderfully provide!!

  • Denise Norwood January 12, 2012, 1:01 am

    I have a question. Would you know if the flowers and or seed pods of the Northern Catalpa tree are edible?

    • Green Deane January 12, 2012, 4:42 am

      I have no reference to any edibility of the Northern Catalpa. There is a Catalpa in China with edible parts. More to the point I have no reference to Native Americans using the Catalpa.

  • luke sanders February 9, 2012, 10:34 am

    I just spent a few days in the everglades on what was suppose to be a minimalist hiking trip. Seven miles in to the trip I learned that I did not know the definition of minimal. The pain in my back and shoulders are still a constant reminder of the lack of knowledge I have of the numerous food sources that were all around me. I want to do the trip again, next time living off the land and completing the 60 mile journey. Your you tube videos and website are packed with extremely valuable information, and it is appreciated. Do you plan on teaching any classes this far south in the future? Thank you for your time. Luke Sanders

    • Green Deane February 9, 2012, 2:31 pm

      I do a class in Port Charlotte every couple of months.

  • mystery March 3, 2012, 9:10 pm

    I am from Arkansas, and I have a pretty good ides of what is good to eat and what is not. My question is “Do you have a area specific detail of plants with pictures, I seem to have a different name for most of the things that are referenced. Thank you for your information.

    • Green Deane March 3, 2012, 9:51 pm

      There are about 1000 edible species on the site. You can enter the name in the search engine, or, click on the archive button. That is an alphabeical listing of everything on the site. You can also perhaps use the category function on the lower right side of the home page.

  • andrea gallacher March 20, 2012, 7:54 pm

    i am very interested in learning to identify edible free plants and start foraging with my family but cannot find any foraging groups in my area, are you able to help me out with this? i live in east ayrshire, scotland

    • Green Deane March 20, 2012, 8:08 pm

      Thanks for writing… I cannot personally help you however… if you run your cursor over “foraging” in the navigation menu on my home page a drop down menu will say “foraging instructors.” Click on that. At the bottom of the foraging instructor page there are several teachers in England. I know that is not Scotland, however, if you email them they might know of someone near you.

    • christina chambreau September 2, 2015, 12:12 pm

      Andrea – connect with the folks at Findhorn. I bet they know.

  • Les March 22, 2012, 9:17 am

    The acronym T.I.M.E is very useful. I read in some wilderness survival site that if a person is un-prepared and not versed in foraging wild edibles then they should try to hunt for furry mammals, all of which are edible. I think this may be a mistake as it takes much more calories to hunt than it does to forage. What is your take on the matter? Great site by the way!

    • Green Deane March 22, 2012, 10:32 am

      I have been using I.T.E.M for more than 20 years. I once mentioned to Dave Canterbury he could use T.I.M.E. samre words, different order. But, I was first, and first by decades.

  • Kris Miller March 27, 2012, 2:37 pm

    Hello Green Deane,

    We have an herbal school in the New York Finger Lakes region (Heartstone Herbal School) and I’m delighted to be able to refer to and pass on this wonderful site!!
    Thanks so much for what you do!

    Sweet spring wanders to you,

    • Green Deane March 27, 2012, 4:26 pm

      I’ve sent you an email address.

    • Cats Tail Farm July 15, 2015, 3:17 pm

      Hi Kris & Tammy, we are practically neighbors, mutual friends of Matt & Andrea in Avoca, and I met one of you at WHC last year. Looking forward to connecting with everyone!

  • Adam March 28, 2012, 7:54 am

    Mr. Dean i have to say that you are one cool and crazy smart guy! I could not tell you how much i have learned from you and watching your amazing videos! By far the best i have seen! You do an amazing job with every video and and amazing job with every point you give. Why do you not have a tv show really i can see it now on discovery chan up next a step into the outdoors with Mr Green Dean!!!!!!! You should look into that i can for sure say that i would be watching every time!!!! Keep being you your great! After watching most of your videos i was at a flea market here in KY where i live and i saw a herbology book from 1927 that i had to get its a field guild that is great. Thanks for what you do!!!

    • Green Deane March 28, 2012, 8:36 pm

      Thanks… I’ve been looking into a TV show for over two years. It’s a hard thing to make a reality.

