What you have to look forward to in a collapse situation:
Black Friday madness reveals animalistic behavior of modern people
Multiply this x everywhere!
I left off in Part 1 talking about mapping software. There is other software out there but this is what I use. This software will let me print my maps as well. Use your mapping software to plan the locations of your caches as well as your AO of relocation for the 90 days.
Include a good field guide to edible plants, with actual photos rather than drawings. Get one with plants native to your geographical area. Don’t leave a path of destruction behind you, leave some to re-populate the area. Outdoor Life has a good book on edible plants titled: Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide.
Learn and practice Bushcraft skills. If you lose your main pack, these can sustain you until you retrieve your next cache. Keep your maps and compass upon your person, as well as your GPS if you use one. Store your map in a Gallon size Ziploc bag. Have a “Survival” kit that never leaves your person except to sleep, and is then kept by or under your pillow (a rolled up M-65 field jacket) and tethered to your belt. Learn to identify at least 10 wild edible plants.
The minimum for your “Survival” kit is the means to: Start a fire – matches, firesteel or butane lighter (3 methods is great), medium folding knife (suggest Buck 110) and small knife sharpener, water purification tablets or Frontier Straw, ziplock bag or soda bottle – to carry water, Mylar space blanket (x2) – shelter and warmth, 20 feet of Duct tape, and bug repellant.
A deck of Wild Edible Plant Playing Cards would be a great addition also. Currently available on Amazon, Camping Survival , US games Systems, Inc. and others. Do a web search and find even more links at a variety of prices.
Many hikers advocate traveling with a minimalist pack, using ultralight equipment. This would allow you to move quickly if pursued. A light pack also means sacrificing comfort, so there is a need to balance utility with ease. You don’t want to make the experience any worse than it is. If you can afford it, get the U.S. Army surplus bivvy cover (or the the complete sleeping setup). They can be purchased for a reasonable price and are made from Gore-Tex (no relation to Al Gore thankfully) a waterproof breathable fabric. I have heard claims that you can sleep in a mud puddle without getting wet using one. This would eliminate the need to carry a tent, just bring a 6’x8′ or 8’x10′ tarp to cover your gear and make a small shelter when you are not in your bivvy. Don’t forget bug repellant and mosquito netting for the warmer months.
When traveling the backwoods, it is prudent to be prepared for an encounter with bears. This means cooking and eating away from where you will be sleeping. There are specific containers that are made for storing your food in when traveling in bear country. Whether you use one or not is your personal choice, but be prepared to suspend your food in a heavy contractors trash bag from a tree limb more than ten feet off the ground. Other pesky critters might make a try for your food so be prepared to trap them and add them to your food supply. Bring several snares or 220 Conibears to catch them.
Encountering a bear on the trail, or worse yet, in your camp can be a very scary and dangerous experience. Purchase at least two canisters of bear spray for each person, hanging one from your pack straps when hiking, and have a holster to hold the canister when you are moving about camp or foraging for food or firewood.
One such supplier of pepper spray and bear spray is Buy Pepper Spray Today. They have other self defense items for sale also, such as stun guns, batons and kubotans.
It would be advisable to have a powerful handgun also if you are traversing known bear territory. The smallest caliber I would personally carry would be a .357 Mag with hot loads. A .40 caliber or larger weapon would be better yet. No handgun? Then a shotgun with slugs and 00 buckshot alternated in the magazine.
A newer development that I have been following is the Mexican drug cartels are moving into the wilderness areas closer to their markets and setting up shop growing weed for the surrounding areas. There have been several record busts in Washington and Oregon of late.
This creates a twofold problem. If you are looking to setup caches, you may run into the cartel operations or the DEA out looking for them. Neither one is a good encounter.
We get a lot of questions about what wild plants are there in Wisconsin that are edible to eat or use for medical uses. I did some research and found that are many out there in the wild. I am going to list a few and there uses.
Also called pigweed. Grows everywhere. Very commonly seen in cracks in the sidewalk. Also grows among woodchips. Comes out in June. Best to harvest in the fall. This is when the plants are large. Has small dark seeds that fall out. Harvest in the morning. Nutritional content varies, depending on what time of the day it was harvested. Cultivated and eaten in Greece. Good in tabbouleh, on gyros and eaten with feta. Tastes like green beans. Very important – purslane is reported to be the highest plant source of Omega 3.
Also known as pineapple weed, wild chamomile grows in rocky soil and is seen commonly in driveways. It’s very aromatic. I can smell it when the wind picks up and follow the smell to the chamomile. It’s commonly made into tea and it’s good for digestion, nervousness, anxiety, irritability; it helps to calm and soothe you and it helps you sleep. Chamomile is so safe and mild it is used on children and babies.
