Surviving in the Wild: 19 Common Edible Plants

by Brett & Kate McKay on October 6, 2010 · 81 comments

in Manly Skills, Outdoors, Self-Reliance, Survival

So you’re stranded in the wilderness. You consumed the last nub of your Clif Bar two days ago, and now you’re feeling famished. Civilization is still several days away, and you need to keep up your strength. The greenery all around you is looking more and more appetizing. But what to nibble on? Some plants will keep you alive and are chock full of essential vitamins and minerals, while some could make you violently ill….or even kill you.

Which of course makes proper identification absolutely critical.

Below we’ve given a primer on 19 common edible wild plants. Look them over and commit the plants to memory. If you’d like to discover even more edible wild plants, we suggest checking out the SAS Survival Handbook and the U.S. Army Survival Manual.

In the coming months, we’ll be publishing articles on edible wild roots, berries, and fungi. So stay tuned.

Plants to Avoid

If you can’t clearly identify a plant and you don’t know if it’s poisonous, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Steer clear from a plant if it has:

  • Milky or discolored sap
  • Spines, fine hairs, or thorns
  • Beans, bulbs, or seeds inside pods
  • Bitter or soapy taste
  • Dill, carrot, parsnip, or parsley-like foliage
  • “Almond” scent in the woody parts and leaves
  • Grain heads with pink, purplish, or black spurs
  • Three-leaved growth pattern

Many toxic plants will exhibit one or more of the above characteristics. Bear in mind that some of the plants we suggest below have some of these attributes, yet they’re still edible. The characteristics listed are just guidelines for when you’re not confident about what you’re dealing with. If you want to be completely sure that an unknown plant is edible, and you have a day or two to spare, you can always perform the Universal Edibility Test.

Amaranth (Amaranthus retroflexus and other species)

Native to the Americas but found on most continents, amaranth is an edible weed. You can eat all parts of the plant, but be on the look out for spines that appear on some of the leaves. While not poisonous, amaranth leaves do contain oxalic acid and may contain large amounts of nitrates if grown in nitrate-rich soil. It’s recommended that you boil the leaves to remove the oxalic acid and nitrates. Don’t drink the water after you boil the plant. With that said, you can eat the plant raw if worse comes to worst.

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

The vegetable that makes your pee smell funny grows in the wild in most of Europe and parts of North Africa, West Asia, and North America. Wild asparagus has a much thinner stalk than the grocery-store variety. It’s a great source of source of vitamin C, thiamine, potassium and vitamin B6. Eat it raw or boil it like you would your asparagus at home.

Burdock (Arctium lappa)

Medium to large-sized plant with big leaves and purplish thistle-like flower heads. The plant is native to the temperate areas of the Eastern Hemisphere; however, it has been naturalized in parts of the Western Hemisphere as well. Burdock is actually a popular food in Japan. You can eat the leaves and the peeled stalks of the plant either raw or boiled. The leaves have a bitter taste, so boiling them twice before eating is recommended to remove the bitterness. The root of the plant can also be peeled, boiled, and eaten.

Cattail (Typha)

Known as cattails or punks in North America and bullrush and reedmace in England, the typha genus of plants is usually found near the edges of freshwater wetlands. Cattails were a staple in the diet of many Native American tribes. Most of a cattail is edible. You can boil or eat raw the rootstock, or rhizomes, of the plant. The rootstock is usually found underground. Make sure to wash off all the mud. The best part of the stem is near the bottom where the plant is mainly white. Either boil or eat the stem raw. Boil the leaves like you would spinach. The corn dog-looking female flower spike can be broken off and eaten like corn on the cob in the early summer when the plant is first developing. It actually has a corn-like taste to it.

Clovers (Trifolium)

wh_clover2

Lucky you-clovers are actually edible. And they’re found just about everywhere there’s an open grassy area. You can spot them by their distinctive trefoil leaflets. You can eat clovers raw, but they taste better boiled.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

You’ll find chicory growing in Europe, North America, and Australia. It’s a bushy plant with small blue, lavender, and white flowers. You can eat the entire plant. Pluck off the young leaves and eat them raw or boil them. The chicory’s roots will become tasty after boiling. And you can pop the flowers in your mouth for a quick snack.

