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Home » Enjoying » Activities » Foraging » Sustainable foraging guide

Sustainable foraging guidelines

Plants suitable for foraging:

  • Nettles
  • Blackberries
  • Rosehips
  • Elderflowers and berries
  • Hawthorn flowers, leaves and berries
  • Sloes
  • Damsons
  • Lime and beech leaves (newly opened)
  • Common sorrel
  • Dock leaves
  • Dandelions
  • Thistle
  • Hedge mustard
  • Hedge garlic
  • Plantains
  • Chickweed
  • Wild garlic leaves
  • Hazel nuts
  • Crab apples
  • Comfrey leaves.

Crab Apple
Crab apples are suitable for foraging.

For your own safety - be sure that you know that what you are picking is safe to eat!

  • There are a number of highly poisonous plants some of which are in the same group of plants as parsley - be sure you can identify what you are collecting and that it is safe to eat.
  • Don’t pick leaves, seaweed, fruit or flowers from polluted areas next to roads, sewage outfalls or farmyards.
  • On the coast be mindful of tides and cliffs.
  • Don’t collect floating (detached) seaweed, it is effectively dead.

Get permission

  • If you are not on open access land or a public right of way, ask the landowner for permission.
  • Check that the site or the plants are not protected (e.g. SSSI sites or National Trust or other byelaws are in force).

Avoid doing damage

  • Do not introduce seeds or other living plant material to the wild or knowingly or unknowingly move invasive plants from one location to the next. Japanese knotweed has spread along verges and water courses and more recently Himalayan balsam has spread at an alarming rate. Its seeds are easily spread on boots, as are plant diseases.
  • Follow basic biosecurity to avoid spreading diseases, clean boots between sites!
  • Be careful not to damage vegetation or other features while picking; it is best to cut flowers, leaves (including samphire) and seaweed (with scissors, a knife or similar) leaving the roots intact to minimise damage to the plant.
  • Always pick in moderation, take only a few leaves or flowers from each plant to ensure that it can continue to grow, flower and produce seeds.
  • Don’t pick scarce plants or more common plants if there are few of them.
  • Take a reputable field guide with you and try to identify as many plants/fungi as you can in situ.
  • Ancient woodlands usually contain a rich variety of different types of fungi and may include some rare species. Particular care should be taken when collecting from these special sites.
  • Follow the Country Code.