      • Adam March 29, 2012, 4:17 am

        Sorry about the typing error Mr Deane*. i really hope that it happens for you it would be great to see you on tv. Soon…..

      • Mary Meyer March 10, 2016, 8:09 pm

        You should try the Florida Public Broadcasting networks… I am sure they might have an interest, particularly if you collude with the the FL. Dept. of Natural Resources.

  • Kieran April 22, 2012, 8:17 pm

    Hey, im wondering if anyone can help me. Im just starting out as a forager and would like some plants identified. I know some of them are not common edibles but would like to know what they are anyway. I live in Scotland, uk.

    • Green Deane April 23, 2012, 3:11 pm

      You can do two things. You can find some foraging instructors in your area. I have some listed iin England but I suspect they would know some in your area. Just type in the search window Foraging Instructors. You can also join the Green Deane Forum (button in the navigation bar.) I have a board there called WHAT IS IT? just to identify plants.

  • Joe Sal April 24, 2012, 5:27 pm

    Hi Mr. Dean, enjoy watching and reading your work.

    I have a question about Johnson Grass(Sorghum halepense) which grows as an abundant weed. There are mixed reports on the poison in Johnson Grass . The most I have been able to find is the poison presents itself in times of drought or when the plant has been trampled or disturbed. Other sources report it as useful feed for livestock.

    Also I have read the poison is at highest concentration in the lower stems near the ground. I have battled the stuff in many locations and can testify it is a worthy advesary presented as a weed. The only way I have found to dispatch it is through root removal. This has led me to a very fundamental question, as I have spent many hours digging up the root systems, which can be very prolific! Can we eat the root?

    • Green Deane April 24, 2012, 7:55 pm

      The quick answer is no, the roots are not edible, only the cooked seeds. The rest of the plant has some cyanide in it.

  • Joseph L. Cook May 8, 2012, 11:55 am

    I back up to Grassy Waters preserve, in the event of a food crisis, I would like to know what is available out in the back of my house. What would you charge to take a small group of about 5 to 10 people out. Thank you J.L.Cook

  • Alina May 9, 2012, 12:17 am


    I love your website but I have hard times to find specific information. When I type in (in a “Search 1000 wild edibles”) a name of a plant the results that come up quite often are not relevant. Sometimes there are just only bits and pieces of info on a searched plant in the results that come up. I would like to see the first result to be the most relevant and then it would dwindle down as it goes down the list. How do I hone in on finding the best results?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Green Deane May 9, 2012, 2:36 pm

      I wish the indexing were better. If you use the botanical name it helps a lot. Also if you click on the “archive” button there is an slphabetical listing of all the article on site except for the newsletters.

  • Travis Fulton July 23, 2012, 12:29 pm

    Thanks Green Deane. I have been learning about plants for a few months
    now, most of them on your youtube recordings. My eyes have been opened to a whole new world in front of me that I have never seen.
    A true blessing to you. Your wisdom has helped me embarq on a new journey that will help me in this life. I hope to meet you on August 10th and attain some knowledge of the local plants in Ocala florida.
    I am certain you will reach your goal of the TV show. The modern society
    craves enterainment and fastfood knowledge. Your presentation of wild edibles is perfect for a reality type show or at least an educational show
    for Discovery channel. I would expect to see you on a local channel doing
    a piece for the morning show and then expect that to lead to a primetime interview. I appreciate all your free information!

  • katydid August 7, 2012, 4:39 pm

    Is ajuga edible? I have heard that the young leaves are sparingly. I have also heard that it is hallucinogenic? Any comments on this? Thank you for any insights. Katydid

    • Green Deane August 7, 2012, 4:58 pm

      The leaves of Ajuga reptans are occassionally used in salads in Europe. As for recreational drug use I have no idea. Not my area of expertise.

  • kenny September 14, 2012, 6:16 am

    Hi, is it possible to actually “Live off the Land” through all the seasons with the plants that grow year round?

    • Green Deane September 14, 2012, 6:50 am

      If you live in the right area, yes.

      • mathew July 25, 2015, 2:42 am

        Would one of those places be Sarasota Florida by chance? Thanks!