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

You’ll find this herb in temperate and arctic zones. The leaves are pretty hefty, and you’ll often find small white flowers on the plant. They usually appear between May and July. You can eat the leaves raw or boiled. They’re high in vitamins and minerals.

Curled Dock (Rumex crispus)

You can find curled dock in Europe, North America, South America, and Australia. It’s distinguished by a long, bright red stalk that can reach heights of three feet. You can eat the stalk raw or boiled. Just peel off the outer layers first. It’s recommend that you boil the leaves with several changes of water in order to remove its naturally bitter taste.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Sure, it’s an obnoxious weed on your perfectly mowed lawn, but when you’re out in the wild this little plant can save your life. The entire plant is edible- roots, leaves, and flower. Eat the leaves while they’re still young; mature leaves taste bitter. If you do decide to eat the mature leaves, boil them first to remove their bitter taste. Boil the roots before eating as well.  You can drink the water you boiled the roots in as a tea and use the flower as a garnish for your dandelion salad.

Field Pennycress (Thalspi vulgaris)

Field Pennycress is a weed found in most parts of the world. Its growing season is early spring to late winter. You can eat the seeds and leaves of field pennycress raw or boiled. The only caveat with field pennycress is not to eat it if it’s growing in contaminated soil. Pennycress is a hyperaccumulator of minerals, meaning it sucks up any and all minerals around it. General rule is don’t eat pennycress if it’s growing by the side of the road or is near a Superfund site.

Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium)

This pretty little plant is found primarily in the Northern Hemisphere. You can identify fireweed by its purple flower and the unique structure of the leaves’ veins; the veins are circular rather than terminating on the edges of the leaves. Several Native American tribes included fireweed in their diet. It’s best eaten young when the leaves are tender. Mature fireweed plants have tough and bitter tasting leaves. You can eat the stalk of the plant as well. The flowers and seeds have a peppery taste. Fireweed is a great source of vitamins A and C.

Green Seaweed (Ulva lactuca)

If you’re ever shipwrecked on a deserted island, fish the waters near the beach for some green seaweed. This stuff is found in oceans all over the world. After you pull green seaweed from the water, rinse with fresh water if available and let it dry. You can eat it raw or include it in a soup. Or if you’re particularly enterprising, catch a fish with your homemade spear and use the seaweed to make sushi rolls, sans rice.

Kelp (Alaria esculenta)

Kelp is another form of seaweed. You can find it in most parts of the world. Eat it raw or include it in a soup. Kelp is a great source of folate, vitamin K, and lignans.

Plantain (Plantago)

Found in all parts of the world, the plantain plant (not to be confused with the banana-like plantain) has been used for millennia by humans as a food and herbal remedy for all sorts of maladies. You can usually find plantains in wet areas like marshes and bogs, but they’ll also sprout up in alpine areas.  The oval, ribbed, short-stemmed leaves tend to hug the ground. The leaves may grow up to about 6″ long and 4″ wide. It’s best to eat the leaves when they’re young. Like most plants, the leaves tend to get bitter tasting as they mature. Plantain is very high in vitamin A and calcium. It also provides a bit of vitamin C.

Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia)

Found in the deserts of North America, the prickly pear cactus is a very tasty and nutritional plant that can help you survive the next time you’re stranded in the desert. The fruit of the prickly pear cactus looks like a red or purplish pear. Hence the name. Before eating the plant, carefully remove the small spines on the outer skin or else it will feel like you’re swallowing a porcupine. You can also eat the young stem of the prickly pear cactus. It’s best to boil the stems before eating.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

While considered an obnoxious weed in the United States, purslane can provide much needed vitamins and minerals in a wilderness survival situation. Ghandi actually numbered purslane among his favorite foods. It’s a small plant with smooth fat leaves that have a refreshingly sour taste. Purslane grows from the beginning of summer to the start of fall. You can eat purslane raw or boiled. If you’d like to remove the sour taste, boil the leaves before eating.

Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella)

Sheep sorrel is native to Europe and Asia but has been naturalized in North America. It’s a common weed in fields, grasslands, and woodlands. It flourishes in highly acidic soil. Sheep sorrel has a tall, reddish stem and can reach heights of 18 inches. Sheep sorrel contains oxalates and shouldn’t be eaten in large quantities. You can eat the leaves raw. They have a nice tart, almost lemony flavor.

White Mustard (Synapsis alba)

White mustard is found in the wild in many parts of the world. It blooms between February and March. You can eat all parts of the plant- seeds, flowers, and leaves.

Wood Sorrel (Oxalis)

You’ll find wood sorrel in all parts of the world; species diversity is particularly rich in South America. Humans have used wood sorrel for food and medicine for millennia. The Kiowa Indians chewed on wood sorrel to alleviate thirst, and the Cherokee ate the plant to cure mouth sores. The leaves are a great source of vitamin C. The roots of the wood sorrel can be boiled. They’re starchy and taste a bit like a potato.

AoM Man Up Challenge

Go take a hike or a walk in the woods and try to locate and identify three edible plants.

{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bruce williamson October 6, 2010 at 1:48 am

Good to know that I can eat some of the weeds growing in my yard (dandilion and plantain).

2 Bruce williamson October 6, 2010 at 1:56 am

I forgot to mention arrowhead root is edible. So if you’re collecting cattail look for arrow root too. I think stinging nettle is edible as long as it is boiled first.

3 Chris Kavanaugh October 6, 2010 at 1:59 am

A standard ( but worthy) edible wild plants review with some standard mistakes.So called ‘energy bars’ as noted with the CLIFF bar remark are nutritionaly poor compared to many readilly available rations. We are entering the annual appearance of that most unappreciated food source, the fruitcake; eggs,flour,nuts,fruit and a often added preservative of rum or brandy. Get a frog gig and watch your unknowing nieghbors toss out this treasure.The obligatory survival kit bulion cube is mostly salt and flavour. But in a survival situation familiar flavours will make the unpalatable palatable. Ditto the small tobasco sauce bottles available. A stressfull situation is no time to introduce our stomach to new cuisines. And this brings me to the universal taste test nonsense. Is that a shitake mushroom? YUMMMM I love shitakes, only it’s a deadly mushroom and even a tiny ingestion means an agonising death. An extreme example, but why play botanical russian roulette when a little preplanning like actually learning the edible plants AND WHERE THEY ARE EACH SEASON in each major biozone ahead of time. And finally, most of us pack a substantial fat reserve that will provide our physical, if not emotional need for nutrition for some time.

4 sam_acw October 6, 2010 at 3:49 am

It should also be noted that if you get lost in the woods food is you last worry. Most healthy people can go over a month without food and water and shelter are far, far greater priorities.
Due to these natural foods being low in fat they tend not to be very calorific.
There’s lots of good literature about this out there, it will all agree that unless you get a certain amount of calories, fat and carbohydrate you’re better off not eating. If you keep eating small amounts you stop your body’s fasting mechanism kicking in and hasten starvation.

5 Jordan October 6, 2010 at 8:53 am

Shelter and water are the main priorities in a survival situation. One can go weeks without food, but only days without water and possibly hours without warmth/shelter.

6 Nate October 6, 2010 at 9:19 am

Glad to see people have pointed out that food (esp. Plants) are the last thing you have to worry about.

7 Dustin October 6, 2010 at 9:29 am

Statistically, many people who are lost or stranded are rescued within 72 hours PROVIDED they let people know their where-abouts in advance and have a proper contingency plan – within this time frame, food is not a primary concern… the two biggest killers in that stressful 72 hours are the elements (hyper or hypothermia), dehydration, and panic.

A healthy adult can go about 3 weeks without food, provided the calories expended are MINIMAL – in a survival situation, just keeping warm and hydrated can boost your caloric output into the 4000-5000 calories per day expense. That said, after about 2-3 days without food, muscle fatigue becomes debilitating, exhaustion sets in quickly, and the mind becomes overpowered by hunger, often incurring tunnel vision (which can be VERY dangerous in a survival situation).

We’re not talking about sitting around fasting, or skipping a meal here or there – we’re talking about survival. You will likely not get sufficient calories solely by foraging, but they can round out a diet and provide tremendous sustainability long-term.

