Foraging – South Dakota

Yo. This is my gang. We roll through the woods like a failed rocket ship crashing through the roof of a phone-screen manufacturing facility. This page is dedicated to my family’s 10 favorite wild edible foods here in SD.

If you would like to see an enormous guide of South Dakota’s edible plants, bugs, and mushrooms (including foraging videos) please visit my foraging blog: TREEfool.com


#10-Wood Ear Mushrooms

Wood ear mushrooms are pretty hard to miss-identify since they look exactly like a brownish ear! They are used for adding a wild texture to Asian soups and stir-fries. Although the taste is bland I consume TONS of these every year because they can be found during any rainy week starting at the end of winter through fall. Scientific name is auricularia auricula and it grows on dead broadleaf wood.

#9-Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard is one of my favorites wild foods to put on hummus sandwiches. It has a very peppery taste which I love to eat raw in the spring and it is said to be one of the most nutrient packed fresh greens on the planet (John Kallas, Edible Wild Plants). It is considered an invasive weed and can be found near pretty much any hiking trails in Eastern South Dakota. This is an early spring plant.

#8-Wild Spinach

Wild spinach tastes just like… spinach. You can find it growing as a “weed” in gardens and growing into a ~3′ high plant in open wooded areas. Also known as lambs quarters this wild plant is best eaten raw as a snack while hiking but also works great in salads or sandwiches. Starts growing in South Dakota in the early summer.

#7-Purlsane

My oldest would disagree that purslane should make the “Top 10” list but for some odd reason I’m in love with the weird slimy-crunchy texture. I could not compare the taste to any green in the store. It’s truly unique. This starts growing midsummer in SD and should be eaten RAW!

#6-Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle is the bane of my existence when mushroom hunting but tasty as hell when cooked. My son loves teaching people how to eat it RAW without getting stung! But I like to blanch the leaves and fry it up like cooked spinach. Add lemon and veggie butter for taste or its good on spaghetti. Stinging nettles are tastiest late spring and early summer but totally edible if cooked until fall.

#5-Morel

Morchella Esculenta! The first time I tried a morel I was mind blown. These are truly the best tasting mushroom I have eaten. The key is cooking them properly (keep dry then fry up with butter, garlic, and onions). And do you want to know where to find them? NO!… but seriously, they rarely grow outside of early spring so GOOD LUCK!

#4-Cattail

When foraging cattails, we bring a knife while river hiking or swamp hopping and eat them raw. Pluck out of the water and slice the lower end open (just above the roots) like a banana until you get to the crisp core. This can be foraged in wet areas all over South Dakota and the Midwest. Best in early spring and mid summer. By late summer it is mostly hard fiber and impossible to eat. Look for young shoots.

#3-Myca Caps

In 2021 I saw a dude putting salt on some mica caps growing on his “perfect” lawn (meaning flooded in chemicals). I had to laugh at the pointlessness of his efforts because these things just keep coming back. That is why it is my most eaten mushroom even if it is relatively bland. Latin name is Coprinellus Micaceus. There are many mushrooms that taste better but these things pop up on our lawn almost weekly in the summer so I always snag up the young caps and add them to my meals.

#2-Wood Sorel

Wood sorrel (AKA sweet clover) comes in green and purple varieties. Both taste incredible and grow EVERYWHERE. Lawns? Yes. Forests? Yes. Hiking Trails? YES! I could eat this until I’m sick and frequently use it in salads or sandwiches. But honestly, it just makes a great snack that even the kiddos love.

#1-Mulberries

During mulberry season we spend almost everyday for an entire month picking mulberries. Mulberries are incredible fresh, frozen in smoothies, or cooked in oatmeal. We eat them by the POUNDS. There are tastier wild berries but nothing competes with the megatons of fruit that grow on mulberry trees. July is a great month to start your search but be careful because they stain everything!


Favorite Edible Bug in SD!

Cicada – Tastes like chicken. Boil for 4 minutes then fry in oil. Use in recipes that call for chicken. Haven’t figured out an efficient way to gather them but find them all over in town while hiking. June-Sept?


Favorite Rare Wild Edible

Black Currants! I have only found them once and I remember thinking, “DAMN! These are the tastiest berry I have ever eaten!”


LEAST Favorite Edible Plant in SD

Spiny Sow Thistle – I don’t know why anyone would eat this even though it is listed in one of my foraging guides. It tastes like dandelion (horrible) but you have to remove all the spines off each leaf (time consuming). Maybe I will try cooking with it if I ever get really bored.


Bonus Plant!

Again, if you need a far more detailed list of South Dakota & Midwest edible plants please visit my foraging blog: TREEfool.com

Dandelions – When I am asked, “Did you know you can eat dandelions?” My response is always, “Have YOU ever tried them?” For years I just couldn’t get over the bitterness. However! I started frying the hearts and roots and holy crud are they delicious! I do use the young tender spring leaves in sandwiches but this is not a plant for raw munching IMO.


Study – “Flash Cards”

The following photos were taken from books with referenced authors in the descriptions.

Plants to Learn – ALL THE PHOTOS in this specific slideshow are from John Kallas’s book “Edible Wild Plants” since I am still learning them myself. Pages: Mallow 101, Purslane 129, curly dock 143, field mustard 195, sow thistle 313, common trees, mushroom specific trees


Mushrooms To Learn – THESE PHOTOS WERE TAKEN FROM Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Mushrooms for studying purposes. “Beginners should avoid gilled fungi.” (Simon & Schuster, Mushrooms page 38) boletes 239-258, chanterelles 154 , black trumpets 156, cauliflower coral 329, morels 282-288, fleshy polypores 325-327, puffballs 368-373, tooth fungi such as bear’s head 314 pan sub 217


Tired of reading DUMB books? Don’t worry, I gain nothing from these links. I just loved John Kallas’s book so much because he didn’t overwhelm me with 1000’s of plants. Instead, he focused on about 30 readily found plants and helped make me an expert on them! Here is his website: https://wildfoodadventures.com/category/resourses/

Oooo, and the best berry field guide BY FAR is: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7149625-wild-berries-fruits-field-guide-of-minnesota-wisconsin-and-michigan

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