      • Anthony Crain May 30, 2017, 5:32 pm

        I was wondering where the right places were to live fully off the forests, meadows, & waterways

        • Green Deane June 2, 2017, 12:57 am

          Good debate. Personally I would choose southwest Florida over Alaska but both have insects…

  • Brett December 8, 2012, 4:14 pm

    no info on Asarum canadense? I’d like to hear what you have to say about this “wild ginger”

  • Taylor Goodwin January 7, 2013, 6:45 pm

    Just wanted to say thank you for your work. =)

  • Debbie February 21, 2013, 11:45 am

    Is there a foraging cookbook available that you can recommend? Thanks!

    • Green Deane February 26, 2013, 8:37 am

      There are quite a few. It more depends on where you live, which region.

  • bob March 28, 2013, 11:45 am

    non edible vegetation in our state is mica cap mushroom.

  • Ambe April 29, 2013, 11:36 am

    hello i was just wanting to say that I LOVE YOUR SITE!!! its very well put together and very understandable!! for a very long time “years” i have been trying to find out what type of plant i’ve been seeing in the woods behind my house here in FL. i have searched and searched online but because i didn’t know the name i never could find it. i even posted a youtube video a while back asking for help as to identifying it..but got no answer…well I JUST FOUND IT ON YOU SITE!! YAY!! its the Gopher Apples!! i couldn’t believe it when i saw the pic…i saw all like wait!! thats it!! thats it!! so yeah, thanks so much!!!

  • Teri May 14, 2013, 10:40 pm

    Hello, I am concerned about false dandelion (hairy cats ear). I have been told by our county extension agent they are bad for horses, and you are saying they are good for people to eat. Are you sure?

    Thank you for helping people learn to forage.


    • Green Deane May 15, 2013, 7:09 am

      Humand and horses are different. We can eat things they can — avocadoes and persimmons come to mind — and they can eat things we can’t. Hypochaeris radicata is edible by humans. I’ve never heard anything about it and horses.

  • bigredog June 13, 2013, 8:24 pm

    Thank you Dean for the information, I use it daily in the pursuit of a new and life sustaining green drink. Here in the Blue Ridge of Southern Virginia mountains I am with your help going to know all about the flora that surrounds me , good job !

  • Dee July 25, 2013, 6:05 pm

    Mr. Deane are the berries of the Tatarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera Tatarica) edible? If so, how would they be used? I know that birds eat them and some animals like deer do too. I would appreciate any help that you can give me as I discovered a small shrub on my property loaded with berries and would like to utilize the berries as part of my wild food foraging.


    • Green Deane July 25, 2013, 7:18 pm

      It is not in any edible reference I have.

  • Michael October 28, 2013, 1:13 am

    I have found a tuber I’d like to identify. I live in north Georgia the plant is small has an almost arrow head like shape, one burgundy, greenish leaflet, with a tuber for a root. I’ve seen this tuber from battle size to ping pong size. I’ve cut it and it smells like a potato looks like a potato. It grows rather plentiful in my woods. I have a picture if it helps. Please let me know if I can eat it! 🙂

    • Green Deane October 28, 2013, 8:54 am

      You can post the picture on the Green Deane Forum which has a UFO page, unidentified flowering objects.

  • Joseph December 23, 2013, 12:15 pm

    I really would be extremely grateful if you gave a booklist for me to read or make an encyclopedia for me to buy. I found a great mushroom app that has helped me identify mushrooms by filtering out characteristics of the mushrooms. I think if I had the info I could write up an app people could use for weed foraging. Thanks 😀

    • Green Deane December 23, 2013, 5:52 pm

      Check out the research section of the Green Deane Forum.

  • cj May 25, 2014, 5:20 am

    Great site. Is the white edible berry an elderberry? I know one white tree only.And pokeberry,do you actually 3boil and eat it yourself?

    • Green Deane May 25, 2014, 6:52 am

      I boil poke twice. The rare white elderberry is an elderberry, in Australia if I remember correctly.

  • Scott Miller (Dragunov) June 24, 2014, 4:40 pm

    Hi Dean. Dragunov here.

    I want to talk to you a little about Ibervillea lindheimerii, or “Balsam apple”.
    Many old school Latinos eat them as a dessert her in s.c.Texas. They call them “loquats”, although, they aren’t even related.

