31 Edible Plants You Should Add to Your Next Dish

Woman Making Food

Adobe Stock / Viktorija

Profile Picture
AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
April 13, 2024 at 4:47AM UTC
If you're ever stuck in the wilderness — or just looking to eat a more plant-based diet — you may be happy to hear that there are a lot of edible plants growing out there.
If you're not sure what you can eat, and what you shouldn't eat, here's a helpful list of 31 edible plants and a few to avoid.

31 edible plants

1. Dandelion (Taraxacum)

Appearance: A dandelion is the yellowish-orange flower you see everywhere. The leaves are generally five to 25 centimeters long (or longer!), and the flower heads are open during the day and closed at night.
Benefits: Its flowers, leaves and roots are all safe for consumption.
Habitat: These grow in temperate regions of the world where there is lot of full direct sunlight and only some shade.

2. Curly Dock (RumexCrispus)

Appearance: This is a perennial flowering plant in the family Polygonaceae, which is green and grows in a conical length.
Benefits: Curly Docks are a great source of both vitamin A and vitamin B (but have been known to cause yeast infections if you eat too much of this plant!).
Habitat: These grow mostly in Europe and Western Asia.

3. Kudzu (Pueraria Montana)

Appearance: The Kudzu is characterized by a yellow-green vine that boasts large leaves that are shed annually.
Benefits: The leaves, shoots and roots are edible as the stem provides useful fiber, and the tuberous roots offer a source of starch.
Habitat: These tend to grow in open, sunny areas such as forest edges, abandoned fields and roadsides.

4. Red Clover (Trifolium Pratense)

Appearance: Red clovers are clovers with reddish flower heads made up of tubular-shaped flowers. They can grow up to 80 centimeters in height.
Benefits: Red clovers boast tons of nutrients, such as calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine and vitamin C.
Habitat: They grow in fields, pastures, grassy areas along roadsides, vacant lots, weedy meadows and on home lawns.

5. Toothwort (Lathraea Squamaria)

Appearance: A toothwort's flowers have four petals that are white to a pinkish or light purple.
Benefits: The leaves and roots of a toothwort plant are totally edible.
Habitat: These tend to grow in woodlands and savannas.

6. Mayapple (Podophyllum)

Appearance: These have green stems that grow to 30 or 40 centimeters tall with deeply cut leaves covering a round green fruit.
Benefits: This plant is poisonous, including the fruit inside the leaves, until the fruit is ripe. Once it has turned soft and yellow (as opposed to firm and green), you can safely consume it. Once ripe, it's nutrient-dense to heal everything from jaundice and fevers to syphilis, liver diseases, hearing loss, bowel issues, snakebites and more.
Habitat: This plant tends to grow in woodlands.

7. Lambsquarters (Chenopodium Album)

Appearance: This is a tall, conical green plant that has a white coating on its leaves.
Benefits: Lambsquarters offer a good source of niacin, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese.
Habitat: These are found throughout most of the United States, mostly in well-drained soils.

8. Henbit (Lamium Amplexicaule)

Appearance: The soft, hairy stems lead to leaves with pink and purple flowers.
Benefits: The plants are high in iron, tons of vitamins and fiber.
Habitat: These tend to grow in grassy areas by roadsides, in croplands, pastures, waste areas and home gardens and lawns. 

9. Fern Leaf Yarrow (Achillea Filipendulina)

Appearance: These plants grow with a single stem that balloon out with fern-like leaves that are usually about five to 20 centimeters long.
Benefits: Some people chew on the leaves to treat fevers, the common cold, hay fever, diarrhea, appetite loss, gastrointestinal (GI) tract discomfort and more.
Habitat: These grow in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and South America in sunny areas with looser soil

10. Tea Plant (Camellia Sinensis)

Appearance: This plant looks like a white flower blossom and smells very fragrant.
Benefits: The benefits of tea leaves are neverending, which is why people drink to tea to treat everything from the common cold to cancers.
Habitat: The tea plant usually grows in shaded areas at typically higher elevations of 6,900  to 8,900 feet in many parts of Asia, Eastern Africa and Argentina. 

