You can eat lots of Maine’s wild plants

Who knew so many wild plants in Maine’s fields and forests are edible? Well, Tom Seymour does, of course, because he’s been eating them his entire life.

The third edition of Tom’s guide, Wild Plants of Maine, is truly amazing. I have his earlier editions, and he added and updated a lot in this new edition. I particularly love those plants Tom calls nibbles, the plants you can nibble on as you hike or hunt through the woods. We’ll never go hungry while hunting again!

But really, did you know you can eat Evening Primrose, Japanese Knotweed, Common Milkweed, Cattails, and Queen Anne’s Lace? Yup, and these are just a few of the many edible wild plants in our state.

Tom includes photos of all the plants and recipes, all organized by season. I’m not sure I’ll try the Stinging Nettles though. Tom wears leather gloves to harvest those. The leaves bristle with thousands of tiny stinging needles.

I recognized quite a few of the plants, including Trout Lilies, which I will try soon, maybe along with a trout. Tom includes some plants you’ll find along the coast, including my favorite, Goosetongue Greens. Linda and I pick hose on our trips to Lubec and Campbello.

And there’s a lot more in this book too. He includes more wild mushrooms than in his earlier editions (Linda and love Chanterelles and picked 9 pounds last summer). There’s even a section with recipes for lots of other things from Blue Mussels to Elderberry Fritters. And boy, I can’t wait to try his Dandelion Wine!

Did you know that you can make a soothing and vitamin-rich tea out of pine needles? And Tom recommends an historic tea made from Hemlock needles. “You’ll instantly create a connection to the old days,” he says, “and besides that, it tastes just plain good.”

Tom writes a bunch of regular columns including “Maine Wildlife” in The Maine Sportsman. He’s also written many books on everything from birds to fishing to hiking. He’s always been one of my favorite writers, and I assure you, even if you don’t plan to eat lots of wild plants, you will really enjoy this book.

But hey, we’re outdoors people, so get out there and eat something wild!

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.