3. Mint (Catnip)
Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. This plant is more of a medicinal herb than food, although it can be used in place of traditional mint in any recipe. It’s very aromatic. The smell is dissimilar to mint found in grocery stores and distinctive. Use its smell to identify it. It grows in shady areas, under trees and other large plant growth. In cats, catnip is a stimulant and in humans it’s a sedative. Catnip tea can be good for allergies and the respiratory system. Some studies say catnip repels fleas and ticks better than DEET. This plant can help induce menstruation. Pregnant women should be cautious. In large quantities catnip can be an abortifacient.
Woodsorrel has a sour and lemonly flavor. It can make a good substitute for lemon in dishes. Looks like clover but is brighter and has small, yellow flowers. I see it growing a lot among woodchips, but I don’t think it’s particularly picky about where it grows. A naturopath once told me it was good for the liver, but only when fresh. Not when dried.
5. Plantain (Plantago Major)
As common as it comes. Brought here by Europeans. Edible and medicinal. The most nutritious thing I have ever heard of. Fights inflammation in the intestine – from carrageenan for example. Detoxifies. Purifies blood. If you have a bee sting, take a piece of plantain, chew it and then place it on your wound. Good for blisters. Speeds healing. Natural Awakenings named them (and dandelion) in a piece about herbs that fight cancer. It can also help with psoriasis.
Similar to a radish. Spicy and clean flavor. Grows near streams, creeks, pure running water and can grow in mud. Watercress is only as clean as the water it grows in. Boil or sanitize if at all questionable. High in vitamin C. Good for soups, salads, you name it. The wild variety is the same as the kind you can buy at the grocery store, except it is free.
7. Ginkgo Biloba
There are male and female trees. Only the female trees make the fruit and the ginkgo nut, which can be eaten. The fruit is not eaten. The popular ginkgo biloba supplement is made out of the leaves. When harvesting ginkgo nuts, gather the fruit. Remove the fruit using gloves (some people get a rash when touching the fruit, some do not) Wash and then cook the nut. Boil, fry, saute. Whatever you like. When cooked, the shell will remove easily. The cooked ginkgo nut looks an awful lot like a pistachio and you can put it in your mouth and between your teeth to crack then remove the shell, just as you would with a pistachio. The inside is green and reminiscent of a jelly bean. Ginkgo biloba is very nutritious, but also has toxin. They must be eaten in moderation. Taking vitamin B6 with ginkgo cancels out the toxin. (Still – eat in moderation!!!) Do not eat ginkgo nuts raw. Eating the nuts raw is unheard of. It is hoped the cooking process will eliminate toxins, but there is little evidence to suggest it does. In spite of this, cooking them is still your safest bet.
Young leaves and roots are edible. Found very often on roadsides and in open fields. Comes out in the height of summer, along with echinacea. The root can be made into a coffee substitute and leaves can be enjoyed as a salad green. (There is a variety of chicory grown for its leaves.) The small blue flowers are beautiful, delicate and rare.
9. Sweet Pea
Usually toxic and inedible. The toxin makes you starve to death / waste away. One you’ll want to avoid. Some kinds are edible and can be enjoyed but it’s hard to distinguish the edible from inedible varieties. It’s just as hard to distinguish edible from inedible sweet peas as when foraging for mushrooms. So this is one that should only be undertaken if you’re an absolutely amazing forager and you really love peas and want free ones. Vetch is a look alike.
10. Creeping Charlie
Related to mint. Can be eaten in salads and used to make tea. Abundant. Creeping charlie can be bad for other plants because it can wrap around the plants and choke them. Has purple flowers. Contains a toxin. Nutritious, but eat in moderation. Very commonly seen as wild ground cover.
11. Garlic Mustard
One of the first plants to come out in the spring. Frost, snow and cold weather doesn’t seem to bother it. Invasive, originally from Eurasia. Bad for the environment (in Wisconsin). Grows everywhere. There are volunteers devoted to destroying and pulling this plant up. Take as much as you want. Edible raw but if you boil and change the water several times / eat garlic mustard this way, it will have a milder flavor. Also good when dried. It smells and tastes very strong. Reminiscent of garlic.
12. Stinging Nettle
Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. Used for food as well as herbal medicine. Very stingy. Harvest with gloves, or you may get welts. Some say these are good for your immune system but many things are. No need to get stung in my opinion. Boil stinging nettle then serve. Nettles are nutritious and a good source of calcium as well as many other vitamins and minerals. There is a contest in the UK where contestants eat as much stinging nettle as they can. Whoever survives is the winner and the toughest / manliest. It’s very entertaining to watch.
Edible shoots and pollen. The pollen can be used to make pancakes. Very good in survival situations. The brown top can be used to carry an ember. The white, inner spear tastes faintly of watermelon and is the most fibrous food I have ever eaten. The fiber content makes them very good at cleaning teeth.
