Once a means of seasonal sustenance, foraging is enjoying a revival among people keen to eat fresh, seasonal and local food.
More and more people are keen to reconnect with the land and learn more about indigenous, natural food. Foraging’s popularity today may be driven in part by awareness of climate change and a desire for a low-impact lifestyle.
Responsible wild harvesting means taking only what you will use and picking carefully to have minimal impact on the plant. It’s vital that you eat only those wild plants and mushrooms that you can identify as safe for human consumption.
Download our colourful guide to Foraging for Wild Plants in Scotland and be guided by our Responsible Foraging Guidelines.
Responsible Foraging Guidelines
FORAGING is a great way to spend time in nature, learn about the landscape around you and find free and healthy foraged food to enhance your wellbeing. Following the general principles set out below should help ensure that your foraging is responsible and unobtrusive. These guidelines are aimed at people foraging for their own use, rather than those wishing to forage commercially. The Foragers Association has an excellent guide for those wishing to supply businesses with foraged materials which can be found here.
Be aware that this guidance is not designed to help you identify species. You should always check anything you are unsure of in a good plant identification guide and ideally, cross-reference it with a second source.
Foraging for Wild Plants
Here are some of the plants and seaweeds that can be gathered and eaten in Scotland. You must be 100% certain of your plant identification in order to avoid any poisonous plants which look similar. Make sure that you gather plants in a way that is mindful, responsible and completely sustainable. There is guidance for responsible foraging at the end.
This publication was originally written in Gaelic and developed in partnership with Bòrd na Gàidhlig as part of the Gaelic Foraging Project in which the rich language and culture of the Gaels and close links with nature are explored.
Food from Nature Schools Resource Pack
In a rare reversal of development, our Food from Nature schools resource began life as a bespoke Gaelic resource called Lusan Lagach. This brightly coloured guide written by Alasdair Taylor, Earth For Life and illustrated by Rosie Balyuzi, provides activities and support for teachers wishing to explore the information in our guide Foraging Wild Plants. Food from nature, together with Foraging Wild Plants and the Plant ID cards forms a trio of support materials to help you explore foraging safely.
Plenty of delicious and nutritious wild food can be found among Scotland’s woodlands, hedgerows, moorland and seashores. Of course, which foods are ripe for picking depends on the time of year.
Foods to forage for include:
- wild garlic
- dandelion leaves
- sweet cicely
- sea buckthorn
- wild damsons
Foraged berries, herbs, mushrooms and edible plants are on the menu in some of Scotland’s most innovative eateries. Wild foods can yield stronger and more varied flavours, meaning there’s less need for fat and seasoning.
Taking part in a foraging course can show you:
- what to look out for
- what to expect in each season
- how to harvest sustainably
Foraging Fortnight is a celebration of Scotland’s natural environment and wild food with a series of events taking place across Fife, Moray, Lanarkshire, Orkney and the Forth Valley and Lomond areas.