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Wild Edible Trees
A photo gallery Connecticut wild edible tree species. If you have not already done so, please read our Connecticut Wild Edibles for Beginners article for a basic introduction to safety regarding wild edibles.
WARNING: Misidentification of a tree species can result in deadly consequences if consumed and we stongly urge you to consider store-bought alternatives first. Never eat of any wild foraged tree unless the species is positively identified and you have a full understanding of the risks and necessary preparation methods.

 
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American White Birch
American White Birch (Betula papyrifera)
It's sap can be boiled down to make birch syrup. Look for birch beer or birch soda in your local supermarket or gourmet food store. While the flavoring is usually artificial, it is a good, close approximation.
 
Autumn Olive
Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)
When ripe, the fruit is juicy and edible, and works well as a dried fruit. It is small but abundantly produced, tart-tasting, and has a chewable seed. Must be foraged in gardens or the wild after positive identification.
 
Black Birch
Black Birch (Betula lenta)
Has a wintergreen flavor. The sap can be tapped in a similar fashion as maple and boiled-down to may syrup. Twigs can be used to make tea. Most birch beer and birch flavoring is now synthesized chemically. Look for birch beer or birch soda which is available in many supermarkets in Connecticut. Anything 'wintergreen' flavored, such as Lifesavers candy, will also taste very similar.
 
Black Cherry
Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
The fruit of Prunus serotina is suitable for making jam and cherry pies, and has some use in flavoring liqueurs; they are also a popular flavoring for sodas and ice creams. Look for black cherry flavored soda and ice creams in most supermarkets. Otherwise must be foraged and picked when ripe, though the unprocessed fruits may not be enjoyable eaten raw.
 
Butternut
Butternut (Juglans cinerea)
The nuts are edible and are usually used in baking and making candies, having an oily texture and pleasant flavor. The meat however is usually difficult to extract, and thus is not commonly found. Can be foraged in the wild after positive identification, otherwise some butternut candies might still be available for purchase online from specialty stores. While not dangerous, like other walnuts, the juice from the bark (and nut shell) contains a yellow dye that can leave a dark stain on the skin.
 
Eastern Black Oak
Eastern Black Oak (Quercus velutina)
The acorns are edible, but only after being properly prepared by leeching the tannins and bitter flavors out thru multiple soakings of water. If not prepared properly, it can taste bitter and terrible. Otherwise, after preparation, the acorns can be ground into flour and baked into bread. Must be foraged in the wild and properly prepared. There are no similar viable alternatives available commercially. Unprocessed acorns contain tannins which are bitter and may upset the stomach. They cannot be eaten raw.
 
Eastern Black Walnut
Eastern Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
Black walnut nuts are shelled commercially in the United States. The nutmeats provide a robust, distinctive, natural flavor and crunch as a food ingredient. Popular uses include ice cream, bakery goods and confections. However the extraction of the kernel from the fruit of the black walnut is difficult. The thick hard shell is tightly bound by tall ridges to a thick husk. Black walnut drupes contain a yellowish dye that will stain the hands black. Look for shelled black walnut meats in gourmet food stores and processed walnut foods such as ice creams. Otherwise, they must be foraged in the wild, properly dried and the meat extracted from the shell.
 
Eastern Red-cedar
Eastern Red-cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
The cones are used to flavor gin and alcohol spirits. Berries are eaten as a spice in cooking. Look for gin in any liquor store. Dried berries can be purchased in gourmet food stores. Sources: Penzeys Spices.
 
Eastern Redbud
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Native Americans consumed redbud flowers raw or boiled, and ate roasted seeds. Analysis of nutritional components in edible parts of eastern redbud reported that the flower extract contains anthocyanins, green developing seeds contained proanthocyanides, and linolenic, alpha-linolenic, oleic and palmitic acids to be present in seeds. Not recommended. Must be foraged in the wild after positive identification. Not recommended.
 
European Beech
European Beech (Fagus sylvatica)
The fruit of the beech tree, known as beechnuts, are small, roughly triangular and edible, with a bitter, astringent taste. It is not recommended to eat too many because they contain low concentrations of Trimethylamine, which is slightly toxic. Roasting both improves flavour and reduces the amount of Trimethylamine. Fresh from the tree, beech leaves can be eaten as a salad vegetable, as sweet as a mild cabbage though much softer in texture. Must be foraged from the wild after positive identification.
 
Flowering Crabapple
Flowering Crabapple (Malus hopa)
Although somewhat sour and small, crab apples are edible and once commonly used to make apple sauce. Found in gardens or cultivated areas, and can be foraged or picked after positive identification. Don't eat the seeds, as they contain small amounts of cyanide as do normal apples.
 
Honey Locust
Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
The pulp on the insides of the Honey Locust pods is edible, unlike the Black locust, which is toxic. Despite its name, the honey locust is not a significant honey plant. The name derives from the sweet taste of the legume pulp, which was used for food by Native American people, and can also be fermented to make beer. Must be foraged in the wild after positive identification. The thorns are long and sharp and could easily cause injury. Also, only the pulp of the legume pod is edible, do not eat the seeds or other parts of the tree.
 