Used as food and as medicine by Native Americans. Very mild and tasty. Almost buttery. Wonderful taste for a green vegetable. Not bitter at all. Called wild spinach and by many other names. Contains oxalates, as do spinach. A nutritional powerhouse, but the nutritional content depends on where you harvest it from. It can soak up nitrates from the soil it grows in. Quinoa is closely related to the seed of lambsquarters. The seed of lambsquarters is edible, but hard to harvest. Many people say it’s not worth the trouble. Don’t let that deter you from trying the seed at least once.
There is the wild rose and the cultivated variety. Rose hips are an easy find for the urban forager. There is scarcely a park or garden without rose bushes. The fruit of the rose, the rose hip, ripens in October. The rose hip is edible throughout the winter. This is intentional. Some plants are edible throughout the winter so hungry animals have something to eat. Rose hips are high in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. They boost the immune system and fight off colds. The outer hull of the rose hip is what is eaten. Some guides say the seeds are edible, some say they are not. I eat the entire rose hip, seeds and all. I grind and chew it very well, but they are prickly and hairy. They can cause irritation. I think it’s too much work to remove the seed, but the best / tastiest experience is to remove the seeds and eat only the outer hull. Miranda Kerr uses rose hip seed oil for beautiful skin. Rose petals are also edible, but strong tasting and for lack of a better word, bitter. Rose petals are often used to make rose water.
Comes out in spring, usually in March but can be April or May if there is an extended cold period / winter. Violets can be violet, magenta, white and yellow colored. The leaves, stems and flowers are all edible. Use in place of spinach in your favorite creamed spinach recipe. Delicious! The roots are used to induce vomiting. Violets are commonly topped with sugar. Candied violets are used in baking sweets, treats, and to top pastries. Violets are common, beautiful and grow low to the ground. They grow along with grass, dandelion and garlic mustard, which also grow close to the ground.
It is found in prairie and grassland. It flowers in July along with chicory, during the height of summer. If you look for it late, you can find the cones without flower petals. These should be left because they contain the seeds, which create the next generation of echinacea. This is more of a medicinal herb than food. It is good for the immune system. The leaves, flower petals and root are used for herbal tea and tincture. A mild tingling feeling is experienced when drinking echinacea tea. It is unique and reminds me of being electrocuted.
Milkweed is of immense importance to monarch butterflies. Many plant it to attract butterflies to their garden. The shoots, flowers, green, unopened pods can all be eaten, but they must be boiled first. Milkweed is poisonous in its natural state. Discard the cooking water. The silk inside the young pods has a texture reminiscent of cheese. Once the growing season has passed, the dead stalks and seed pods still remain. These can be used to identify where new milkweed will appear. Note: The pods must be harvested when they are less than 1.5 inches long. If you harvest them late, they are too fibrous to be eaten.
Chickweed is edible and medicinal. It is found all over the world, even in the Article Circle. Its blossoms open in the late morning. Its leaves fold up at night and before rain. Chickweed’s stems, leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible. Mouse-ear chickweed must be cooked. Other kinds can be eaten raw. It contains nitrates. Do not ingest any kind of chickweed preparation if pregnant or nursing. This could potentially harm an unborn or nursing child due to the nitrates it contains. One should consider the nitrate levels in the leaves. Upon consuming chickweed, if one feels dizzy, weak, or faint, if you have a headache, see a doctor immediately. You may have nitrate poisoning from consuming too many nitrates. Avoid chickweed if allergic to daises. Good when young as a salad green. Rumored to taste like corn silk raw. Tastes like spinach when cooked. Can be added to soups or stews. Do this in the last five minutes to prevent overcooking. Chickweed contains ascorbic-acid, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, zinc, copper, and gamma-Linoleic acid. In addition, chickens love to eat chickweed. This is where chickweed got its name. Chickweed can be used in topical form to calm rashes and eczema, too. It alleviates irritation and swelling from insect bites. Chickweed is not recommended for children in oral form. It can be used to treat an insect bite on a child so long as they do not put chickweed in their mouth.
Some of the fruit plants are Elderflower & Elderberry. Flowers and berries are the only parts edible. Boil or cook them first. Good for the immune system. Grape – fruit, leaves, seeds, young vines shoots are all edible.In fall it has bright red leaves and similar looking berries, they are not edible and very spicy. Black raspberry – leaves can be made into herbal tea, spring time makes the best tea. Mulberry- comes in black, purple,red, pink and white. Black/Purple are rip, Red are unrip, Pink/White are the sweetest.
Think fast: You’re stranded in the woods with darkness falling and no help in sight. Can you to get safety before the elements (or wild animals) get to you?
