Can you eat a tree? (3 Parts)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you eat a tree? We will discuss different genus and species of trees that you can eat safely. We will also discuss the popular edible parts of a tree and some ways to eat them.

Can you eat a tree?

You can eat a tree. Most parts of the tree are edible, including the flower, bark, leaves, twigs, seeds, pollen, roots, and sap used for syrup. However, you will need to study the anatomy of trees to conclude if the parts of a tree of a particular species are edible or inedible.

  • The bark of Slippery Elm, Black Birch, Yellow Birch, Red Spruce, Black Spruce, Balsam Fir, and Tamarack are edible.
  • The leaves of beech, birch, Chinese elm, fennel, mulberry, hawthorn, sassafras, and linden are edible and can be made as a salad.
  • The twigs of the birch and spicebush are edible.

Not all trees are edible. Some tree bark and cambium have tannin and cyanide, such as those of Yew and Cherry trees. Manchineel is a tree species that is entirely deadly and, you need to avoid even getting close to it. The Eucalyptus is also poisonous if eaten. 

Some popular trees that are edible:

  1. Maple Tree

The seeds and young leaves of the maple tree are edible. The maple syrup is the most prized acquisition of the maple tree. The bark of the maple tree is eaten both raw and cooked. 

The bark can be cooked or eaten raw, while the seeds are sometimes boiled, and eaten by the natives.

Harvest the maple seeds during spring and pick the small ones because they tend to be sweet. To boil maple seeds, remove the skin and boil for 15 minutes until they become soft. To season the seeds, you can sprinkle pepper, salt, butter, or anything you prefer. 

The maple tree has bright colors from orange to red to yellow. The kinds of maple are sugar maple, black maple, and silver maple. While the most popular tree to provide us with syrup is the sugar maple, the black and silver maple also has sweet syrups that are just as good. 

The syrup from the maple trees has been enjoyed by natives and pioneers as a sweet drink for over a century.

2.The Birch Tree

The birch tree also has lots of edible parts to offer, from the inner bark to young twigs. The birch trees also secrete a sweet sap that is a valuable syrup.

The inner bark of the birch tree has been a survival food for a long time. You can directly bite into the inner bark or cook it. The bark can be dried and ground to make it into flour. Alternatively, the barks are cut into small strips and boiled. Then the bark noodles are added to soups and stews. 

During spring, it produces the sap; that can be enjoyed straight from the tree or boiled to make a concentrated syrup. 

3.The Pine Tree

You can eat the bark and the pine nuts of the pine tree. The needles are sometimes toxic, while some pine tree needles are steeped and made into tea.

The pine bark has been consumed by the Europeans for centuries now. In Sweden and Finland, the bark is either toasted and ground, then added to rye flour to make bread. In Northern Europe, the people peeled the bark off the tree during springtime, dried and stored them for use all year round.

The inner tree bark is the most treasured edible part of the tree, while some species of the pine family can have bitter-tasting barks. The bark has 600-700 calories per pound and a high quantity of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

To reach the inner bark, first shave the outer bark and the middle bark to reach the rubbery, white, or cream-colored inner layer. You can peel the inner bark and fry it in some coconut oil until it becomes crispy. Alternatively, dry and grind the bark to make flour. Some people even like to make cookies by using a cup of oatmeal and another of pine flour. 

4.The Elm Tree

The slippery elm is found in North America; is used for its medicinal properties; in treating various ailments from sore throat to hemorrhoids. It has a slippery inner bark, which tastes sweet and is high in caloric value. The bark has a nutty, earthy flavor that can be made into flour or eaten straight up.

Traditionally elm tree bark was used in teas and poultices, however today, they are found as powders and pills.

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you eat a tree? We discussed different genus and species of trees that you can eat safely. We also discussed the popular edible parts of a tree and some ways to eat them.

If you’ve enjoyed ”Can you eat a tree?”, take a look at ”How to remove spines from prickly pear fruit” too.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.