The guide to foraging in Idaho, which is intended for novices, covers what you can gather in Idaho. Learn how to forage responsibly and safely while learning what's in season each month and where to get it, as well as recipe suggestions. There is a wide variety of food you can forage for in Idaho, including nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and more. Foraging is a great way to appreciate seasonal change, connect with nature, and find wild local ingredients to use in delicious home cooking recipes.
The Idaho woods and the countryside are wonderful places to start your foraging journey, but you may also discover wild edibles in surprisingly urban settings, such as a park or even your own garden. In addition, our frequently updated foraging guide explains how to forage safely, the law and what's in season each month.
What is foraging?
Foraging is the term for looking for, gathering, and consuming wild foods - for free. It's a wonderful way to keep active while spending time in nature and learning more about how your meals are produced. How to forage responsibly
Always be sure you can positively identify any plant before plucking it, and never eat an unknown plant. When foraging, make sure there is enough left over for the animals.
Here are a couple of key foraging guidelines:
- Before gathering, seek permission. In some regions, certain plant species will be safeguarded, so do your homework and check with the landowner before you start collecting.
- Pick from locations where you'll have the most luck. Look for areas with a lot of food and then just take a little bit for personal consumption. Never completely clear an area since it will harm the species and deny another collector the opportunity to collect.
- Leave enough for other animals and protect habitats. Many animals rely on vegetation for food, so don't take more than you intend to consume since this might prevent wildlife from obtaining a vital food source. Consider the wildlife's homes and stay away from or repair any that have been damaged or disturbed.
Never dig up or harm endangered species. It can be illegal to dig up or remove some wild plants and mushrooms in Idaho's wild areas. Before you forage, check the legislation to be sure it isn't prohibited. If you're unsure, why not join a foraging class with an expert and learn?
How to forage safely
Always bring a good field guide with you and be confident in your identification of plants before plucking them. Never eat any plant unless you are certain of its identity. Learning how to forage safely and responsibly through participating in a foraging course with an expert is an excellent method to learn this skill.
Never eat anything you haven't positively identified. This is probably the most important rule of foraging. If in doubt, don't put it in your mouth. Some plants can cause serious illness or even death if consumed, so it's always better to be safe than sorry.
If you're collecting from the wild, make sure you only take what you need. Many plant and fungi species are endangered, so it's important to avoid taking more than necessary. Leave some for other animals too - they'll be just as grateful as you are for a full belly.
Check the legislation. In some areas, it may be illegal to dig up or remove certain plant species. So before you start foraging, check the local rules and regulations to make sure you're not breaking any laws.
Forage in moderation. While it's great to enjoy free food from nature, over-foraging can damage local ecosystems. So only take what you need and be sure to leave some for other creatures and future foragers.
Wash your foraged food thoroughly. All wild plants and fungi should be washed thoroughly before eating to remove any dirt, pesticides, or chemicals.
Cook your foraged food properly. Some plant species can be toxic if eaten raw, so it's important to cook them properly before consuming them.
What's in season each month?
- January: cedar, fir, holly, ivy
- February: alder, hazel, willow
- March: birch, maple
- April: ash, hawthorn
- May: beech, blackthorn, cherry, chestnut, elderflower, hawthorn, oak, rowan, sloe
- June: apple, blackberry, cherry, elderflower, fig, gooseberry, grape, hazelnut, raspberry, strawberry
- July: apricot, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, peach, plum, raspberry
- August: apple, apricot, blackberry, blueberry, cherry plum, fig, grape, nectarine, peach, pear, raspberry
- September: apple, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, crabapple, fig, grape, hazelnut, medlar, nectarine, peach, pear, plum
- October: apple. blackberry. cherry. crabapple. fig. grape. hazelnut. medlar. nectarine. peach. pear. plum
- November: alder, birch, cedar, fir, holly, ivy, oak, willow
- December: alder, cedar, fir, holly, ivy, oak
The best places to forage in Idaho
Whether you're seeking mushrooms or huckleberries, our lands in Idaho provide some of the most distinctive topography and habitat for a wide range of wild edibles.