Survival Skill #1 Locating a Suitable Campsite
“You want to stay high and dry,” Stewart says. Avoid valleys and paths where water may flow toward you (flash floods get their name for a reason—they can deluge a low-lying area in minutes). Choose a campsite free from natural dangers like insect nests and widow-makers—dead branches that may crash down in the middle of the night—as well as falling rocks. Ideally, you want to be close to resources like running water, dry wood (from which you can assemble your shelter and build a fire) and rocky walls or formations that can shield you from the elements.
Survival Skill #2 Building a Shelter
Not surprisingly, hypothermia is the number one outdoor killer in cold weather. That means a well-insulated shelter should be your top priority in a prolonged survival situation. To make a simple lean-to, find a downed tree resting at an angle, or set a large branch securely against a standing tree, and stack smaller branches close together on one side. Layer debris, like leaves and moss, across the angled wall. Lastly, insulate yourself from the cold ground–which will draw heat from your warm body–by layering four to six inches of debris to lie on.
Survival Skill #3 Starting a Fire With a Battery
Any battery will do, says Stewart. “It’s about short-circuiting the battery.” Connect the negative and positive terminals with a wire, foil (like a gum wrapper), or steel wool to create a spark to drive onto your tinder bundle. Have your firewood ready.
Survival Skill #4 Building Your Fire
Stewart views fire building in terms of four key ingredients: tinder bundle of dry, fibrous material (cotton balls covered in Vaseline or lip balm are an excellent choice, if you’ve got them) and wood in three sizes—toothpick, Q-tip, and pencil. Use a forearm-sized log as a base and windscreen for your tinder. When the tinder is lit, stack the smaller kindling against the larger log, like a lean-to, to allow oxygen to pass through and feed the flames. Add larger kindling as the flame grows, until the fire is hot enough for bigger logs. Check out some of our fire starters.
Survival Skill #5 Finding clean water
“You’ll come across two kinds of water in the wild,” Stewart says. “Potable water that’s already purified, and water that can kill you.” When it comes to questionable water—essentially anything that’s been on the ground long-term, like puddles and streams—your best option is boiling water, which is 100 percent effective in killing pathogens. But sometimes boiling isn’t an option.
Rain, snow, and dew are reliable sources of clean water you can collect with surprising ease, and they don’t need to be purified. With a couple of bandannas, Stewart has collected two gallons of water in an hour by soaking up dew and ringing out the bandannas. You can also squeeze water from vines, thistles, and certain cacti. Are there any maple trees around? Cut a hole in the bark and let the watery syrup flow—nature’s energy drink.
Survival Skill #6 Collecting Water With a Transpiration Bag
Like humans, plants “sweat” throughout the day—it’s a process called transpiration. To take advantage of this clean, pure source of water, put a clear plastic bag over a leafy branch and tie it tightly closed. When you return later in the day, water will have condensed on the inside of the bag, ready to drink. Check out some of our products for collecting water.
Survival Skill #7 Identifying Edible Plants
There’s no need to go after big game in a survival situation, and chances are you’ll waste energy in a fruitless attempt to bring them down. “Make your living on the smalls,” Stewart says. That means eating edible plants (as well as small critters like fish, frogs, and lizards).Separating the plants you can eat from those that will kill you is a matter of study and memorization. Buy a book to familiarize yourself with plants in different environments. And don’t take any chances if you’re uncertain (remember how Chris McCandles died in the end of Into the Wild). A few common edible plants include cattail, lambsquarter (also called wild spinach), and dandelions. Find these and eat up.
Survival Skill #8 Using a Split-tip Gig to Catch Critters
Gigging (hunting with a multi-pronged spear) is the simplest way to catch anything from snakes to fish. Cut down a sapling of about an inch in diameter, and then split the fat end with a knife (or sharp rock) into four equal sections ten inches down. Push a stick between the tines to spread them apart, then sharpen the points. You’ve got an easy-to-use four-pronged spear. Much easier for catching critters than a single sharp point.
Survival Skill #9 Navigating By Day
If you ever find yourself without a GPS tool (or a simple map and compass) you can still use the sky to find your way. The most obvious method to get a general bearing by day is to look at the sun, which rises approximately in the east and sets approximately in the west anywhere in the world. But you can also use an analog watch to find the north-south line. Just hold the watch horizontally and point the hour hand at the sun. Imagine a line running exactly midway between the hour hand and 12 o’clock. This is the north-south line. On daylight savings? Draw the line between the hour hand and one o’clock.
Survival Skill #10 Navigating By Night
Find Polaris, or the North Star, which is the end of the Little Dipper’s handle. If you can find the Big Dipper, draw a line between the two stars at the outer edge of the constellation’s dipper portion. Extend this line toward the Little Dipper, and it will line up with Polaris. Face Polaris, and you’re facing true north. If there is a crescent moon in the sky, connect the horns of the crescent with an imaginary line. Extend this line to the horizon to indicate a southerly bearing. Once you determine your direction, pick a landmark nearby or in the distance to follow by daylight.
