Spring edibles you can forage around Indy

Mother Earth is defrosting and she’s sprouting dozens of edible plants + flowers that you can find in your own backyard.

INDYtoday: INDY_morel mushrooms cooking foraging spring edibles_MAR24

Morel season in Indiana usually starts in early- to mid-April and lasts about a month.

Photo by @nealjbrown

Sometimes all the inspiration you need for a springtime meal can be growing right in your own backyard. Edible wild plants and flowers are starting to pop up everywhere, so we’ve put together a guide on where to forage (aka wildcraft) a few of the most popular and delicious edibles that grow around central Indiana.

Morel mushrooms

Considered by many to be the most delicious fungi, morels can cost up to $60 per pound online or at small markets — so why not find your own? Indiana is home to at least three different types of morels, which usually pop up during the month of April.

Try looking near the bases of dead or dying American elms, cottonwoods, or apple trees. You may also have luck finding the spongy shrooms near healthy tulip trees or aspens. Pro tip: You don’t need a license to harvest morels from public lands in Indiana, as long as they aren’t being used commercially.

INDYtoday: INDY_foraging spring edibles dandelions_MAR24

Dandelions can be found almost anywhere — but you’ll want to go for plants that are away from roadways and other pollutants if you’re going to consume them.

Photo by INDYtoday team


Early spring is also a great time to harvest the landscaper’s nightmare and turn it into the herbalist’s dream. We don’t have to tell you where to look for this one — chances are you have dandelions growing in your yard right now.

Dandelion leaves, flowers, and roots can all be used in various salads, teas, and topical oils. Health claims include digestion and immune system support.


Wild violets are usually quite easy to find. Look for them in shady, wooded areas with rich soil. Keep in mind that the edible wild varieties are not the same as African violets, a popular houseplant that is not edible. Violet leaves can also look similar to lesser calandine, a toxic wild plant. If you’re unsure if you’ve found lesser calandine, wait for the plant to flower. It will produce yellow flowers that don’t resemble wild violets at all.

Both the leaves and flowers of wild violets are edible and rich in vitamin C and vitamin A. They’re most often used in syrups or vinegars, or as a garnish for a spring salad.

Wildcrafting words of wisdom

Foraging is fun, but it can also be intimidating or even dangerous. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Make sure that you have properly identified any plant prior to eating it. This is especially important with mushrooms, as many can be toxic. The Indiana Native Plant Society Facebook group is an excellent resource for help identifying plants. You can also download Plantum, a free app that can identify a plant and tell you about its properties with a single picture.
  • Help the earth repopulate wild edibles for next season by leaving some plants behind instead of picking all of them.
  • Don’t pick near roads, manufacturing facilities, or other places you know plants may be contaminated by harmful bug sprays, fertilizers, or excessive pollution.
  • When you’re ready to eat your harvest, follow recipes and directions closely. Many wild foods can retain a bitter flavor unless they’re prepared properly.

Do you have another plant you love foraging for around Indy? Tell us what it is. (Don’t worry, we won’t steal your spot.)

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