Ontario and Toronto Foraging Field Guides (Edible Mushrooms, Wild Berries, Edible Plants)

Welcome Ontario Today listeners (and everyone else)!

Interested in hunting for your own wild edibles? A field guide is a must to ensure you can properly identify what is safe to eat, and what is poisonous. Here are some suggestions for field guides that will help you find, identify and enjoy wild, foraged foods in Toronto and in Ontario.

First, two great websites for general overviews and photos that can give a sense of what’s out there:
Northern Bushcraft. With sections on: Berries | Plants | Mushrooms.
Ontario Wildflowers – Edible Species.

DANGER: DO NOT rely on photos alone to identify edible plants, edible berries, edible mushrooms, etc.!

Second, some great field guidebooks. These are helpful for making a positive ID as they discuss distinctive features of wild plants, wild berries and wild mushrooms beyond simple photos.

A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and Central North America
Lee Allen and Roger Tory Peterson
A comprehensive, definitive resource for those interested in wild greens.

Mushrooms of Ontario & Eastern Canada
George Barron
Focuses specifically on Ontario and environs: a great guide to the species found here.
UPDATE: This can be hard to find. Instead try:

Mushrooms of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada
Timothy J. Baroni
Comprehensive and authoritative, with great photos and a handy field-ready binding.

Mushrooms of Northeast North America: Midwest to New England
George Barron
Focusing more on habitats south of the border, this is nevertheless a useful guide.
UPDATE: Also hard to find now, try the one above.

Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada
David Spahr
An excellent guide with great explanations of identification.

Mushrooms Demystified
David Arora
Masterpiece of North America’s most popular mushroom expert, this reference tome covers a wide range of species found across the continent.

The Edible Wild: A Complete Cookbook and Guide to Edible Wild Plants in Canada and Eastern North America
Berndt Burglund
An older book that does an excellent job of introducing key wild edibles in this region.

Edible Wild Fruits and Nuts of Canada
Nancy Turner
By one of Canada’s leading ethnobotanists, this field guide is part of a series covering mushrooms, berries and plants. Lots of great nuts in southern Ontario.

All That the Rain Promises and More
David Arora
A very accessible guidebook for beginners that teaches a lot about the pragmatics of field identification. Focuses on mushrooms of the west, but many overlap with the east. Highly readable and recommended.


8 responses to “Ontario and Toronto Foraging Field Guides (Edible Mushrooms, Wild Berries, Edible Plants)

  1. Thank you for this info Dylan. Loved the show on CBC today! I feel SO inspired to get out and forage.

  2. Pingback: Time for a New Wild Food Season! | Dylan Gordon

  3. Hello!
    I am wondering if you can suggest anyone who could teach this stuff first hand in southern ontario? I would love to take some kind of mushroom forging course. I took a forging course last spring and found it much better learning from someone who does it regularly.

    • The Mycological Society of Toronto does regular forays. First foray or meeting is free, and then you can become a member. Usually they are going north of Toronto, though. That would probably be the best place to meet lots of people you could learn from, especially regarding mushrooms.

      Peter Blush (Puck’s Plenty) does tours in the Stratford area. Not sure how much you’d learn from one tour but that could be a start.

      There are also others around, particularly in Toronto, doing foraging courses. You can Google around and find news stories about many of them. Try “foraging tours Ontario” or “wild food walk Toronto” or “mushroom foraging tours” or the like. Guelph might be another place to look. You could also check up Meetup for groups interested in foraging or mushrooms. Try http://foraging.meetup.com/cities/ca/on/toronto/ and increase the search radius to suit yourself.

      Best of luck!

  4. Firstly, thanks for putting these great resources together, Dylan! Secondly, the p.i.n.e. project and some of our sister organizations specialize in offering workshops for adults in primitive and naturalist skills.

    Check out this upcoming foraging workshop in Toronto on June 7th, 2015: http://www.fortheloveofbody.com/workshops/postid-4

    We are also offering an Urban Edibles and Medicinals program June 19-21, 2015: https://www.pineproject.org/program/urban-edibles/

    Similarly, we are also offering an Urban Medicine Making program, where you can learn how to make medicinal balms, ointments, oils, tinctures, etc. from your locally foraged ingredients: https://www.pineproject.org/program/herbalintensive/

    I hope this is useful! Have a great summer!

  5. Hi,I have been a backyard gardener since I was 8 yrs old and that is decades ago. I have this question;there is these plants with red root that resembles callaloo but the leaves are a bit broader and not as shiny as the callaloo some friend of mine has given me.Is it a wild version of callaloo? I currently live in Toronto.thanks

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