In my opinion, foraging for edible plants is a must have skill for EVERY survivalist. You just never know when that skill could come in handy and possibly save your life.
There are literally thousands of plants across the globe. The EDIBLE plants (plants that are safe for consumption) obviously are the ones that you’ll be looking for in a survival situation. This is why learning to identify edible plants is so important. One very important rule to remember: for every edible plant, there is (in almost every case) a poisonous look-alike. Be 100% sure that the plant in question is safe to eat before you even consider it dinner!
A few more tips about foraging for edible plants:
- Having a book on edible plants, that includes photos for identification purposes, is important. There are so many great books out there to choose from. My advice is to grab a book on wild edibles that pertains to your particular area or region. For example, if you live in Washington, choose a book that may be titled “Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest” — which would also include Oregon and Northern California.
- When foraging for edible plants, make sure that they are free from pesticides. If you are not sure, then do not eat it.
- Do not forage near toxic waste dumping areas.
- Do not forage near highways or any other busy travel areas due to dust and exhaust covering the plants.
- Do not forage near water sources that appear contaminated.
Within this article it is impossible to list every edible plant. I will, however, share with you 7 of the most common edible plants and how to identify them.
- Wild onions
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The most recognizable wild edible plant on this list is the dandelion, which can be found almost anywhere. In the spring they have bright yellow buds, but will soon go to seed and transform into a fluffy puffball. They can be found on your lawn and in the woods.
The roots, leaves, and flower of the dandelion are edible. You can eat the entire thing raw or cook them to take away the bitterness. You can boil them in water to make a tea. You can also use the flower as a garnish for your dandelion salad. Dandelions are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta carotene.
This edible plant can also be found almost anywhere. Clovers are easily spotted by their distinctive trefoil leaflets.
You can eat clovers raw, boiled, or sauteed. You can also use the leaves and blossoms to make a tea or pan roast the blossoms until they’re nice and crispy.
Wild onions, wild chives, wild ramps, and wild garlic can all be found in fields or forests. Some will have flowers, some may not, but any plant you find that smells like onion or garlic is edible.If the plant doesn’t smell like onion or garlic, do not eat it as there are similar looking plants that are toxic.
The whole plant is edible and can be eaten raw or cooked.
As with the dandelion and clover, plantain is typically considered a weed that grows just about everywhere.
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One way to prepare and eat this plant is to blanch the leaves and saute with butter and garlic, just as you would with kale or any other tough green.
It is important to note that plantain is believed to possess medicinal qualities as well. The fresh leaves are applied whole or bruised in the form of a poultice, which are then rubbed on parts of the body stung by insects. It can also be applied directly to burns. The leaves can also stop the bleeding of minor wounds.
Cattails can be found near the edges of freshwater wetlands. Most of a cattail is edible. You can boil the roots or eat them raw. You can also eat most of the stem of the plant. The best part of the stem is near the bottom where the plant is mainly white. You can also boil the leaves and eat them as you would any other green.
While the seed head may look like a corn dog, it is NOT edible — however, they make great tinder!
Wild blackberries are 100% safe to eat and are easy to recognize. They have red branches with long thorns, jagged green leaves, and white flowers with 5 petals. They are delicious! The berries tend to ripen around August to September. So now, would be a great time to be on the lookout!
There are over a hundred different species of pine around the world. Some species of pine have large edible seeds (nuts) and are very tasty.
You can also use the needles for medicinal purposes. Add some pine needles to simmering water to make a tea that is rich in vitamins A and C.
NOTE: Some species of pine are poisonous! This is where your book on edible plants (with photos) will come in handy.