11. Teasel (Dipsacus)

Appearance: Teasel has a long stem that leads to a sort of honey-comb like top with spikey leaves.
Benefits: Teasel root is widely used to treat Lyme Disease and stomach issues and to stimulate the nervous system.
Habitat: Teasel usually grows in grassy meadows, savannas, woodland borders, pastures and abandoned fields and landfills.

12. Blue Vervain (Verbena Hastata)

Appearance: Blue Vervain have long stems with leaves that have double-serate margins and purple flowers.
Benefits: You can eat a Blue Vervain's leaves and flowers raw, and you can eat the seeds roasted.
Habitat: Blue Vervain typically grow in degraded wetland habitats across North America.

13. Wild Grape Vine (Vitis Vinifera Subsp)

Appearance: Wild grape vine is a vining plant with no actual upright trunk that grows higher and thicker than most vines.
Benefits: Wild grape vine contains resveratrol, which is packed with antioxidants and antioxidant phytonutrients. Wild grapes also boast vitamins B1, B6, C, manganese and potassium.
Habitat: This vine tends to grow along roadsides, on fence rows, along forest edges and surrounding river banks.

14. Supplejack Vine (Berchemia sSandens)

Appearance: Supplejack vibes climb by coiling around branches and tree trunks. The small flowers have six white and pale green or yellow tepals.
Benefits: The berries off this vine are edible once they are ripe, and they can be eaten raw or cooked. Meanwhile, young shoots are also edible and taste somewhat like asparagus when cooked. The seeds contain fatty acids, and the roots are rich in starch.
Habitat: This vine tends to grow in swamps and bottomlands.

15. Chicory (Cichorium Intybus)

Appearance: Chicory is a perennial herbaceous plant with blue and lavender flowers. They grow to be about 90 to 180 centimeters tall.
Benefits: The leaves and roots are edible, though the flowers are very bitter.
Habitat: These tend to grow in gravel areas or open weedy fields.

16. Coneflower (Echinacea)

Appearance: This is a herbaceous perennial plant with four species and six varieties. It boasts daisy-like purple and pink flowers with rough leaves that grow around a cone.
Benefits: The leaves and flower petals of a coneflower are edible, as they are often used in tinctures and other medicinal methods.
Habitat: They tend to grow in dry open woods, barrens and prairies.

17. Field Pennycress (Thlaspi Arvense)

Appearance: This is a member of the Brassicaceae (mustard) family. It has oval, flat and widely-winged silicula. Plus large fruits with cabbage-like flavor.
Benefits: The leaves are rich in protein and the seeds are ground into a powder that can used as a mustard substitute. The seed can also be sprouted to be added to salads.
Habitat: These grow on waste grounds, roadsides, along railroads and in pastures, mostly in Europe, where it's native.

18. Mallow (Malva Neglecta)

Appearance: Mallow is a low-growing weed, with a fleshy tap root.
Benefits: Mallow leaves are rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and selenium.
Habitat: Mallow mostly grows on lawns, in gardens, along roadsides and in waste areas.

19. Herb Robert (Geranium Robertianum)

Appearance: Herb Roberts are known for their poor smell but beautiful, bright pink flowers.
Benefits: Herb Roberts are packed with nutrients and, even when rubbed on the skin, can repel mosquitos, too.
Habitat: These tend to grow in mostly shady areas under rocks and walls. 

20. Coltsfoot (Tussilago Farfara)

Appearance: Coltsfoot have long stems of about 10 to 15 centimeters that sprout into bright yellow flowers.
Benefits: They boast an aromatic flavor that can be combined with honey to help cure the common cold or sweeten tea. The dried and burnt leaves can also be used as a salt substitute.
Habitat: These tend to grow in disturbed areas like in ditches, along roadsides and on the edges of forests.

21. Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus Carota)

Appearance: Queen Anne's Lace actually looks like lace. Sometimes, the flowers have a small purple dot in the centers.
Benefits: The roots of Queens Anne's Lace can be used for flavoring in stews and soups.
Habitat: These thrive in dry environments like fields, meadows and along roadsides.

