Basket of nettle tops


Some of the most delicious and nutritious edible wild plants are at their very best in springtime. From wild garlic to nettles, these plants are abundant, local, seasonal and free.

We all know that too much ultra processed food is not good for our health. Wild food is the total opposite to ultra processed food, and many wild plants contain vitamins, minerals, trace elements and beneficial phytonutrients. Most wild herbs are also bitter plants that aid digestion and contribute to good gut health.

Watch out for these easily identifiable plants that grow in gardens, parks, country lanes, woodlands and coastal locations. I will add to the list and write in more detail about the individual varieties and their uses over the coming weeks and months.

Allium ursinum

Wild garlic, also known as Ramsons, can be found in deciduous woodlands and shady country lanes. It is easily identifiable by its wide, strap shaped leaves, white star like flowers and pungent garlicky smell.
It is rich in vitamins and minerals and was traditionally used to lower blood pressure. Use it in salads and to make pesto, flavoured oils and vinegars.

Urtica dioica

Common stinging nettles are found in almost all temperate regions worldwide and are easily identified. They are highly nutritious and traditionally used as a spring tonic, being rich in iron, vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
Use rubber gloves when harvesting them to avoid getting stung. One they are cooked, they are safe to eat. Use them to make a tea, add to soups, and use them as a spinach substitute.

Taraxacum officinale

Dandelions are traditionally used to support kidney and liver function. They are a natural diuretic and antioxidant, and being a bitter herb, they also stimulate digestion.
Add young bitter dandelion leaves to salads and mixed greens. The roots have been used traditionally as a coffee substitute. Use the petals to make a syrup that can be used as a substitute to honey for anyone on a vegan diet.

Allium triquetrum

Three cornered leek is widespread along roadsides and in some coastal areas. It has antibacterial properties and was often used to help ease the symptoms of the common cold.
It has a mild, onion like flavour. Use in place of spring onion greens or chives. The flowers are edible and taste delicious.

Rumex Acetosa

Sorrel has antioxidant properties and is rich in vitamins A and C.
It has a tart, lemony flavour. The young leaves are good in salads and the older leaves can be used the same way as spinach.

Stellaria media

Chickweed is a common wild plant that was traditionally used to treat skin conditions.
It has a mild, fresh flavour. The young leaves are good in salads and it makes a tasty pesto. You can also wilt the leaves and use them as a substitute for spinach.

Primula vulgaris

Primrose can be found growing along rural hedgerows and woodland. It was traditionally used to treat skin conditions.
The flowers and young leaves are edible and can be added to salads. The flowers can be crystallised and used to decorate cakes and sweet treats.

Smyrnium olusatrum

Alexanders can be found growing in hedgerows and in coastal areas.
The leaves can be used as a spinach substitute. The stems can be peeled, steamed and tossed in melted butter. They have a unique taste, a little like celery. The aromatic ripe seeds can be used as a substitute for black pepper.

Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima

Sea beet is very common in coastal areas and is rich in iron and vitamin C..
The young leaves have a fresh, crunchy, slightly salty flavour and are good in salads. The older leaves can be wilted and used as a substitute for spinach or chard.


This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified nutritionist or health practitioner.
Never use any wild plant if you are pregnant, have a serious illness or medical condition or are on any medication, without first consulting your medical team.
It is the responsibility of the reader to ensure that any wild plants are 100% correctly identified. If in doubt never use any wild plant for food or medicine.


If you would like to learn more about safe and sustainable foraging, and using wild herbs for food and medicine, click on the links below to check out my in person and online workshops.

In Person Foraging Walks and Workshops

Online Wild Herb Foraging Workshop

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