Edible Plants of Jacksonville

Salutations, seed exchangers! I’ve been doing some research lately into edible plants in our area and have found a good bit of information, though there’s always more to learn.


Mandarin Park (map), located adjacent to Julington Creek in the Mandarin section of southeast Jacksonville, hosts park tours with naturalists showing people many often overlooked edible plants. The cinnamon fern, all wild rose petals, red prickly pear cactus and grass seeds in the Jacksonville area are all edible. Pine trees can be used two ways as food. You can take the leaves of many pine trees and steep them in some hot water for a while and they will make a tea. Also, you can take the pine nuts and eat them as well.


Dollar weed is actually tasty in a salad – just don’t eat it off of your lawn. Lawns soaked in pesticides retain some of the residues and you could end up sick from eating it. Finding them in the wild, or anywhere pesticides are not used, is the only recommended way to eat them. Dotted horsemint leaves, used as an air-freshener by Native Americans, make a great tea. Wild grape vines, blueberries and the blue passion vine, are all edible plants. Saw palmetto has edible fruit, as do beautyberry bushes, whose leaves feel a bit leathery and a bit hairy. The leaves at the tall tip of the catclaw briar vine can be used in a salad or cooked like greens. Even the fruit of the red prickly pear cactus, as well as the plant, suitably cleared of the pointy parts, can be consumed. When out foraging for these edible plants, a helpful hint is to use crushed wax myrtle leaves rubbed on the skin as a bug repellent. Should you get a cut or scratch, a garden silk spider’s web’s silk strands can be used as a primitive bandage, as it clots blood.


All of these delights can be found right in our own backyard at Mandarin Park. You can get more information on the park tours at Nature Scope.


In another part of town, Historic Springfield has an abundance of wild fruits and vegetables. There is a wild asparagus patch on 2nd Street, a white mulberry tree in the second alley to the east of the Springfield Community Garden lot, and red mulberry trees in the car lot right next to the garden.


Here is a list of some of the edible and medicinal plants found in Northeast Florida and their uses, compiled by St. Johns County Parks Naturalist Beverly Fleming and Jacksonville Parks Naturalist Lesley Royce:

•  Aloe leaves — sap can be used on burns.

•  Beautyberry fruit — raw fruit can be chewed to create saliva. Cooked, it is used to make jelly.

•  Blackberry fruit — edible raw.

•  Blueberry fruit — can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of dishes.

•  Bullbrier roots — can be boiled to make tea.

•  Cattail Spring roots — new sprouts can be eaten raw or cooked. Older growth — pull up leaves and peel back the tough leafy layer, and the core can be eaten raw or cooked. The flower’s bloom spikes can be boiled and eaten like corn on the cob if found before they open. And the roots can be used as a flour substitute.

•  Dandelion leaves — mix with tonic to make a tea, which can aid stomach cramps.

•  Day lily tubers — can be boiled like a potato. Caution — it is a laxative, so eat in moderation.

•  Dollarweed leaves — small new growth eaten raw in salads.

•  Elderberry flowers — dip in batter and fry. The leaves can be dried and made into a tea to treat diarrhea or a headache. The fruit can be eaten raw.

•  Grapevine fruit — edible raw or dried, and can be used to make wine. The leaves can be used to make a tea.

•  Greenbrier — new shoots, uncurling leaves and tendrils can be eaten raw in salads or steamed. Soak the roots in cold water, allow the powder to settle, dry it and use as a gelatin or flour thickener. Can be mixed with cold water for a drink refresher. Mix roots and tallow and apply as a salve to burns.

•  Hickory nuts — edible raw or roasted.

•  Oak and acorns — boil hulled nuts in several changes of water to remove bitter tannins. The nut is edible whole or ground and used as a flour. Use the leftover liquid after boiling as an astringent, poison ivy treatment and on skin irritations.

•  Passion vine fruit — edible raw or cooked, and can be made into a jelly.

•  Peppergrass — young shoots can be used sparingly in salad with less bitter greens, or the seeds can be used as seasoning.

•  Pickerelweed — leaves and flowers can be chopped and used in salads. The leaf stalks can be boiled and eaten, and the fruit seeds eaten as a trail snack.

•  Pine — the inner bark can be dried, cooked and ground into flour or used as a bandage or poultice for bug bites and boils. The needles can be used to make tea; the seeds eaten.

This post is meant to be purely informational. Please do not eat wild plants unless you absolutely know for sure what it is you are eating and that it is safe.

If you know of any additional edible plants, or where some are located, shoot Jacksonville Seed Exchange an email!


~ by Mike on February 27, 2009.

13 Responses to “Edible Plants of Jacksonville”

  1. Wood sorrel, has a lemony bitterness that ain’t too bad, edible raw (or cooked?)
    Dandelion leaves are OK raw when young, but larger ones should be cooked down
    Chickweed is edible raw, but I have no idea how it tastes, as I can only tell you what my friend tells me

    White mulberry is what silkworms eat, so if you find a bunch of those trees and feel like raising silkworms, give it a try.

    Thanks for the posting. I’m bookmarking this.

  2. Kelly- thanks for your comment, and for the good info!

  3. If you’re strapped for space, try container gardening. Plant breeders have given us edible plants to fit into almost any size container. Dwarf varieties of tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, herbs and even squash can grow in containers on a deck or patio. There are diminutive fruit trees, such as the colonnade apple tree, which grows only 8 feet tall and 2 feet wide and produces a few dozen apples. You can grow dwarf tomatoes such as “Window Box Roma” or herbs such as creeping thyme and rosemary …

  4. Aw, this was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done

  5. That’s a pretty nice post, i was reading something related on another web page not too long ago that essentially said the same thing although yours is better,
    plus its good to have some validation on seeing two sources agree.

  6. You link to Springfield Community Garden brings me to a sex site. You need to check on this…

  7. Patty- thanks for pointing it out. It used to be a legitimate website. It’s been fixed now.

  8. Thank you. My wife and I live and kayak frequently here in Jacksonville. This article is a great starting point for learning about foraging in our area. I am looking forward to learning more to broaden my local knowledge for enjoyment and survival purposes.

  9. folks|folks|other people|people} will {leave out|omit|miss|pass
    John Smith http://dumm1.co.uk

  10. I know I’m (way) late to the party, but figured I should mention that elderberries should NOT BE EATEN RAW more than a few at a time. You’ll be on the toilet for the rest of the day. Cook or dry them first to drive off compounds that will convert to cyanide during digestion.

  11. I loved reading your post! I am doing a little research. I am writing a story about a woman who travels around the country planting seeds and educating people about planting free food and foraging for wild edibles. Not being a gardener I have some challenges lol. Can anyone give me any tidbits? Like for instance, what wild edibles might someone forage for, and what seeds would do best planted along highways etc? The two places in my story that I really need the specific plant information are Jacksonville, FL and Hot Springs National Park, AR

  12. Hi, I wonder where a good source of Lamb’s Quarter might be found locally. I want to grow it. Also, I have one plant in my yard I can’t identify with certainty. Who would know the weeds around here in Jax ?

  13. I wished you had pic to go with some of the names so I could see what they look like

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