Put down your SAS Survival Handbook, switch off Survivorman, get out of your arm chair and go live in the woods/wilderness in a primitive setting for a long weekend and tell me how effective you are on the 3rd day without food.

8 Eric Granata October 6, 2010 at 9:31 am

Someone once told me that you can use your lighter to singe off the tiny thorns of a prickly pear fruit. I haven’t tried it but certainly will the next time I pick one for the kids (my thumbs were sore with those tiny thorns for days).

9 Titus October 6, 2010 at 10:27 am

You’ve left out two of the most common: Queen Anne’s Lace, the tall stalk with lacy flowers that is actually nothing more than an un-domesticated carrot, and poke weed, the ubiquitous broadleaf weed (but edible only before turning red—the reddened stalk is poisonous).

10 Michael October 6, 2010 at 10:49 am

I believe that Queen Anne’s lace was left off (and plants with carrot-like foliage notice for active avoidance) because they resemble hemlock, which is poisonous. Without hands-on experience most people probably couldn’t tell the difference.

11 Mike R October 6, 2010 at 10:55 am

Dustin is right IF the person in the survival situation does not have the skill set and basic tools to see him or her through. One of the hardest lessons is that when you step off the hard surface you become part of the food chain and you need to be ready to face the challenges that that simple fact brings.

With a simple lighter the issue of staying warm and cooking food can be mitigated. With a plain bit of copper wire animals can be trapped. A pocket fishing kit in a snap cap vial gets you a chance at some fish. A pocket knife can turn that animal or fish into something you can cook and eat plus help with shelter making and fire building. Good old 550 (Para) cord can help with shelter making. I could go on and on but my point is simple, the biggest killer when going off the hard surface is being unprepared and stupid.

As Heinlein wrote:

Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can’t help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime: the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.

I agree with Dustin in that people should stop watching the survivor shows and quit reading the S A S books. GO GET SOME REAL TRAINING and get out there to see how life really is.

BTW to the list of edible plants you could add some very tasty mushrooms like Shaggy manes and Morels depending upon the season. They can be eaten after being cooked and really help with the meal. But remember while there are old mushroom pickers and bold mushroom pickers, there are no old and bold mushroom pickers. (;~>)

12 Michael October 6, 2010 at 10:55 am

What if you don’t see any plants you recognize? This page has information on how to find plants that (probably) won’t kill you in an extreme emergency situation:

http://www.wikihow.com/Test-if-a-Plant-Is-Edible

I’m pretty sure I first encountered this info in my Boy Scout manual, this was just the first place I found it online.

13 Elizabeth October 6, 2010 at 10:58 am

Beware Of Clover! Red clover is indeed edible, but white clover is poisonous.
Look at the conditions where plants grow. Of course, avoid foliage near animal skat. Beware of a patch of edible plants in soil contaminated by toxins, or surrounded by poisonous plants. In some cases plants can pick up toxins from the soil.

14 Joe October 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm

And to think, I spent all that time ripping out purslane from my garden and throwing it away when I could have been selling it to a natural foods store. Don’t you feel sad for the folks who taught us by example that certain plants are poisonous?

15 CRW October 6, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Wow. you forgot a great one- the day lily- practically a supermarket, and it grows everywhere in North America. The flowers can be fried as fritters, the buds can be boiled and eaten like green beans, the stalks steamed like asparagus, and the tubers cooked like potatoes.

16 Haden October 6, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Eating edible wild plants certainly is interesting, though not necessarily a good thing to first try under duress, because your immediate reaction will be food when that should be last. Purslane is quite tasty, can’t stand dandelions, though, bitter little things. The common reed is a good plant to remember, to be treated like other grains. If you get lost duck hunting and you’re out of ducks, it’s a good last resort. But emphasize last. Like everyone else said, shelter fire water. Food’s for long term.

17 P.M.Lawrence October 7, 2010 at 2:46 am

There’s a reason the French call dandelion pisse-en-lit, which means piss-in-bed: it’s a diuretic which can affect you at inconvenient moments.