Survival Skill #11 Tying a Bowline
Knots come in handy for a slew of survival scenarios—tying snares, securing shelters, lowering equipment or yourself down a cliff face. Ideally, you should have an arsenal of knots, from hitches to bends to loops, in your repertoire. But if you learn only one, learn the bowline.
“It’s your number one, go-to rescue knot,” Stewart, who uses a mnemonic for every knot, says. It’s foolproof for fastening rope to an object via a loop, particularly when the rope will be loaded with weight: the harder you pull, the tighter the knot gets. Stewart’s mnemonic for tying the bowline from any angle is “the rabbit comes out of the hole, around the tree, and back in the hole.” Use this mnemonic, says Stewart, and “it doesn’t matter if you tie it spinning on your head. It’s going to come out right.”
Survival Skill #12 Sending Up a Survival Signal
At times—like when you have a debilitating injury—your only hope for getting saved is to maximize your visibility so rescuers can find you. Two methods, if used properly, will guarantee that, if someone’s looking, they’ll see you.The first is a signal fire—and the first rule is to put it out in the open for visibility. That means hilltops or clearings in a forest where nothing, like a cliff face or trees, will disperse the smoke. Create a platform to raise the base of the fire off the ground so moisture doesn’t saturate the wood. Save your absolute best combustible material for your signal fire to guarantee a quick light. Once the fire is lit, pile on green branches, like pine boughs in winter, to produce thick smoke. “It’s not about warmth, it’s about 15 seconds of smoke,” Stewart notes. “That’s about all you’ve got when you hear a plane before it’s out of sight.”
The second is a mirror signal. A flash from signal mirror—even at night, by moonlight—can be seen for miles, much farther than any flashlight. You don’t need a store-bought signal mirror to be effective. Improvise with any reflective surface you’ve got, from rearview mirrors or headlights to a cell phone screen. Aiming the reflection is the key, and it’s simple. Hold out a peace sign and place your target–be it plane or boat–between your fingers. Then flash the reflection back and forth across your fingers.
Now before you run out and start eating the various flowers, you need to do a bit of study. On many of these plants only parts of the plant are edible. I suggest that as you plan your garden you research the various flowers and make sure that you know what parts of the plants are edible. In some it may be the flowers on other the leaves or roots.
A list of Edible Flowers
Angelica Anise Hyssop
Apple Blossom Artichoke
Arugula Bachelor Buttons AKA Cornflower
Borage Bright Lights chard
Cilantro / Coriander Citrus
English Daisy Fennel
Jasmine Jerusalem Artichokes
Johnny Jump Up Lavender
Lemon Verbena Lilac
Orange Blossom Pansy
Passionflower Pea blossoms NOTE: Flowering ornamental sweet peas are poisonous
Pineapple Sage Primrose
Radish Red Clover
Redbud Roses and rose hips
Rosemary Rose of Sharon
Runner Bean Safflower
Scarlet Emperor’ runner beans Scented Geranium
Snapdragon Society Garlic
Squash Blossom Sunflower
Sweet Marigold Sweet William
Thyme Sweet Potato
Tuberous Begonia Tulip
Winter Savory Yucca
You should have no problem planning and planting a garden that only consists of food producing plants. This is a great way to supplement your food storage. The more you learn about the different flowers, the better your chances of survival are in an emergency.
If you do a search of this blog under the category edible plants, you will find information on a number of these flowers. In the future, I intend to write more on edible flowers. As with any plants take the time to study and learn about them so that you can make a positive identification, this may save your life, some plants are poisonous.
Plenty of people believe that when things fall apart, they can just go into the wild, living off the land. While such a life has a lot of appeal to it, I’m also enough of a realist to understand how hard that will be. While many people did live off the land in the early days of this country, things have changed. There isn’t as much wilderness available today as there was back then, and as a people we aren’t accustomed to such a lifestyle.
The two biggest problems with trying to live off of what nature provides are too many people and a lack of knowledge. Back when people did live off the land, there weren’t a 10th of the people in the country that there are today. They also had a lot more knowledge about the flora and fauna around them. There are few people today who can hunt without baiting the animals in and even fewer who can identify edible plants.
Of course, that gives a distinct advantage to those who know how to hunt and can identify edible plants. In fact, being able to identify edible plants might just be what keeps some people alive. Considering that few people can identify them, there is little risk that there will be much competition for those plants.
Watch Out for Poisonous Plants
In addition to edible plants, there are many plants you can find in the wild which are dangerous to eat, even poisonous. Unless it is a dire emergency, survival isn’t the time to go around trying new things. You don’t know what you might find that would hurt you.
