Enjoy the taste of nature from edible wild plants you discover on hikes, outdoor adventures or camping in Canada. There are several types of edible wild plants throughout Canada. These plants, in addition to being free, provide excellent sources of nutrients and add variety to a diet. Use caution when gathering wild plants---especially mushrooms---as some varieties are poisonous.
Wild berries are an excellent source of energy and nutrition. Several berry cultivars are also found growing wild in Canada. Blueberries are popular and easily identifiable. According to the Wildwood Canada Group, Vaccinium and Gaylussacia are types of blueberries that grow wild and are edible in Canada. Bristly Gooseberries, Prickly Gooseberries and Wild Gooseberries are the three main gooseberries found growing wild in Canada.
Gooseberries are round in shape and vary in size. The Prickly Gooseberry, while edible, is distinguishable by the small thorns protruding outward from the actual berry. These should be removed prior to consumption.
Abundant sources of edible wild mushrooms can be found wild in Canada. There are many species of mushrooms available. According to the Missouri Conservation Department, mushrooms are the fruit of fungi found most often in moist environments with decaying matter, such as rotting tree logs. Not all mushrooms are edible. Learning to identify safe and poisonous types of mushrooms prior to eating is a matter of life and death. According to the Wildwood Canada group, most mushrooms taste better and cause the least stomach upset when eaten cooked instead of raw.
Edible ushrooms that most people find in the wild have a short to medium stem. The top of the mushroom is usually a flat cap with slitted gills under the cap. Colors and textures vary depending on the size, age and type of mushroom found.
Tubers are plants that store nutrients, primarily starches, in their underground root system. For example, potatoes are tubers. Tubers can be consumed cooked or raw. Indian Cucumber Root, Jerusalem Artichoke and Trout Lily are the three primary edible tubers that grow wild in Canada, according to the Wildwood Canada group. The Indian Cucumber Root and the Trout Lily are most commonly found growing wild in wooded areas or the forests in Canada.
An identifiable characteristic of the Indian Cucumber Root is its whorl of leaves. A single stem shoots from the center, where a small, star-shaped flower grows. The Jerusalem Artichoke has many dark green leaves, and its flower is bright yellow and similar in appearance to a sunflower.
There are three primary wild, wholly edible plants in Canada: garlic mustard, wild garlic and wild leeks. Wild garlic grows abundantly in dryer areas. Garlic mustard is so prolific it is considered an invasive plant. Garlic mustard is a low-level, ground-covering plant with tiny white flowers. According to the Wildwood Canada group, garlic mustard does not stop growing during the colder months or go dormant. Wild leeks can be found in the Canadian woods beginning in the early spring.