75 Great Greens

Chickweed greens, washed and ready to serve up.

The list below ranks in order the top 75 favorite wildlife preferred greens, including leaves and needles, stems and non-woody, above ground parts.

The ranking is determined using two criteria to describe the role of the plant food in animals’ diets:

1) the number of species that utilizes the food,

2) how significant the food is within an individual species overall diet

So while a food may not be popular across a large number of species, it still could be strongly preferred by a few species. By coordinating with a rehabber’s specific needs, a forager can decide which plants to best target for collection.

Be sure to check any item listed below  in the database to see if there are any toxicological warnings associated with that plant or part of the plant.

Ranking Common Name Botanical Name
1 spikerush Eleocharis spp.
2 algae Algae spp.
3 chickweed, common Stellaria media
4 clover Trifolium spp.
5 pine Pinus spp.
6 bluegrass Poa spp.
7 poison ivy, eastern Toxicodendron radicans
8 rose, multiflora Rosa multiflora
9 wheat Triticum spp.
10 panicgrass Panicum spp.
11 dandelion, common Taraxacum officinale
12 arrowhead Sagittaria spp.
13 dock Rumex spp.
14 corn Zea mays
15 strawberry Fragaria spp.
16 bulrush Scirpus spp.
17 spruce Picea spp.
18 sedge Carex spp.
19 aspen (poplar) Populus spp.
20 goldenrod Solidago spp.
21 cattail Tyhpa spp.
22 laurel, great Rhododendron maximum
23 vetch Vicia spp.
24 buttercup Ranunculus spp.
25 horsetail Equistem spp.
26 crowngrass Paspalum spp.
27 pigweed (amaranth) Amaranthus spp.
28 aster Aster spp.
29 orchardgrass Dactylis glomerata
30 cottongrass, generally Eriophorum spp.
31 cottongrass, Tussock Eriophorum vaginatum
32 fescue Festuca spp.
33 lupine Lupinus spp.
34 cattail, broadleaf Typha latifolia
35 lespedeza, sericea Lespedeza cuneata
36 hemlock, eastern Tsuga canadensis
37 woodfern Dryopteris spp.
38 blackberry Rubus spp.
39 brome Bromus spp.
40 hemlock Tsuga spp.
41 alfalfa (medick)(burclover) Medicago sativa
42 waterhemp Amaranthus tuberculatus
43 wheatgrass Elymus spp.
44 maple, sugar Acer saccharum
45 fescue, red Festuca rubra
46 cowparsnip, common Heracleum maximum
47 lespedeza, shrub Lespedeza bicolor
48 lupine, sundial Lupinus perennis
49 hawkweed Hieracium spp.
50 pond lily Nuphar spp.
51 pussytoes Antennaria spp.
52 yarrow, common Achillea millefolium
53 wood sorrel Oxalis spp.
54 glasswort Salicornia spp.
55 timothy Phleum pratense
56 wintergreen Pyrola spp.
57 watermilfoil Myriophyllum spp.
58 maple Acer spp.
59 brome, smooth Bromus inermis
60 hawkweed, orange Hieracium aurantiacum
61 bluegrass, Kentucky Poa pratensis
62 cottonwood, eastern Populus deltoides
63 raspberry, red Rubus idaeus
64 blackberry, evergreen Rubus laciniatus
65 clover, white Trifolium repens
66 plantain Plantago spp.
67 waterweed Elodea spp.
68 spikerush, squarestem Eleocharis quadrangulata
69 pond lily, yellow (cow-lily) Nuphar lutea
70 greenbrier Smilax spp.
71 bluestem Andropogon spp.
72 hogpeanut, American Amphicarpaea bracteata
73 fern, rattlesnake Botrypus virginianus
74 Virginia creeper Parthenocissus spp.
75 cinquefoil Potentilla spp.

What Criteria is Used for the Ranking the Lists?

The main resources used to build this website usually rated foods in three levels of preference: high, middle and low. But, a plant may be high preference in Michigan but lower preference in Virginia.  So the preference factor has some built in limitations. Still, it is factor #1 in the algorithm.

The second factor considered was how many species of animals ate the part of the plant in consideration. A seed that 29 species  of animals eats would outrank a seed that only 5 species eats.

From a foragers perspective, it would be ideal to collect the most  highly preferable foods that feed the widest range of rehabilitation animals, right? Well maybe not.

Consider if a rehabilitator only works with foxes. To research which foods would be most beneficial in the “fox only” scenario, the only consideration that she would care about is the most preferred food for foxes, not how many other species ate it.

So the ranking lists are the most general broad interpretation of the data. You will want to generate your own lists from the search feature to find out just what you want to target for collection.

References Used with Permission:

The Fire Effects Information System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).

Fire Effects Information System (2017) Plant species ecology literature reviews. Retrieved various dates from https://www.feis-crs.org/feis/

Martin, A.C., Zim, H.S., Nelson, A.L. (1951). American Wildlife and Plants: A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits. New York: Dover Publications.

Scott, M. (2013). Songbird Diet Index. National  Wildlife  Rehabilitators  Association, St. Cloud, MN.