18 flek October 7, 2010 at 4:43 am

Don’t forget the stinging nettle. The plant protein alone is amazing.
I eat it regularly in many dishes. The Dutch mix it in cheese and make tea from dried leaves, the Germans also use the root-extract for prostate enlargement treatment. An important and nutritious free food source.

19 hp October 7, 2010 at 11:32 am

Before there was an “Earth Day,” an EPA or even hippies, there was Euell Gibbons, an American treasure.
Euell’s book, “Stalking the Wild Asparagus,” the Bible of the outdoors as restaurant, should be entered into the Smithsonian hall of fame.
Not only surviving but thriving is the goal here, as well as how to conduct oneself as a civilized human being, a gentleman/woman.

Just Google: “Stalking the Wild Asparagus”

20 KR October 7, 2010 at 11:51 am

Say water was scarce and you were worried about how to make sure it was drinkable. I’ve read about how to make a still, etc but wouldn’t eating some of these plants provide some hydration because of their water content?

21 Mark P October 7, 2010 at 11:58 am

The Sego Lilly is common in the western United states in mountainous regions. The Flower and tuber are both edible raw. Boiling or roasting the tuber is akin to a baked potato. they usually grow in open meadows and pine forests and can be gathered by the manly handful.

22 Billy October 7, 2010 at 5:44 pm

You omitted my favorite, polk salut (poke salad) Need to boil twice. Better than any store bought greens. The purple stems and roots are poison.

23 Brian October 7, 2010 at 6:15 pm

We *had* a thick growth of Purslane in the flower bed ’round the Japanese Maple. I wish I had known it was edible before ripping it all out and composting it.

24 Will Hudson October 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I would add wild violets to this list (viola genus). They’re the ones with the heart-shaped, serrated leaves which grow from a basal rosette. The flowers are various colors: most commonly purple (that is…..violet).

Elizabeth,

I believe you are mistaken. White clover is quite edible.

25 Derek Sullivan October 9, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Why do these need to be regarded as “survival food?” I eat many of these whenever I can, they’re highly nutricious, they taste great if you know how to make them, and you feel manly for finding your own food. Do it for fun, not for survival!

26 Derek Sullivan October 9, 2010 at 8:56 pm

OH, and by the way, clovers aren’t entirely edible. You can eat them raw, but if you eat too many raw you’ll get very sick. If you need to eat large amounts, boil them.

27 CateB October 12, 2010 at 9:17 am

You guys forgot Lamb’s Quarters! (Sometimes called Goosefoot or pigweed.) It grows all over the place in much of North America and is considered a weed, but is more nutritious than spinach, being high in vitamins A, C, and calcium, while having a mild spinach-y taste. The leaves taste just fine raw or are great cooked. I use them in place of spinach in quiches and other recipes. As long as you don’t pick from an area that’s been contaminated with pesticides or right along the side of a busy road with car exhaust dousing them (which, I guess in the article’s scenario, you wouldn’t be,) then they should be good. I also am a fan of stinging nettles (though tricky to pick without getting “stung”,) as someone else mentioned.

28 Jessica October 12, 2010 at 10:13 pm

A note about plantain plants: The seeds (grow on a long shoot where all the leaves meet) are also edible, and high in fiber too! I add them to salads and pasta dishes. I also heard that eating a lot will keep mosquitoes from biting (might want to research correct amount).
If you are going to eat anything from your yard or someone else’s, make sure pesticides haven’t been used!

29 Cindy October 12, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Here in Texas we have a lot of mosquite trees in some areas and the beans are used to make flour or you can eat them raw. The flour is available online and is suppose to be full of nutients and protein. I have spent a great deal of time trying to rid my farm of these trees that I use to consider a nusance.
I have also started growing pomegranate trees that seem to do quiet well in Texas. We have mustang grapes that grow wild on fence lines during the summer.
I wish there were books that told of the edible plants in your specific area.

30 JBB October 14, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Augh, your identification of some of them isn’t right! That isn’t “clover”, it’s wood sorrel. Clovers have rounded leaves.

Lots of things have three leaves in a group. Poison ivy for one…

31 Tys October 15, 2010 at 1:01 am

That’s not a picture of Asparagus!! what the heck?

