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. Over the past 10 years I have amassed a small library of foraging and survival books which helped build my foundational skills. However, in 2020 I became obsessed with all wild edibles. So why did I create this page? Two reasons: First, it provides a point of contact for other foragers in South Dakota (seriously, send me a message!). And second, it helps me learn and remember all of the plants, bugs, and mushrooms available to me during different seasons of the year.
Cicada – Super delicious. 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?
Grasshoppers – Fry up in olive oil, salt, and dunk in ketchup like a french fry. Hard to catch in tall wild grass areas but tended fields with short grass makes them easy to catch by hand. Use a wool blanket laid on the ground as they get stuck to the fibers. We usually catch them around July/August but will take note of best months.
Snails – Ya, not an insect. I know. But they fit in the “icky” category. Find them hiding in moist forests. Let them purge for two days then feed carrots until poop turns orange. Wash them in tap water one last time then boil for 10 min. Pull the snail out of shell with a tweezers and fry up with olive oil and garlic.
Crickets – Have not learned any tricks to easily catch them. The black ones have alot of chitin to chew through but still good. Currently learning to farm and raise crickets myself!
Pill Bugs/Wood lice – I’d rather starve to death than eat these again.
Chicken of the Woods – Absolutely delicious, even if you hate regular mushrooms. Fry it up and make a buffalo “chicken” sandwich! Possibly my favorite wild food. Our biggest find was near Glenwood, MN during August a few days after a rain storm.
Wood Ear – Pretty hard to miss-identify since it looks exactly like a brownish clear ear! Scientific name is Auricularia Auricula and it grows on broadleaf wood. Boil in water for 5 minutes then add to Asian soups or stir-fries. I found them in August and September during rainy weeks but apparently they are found all year.
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 (very dry with butter, garlic, and onions). As far as finding them? I have a secret spot inside Sioux Falls, SD and have found them in the surrounding areas (probably mostly due to the fact that I hike EVERYDAY with my kids so I have a higher chance of finding them). Late April and early May are the best times to find them.
Scarlet Cup – Actual name is Sarcoscypha Coccinea. This grows in the winter and early spring! Mediocre taste.
Oyster Mushrooms? – I tried it fried and wasn’t a fan MOSTLY because I was scared that it was mis-identified. I am a beginner mushroom hunter and every book says DO NOT EAT MUSHROOMS WITH GILLS UNLESS YOU ARE EXPERIENCED. So, I dodged a bullet on this one. However! I grow blue oyster mushrooms at home and LOVE them fried up as a mushroom burger. I plan to find and correctly identify more oysters this summer.
A more detailed list of South Dakota & Midwest edible plants can be found on 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.
Sheperd’s Purse – Not to be confused with dandelions, this is a much crunchier and absolutely delicious green to eat raw. The kiddos love is just as much as wild spinach. Usually arrives early spring and stays around all year. It prefers wet weather.
Wild Spinach – This is EVERYWHERE. We prefer eating it raw while hiking but works great on sandwiches too! Best in spring and early summer but the small leaves are usually tender even on older plants.
Wild Grapes – I can eat wild grapes until my lips burn. So yummy! I haven’t found any patches in SD yet but I know of three locations in MN where every tree is covered in grape vines. I have only had luck around August.
Virginia Creeper – I am embarrassed to admit that the first time I tried to eat wild grapes I didn’t really know what I was looking for and I left my book at home. BUT! I heard that there were some people foraging grapes down on a fence near Tuthill Park in Sioux Falls so I thought it was safe to try some. Ya, it was instantly terrible. I ate a virginia creeper instead thus teaching me to never eat something unless I have actually studied and researched the specific plant. Yikes.
Cattail Shoots – 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 the crisp core. This is one of our favorites and can be found anywhere. Best in early spring and mid summer. By late summer it is mostly hard fiber and impossible to eat. Look for young shoots.
Garlic Mustard – I love to eat this straight off the plant but works awesome on hummus sandwiches too! Best in spring and early summer. By mid summer the bugs have destroyed most yummy leaves of the plant.
Cleavers – huzza! I had been trying to identify this plant for a while now so how excited do you think I was when I found it in one of my new foraging books!? (Midwest Foraging, Lisa Rose). It sticks to everything, has a square stem, and lots of space between leaf groups on the stem. Due to the stickiness of cleavers they are best in smoothies or juiced up and have lots of vitamin C and chlorophyl!
Gill Over The Ground – Very easy to identify due to the square stem and minty smell. I usually pop a few fresh leaves in my mouth but the fuzz on the leaves makes them less enjoyable for me. I’m planning on making a wild tea recipe that uses dried mint leaves! These first show up in early April and May.
Stinging Nettles – You can eat this raw if you roll it in your hand first! But I like to blanch the leaves and fry it up like cooked spinach. Add lemon and veggi butter for taste or its good on spaghetti. Stinging nettles are tastiest late spring and early summer but totally edible if cooked until fall.
Mulberries – These will stain EVERYTHING! I notice the ripe fruits dropping to the ground in late June and early July. Mulberry pie, pancakes, oatmeal… eat them raw, freeze them. Omg I love wild mulberries.
Wood Sorrel/Sweet Clover – I new this one since I was a kid! Fresh leaves taste like green apple peels. We pluck them while hiking or use on salads. The purple version is beautiful in our garden. Spring to fall!
Acorns – Oak trees! I have tried twice now to boil and bake acorn “meat” but it was very bitter both times. I just need to find a tastier tree! Pick off the ground in the fall.
Purslane – delicious! I’m just blown away by all the wonderful varieties of flavors that exist (and which most people never experience).
Curly Dock – It tastes very similar to wood sorrel if eaten at the correct time. This is one of my favorite plants for adding to sandwiches cuz the leaves are so big and easy to pluck.
Red Sumac – Tastiest when the white foam is goo-ing all over the clusters. I chew and suck on them then sometimes spit the seeds out. But I like eating them for fiber too! Found near water usually. Unsure of season.
White Clover – this covers any mowed area in urban lawns. One of the easiest plants to find but not my favorite taste-wise. Great addition to salads and sandwiches.
Wild Raspberries – One of the easiest berries to find while foraging. The large thorny patches are usually a dead give-away.
Black Berries – I actually mistook my first black berries as raspberries since they are red before they ripen. Super delicious, only found them in MN so far.
Wild Plums – rare find, they can be yummy when plucked from a tree but most were very bitter. Perhaps too early in the season? Found in Glacier state park near Alexandria, MN during August
Field Mustard – The leaves are very… potent for lack of a better term. It grows in large clusters out in the farmlands. Need to get better at identifying it easily. Unsure of the season.
Walnuts – These things are wicked messy to eat! The green balls smell like lemon. The nuts are very… plain tasting. Late August to early September.
Wild Columbine – I don’t find these flowers frequently. Maybe other wildlife enjoys them just as much as me? Eat the red bottom lobes on each flower and it tastes like fresh honey! Not much, but yummy. Started to see these mid May.
Thimble Berries – I have only found these in Colorado BUT I literally ate about 2 pounds of them on our final day of climbing in the Lone Eagle Peak MTN wilderness after I had ran out of food. Super delicious, but haven’t seen them in SD.
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