22. Evening Primrose (Oenothera Biennis)

Appearance: The reddish purple stems are hairy and lead to lots of bright yellow, four-petaled flowers that only last a day or two but regrow.
Benefits: The roots of these are sweet and succulent. These plants offer a good source of gamma-linolenic acid, too.
Habitat: These tend to grow in meadows, on beaches and in dunes.

23. Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia Japonica)

Appearance: These look like fat, green and red-speckled stalks that grow up to 13 feet tall.
Benefits: Japanese Knotweed are a good source of vitamins A and C, and they offer critical minerals like iodine and resveratrol.
Habitat: Though commonly found near water, these plants can survive in all sorts of adverse conditions like seriously shady areas, high temperatures, high salinity soils and even drought.

24. Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus)

Appearance: Mullein is a velvety biennial that can grow up to seven feet tall and have a dense spike of pale yellow flowers.
Benefits: These leaves can be used in tea and salads.
Habitat: These tend to grow in open fields, waste places,  railway embankments and other dry and sunny places.

25. Peppergrass

Appearance: Peppergrass has a raceme stem with tiny white flowers with four petals that grow at the top of the raceme.
Benefits: The peppergrass leaves contain a whole lot of protein, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C. 
Habitat: These tend to grow along roadsides, in fields in waste areas and in other disturbed sites.

26. Elderberry (Sambucus)

Appearance: Elderberry looks like a cluster of deep, dark red roots with bluish black berries.
Benefits: Elderberries have tons of vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, carotenoids, amino acids and flavonoids, as well as essential minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus and a gamut of anti-oxidants.
Habitat: These are native to most of Europe and North America.

27. Alfalfa (Medicago Sativa)

Appearance: Alfalfa can grow quite tall — sometimes more than 50 feet tall — and have purple flowers and three-petaled leaflets at the top.
Benefits: The leaves are often used in teas, soups, sandwiches and other foods.
Habitat: Often, farmers grow Alfalfa for pasturage and forage, but it can also be found along riverbanks and in woodlands.

28. Wood Sorrel (Oxalis Stricta)

Appearance: The leaves of Wood Sorrel resemble shamrocks, and it has five-petaled yellow flowers.
Benefits: Wood Sorrel can be cooling, astringent, catalytic, diuretic and soothing to the stomach, relieving indigestion.
Habitat: Wood Sorrel thrives in most areas across both the United States and Canada.

29. Garlic Mustard (Alliaria Petiolata)

Appearance: The garlic mustard plant has four, usually green sepals, and six stamens, four of which are tall and two of which are short. The clustered flowers have four, cross-shaped petals.
Habitat: This plant tends to grow all across both the United States and Canada, usually along fence lines, in wooded areas, along roadsides and near swamps.

30. Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)

Appearance: Pickerelweed has clusters of small, violet-blue flowers with large spikes. They flower from June through late fall.
Benefits: The seeds can be eaten raw or cooked, or they can be ground and made into flour. The leaves and stalks are also edible.
Habitat: This plant is found in freshwaters, such as lakes, streams and wetlands.

31. Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus)

Appearance: Sunflowers have long green stems that lead to vibrant yellow flowers with reddish-brown centers that can grow quite big. In fact, these flowers can measure up to half a foot wide.
Benefits: The seeds are rich in fats and can be eaten raw or cooked. And the flower petals, leaves and roots can also be used to make tea.
Habitat: These primarily grow in prairies as well as other dry and open areas.

Plants to avoid

1. Doll's Eyes

Doll's Eyes are also known as "White Baneberry," and they're deadly if you eat them. This totally toxic plant is native to eastern and northern North America. The sweet berries contain a carcinogenic toxin that have a harmful sedative effect on cardiac muscles.

2. English Yew

English Yew are known as one of the deadliest trees on Earth, even though they're beautiful. All parts of these trees, including the red berries they grow, are poisonous.

3. Moonseeds

Moonseeds are a commonly grown plant in eastern North America. They're full of colorful berries that can actually cause paralysis if you consume too many of them.

There you have it: 31 plants you can totally eat the next time you find yourself lost in the middle of the jungle — or lost in the farmer's market.

Don’t miss out on articles like these. Sign up!

AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always