Since there is no sure way of identifying which plants are safe and which are poisonous, the best way of protecting yourself is to stick to eating only plants that you know and can identify as being safe to eat. When looking at other plants, you probably want to stay away from any plants that have:
Milky or colored sap.
Any sort of spines, thorns or fine hairs.
Seeds inside pods, as well as beans and bulbs.
Any plant with a bitter or soapy taste.
Plants whose stems have an almond scent.
Any plants with three-leaved growth patterns.
Grain heads with spurs that are pink, purple or black.
Of course, there are edible plants which display some of those same characteristics. That just proves that not all poisonous or healthy plants have distinguishable characteristics. These characteristics only apply to plants that you cannot identify.
Here are 20 of the most common wild plants that you can find, providing you with a starting place for identifying what you can eat in the wild. Learn them, and then go on to learn what else is available for eating in the area where you live.
Amaranth is a prolific weed which is native to North America. All parts of the plant are edible, although you do need to be somewhat careful. The grain from the amaranth plant has become more popular in recent years. There are spines on some leaves which should be avoided. The leaves contain oxalic acid, especially if the plant has grown in nitrate rich soil. To protect yourself against that, boil the plant in water and then throw away the water. If worse comes to worse, it can be eaten raw.
Asparagus grows wild in parts of North America, especially the northeastern part of the United States. Wild asparagus has a much thinner stalk than the commercial varieties. To harvest, bend it until it snaps off. It will snap at the right point to prevent killing the plant, while providing you with the most edible part.
If anyone around you has decided to grow bamboo in their backyard, it’s probably gotten out of hand. This prolific grass spreads rapidly, taking over everything in its path. While the mature plants are like chewing on wood, the shoots can be eaten. Shoots should be harvested before they are two weeks old and one foot tall. Peel off the outer leaves and boil them to soften. Bamboo shoots are often added to salads, put on sandwiches or used in stir-fries.
Found near the edges of wetlands, cattails were a staple in the diet of many American Indian tribes. Most of the plant is edible. You can boil the roots and lower stalk for eating. The leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach. The flower spike at the top can be broken off and eaten like corn on the cob. Surprisingly, it tastes much like corn.
Chicory is most easily identified by its flowers. It is a bushy plant with small blue, lavender and white flowers. Leaves can be eaten raw or boiled. The flowers are a quick, tasty snack. The roots can be eaten as well, but require boiling to make them edible. Toasted chicory root has been used in the past as a substitute for coffee when coffee wasn’t available.
This low-growing plant has bright green, pointed oval leaves. It is highly nutritious, containing vitamins, minerals and omega-6 fatty acid. Young leaves can be used effectively in salads. However, if too much chickweed is eaten, it can cause diarrhea.
Clover is very common throughout the country. Anywhere you find a grassy area, you are likely to encounter clover as well. They are easy to identify for the three leaves. The plant can be eaten raw, but will taste better cooked.
8. Curled Dock
These are some of the hardiest, most widespread and most persistent weeds found anywhere. You can find them nearly everywhere. Like dandelions, it is almost impossible to pull one out of the ground. If you do, it will probably be replaced by two more. The leaves are tasty and can grow as large as two-feet long. There are also other types of docks in this family, but the curled dock is considered the tastiest.
This common “weed” is actually edible; in fact, the entire plant is edible: roots, leaves and flowers. It’s also rather healthy, being a “cure-all” in herbal medicine. You’ll want to eat the leaves while the plant is still young, as mature leaves have a bitter taste to them. Boil the roots before eating, and then use the water from boiling the roots as a tea. The dandelion flower makes an excellent garnish for a salad.
This is another plant that was eaten by many American Indians. It is easy to identify by the vein pattern in the leaves. Rather than terminate at the edge of the leaves, the veins create a circular pattern.
These plants are best eaten when young and tender. As they age, the leaves become tough and bitter tasting. Both the leaves and the stalk can be eaten. The flowers have a slightly peppery taste.
11. Garlic Grass
This is a wild strain of garlic which is often found in fields, pastures and forests. It resembles cultivated garlic or spring onions. The shoots are often very thin. Nevertheless, it can be used in sandwiches, salads, pesto or chopped like scallions to add to cooked dishes.
12. Green Seaweed
This particular variety of seaweed is found in all the oceans of the world. You can even find it close to shore and on beaches. Once harvested, it needs to be rinsed with clean water and allowed to dry. It can be used in soups or eaten raw. Add some fish and rice and you’ve got some sushi.
Kelp is another common form of seaweed, and can be found growing in most parts of the world. The kelp plant grows very long, anchored on the bottom of the sea and reaching to the surface. Internal air bladders keep it afloat. This seaweed is used in many different oriental dishes. Like the green seaweed, it should be rinsed once harvested and can be cooked in soup or eaten raw.