32 Dave9 October 17, 2010 at 3:53 pm

What plants are edible is highly area and season specific. The best strategy is to go learn in person from someone who has expert knowledge of the local plants. In Southern California, Christopher Nyerges is one of the local gurus of edible plants. I’ve gone with him on a few foraging trips into the foothills. He is very knowledgeable and a good guide. But as mentioned by others, your primary problem in a survival situation is not food.

33 Elizabeth Swigar October 17, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Very interesting. Makes me think about these less than in a survivor situation but more of a possibility of looking into free, healthy, available food outside of the supermarket.

34 Atomic Shrimp November 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm

The photo labelled Asparagus actually looks like Bath Aspraragus – Ornithogalum pyrenaicum. Related to Asparagus, but not the same thing.

35 marzo November 23, 2012 at 11:54 am

I read that clover with white discoloration contains cyanide.

36 Bo November 24, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Thanks for the tips!! and please ignore most of the above comments, boasting that they could live a month without food, blah blah blah… they are forgetting the part that they would be too exhausted to stand up after about five days… some people just want to be an ass…

37 Virginia Lawhorne December 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Great pictures and descriptions; the best I’ve seen. About half of these grow in my yard. In fact, I’m snacking on Chickweed right now.

PS: I might be able to live 3 weeks without food, but I would NOT be happy!

38 The Crafty Gyppo December 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Mate, this is a great blog.

Reading this article reminds of that film ‘Into The Wild’. If I’m ever in a plane crash or head out on a camping trip gone wrong, this article will be a life saver …

39 bill January 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm

here in the mountains of virginia, we have a lot of wild cherry and wild grapes. very good.

40 BoB January 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm

hey this sight needs to describe all edible plants and create a pamphlet

41 A_Emmerson January 27, 2013 at 6:33 am

I looked up edible plants for a story I’m writing and I thought I would actually search up some edible plants to show I have used some knowledge… And to find out I can eat some things that are right outside my window is remarkable to read.

42 linda eberline February 12, 2013 at 11:34 am

I love this kind of information. I used to reseach and try out foraging when I was a teen (instead of drugs and alcohol like my friends). Now, many years later I have taken a keen interest and practice regular forgaging. I live in Michigan and suplement many of our meals with foraged foods from the woods. Not only are they free…but they have a ton more nutrients than the over hybred varieties we find in the stores. I always add wild spinnach (pig weed) and purselane to my salads for example and top them off with red clover or tiger lilly blossoms. It makes a stunning and beautiful salad. I began by researching and purchasing books on the subject and then taking them all into the woods with ziplocks and a small garden shovel!!

43 Someone February 13, 2013 at 9:30 pm

very helpful. I will definetly use it in the wild.

44 Charles Hamby February 25, 2013 at 8:36 am

The Polk plant can be eaten after being boiled as you do greens It has Oxalic acid in it so you need to boil at least two times pouring the water off after the first boiling. The stems can be eaten and the berry can be made into wine for medicinal purposes.

45 Bobbi February 25, 2013 at 10:48 am

Did anyone mention that kudzu leaves are edible when the leaves are young?

46 Mike March 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I heard and read that the brown cattail “tail” could be used to make bread. I tried it. The little seeds (with tails that help them float on air) would’t mix with water no matter how hard I tried. The only thing they make is a big mess.

47 Val March 16, 2013 at 4:07 pm

What about fiddleheads? I’m not sure the new stems of all ferns are edible, but I’m not sure which are. Of course, there’s also fennel, wild rose, mint and berries (cranberry, blackberry, mulberry, etc.), but in a survival situation, being a vegetarian can limit maintaining your strength – consider learning about which insects are edible as well.

48 Jolie March 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm

I want to know if the weed with the small capsul like purple flowers in them are edible? Could you possibly figure that out for me?

49 kim April 7, 2013 at 5:38 am

Apples contain cyanide! No one has a problem eating those!

50 Judy April 9, 2013 at 10:55 am

I didn’t see any mention of miner’s lettuce. It grows in northern California on moist, shady hillsides.During the gold rush it was eaten by hungry miners. Does anyone know the botanical name or where seeds are available?

