January: Wild edibles

This is a list of wild foods that can be foraged in the UK during January.

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Disclaimer: There are wild plants and fungi in the UK that are poisonous. Do not eat any wild edible that has not been positively identified. All edible mushrooms must be cooked. Do not use this site as your only source of information. Check the law before picking any wild plant. Nothing on this site is meant to encourage you to break any laws.

Stellaria media

This common weed is a pest for many gardeners, but its nutritious qualities are often overlooked. ‘Stellaria’ is derived from the Latin word for star, in reference to its star shaped flowers. ‘Media’ also hails from Latin and is the root of the English word ‘Medium’. Its taste is similar to lettuce, and is most likely to be at its freshest late or early in the year. Chickweed is rich in iron, and is also present in many folk remedies and medicines.

Where to find it:

  • Gardens
  • Fields
  • Wastelands
  • Some deciduous woodlands


  • Small five pointed star beneath white petals
  • Small white flower with short, deeply divided petals
  • Light green soft leaves
  • Fine hairs grow down the stem and leaves

To eat:

Chickweed leaves and stems can be eaten raw after you’ve washed them thoroughly. Most commonly added to salads, they can also be added to soups or sandwiches.

Oyster Mushroom
Pleurotus ostreatus

Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont

Oyster mushrooms are a relatively popular food source. They can be found in some stores and are commercially cultivated and are considered a delicacy in Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisine. The Greek ‘Pleurotus’ translates to ‘side ear’, whilst the Latin ‘Pleurotus’ translates to ‘sideways’. The Latin ‘Ostreatus’ means oyster. Its name may indicate its appearance, but its flavour also bears similarities to oyster.

Where to find it:

  • Clusters on dead/dying branches of Beech tree
  • Clusters on dead/dying branches of Ash tree
  • Trunks of dying hardwood trees


  • Fan shaped
  • Light brown, grayish colour
  • Up to 20cm/8inches across
  • Convex cap
  • White deep rubbery gills

To eat:

Oyster mushrooms can be tough, so be thorough when cooking. They are commonly fried, stewed, grilled, dried or used in soups. Fried Oyster mushrooms can be added to Madeira or Sherry to make a sauce.

Velvet Shank
Flammulina velutipes

Photo by Archenzo

Unlike many other mushrooms, Velvet shank is one of the few mushrooms that survive through the winter, making it hard to miss-identify. ‘Flammulina velutipes’ translates roughly to ‘little flame with velvet legs’. Velvet shank is said to have anti-cancer properties.

Where to find it:

  • Standing dead trees, particularly Beech, Ash, Oak and Elm
  • Rotting wood


  • Bright orange caps
  • Up to 10cm across
  • Velvety stem

To eat:

Remove the skin from the cap as it is difficult to digest. Stems are generally considered too tough to eat. Always cook the mushroom. Can be used in soups and stews.