This is known as the “weed that ate the South” for its prolific way of covering trees and other plants. Kudzu is a fast-growing vine, which could provide a literally unending source of nutrition if you have it in your area. The leaves make an excellent tea for treating colds, fevers and indigestion. The roots of this plant can be boiled until tender and eaten with a sauce, such as soy sauce. Jams and jellies can be made from of it.
15. Lamb’s Quarters
This plant is a relative of wild spinach. It grows from two to six feet high and is easily identified by the shape of the leaves, which are a jagged-edged and diamond shaped. This plant has a high amount of protein, making it one of the few non-beans that does. It is also rich in iron and vitamin B2. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.
This weed will grow just about anywhere and is often found on the edges of gardens or driveways. Pick the rippled leaves, leaving behind the stems and flower stems. Like kale and other tough greens, plantain is best eaten after cooking. Blanching it with some butter and garlic makes it come out quite well.
17. Prickly Pear Cactus
Called “nopal” in Mexico, the prickly pear is not only edible, but extremely good for your health. Not all the leaves are eaten, but only the newest ones where the spines have not been fully formed. The spines are cut off and the leaf cut up for cooking. It can be boiled, but is most often fried, along with tomatoes and spices. The fruit of the prickly pear, which looks like a red or purplish pear, is also edible, although hard to encounter.
18. Sheep Sorrel
Although not native to North America, sheep sorrel has found a home here. It is a prolific weed, especially in highly acidic soil. That means it will grow in places where many other plants won’t grow. It has a tall, reddish stem that can reach 18 inches tall. You really shouldn’t eat large quantities of it, but the leaves can be eaten raw. They taste almost like lemon.
Watercress, which comes in a number of varieties, such as garden cress, rock cress and pepper cress, is common in Northern Europe. It has been migrated to the United States, where it is more commonly found in northern climates with a lot of moisture. It has a spicy tank, making it great for salads, soups and sandwiches.
20. Wood Sorrel
Wood sorrel grows in all parts of the world and in all climates. There are many varieties of this plant, and the flowers vary in color. The Kiowa Indians ate it, and chewed on it to alleviate thirst. The Cherokees ate it to cure mouth sores. The leaves of the plant are a great source of vitamin C. If the roots of the wood sorrel are boiled, they can be eaten. It has a flavor similar to potatoes.
For further information on this and other plants, it would be advisable to buy a book that deals with the edible plants in your area, as it varies from region to region around the country.
No green plant produces more edible starch per acre than the Cat O’ Nine Tails; not potatoes, rice, taros or yams. Plans were underway to feed American soldiers with that starch when WWII stopped. Lichen, not a green plant, might produce more carbs per acre. One acre of cattails can produce 6,475 pounds of flour per year on average (Harrington 1972).
Two species of cattails are common in North America today. One is Typha latifolia (TYE-fuh lat-ih-FOH-lee-uh) the otherTypha angustifolia (an-gus-tee-FOH-lee-uh.)Typha is from Greek and means “marsh” — now you how “typhoid” got its name and Typhoid Mary.Latifolia mean wide leaf,angustifolia means skinny leaf. Besides that difference, the T. latifolialikes shallower water, theT. angustifolia deeper water, but it is not unusual to find them living side by side and also crossbreeding —L’angustifolia perhaps. Cattails get their name from their mature brown cylindrical flower spikes. When I was a kid we used to used the dried spikes as torches while skating in the winter time. The end of season fluffy “tails” make excellent tinder and the Indians used them insulation, mattresses and absorption.
There is so much to know about cattails that a book could be written just about them. First, no other plants in their mature stage look like the cattail, so it is difficult to misidentify. Younger plants can be misidentified with three toxic ones so always look for last year’s classic growth to confirm you have found cattails. Cattail are oval at the base, not flatish. They are also very mild tasting and without much aroma meaning if what you think you’ve got is a cattail and it is strongly flavored and or aromatic — not counting the smell of mud — you’ve got the wrong plant.
Flower spikes when green
It is said that if a lost person has found cattails, they have four of the five things they need to survive: Water, food, shelter and a source of fuel for heat—the dry old stalks. The one item missing is companionship. Of course, the other thing to point out is that no matter where the water flows, down stream is civilization in North, Central and South America. Remember that when you are lost in the Americas. This does not hold true in Africa or Siberia. Many rivers in Africa are largest near their source then dry up as the water is used or evaporates. In Siberia rivers flow north towards the uninhabited arctic.
One Boy Scout motto is “You name it and we’ll make it from cattails!” Cattails are the supermarket of the wilds. The young cob-like tips of the plant are edible as is the white bottom of the stalk, spurs off the main roots and spaghetti like rootlets off the main roots. They have vitamins A, B,
Cattail lower stalks
and C, potassium and phosphorus. The pollen can be used like flour. I like their convenience as a trail nibble, or canoe nibble as it were. Just pull on one and where it pulls from the stalk there’s usually a tasty bite or two. I think the best part, though, are the new shoots off the main root. They’re start out looking like an alligator’s tooth then a pointed hook three or four inches long. The roots themselves need some processing and I’ll get to them in a moment.