51 Hazel April 11, 2013 at 3:28 am

You can use the leaves of the burdock plant to instantly relieve the sting from stinging nettles. Just pick a leaf and rub it on your skin. I used to walk through the woods with my grandmother and she would point out the medicinal uses of weeds. Sadly this is the only one I can remember but have used it successfully many times.

52 Teri April 19, 2013 at 10:50 am

Judy, Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) is available through Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – http://www.rareseeds.com/miners-lettuce/
They’re a little slow to get started from seed, but don’t take much effort after that.

53 old joe April 20, 2013 at 8:52 pm

there are thousands of edible plants out their, even in north america, i’m 16 and live in southern Colorado in a high desert area. there are many plans that are surprisingly edible and nutritious, for instance. i was amazed to find that ‘tumbleweeds” are edible when they are young, along with showy milkweed.wild edibles way be great for survival,but if people incorporate them into their diets,we could truly live in a gourmet world of healthy food.

54 GT May 28, 2013 at 12:06 pm

You can eat the pads of the prickly pear as well. Remove the spines, peel off the skin with a knife, cut into strips and boil. Tastes like really tart green beans.

55 elvin June 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

well i know it sounds crazy but if u break off the leave of pursulin and rub the juices on ur face it willget rid of a zit thats right zits works great but it kinda smells like grass and will form like a mask .

56 jason June 17, 2013 at 10:11 pm

where did u read that white clover is harmful. it s safer than red clover that can cause u problem from estrogen overload or thin your blood too much. there are no warnings for white clover

57 jason June 17, 2013 at 10:14 pm

VAL you can eat fiddle heads but just watch how much u eat. they contain a chemical that uses all your vitamin b1 which could cause some issues

58 lawhite June 19, 2013 at 5:38 pm

I would hope if I’m ever in a survival situation that there are cattails nearby because they provide food all year round.
Most of the wild foods listed here have few calories, which will not satisfy your energy requirements. In a survival situation, you need fats and carbs most of all. Nuts, seeds, and tubers or roots would provide them, not greens. You could stuff yourself to the point of bloating all day long with most of these plants and not get the calories you need. The only reason for eating them is to get comfort from them. This is not to be taken lightly, since the sense of comfort can help you survive emotionally, but you do need more than that.

59 bill June 19, 2013 at 8:34 pm

FWIW, purslane is usually sour in the early morning and gets less sour as the day progresses. This is because malic acid is a byproduct of the plant’s metabolism during the night. As the day wears on, photosynthesis converts the malic acid into glucose, and thus the plant becomes much less sour. Purslane has sort of a mucilaginous feature, so it has been used in soups in various cultures. I have stuffed it into my cup-o-noodles to up the basic nutritional value of the stuff. Very tasty!

60 Grace June 25, 2013 at 7:28 am

My love for rare plants is overwhelming. Happy to note that wild asparagus is edible. There is a wild relative of grapes normally found near anthills, could they be edible too? Can it be domesticated for plant improvement purposes?

61 Laura August 3, 2013 at 8:00 pm

By the way you forgot one – A plant with circlish leaves, but small soft fringes and has white flowers. There should be more than 5 soft spikes on the sides of the leaf. Its fruit is tiny and green. You can eat the leaves raw or boiled, and since they are always soft you don’t need to worry about hurting yourself. It adds a good delicious taste. I am growing some of those in my backyard.

62 Charley August 17, 2013 at 9:46 pm

As a wild edibles teacher, I was happy to see this article. Most of it was right on, but there are a few errors in the article and many errors in the blog comments. My advice is to get one or more field guides, take some classes on the subject, and never eat anything that you cannot positively identify or you could be in a world of trouble. There are also lots of books which have some great recipes for wild edibles, too. And yes, there are edible insects, and lots of other critters in the wilderness that can provide you with the fats and proteins that some of you are mentioning. And it is true that the simple carbs of wild edible plants are not enough to survive long-term, the fats and proteins are also necessary. My favorite wild edible plant field guides are by: Elias & Dykeman, and the other is by Peterson. I teach in Western Arkansas at nature centers, for Master Gardener chapters, and for other organizations. Find out who teaches in your areas and take some classes or field trips, etc. It’s a facinating hobby, that could save your life someday.

