When starting your foraging journey it helps to go out with people who can teach you in person and there are lots of great courses around the country (and the world) run by Association of Foragers members. You will also need a selection of books to get you started as no one book covers it all. Below are a few of the books that I recommend – I have a lot! I have put Amazon links for each so that you can get the exact details of each book but I also encourage you to buy from independent booksellers and spread the wealth. Books that I feel are particularly useful to have are in bold but all the books mentioned are useful!
These will help you to identify the plants, fungi and seaweeds but won’t tell you much about whether you can eat them or not.
The Wildflower Key by Francis Rose (Revised Edition)
How to identify wild plants, trees and shrubs in Britain and Ireland by Francis Rose.
The Illustrated Flora of Britain and Northern Europe by Marjorie Blamey
The Illustrated Flora is a species guide with excellent drawn illustrations and botanical descriptions of plants to help you identify them.
Seaweeds of Britain and Ireland by Bunker, Brodie, Maggs & Bunker
The most authoritative guide to many of the 8000 species of algae and seaweeds found in British and Irish coastal waters.
Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain and Europe by Geoffrey Kibby
Volume 1 and 2 by Geoffrey Kibby
Fungi of Temperate Europe by Thomas Laessoe
Volume 1+2 by Thomas Laessoe
These will help you to find out which of the plants, fungi and seaweeds are edible – and in some cases medicinal – but won’t always tell you a huge amount about how to identify them.
The Forager’s Calendar: A Seasonal Guide to Nature’s Wild Harvests by John Wright
A very comprehensive guide to one of Britain’s best-known foragers.
Wild Food by Ray Mears and Gordon Hillman
A summary of wild foods in Britain.
Edible Seashore: River Cottage Handbook No.5 by John Wright
A guide to help you identify edible seaweeds, shellfish and crustaceans around the British coast.
Mushrooms: River Cottage Handbook No. 1 by John Wright
This is a really useful beginners’ guide to the best of the edible mushrooms, the deadly ones that you really need to know and how not to confuse the two! It also has a useful guide to using keys for identification, an introduction to law and conservation and some recipes in the back too. If you’re mainly interested in eating mushrooms and not too concerned with identifying the 6800 plus that aren’t in this book, then this is the book for you.
Mushrooms by Roger Philips
One of the most popular reference books to fungi in the United Kingdom.
Also useful are:
A Handbook of Scotland’s Wild Harvests
A Handbook of Scotland’s Wild Harvests: The Essential Guide to Edible Species, with Recipes & Plants for Natural Remedies, and Materials to Gather for Fuel, Gardening & Craft edited by Fi Martynoga
Food for Free by Richard Mabey
A classic text.
There are also many excellent books by Association of Foragers members. I need to update this section as there are many more too!
Wild Food: A Complete Guide for Foragers by Roger Philips
The Forager Handbook: A Guide to the Edible Plants of Britain by Miles Irving
Edible and Medicinal Wild Plants of Britain and Ireland by Robin Harford
The Garden Forager: Edible Delights in your Own Back Yard by Adele Nozedar
Never Mind the Burdocks: A Year of Foraging in the British Isles by Emma Gunn
– Spring Edition – March to May
– Summer Edition – June to August
– Autumn Edition – September to November
– Winter Edition – December to February
Four books in all.
Seaweed in the Kitchen by Fiona Bird
And lastly, some book reviews of other books from my friend Mark Williams at Galloway Wildfoods