What Spring Brings in the Woods

The sun is stronger than a month ago, birds are singing, critters are moving about, spring is here! Our shrubs and trees are waking up but that’s not the only vegetation ramping up in the woods!  Minnesota has a variety of ecosystems including a variety of   forest types.  Each is unique and offers different opportunities.  What are some things to look forward to in forests in the spring?


Wild leaks

Wild asparagus

Ostrich fern fiddleheads

Stinging nettle greens

Sorrel greens

Evening primrose root


Burdock root

Thistle root

Spring beauty roots and greens

Virginia waterleaf greens

Creator: Chris Bohnhoff

Copyright: 2014 Chris Bohnhoff Photography LLC

Do we really need another reason to go walking in the woods in spring while hearing and seeing new life emerge?  No but foraging responsibly for food is a great way to get to know your forest better and to become aware of the diversity in the system.  Nature will always strive for diversity, to have living roots, to keep the soil covered, not disturb the soil, have wildlife (livestock) flourish, and it’s all within context.  The soil health principles apply to all landscapes but understanding the context of the system allows us to utilize the specific tools for that system.  We won’t recommend no-tilling corn into a forest but utilizing trails, accesses, leaving snags and deadwood, not harvesting in wet conditions, etc to appropriately protect our soils.

There are excellent resources for responsibly foraging wild plants

Minnesota Harvester Handbook

The Forager’s Harvest

Edible Wild Plants – Peterson Field Guide

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