    They are listed as “non-poisonous”, but “non-edible” also. Indeed, the immature fruits (look like tiny watermelons) are nasty. However, the mature, red fruit, are sweet, edible (in my opinion), and slightly “odd” tasting, but not unpleasantly so.
    There isn’t much on this plant. I was wondering if you had any more info on it. I do understand that it’s not a plant you find in FL. but I had a friend in CA who brought some seeds back from AR and grew them. He ate them also. He ALSO calls them “Loquats”.



    • Green Deane July 7, 2014, 4:30 pm

      I have few references to the genus let alone the species. None of the books in my 100 plus volume collection mention it. Most noticeably it is missing from Moreman’s large work on plants Natives Americans ate. I found one reference to the genus in Vol 38 page 397 of the journal for Economic Botany. There it said plants from the genus were used to make animal poisons.

  • Pete Lemon October 21, 2014, 6:01 am

    Very inrested in wild edibles,and proper identification.

  • Rose October 29, 2014, 3:38 am

    Hi Dean. Just found your blog. Great info. Looking for a foraging teacher in New Hampshire, USA. Thanks.

    • Green Deane October 29, 2014, 2:47 pm

      On my home page there is a drop down menu under “Foraging.” That will take you to foraging instructors. Scroll down to see who is near you in Maine, Vermont and Mass. Or write to them and ask who is teaching in your area.

  • Ed Fenzl March 31, 2015, 1:41 am

    I’m teaching a 3 hour Continuing Education class (Eating Wild) in Hawaii this Saturday, April 4, 2015. May I copy the text from your article above “foraging” as a handout to about 12-15 students with acknowledgemnet to you and your fantastic website “Eat the Weeds”?
    I am requesting this as I believe you’ve very concisely presented the information on foraging related to safe, healthy and responsible picking of plants……………

  • jynn May 1, 2015, 10:12 pm

    Hello Green Deane, thanks a mil for this site, I’m really lucky to have found it! For a year I’ve been trying to grow vegetables in my weed infested compound and suddenly realised what a fool I’ve been pulling out all these precious herbs and veggies by their roots. But will have to stop putting stuff into my mouth and chomping them like a fool from now tho. Thanks for the itemizing system… am super duper grateful for all your effort and generosity!

    from a little Chinese village in the north western part of Penang island

  • Lacey May 5, 2015, 10:25 pm

    I am in search of people near Clayton Nc to help me with foraging, I’m very new to it and it would help if I had some expert advice on what I’m doing. I would be so grateful for the help, thank you.

    • Carl March 25, 2016, 8:20 pm

      I’m in Clayton- edge of Wilson’s Mills.

  • luther a woodley May 27, 2015, 7:29 pm

    Ii would love this site. I would love to take my senior neighbors on urban nature hikes through the park three blocks down the street . I will order all nine volumns in august. thank you very much.

  • Dawn June 3, 2015, 12:37 pm

    Just found your site and it have a lot of great info. However under foraging section after I.T.E.M. you say there are 6 rules, however you jump from 2 to 4. There is no number 3, so there are actually only 5 rules.

  • ginger January 5, 2016, 5:01 pm

    Do you ever lecture in S.C.?

    • Green Deane January 5, 2016, 5:47 pm

      Not yet but sometimes North Carolina.

      • Carl March 25, 2016, 8:17 pm

        Do you know when you will be in NC again? and where specifically? Raleigh area here…

  • chris February 15, 2016, 7:24 pm

    Hi from Aussie- what’s the protein/nutrient level of unripe grass seed- I have been gathering it- some of the seeds are so small as to be “unwinnowable” and “ungrindable” so I have been cooking/eating the whole lot husk and all. Thanks heaps for your site- it’s a “little bottler, mate”.

  • Amelia March 31, 2016, 12:21 am

    Love your work. Do you know have any contacts in middle Georgia giving foraging classes. Thanks.

    • Green Deane June 11, 2016, 3:13 pm

      We’ve had a loss of a couple of months of posts… Florida’s Wild Edibles by Peggy Lance is a good book. We don’t agree on everything but that’s okay.

