Wild Edible Foods of South Dakota

Do you want a real list of edible plants for the Upper Midwest? Every single plant here was found while foraging in South Dakota and Minnesota. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, each wild food listed on TREEfool.com was actually eaten and documented by yours truly. Don’t have too much fun (just kidding, you should 100% have too much fun).

This list is broken down into sub-categories:
1 – Delicious When Raw
2 – Greens to Cook
3 – Nuts
4 – Fruits & Flowers
5 – Teas
6 – Edible bugs


Delicious When Raw

Let’s start this list with the plants that are easiest to eat. All of these are tastiest when eaten raw!

Wood Sorel
I’ve known this one since I was a little kid on the farm. It tastes just like the peel of a green apple. Yum!

Garlic Mustard
This “invasive” species grows EVERYWHERE and is packed with nutrients.

Only eat the top two-ish inches or it may be too stringy to eat. Tastes kind of like young raw sweetcorn IMO.

Wild Spinach
One of my favorites and super easy to identify due to the white powder that runs down the middle of the plant.

Sheperd’s Purse
The little flower stem makes this plant super easy to locate!

Probably my kid’s favorite wild food. Foraging cattails always ends with a full stomach.

Super delicious raw. My kiddos and I eat this like candy when we find a juicy plant.

White Clover
This can be found pretty much anywhere that grass is mowed. Not my favorite but makes for some healthy fresh greens to add on a hummus sandwich.

Greens to Cook

Fried dandelion roots are my favorite! But just a warning, if you haven’t tried raw dandy leaves you are in for a bitter time.

Stinging Nettle
I’m an idiot because I never learn to put on pants and shoes when I go foraging for nettles. Either way nettles can be eaten RAW (yup!) but are best when cooked.

False Solomons-Seal
I love the bitter leaves raw but it is best cooked like asparagus.

Packed with vitamin C and sticks to everything.

Curly Dock
It took too long for me to incorporate this plant into my diet. I think it tastes similar to wood sorel but 10x easier to gather.

Cow Parsnip
This plant is a beast! The thick boiled stems tastes great in oriental soups. Just watch out for raw juices from the stem, they can cause a rash.


Most of our South Dakota acorn foraging comes from the bur oak trees nestled in parks surrounding Sioux Falls.

If you want to stain all of your skin and clothing yellow then you should try eating wild walnuts! More info to come…

Fruits & Flowers

If you can beat the wild animals to these berries they are among my favorite wild foods to find!

Wild Grapes
I’m usually too busy stuffing my face to take any photos when I find a patch of wild grapes. Don’t confuse these with the Virginia Creeper! More info to come soon…

If you try to eat these while ripe you will understand their name. Very astringent. Berries turn red mid July and ripen to purple in August.

Sweet and sour! These differ from gooseberries due to the lack of spikes on the bush. They are tastier too!

Mulberry Tree
Usually the low hanging fruit is pillaged in any public city park but the canopy is FULL of ripe fruit for anyone daring enough to climb.

Wild Columbine
Eat the little red globes on the back of the flower for a hint of sweet honey flavor! I was told by a friend this is called “Wild Honeysuckle” so that might be a common local name in MN?

Wild Plums
I know of a beautiful forest in Minnesota that’s full of wild plums. More photos & videos to come…


Gill Over The Ground
Part of the mint family, gill-over-the-ground has a square stem with purple flowers and purple tinged leaves. It is a refreshing chew while hiking or makes a good tea!

Square stem and round teeth with a minty smell make this plant hard to mis-identify!

Edible Bugs

Yes, snails are NOT bugs (they’re mollusks) but most people think they are “icky” so I’m adding them to the bug list!

Enjoyable. Last two seasons when chased them around to catch them. This year we will be using the wool-blanket-method!

When we first cooked up cicadas to eat them I was surprised by how hollow they are. Haha! I thought they tasted great fried up after boiling them for 5 minutes.

Way harder to catch by hand than grasshoppers! This 2022 season we will be planting open bottles in the ground with fruit to catch them in bulk!

Wood Lice
Also known as pill bugs or land shrimp the first time I tried these it was a horrible experience. But I’m going back with some new knowledge to make it happen!

Acorn Weevle
These little guys tunnel their way through acorns and can be easily gathered by throwing all of your “bad” acorns in a bucket then waiting a week. The bottom will be filled with them!

To add: field mustard, raspberries, red sumac, milk weed, burdock…