Several decades ago, we were three days from the trailhead with no food. Let's not get into why that happened, please. It is too embarrassing.

We had to slog through snow for two days, but on the third day we walked into spring greenery. Everything looked delicious, but we didn't know what was OK to eat, so we ate nothing until we got to civilization late on the third day.

Is there a field guide (that doesn't weigh much) to edible plants? Ideally, the guide would come in multiple volumes (although volumes makes it sound heavy!) that cover particular areas. For example, there might be a guide to edible plants in the Sierra Nevada, another one for the Rockies, and so on. What level of specificity makes sense?

Our experience was before on-line anything, but even now on-line would not be much help because most interesting places have no cell-phone reception

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    Use the ebook version of a normal guide on your cell phone.
    – Qudit
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 3:36

3 Answers 3


There are multiple guides to edible foods, it looks like you would be most interested in would cover all of North America and if you are wanting to go light, there are pocket guides.

I found quite a few including,

I found these by looking for "edible plant guides" and if you want the lighter ones, and "pocket guide" to your search.

There are also a few online lists,

There aren't a huge number of edible plants, so the lists should be good starting points.


Short answer, yes. There are thin or even pamphlet sized guides to wild edibles. I doubt you would find any practical use with those. They simply don't have anything but the most well known plants and they often skimp on pictures and description or how to prepare.

Longer answer, if you seriously want to learn about wild edibles you will end up with many books. You will find that they feature different plants and the ones that overlap sometimes have information that is contradictory and many of the pictures not much help because it is a different season. I carry several ebooks on a kindle and often a paperback guide. I will routinely look through all of them trying to ID a plant. And in the end I'm still emailing photos to a mentor when I get home.

Best advice is to look for someone giving wild foraging classes locally and taking the class and asking what books they use for your area. Meetup is a good place to start, but you can just search the web for wild foragers in your state. Taking a guided edible plant walk will put you light years ahead where you would be with a book alone.


There are ebook applications for all smart phones. Adding a memory card to most phones is inexpensive and weighs less than the dust on your clothes. There is plethora of ebooks on edible plants. A quick search on Smashwords (no DRM) finds 1400+

We have a post What are some ways/devices that I can use to charge my batteries in the wilderness?

  • I think we have a post about downloading all of TGO but not finding it at the moment, as I recall it was only practical for specific questions. Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 12:45
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    While I second ab2's desire for a hard copy since it will not run out of battery power, this is still a very excellent idea. Especially for edible plant identification, since it often takes multiple books to be sure of identification, or to be sure this plant is really good for you (some of them contradict each other occasionally). This way you can read or cross reference as much as you want and with an entire library! Great idea. This is one of those times I'd like to +2.
    – Loduwijk
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 16:44
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    I looked at your 1,400 matches for "edible plants" on SmashWords; hardly any of them actually seem to be about edible plants. The top ten matches include: "The Edible Torah", "Edible Insects", "The Edible Alphabet", two science fiction stories, and "Are extra-terrestrials edible?"
    – Pont
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 18:59

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