      • Gene October 17, 2016, 3:44 pm

        I have Peggy’s book and it is not as complete as this website… I still think you should publish a foraging in Florida book. I really like the I.T.E.M system you use.

  • Robert Hargen July 5, 2016, 12:38 pm

    Green Deane I am a big fan of your work, and will take one of your classes soon when you a near my location. My question is about a plant that looks like sonchus asper but it has red flowers. do you know this plant? If so is it a safe plant to eat?

    Looking forward to meeting you
    Rob Hargen
    Bradenton Fl

    • Green Deane July 5, 2016, 4:27 pm

      I have a class near you this Sunday. And you are probably referring to the Florida Tassel Flower. It is toxic long term and can be fatal.

  • Juliana July 14, 2016, 11:48 pm

    Is grass edible???

    • Green Deane July 16, 2016, 4:45 pm

      It depends on the species of grass, most North American grasses are safe but many of the imports have cyanide in them.

  • Daniel Gibson July 24, 2016, 10:01 am

    Hi Deane:

    I enjoyed your Wickham Park, Melbourne class last weekend. I would like to attend one of your classes if offered covering water, wet lands, streams etc. If so when do you plan one or could you recommend one for me. Thanks

    Dan Gibson

  • Christopher September 8, 2016, 4:56 am

    I was wondering when you plan on making some more videos for youtube, I have always enjoyed learning from them because they are very in depth. You have to be one of the most knowledgeable people about wild edibles on the planet. Everything you talk about seems as if it comes straight from your mind with no need for notes. You are the most influential person I have ever listened to. Thanks for all that you do.

  • Dawn Werk October 5, 2016, 2:10 pm

    Hello– we have a new book, “Idiot’s Guides: Foraging” and would like to send you a comp copy. Also, if you are interested in offering it as a giveaway on your site, we would be happy to supply the books and ship them to your winners. Where can we send a copy?

    Thank you!

    Dawn Werk
    Director of Marketing and Publicity

    • Green Deane January 4, 2017, 6:09 am

      You can send it to Green Deane POB 1793 Maitland FL 32794

  • Beth Patel November 19, 2016, 9:42 am

    Do you ever come to the Keys?

  • Anthony January 31, 2017, 12:07 pm

    Any good books on plant families ?

    • Green Deane January 31, 2017, 2:47 pm

      If you really mean plant families then yes. It is called Botany In A Day by Thomas Elpel.

    • Christin June 5, 2017, 6:52 pm

      I second “Botany in a Day”… it really does get you started in a day with a handful of plant families (mint, mustard, lily, aster, parsley, pea), though I’ve been tracking plant patterns for a year now and still don’t have a huge repertoire of plants I can identify from memory… but I love being able to recognize the patterns and infer possible families, or relative families when I come across an unfamiliar plant, and it definitely helps me positively identify plants without hiring a “local expert”.
      (Mind you – I ate several wild plants (burdock, daylilies, miner’s lettuce, grasses, thimbleberry, mahoniaberry, lavender, wild mints, among others) as a kid, without knowing anything about identification or having any guidance on edibility and somehow I survived.)

      If you have kids (or just enjoy children’s stories)… I’d also recommend Thomas Elpel’s ‘Shanleya’s Quest’… as it includes the identifying characteristics of an extra family (rose), and even includes a suggested mental map of the first 8 plant families to learn. (Mint, Mustard, Parsley, Pea, Grass, Rose, Lily, and Aster)

      You can also get a card game to practice recognizing the patterns of these 8 families to accompany the book.

  • Teddy Cruz February 2, 2017, 11:51 pm

    Hi Mr. Green.
    You are generous man. Sharing all that you have learned. God bless you!!!

  • Cheryl March 6, 2017, 1:39 am

    I live in rural Spain and came across some wild garlic/onion. Some have very narrow round leaves like chives and some have wider flat leaves like blades of grass. There are no flowers or bulbs on the top of any of them, but they all have small bulbs underground and they all smell like garlic. Are these two different species and is there any danger in eating them?

    • Green Deane March 8, 2017, 6:39 am

      There are wild garlic/onions and there are ramps, also common in England. They usually have wider leaves.

