Grow Some Special Foods

Critter Crops at the Wildlife Center of Virginia…violets, chickweed, red clover, plantain.

With an interest in preserving plant biodiversity on the increase, it is getting easier to find seeds for native plants to purchase. Experienced forager/gardeners can hold back a little of the seed they collect for the animals and try their hand at growing some wild foods as well. Some plant lover folks might prefer growing some wild food over foraging for it. So when you talk to plant folks and try to recruit them into helping you, be sure to ask about both gardening AND foraging options.

How about growing some easy micro-dandelion greens to get started?  Or, some sunflower sprouts?

Strictly Medicinal Seeds has a wide variety of very hard-to-find native and non-native medicinal and edible plant seeds. A number of these are Virginia native foods for wildlife.

Edible Landscaping is one local Virginia company that specializes in native fruits and foods.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is a great resource organic seed specifically from small local farmers to fit to the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions. While most of the catalogue is heirloom vegetables, you can find some flowers, and herbs that overlap with wild plant foods.

Bountiful Gardens is another sustainable agriculture vendor that has traditional vegetable garden seeds, but also includes some harder-to-find listings like grains and fodders, plus a nice selection of harder-to-find native fruits.

There are a number of plants in this site’s database that are often grown by gardeners. Of course, there are probably many, many other domesticated plants that wildlife utilize, but below are the ones we currently list. You may already have some birdseed you can harvest in your own garden! But remember the ethic of 1/3’s—do not harvest more than 1/3 of any crop so that your own birds have a larder, too!


# species that eat Part utilized
amaranth 29 Seeds
aster 8 Seeds
bee balm 2 Seeds
black-eyed susans 1 Seeds
catnip 2 Seeds
columbine 5 Seeds
coneflower 2 Seeds
coreopsis 1 Seeds
cosmos 9 Seeds
hollyhock 2 Seeds
marigolds 5 Seeds
morning glory 2 Seeds
phlox 5 Seeds
sunflowers 35 Seeds
vervain 6 Seeds
violets 13 Seeds
yarrow 4 Seeds
zinnia 2 Seeds
Growing some critter greens.