Kousa Dogwood
Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)
The fruits are edible and sweet. They are sometimes used for making wine. Must be foraged in the wild after positive identification.
 
Kwanzan Cherry
Kwanzan Cherry (Prunus serrulata Kwanzan)
Berries are edible, but usually sour and not very tasty. Probably better used for jams and jellies. Not recommended due to the risk of pesticides. Not recommended. Otherwise, must be foraged in gardens or the wild after positived identification. Cultivated trees often have pesticides on them.
 
Mimosa Tree
Mimosa Tree (Albizia julibrissin)
There is a lot of mixed reports on edibility, so I wouldn't recommend trying this species until more information is available. There are some reports that the young leaves are edible when cooked, or can be used to make tea. The flowers can reportedly be cooked and eaten as well. There are some questionable reports of the seeds being roasted and eaten, but they are not reliable, and most information suggests that the seeds are actually not edible. Must be foraged in the wild after positive identification. Not recommended.
 
Mockernut Hickory
Mockernut Hickory (Carya tomentosa)
The nut meat is edible, but due the small size, they are not commonly eaten by humans. The wood is used to smoke meats. Look for hickory smoked meats such as ham.
 
Northern Red Oak
Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
The acorns are edible, but only after being properly prepared by leeching the tannins and bitter flavors out thru multiple soakings of water. If not prepared properly, it can taste bitter and terrible. Otherwise, after preparation, the acorns can be ground into flour and baked into bread. Must be foraged in the wild and properly prepared. There are no similar viable alternatives available commercially. Unprocessed acorns contain tannins which are bitter and may upset the stomach. They cannot be eaten raw.
 
Red Maple
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Like the sugar maple, the red maple is also used for the production of maple syrup. Look for maple syrup which is available in most supermarkets in Connecticut, as well as maple candy and maple sugar. Collecting your own maple sap and boiling it down into maple syrup is long and time consuming task.
 
Red Mulberry
Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)
Mulberry fruits are edible and have a good, sweet flavor. Eat when ripened and dark. Can occasionally be purchased fresh when in season from farmstands or gourmet food stores. Mulberry jellies, jams and juices may also be available. Commonly found as a tree in backyards and poplulated areas. May be foraged in the wild after positive identification.
 
River Birch
River Birch (Betula nigra)
Has a wintergreen flavor. The sap can be tapped in a similar fashion as maple and boiled-down to may syrup. Twigs can be used to make tea. Most birch beer and birch flavoring is now synthesized chemically. Look for birch beer or birch soda which is available in many supermarkets in Connecticut. Anything 'wintergreen' flavored, such as Lifesavers candy, will also taste very similar.
 
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*** In the event of a suspected life-threatening poisoning emergency, call 911 immediately.***

Otherwise, the following phone numbers may be helpful:

Connecticut Poison Control Center: (860) 679-4540
American Association of Poison Control Centers: (800) 222-1222

NOTICE: ConnecticutWilderness.com and it's associates do not advocate the taking of wild species for the purpose of consumption. Information posted on this website regarding wild edibles is for educational purposes only. Consumption of wild species includes the risk of death, poisoning, vomiting, allergic reactions, and other potentially serious medical conditions. .. Read More...

Information posted on ConnecticutWilderness.com regarding the edibility of species may be inaccurate or incorrect. While we make efforts to provide accurate information, judgements made to consume a wild species should never be made based on information provided solely by ConnecticutWilderness.com alone. Positive identification of a wild species can only come with first-hand experience with the species and may require advanced identification techniques, including microscopic and chemical analysis, especially regarding fungi. In all cases, a positive identification should never be considered 100% unless a full DNA analysis is completed. It is critical to factor-in the risk of misidentification when consuming wild species.

Local laws and regulations of public and private property may, and often do, prohibit the taking, killing, or disturbance of any wild species on its property. Check your local laws and regulations.

The consumption of wild species, even after positive identification, can result in serious or deadly medical conditions. Some persons may experience an allergic reaction to wild species, even if it is generally considered safe for consumption. For many wild species, only certain parts of the species are edible, while other parts may be inedible or even poisonous. Care must be taken to avoid consumption of the poisonous parts. Many wild species require special processing such as cooking, drying, soaking, roasting, or treating with chemicals before they are safe for consumption. Failure to properly process the wild species could result in illness or death. Wild species, even after positive identification and proper preparation can cause illness or death due to contaminants. Wild species may absorb toxins from the soil or water sources. Never consume wild species from roadsides, waste areas, garbage dumps, or areas that are known or likely to contain toxins. Wild species may also cause illness as caused by decomposition or infestation caused by insects, molds, fungi, and bacteria. Consuming animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians may carry an increased risk of illness due to viruses and bacteria, including rabies. Some edible wild species can become toxic due to exposure to nearby toxic plants. If you ever have what you think may be an unpleasant or bad reaction to consuming a wild species, get medical attention immediately.


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