Wisconsin holds a vast variety of edible wild plants. From the uplands to the bottom lands and surrounding lake areas, edible plants thrive. Everything from berries, tubers, roots, nuts and greens flourish in Wisconsin. Before eating any type of wild plant, you will want to make sure it is edible. There are a bunch of plants that look just like their edible cousins but can make you ill if not kill you. Always carry a field guide of wild edibles when venturing into the wilds of Wisconsin.
There is a wealth of various berries growing in Wisconsin that you can eat. Gooseberry is a bush that grows 2- to 4-feet tall and has prickly branches with short clusters of flowers and fruits. They are found in the bottom lands, slopes and openings in the forest. The fruits can either be eaten raw or cooked. Currants grow on a bush that is 2- to 4-feet tall and is somewhat similar to the gooseberry bush but it lacks prickles. The fruits and flowers grow in elongated clusters and can be eaten raw or cooked. Elderberry is a bush that can grow to a height of 10 feet. The plant has broad clusters of flowers that are white and the fruits are purple to black in colorization. These plants can be found growing on the edges of swamps and along roadsides. The fruits can be eaten raw or cooked. The American cranberry grows on a bush that is just 8 to 12 inches in height. It has wiry, trailing stems that hold pink flowers and red berries. Blooming between June and October, it can be found in moist meadows and bogs. The berries can be eaten raw or cooked.
Green and Potherbs
Wild Lettuce grows anywhere from one to 10 feet in height with lance like leaves and yellow flowers. It blooms between July and September and can be found in open woods and meadows. The tender young leaves can be used just like lettuce. Dandelions can reach a height of 20 inches and have fluffy leaves and yellow flowers. This plant can be found almost anywhere within the state and blooms all year long. The flowers and leaves are edible raw or cooked. Spring Beauties grow to 10 inches tall. The plant has slightly succulent leaves and pink to white flowers on it. It can be found in meadows and woodlands. The corms resemble sweet potatoes and when boiled are said to taste like chestnuts. Curly Dock is a plant that can reach a height of 5 feet and has curled green and red flowers on it. It blooms from May through September and be found in fields and along roadsides. The leaves can be boiled like greens and the seeds can be ground and used like flour.
The Hazel tree is prized for its sweet nuts. The tree can grow to 9 feet tall and has sharply toothed leaves and hairless fruits that are encased in tubular husks. The trees can be found in old fields and woodland clearings. Black Cherry trees can reach a height of 60 feet and are found on the edges of streams and fields. The flowers are malodorous and the fruits are bright red when ripe. They can be eaten raw or cooked. The American Plum tree can reach a height of 30 feet with leaves that are coarsely toothed. The fruits are dark red to purple in color and can be eaten raw or cooked. These trees can be found along the edges of streams or in fields.