Top plant identification books for foragers

I am often asked which edible wild plant identification books I recommend. There isn’t a specific edible wild plant ID book available for the UK, so you are left with using wildflower plant ID guides instead.

Most wild food books only give cursory plant ID specifics and are generally not enough to ensure absolute certainty.

Note: Commissions may be earned from the links below.

Botany In A Day

This is a must-have book for all plant lovers. Rather than learning new plants one at a time, it is possible to learn them by the hundreds, based on plant family patterns. The title sounds a bit heavy, but it is a stellar book that I can’t recommend highly enough – Read more.

Collins Tree Guide

A wonderful book for identifying trees. – Read more.

Collins Wild Flower Guide

The best-illustrated wildflower identification guide book. There are two versions. One the size of a small brick, the other a pocket edition. I recommend getting both.

Harrap’s Wild Flower

Currently my #1 field guide. A good balance between a wildflower key, and a photographic ID book. With superb photography throughout, including stunning portraits and close-ups of key features where relevant, and succinct, no-nonsense text this book will help you identify almost any wildflower that you may encounter in Britain and Ireland – Read more.

Francis Rose Wild Flower Key

Wildflower keys can be hard to get your head around if you aren’t a trained botanist, however, they are well worth having, as the detail of each plant species is listed in minute detail thereby ensuring you can correctly ID a plant – Read more.

Vegetative Key to the British Flora

One of the things about wild food is that you need to often ID a plant before it has flowered. This can cause a problem for beginners as they have to wait a full year after the plant has flowered to be able to ID it again. Normally you would ID a plant once it is in flower. With Vegetative Key to the British Flora, the aim of the authors is to “enable reliable identification at any stage of growth”. So depending on your skill level, you should be able to ID a plant pre-flowering which is when you generally want to eat it – Read more.


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