5 Great Foraging Books for the Beginner

With so many foraging references available on the market today, it can be a daunting task to know where to start, especially for those of us who live in the pacific northwest. That’s why I’ve created this short list based off of books that I personally own and why I think you’ll want your own copy. I’ve spent many hours examining their pages and practicing my knowledge in the field with great success! They’re arranged in order from a good starter book to just slightly more “advanced”. After each review is an Amazon link to where you can purchase your own copy. You can start building your confidence today with your own foraging reference library!

#1 Edible Wild Plants by John Kallas

If you live in the PNW, are absolutely new to foraging and want to start today, look no further than John Kallas’ book Edible Wild Plants, Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate. I really appreciate John’s work because he chose a list of plants that most people are already familiar with. And if by some chance you’re not, you can spend an afternoon and quickly discover them. He goes through more than just basic identification; showing you the plant’s life cycles, how to harvest them, their nutrition, their lookalikes, recipes to prepare, and so much more! Literally from dirt to plate. Best of all, his choice of plants has the least number of poisonous lookalikes, so you can forage with confidence. This book is a gem at a very reasonable price! >> Amazon Link <<

#2 Nature’s Garden by Samuel Thayer

Samuel Thayer’s Nature’s Garden is a great book if you’re looking to expand your overall knowledge of North American wild edibles. This comprehensive guide covers categories such as leafy greens, roots, fruit, nuts, and seeds, most of which can be found throughout the US. There are a plethora of plants in Samuel’s book, accompanied with many large, clear pictures. He describes how to identify them, when they’re in season, all the parts you can use, how to prepare them, as well as their poisonous lookalikes. His writing style does more than just teach you; it brings you along on his adventures! >> Amazon Link <<

#3 Northwest Foraging by Doug Benoliel

This is a great little guide for those of us living in the Northwest! It is full of plants you’ve likely heard of but never knew were edible. Doug Benoliel starts by giving a brief overview on how to use his guide as well as sustainable harvesting, basic preservation, and plant structure. One of my favorite inclusions is both a seasonal plant chart and a nutritional chart. Each plant featured is listed with all of its common names, how and when to use them, and which parts are edible or choice. Select plants are also accompanied with a recipe. Mark Orsen is the illustrator and does a fantastic job drawing with accuracy and capturing the nature of each plant. >> Amazon Link<<

#4 Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Pojar & Mackinnon

While this book, compiled by Jim Pojar and Andy Mackinnon, isn’t specifically a foraging book, it has proved to be a valuable reference! It contains hundreds of PNW native plants, ranging from trees to shrubs, grasses, aquatic plants, orchids, lichens, and oddballs to name a few. If it’s native and lives between the coast and the Cascade mountain range, you’ll likely find it in this book. Whenever a plant was known to be used by a northwest indigenous group, the use and value is explained in short detail. The amount of research done by the authors is such a great resource. This book is often the first I reach for when trying to identify an unknown plant or to see if it had a practical use with the PNW indigenous people. >> Amazon Link <<

#5 Pocket Guide to Wild Edible Plants by Henry Holly

Granted, it’s a little corny to review my own book, but as my lovely wife reminds me “You need to stop selling yourself short!” Ok, perhaps not so emphatically. I really am proud of this book. Not because it’s mine, but because it represents all the hard work of those before me who took the time to share their knowledge. This book is the culmination of all the research passed down and then consolidated into a handy, pocket-sized guide. I carefully picked a sizable list of plants which I consider easy to identify and have an agreeable flavor. It was also important to me to photograph the practical parts of the plant in clear, easy to recognize images. Where the book size would relatively limit description, photographs could speak volumes. To learn all that this little guide has to offer, you can visit its page >> here <<

I want to say thank you for taking time to read this article and hope you found it useful. If you’d like to read more like this, please consider following our blog. You can show your love by liking this post, sharing it on social media, and pinning it on your favorite board. Please consider becoming a patron on Patreon! Our goal is to create educational content full time, making it available for everyone!
Thanks again, and Happy Foraging!

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  1. WOW, I just sat down to write a note to you to ask what books you would recommend for Washington and the PNW.
    I ordered your book and look forward to reading it. Usually I get overwhelmed when I read these kinds of books but your posts are so informative and easy to grasp that I am hopeful and excited about getting your book.
    Thanks much,



    • I’m so glad I was able to help! Thank you for your purchase. I’m shipping it out today. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Thanks again and enjoy!


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