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Foraging for wild foods


Foraging for wild foods

Foraging for wild-grown foods is an exciting way to explore the outdoors and bring nature's bounty to the table. Learning what is permitted for harvest, what must be left in the wild to protect sensitive and rare species, and what is safe to harvest and prepare is essential information for foragers. 

What can be harvested?

Many types of wild foods can be foraged from Michigan's outdoors. Some foods harvestable from public lands include mushrooms, nuts, berries and tree fruits. Some items such as whole plants or maple sap may only be harvested from private lands.

Forage for morel mushrooms

This treasured springtime treat can be found in the forest. 

Forage for wild berries

Gather delicious wild berries to use in your favorite recipes.

Get a firewood collection permit

Collect firewood from mapped areas of state forest lands. 

Tap backyard trees and make maple syrup

Traditional maple tapping rewards hard work with sweet syrup. 

Not permitted for harvest

Foraging is not permitted if a plant is destroyed or damaged upon harvest, or because species are protected due to rarity. Commonly asked about plants that may not be harvested from public lands include, but are not limited to, those that follow:

  • Wild ginseng is a threatened species and is federally protected.
  • Fiddleheads of ferns, ramps (wild onions) and all plants that are cut or killed upon harvest may not be taken from public lands.
  • Maple trees (and other trees) may not be tapped for syrup production on public lands.
  • Plants and animals on the Invasive Species Prohibited and Restricted List may not be possessed.

Learn about wild and cultivated ginseng.

Invasive species prohibited and restricted list

Sales, rules and safety

Foods harvested from state lands are for personal use only, and are not for resale. The sale of mushrooms found on other lands is regulated through training and certification required by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. 

Do not harvest from private property without landowner permission. 

Improperly identified wild foods can pose serious health risks. Make sure you know how to properly identify and prepare wild foods before eating them, and do so at your own risk. 

Morel mushroom identification tips
A family searches for the perfect Christmas tree at a u-pick farm

Christmas tree cutting

Harvesting of Christmas trees, balsam boughs and any other live trees or branches is not permitted in state forests.

National Forest Christmas tree permits are available from the Huron-Manistee, Ottawa and Hiawatha National Forests.

Visit the Michigan Christmas Tree Association for a directory of U-Pick and U-Cut farms.