  • CableFlame April 21, 2017, 4:29 pm

    I wish the “usually free” was still a case, re: talking to someone knowledgeable. I haven’t been able to find a class around here (Washington DC area) for anything less than $40 ($75 seems to be the most common) and to have the expert (Matt Cohen) come and give you private one-on-one advice costs $150 for the first hour! No one in this area seems interested in sharing their knowledge for the joy of teaching or as a public service. (Not that I don’t respect their immense knowledge and the hours of work they put in towards it. I fully agree that the rates they charge accurately and honestly reflect the work they’ve done to accrue the knowledge, and I do believe in fair wage for fair work.)

    As someone who’s coming at foraging as a way to offset poverty, this is most certainly not affordable, and it seems that around here, this is mainly seen as hobby for at least the middle class, and not something that those who could really use it for sustenance reasons have accessible to them.

    • CarbonOriginal May 18, 2017, 10:01 am

      I feel somewhat the same….I am all for making money to do what you love however, if you are teaching people how to forage, the act of getting food for free, the prices are a bit much.

      Why not sell something that covers the cost of what you are charging for your time that can offset the price that is charged for your tours.

      If the purpose of teaching people to forage is to share much needed knowledge, I feel you are really doing a disservice to the audience that you intend to service by making the knowledge that you have unobtainable.

      If I and many others think that what you offer isn’t affordable and we are your intended audience and demographics, isn’t there something else that you can offer to help people like us that feel this way and still make your money?

    • Ariana Saraha June 16, 2017, 2:11 pm

      I agree. My general feeling on this is that folks who offer services of this (or any) sort that might benefit folks without the means should offer financial aid scholarships or extra programs exclusively for lower-income folks. I’ve noticed this in many areas of expertise. Always some pro-bono work should be offered as a service in every work year.

      • Green Deane June 17, 2017, 6:07 pm

        I have people with financial issues attending my classes often for no charge. I had one today and two tomorrow. Often they contact me and with work things out.

        • noah badran June 26, 2017, 7:44 pm

          so excited! found a orange grove with abunch of citron today,have any recipes

    • Roelf July 18, 2017, 1:41 pm

      Everywhere in south Africa we have Rastafari the real deal guys who wear sackcloth and have given up on the system, at most they collect herbs etc and sell along with marijuana, to help sustain their living. That’s the only people I know that would help and teach for free, being followers of Christ.

  • Rachel July 27, 2017, 12:33 pm

    Do you have a recommendation on really good plant identification books for Florida?

    • Green Deane August 29, 2017, 2:22 pm

      Not that I know of but usually they are cooked.

  • mark August 22, 2017, 2:35 pm

    Even though you are an expert, is there an “edible” plant that you would still not eat because of its possible toxic look-a-like?

    • Green Deane August 22, 2017, 4:26 pm

      In the green plant world, not really. But in the realm of mushrooms, yes.

  • Madeline January 25, 2019, 1:57 am

    I really enjoy your site and appreciate your advice about having a local plant expert to learn from. When I was living in California, I was shown by a plant expert how to identify stinging nettle (Urtica diocia) plus two other plants which closely resembled it. Then I saw a blog from a woman in mid-Florida who showed a picture of what she called stinging nettle, which didn’t resemble it in any way, shape or form, but she was told that it was that by an alternative medical “expert”. It’s been a while since I saw her site, and I can’t remember what the plant was, but it was certainly not Urtica diocia or even one of its look-alikes. It drove home the point about learning to identify from a local plant EXPERT and not from some random website or even from someone who can’t be verified beyond any doubt. Wouldn’t you also say that, perhaps, in the case of this woman who thought she had found an expert, that it’s not a bad idea to double check with pictures in a reliable plant book? Even after consulting with an expert in California, I referred to books with pictures and botanical reference guides. There are also a lot of local variations in plant names, and I’m sure that her advisor was identifying that plant based on local plant lore.

  • Sheila January 29, 2019, 1:47 am

    I think I grave found chokeberry in my field in Georgia. It is January and trees are loaded with the black chokeberries. I picked some .. very hard….even after boiling…juice is purple….want to use as a syrup to take for health/ antitoxins. Can I? Pictures look like them..leaves do too. There are 4or5 trees…approx 10-15 ft tall in edge of field. Please respond or tell me how to contact another way for answer. Thanks SH


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