63 Boo September 6, 2013 at 9:28 pm

The picture you have of “clover” is actually wild Sorrel. Its delicious but can make you sick.

64 Dennis Conley October 22, 2013 at 9:23 am

I have used Plantain leaves ground up to put on my kids and grandkids when they got into poison ivy. Grind the leaves into a paste, put on a gauze pad and apply to the poison ivy irritation.

65 christine j sojka November 7, 2013 at 12:44 am

Maple seeds are Also edible,but they need to be boiled at least once to get the tannin out of them.The soft inner bark of maple trees is also edible,but than needs to be boiled at least once for the same reason.The sap from all maple trees is edible but that has to be boiled also.Pine needles can be made boiled to make a tea that’s rich in vitamin c but only PINE needles Not cedar needles should be used.Everything from a cedar tree is poison.Pine trees have SHORT cones.Cedar trees have LONG cones.The insides of acorns are also edible but they have to be boiled also.Tannin is poison & needs to be boiled out of many edible wild plants.The darker brown the plant the more tannin that’s in them.

66 beede November 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm

very manly you can also eat wild onion it isnt very good but it could be a life saver

67 emily November 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm

hey, my names emily and i’m 14 years old and own 2 wonderful horses and when i’m out ridding i will be forging my own wild food thanks to your website!i live in virginia and maybe you could write something about foods native to va that would amazing! till next time wait to see what you have next!

68 james November 12, 2013 at 8:19 pm

i think some of these plants, especially the cactus and purslane, would actually ward off terminal dehydration.

69 Michael November 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Dustin knows what hes talking a bout. Tis all true. But still, in a prolonged survival situation you’ll need all the food you can scavenge. This blog was just about plants to look for. It didn’t include all the other things, like bugs and such. It wasn’t meant to be an all in one survival guide… just a blog about the kind of plants to look for.

70 tina November 17, 2013 at 11:01 am

I am pretty sure if you watch to see what the creatures in the wild eat you can almost be guaranteed, that it isn’t poison.

71 ahmed ali December 4, 2013 at 1:27 pm

I an very much amazed that many of them are regular sources of food in our country side… i am from pakistan by the way

72 leonardo from tmnt December 31, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Chives can be found in alot of places. They look like grassy green onions and taste oniony. Make sure it feels hollow & tastes oniony because some grass can be poisonous depending on were it grows. Also make sure to pack pizza to eat.:-)

73 leonardo from tmnt December 31, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Chives. Found most placed. Grassy green oniony in look, oniony in taste. Make sure it tastes oniony cuz some grasses r poisonous. Pack some pizza b4 u leave the house tho. :-)

74 Marion January 24, 2014 at 8:59 am

ground cherry, canna, henbit, greenbriar

75 NuMB February 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Dandelion stalks have milky sap right? So only the flower is edible?

76 bumpkin February 28, 2014 at 1:47 am

If you do get stung by stinging nettle, (its really hard to get it to stop stinging) make a tea of the nettle leaves- this time, use gloves) and after you cool it so it doesn’t burn you, pour it over the areas where you were ‘nettled’ by the leaves and it will take away the sting. I have done it. It really works.

77 Al February 28, 2014 at 12:56 pm

I learned the survival rule of 3′s. You can survive 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 hours without warmth, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food. This dictates your survival priorities. I disagree with lawhite. You are better off eating some calories than fasting. Eating small amounts of calories will not prevent your body from going into starvation mode but will slow the rate that our muscles waste away.

78 KM March 6, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Re: List of edible insects. Check out the Bible, where God gave the Jews a list of some, along with means of identifying others fit to eat. (Leviticus 11:21-23) The ones which have leaping legs along with wings are go. Those which don’t meet the test are likely to make you sick – or worse. For example, grasshoppers are OK, but crickets are not.

79 Don March 16, 2014 at 1:54 pm

I was once in a survival situation very much similar to this one. I was put to the test when i trapped and ate a raccoon raw. I do not recommend anyone else do this.

80 sarah March 16, 2014 at 10:54 pm

this is freakin’ awesome. I love camping and would like to try this out . I think this would be very helpful when your trying to save money.

81 Andre March 18, 2014 at 7:19 pm

thank you!!!
:)

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