Wild Food ID & Helpful Books


When it comes to wild food, proper ID is essential. The following are important guidelines that will be helpful for ensuring you can enjoy the best foods on the planet. This is an excerpt from our Wild Food Wisconsin Facebook group.

  • Use 3-5 reliable identification methods. The books below are some that I like and recommend.
  • Google is not an ID method. This many times results in misidentification- you’re at the mercy of incorrectly categorized photo tags and every random person on the internet with an opinion. Google can be helpful for getting a general feel for things, but still use 3-5 other ID methods on top of it. There are some good websites, however, including http://www.mushroomexpert.com, http://www.rogersmushrooms.com, http://wisflora.herbarium.wisc.edu/ , and http://www.dnr.wi.gov. Just make sure it’s legit before trusting a site.
  • Know toxic/inedible lookalikes. For example chanterelles may look like jack o’ lantern mushrooms.
  • Use all of your senses (smell, texture, spore sprint, colors, etc). No book, picture, website, will ever teach you what mindfully handling a plant or mushroom can.
  • Learn habitats- you won’t find watercress in a desert, and you won’t chaga on a willow tree.
  • Learn when this plant/mushroom is edible, and what parts. Some plants have edible fruits but the rest of the plant is toxic, some edibles are toxic or inedible at certain points during growth, some are toxic raw but healthy cooked, etc.
  • Knowing the growing seasons can help narrow down ID. For example morels don’t fruit in fall, maitake doesn’t fruit in spring.
  • Use Wild Food Wisconsin to bounce ideas off of! When posting an ID request, please share detailed info including pics of caps/stem/undersides of mushrooms, any flowers or leaves, habitat (on a dead pine, growing in a swamp, etc), and any observations you have about it. Once you have some good ideas from members, I’d recommend referring to a couple other ID methods for confirmation.

Happy & safe foraging!

Megan & Matthew Normansell

Our ever-growing book recommendations, with links to purchase:

Native Plants of the Midwest by Alan Branhagan

Mushrooms of the Midwest by Michael Kuo

Month-by-Month Gardening in Wisconsin by Melinda Meyers

Incredible Wild Edibles by Samuel Thayer

Wildflowers of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes Region by Merel R. Black and Emmet J. Judziewicz

The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer

Nature’s Garden by Samuel Thayer

Wisconsin Medicinal Herbs by Phyllis Heitkamp

Spring Flora of Wisconsin by Norman Fassett

Trees of Wisconsin Field Guide by Stan Tekiela

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms by National Audubon Society

Mushrooms and Other Fungi of North America by Roger Phillips

American Household Botany by Judith Sumner

Medicinal Mushrooms – A Clinical Guide by Martin Powell

Mushrooms of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada by Timothy J. Baroni

The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets

A Kid’s Herb Book: For Children of All Ages by Lesley Tierra

Mushrooms: More than 70 Inspiring Recipes by Jacque Malouf

Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat by Ellen Zachos

Native American Medicinal Plants: An Ethnobotanical Dictionary by Daniel Moerman

Maple: 100 Sweet & Savory Recipes by Katie Webster

Native American Food Plants: An Ethnobotanical Dictionary by Daniel Moerman

Herbs to the Rescue- Herbal First Aid Handbook by Kurt King

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers by National Audubon Society

The Wildcrafting Brewer: Creating Unique Drinks and Boozy Concoctions from Nature’s Ingredients by Pascal Baudar

The New Wildcrafted Cuisine: Exploring the Exotic Gastronomy of Local Terroir by Pascal Baudar

Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and James A. Duke

Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants by Bradford Angier

Mushrooms for Health by Greg Marley

The Homebrewer’s Garden by Joe Fisher and Dennis Fisher

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

Peterson Field Guides: Edible Wild Plants by Lee Allen Peterson

Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar

Wild Garlic, Gooseberries, and Me: A Chef’s Stories and Recipes from the Land by Denis Cotter

National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Wildflowers of North America by David M. Brandenburg


Chanterelle Dreams and Amanita Nightmares by Greg Marley

Toxic and Hallucinogenic Mushroom Poisoning: A handbook for physicians and mushroom hunters by Gary Lincoff and D. H. Mitchel

Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants Second Edition (plants only) by Lewis S. Nelson, Richard D. Shih, Michael J. Balick

Mushrooms: Poisons and Panaceas: A Handbook for Naturalists, Mycologists, and Physicians by Denis R. Benjamin

AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants First Edition (mushrooms and plants) by Kenneth F. Lampe, Mary Ann McCann

Mushroom Playing Cards by Paul Stamets

The Famous Mushroom Playing Cards

The Famous Tree Playing Cards

The Famous Herb Playing Cards

Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan Wild Berries & Fruits Field Guide by Teresa Marrone

Food for Free by Richard Mabey

Others we’ve added to our collection:

Mushroom Cultivation: An Illustrated Guide to Growing Your Own Mushrooms at Home by Tavis Lynch

Mushroom Word Guide: Etymology, Pronunciation, and Meanings of over 1,500 Words by Robert Hallock PhD


Mushroom in the Rain by Mirra Ginsburg

Sweety by Andrea Zull

A Kids Herb Book by Lesley Tierra

The Mushroom Fan Club by Elise Gravel

The Herb Fairies Series by Kimberly Gallagher
Book 1: Stellaria’s Big Find (about chickweed)

Book 2: Secrets in the Scotch Broom (about violets)

Book 3: A Fairy Festival Surprise (about plantain)

Book 4: Treasure by Hopping Frog Pond (about lemon balm)

Book 5: The Secret Trail (about chamomile)

Book 6: Cally’s Summer Extravaganza (about calendula)

Book 7: Through the Mists (about elderberry)

Book 8: The Heart of Dwarf Mountain (about marshmallow root)

Book 9: A Magical Ride (about burdock)

Book 10: The Root of Kindness (about pine needles)

Book 11: Fireside Stories (about rose hips)

Book 12: Zeylani’s Tropical Oasis (about cinnamon)

Book 13: Healing the Heart of the Forest (about dandelion)

The 13 book set

Happy reading!!


Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally. We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com – megan@aayushealth.com – 920-327-2221

Copyright Megan Normansell 2020. All rights reserved.