Drinkable Wild Foods

Here are about sixty wild foods that are common in Western North Carolina and are usable for drinks. There are surely many others.

acorn: somewhat of a “bitter almond” flavor

angelica: already well-known candied, something like bitter anise-flavored celery

ants, carpenter: their sourness can be soaked out

autumn olive: the juice readily separates, like tomato juice, and the “whey” part tastes just like leechi fruit juice

basswood (linden): the flower is well-known for tea

bee balm (Monarda) leaf, flower: tastes like and is also named after bergamot, used in Earl Grey tea

birch, black (sweet) twigs: strong flavor of wintergreen, used in the original “birch beer”

black walnut: made into nocino



burdock root

carrot, wild

chaga fungus: tastes like mocha

cherry, wild black


chickory: commonly roasted like coffee

daisy (ox-eye), leaf: somewhat like cilantro

dandelion root: also commonly roasted like coffee

dead nettle (Lammium) leaf: juice is rich-flavored, like spinach

dogwood (Kousa) berry: like plum custard

elder flower, berry: flower is used in St-Germain, the berry in wine

goldenrod tops: particularly the sweet anise variety

grape (fox, muscadine)

greenbriar root (sarsaparilla)

hawkweed (cat’s ear): like dandelion and chickory

hawthorne berry: like crab apple

hemlock (tree) tips: like spruce

hen of the woods (maitake): decoction is very savory

hickory nut: flavor and strong smell of pecan

honey locust pods

honeysuckle flower

Japanese knotweed shoot: the flavor is just like rhubarb

milkweed flower

mugwort: related to desert sage and wormwood (absinthe), used for beer (hence the name)

mulberry fruit

nettle, stinging and wood: very rich-flavored, like spinach


paw paw: like banana custard

persimmon fruit, seed: the latter can be roasted like coffee

pine needles: like lemonade

prickly pear fruit: classic margarita

puffball (Calvatia): like meringue


reishi mushroom: pairs well with coffee or chocolate

rose hips

sassafras root: classic root beer

serviceberry (juneberry)

sheep sorrel: sour like rhubarb

sourwood leaf: also sour like rhubarb

spicebush (Lindera) leaf, twig, berry: somewhat like lemon mixed with allspice

spruce tips


sumac berry: sour, used in zattar

sweet cicely leaf: like licorice

wild ginger root: slightly toxic, use sparingly

wineberry: a wild raspberry

wintergreen leaf, berry

wisteria flower

wood sorrel (sour clover)

yarrow: bitter, somewhat floral and resinous

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