The “Listronotus” grub grows larger
Cattails have a surprising function and history. The spread of cattails in a body of water is an important part of the process of open water being converted to marsh then dry land. They are native to both North America and Europe. In Europe cattails are called bulrushes or greater reed mace. They’re first mentioned — meaning mentioned in writing — in the United States in the 1830s and at that time were only found along the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico excluding Texas. They weren’t even reported in places like Wisconsin until after World War I. They weren’t a significant plant in the Dakotas until the 1960s. The native cattail, Typha gracilis, seems to have all but disappeared, hybridizing with the European version to form the two species mentioned here. Eastern Indians used cattails extensively, not only for food, but for hemp and stuffing. In fact, one Indian word for cattails means “fruit for papoose’s bed.” The fluff was used in diapers and for menstruation.
Like most aquatic plants in the area the cattail is also home to a beetle grub that fish like. On a green cattail look for aon outer leaf that is go brown at the bottom of the leaf and main stalk. You will find a grub, actually the larval form of an Arrowhead Beetle, of the Listronotus genus. The size will vary but they do grow big enough for a small hook and fish love them. As a weevil the grub is also probably edible by humans but I haven’t got around to trying one. You can find the same grub in the tops of bulrushes and wapato.
As mentioned earlier, cattails are the champion of starch production. The way you get the starch is to clean the exterior of the roots and then crush them in clean water and let them sit. The starch settles to the bottom then one pours off the water. It may take several drain and settle sessions get rid of the fiber. I sampled the starch raw once and got a bit of a stomach ache. Once you have just the starch it is excellent for cooking as you would any flour. Getting starch that way is quite labor intensive. Here are three other ways to get to the root starch:
Clean cattail roots
Dry the peeled roots (peel roots while they are wet–they are difficult to peel when dry). Chop roots into small pieces, and then pound them wtih a little water. When the long fibers are removed, the resultant goup powder can be dried and used as flour. The roots also can be boiled like potatoes then the starch chewed out (spitting away the fibers) or you can also roast the root in a fire until the outer spongy core is completely black. Then chew the starch off of the fiber. Don’t eat the fiber. It will give you a stomach ache. I know from personal experience. The advantage of the latter method is no pots or pans are needed. If you have fire and a pond you have a nutritious meal. You can also put the roots on the barbecue.
Lastly, cattails, Typha latifolia, is suspeced in the fatal poisoning of several horses in Indiana, one case over 80 years ago. Symptoms included stiffness, disinclination to move, profuse perspiration, and muscular trembling.
Green Deane’s “Itemized” Plant Profile
IDENTIFICATION: Cattails grow to 9 feet; leaves are strap-like, stiff, spongy inside, rounded on back, sheathed together at base to appear “flattened” but oval; the cigar-looking “blossom” is very densely packed with tiny flowers, male flowers in top cluster, female flowers in bottom cluster. Roots grow horizontally. If there is a gap between the male and female parts of the plant it is T. angustifolia, or the narrow leaf cattail. If the male and female parts of the plant meet, it is T. latifolia, the common cattail.
TIME OF YEAR: Spikes, pollen and flowers in the spring, bottoms of stalks and root year best in fall and spring.
ENVIRONMENT: Grows where it is wet, rivers, ponds, ditches, lakes, close to shore or farther out.
METHOD OF PREPARATION: Numerous, boiled immature and mature flowers, pollen in bread, stalks as a trail nibble, root starch for sustenance, root stems shoots as vegetables. The roots can be boiled and the starch stripped or sucked off the fibers. They can be dried, the starch grated off the fibers and the starch used as flour. You can crush the roots in water, let the starch settle, pour off the water, then use the starch. Or you can but the roots on embers and roast until black, then peel the black layer off and chew or such the starch off the fibers. Also the core of the roots can be roasted until dry and used as a coffee substitute.
Take two cups of chpooed cattail tops and put them into a bowl with two beaten eggs, one-half cup melted butter, one-half teaspoon each sugar and nutmeg and black pepper. Blend well and add slowly one cup of scalded milk to the cattail mixture and blended. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole and top with grated Swiss cheese —optional — and add a dab of butter. Bake 275 degrees for 30 minutes.
Cattail Pollen Biscuits
The green bloom spikes turn a bright yellow as they become covered with pollen. Put a large plastic bag over the head (or tail) and shake. The pollen is very fine, resembling a curry-colored talc powder. Pancakes, muffins and cookies are excellent by substituting pollen for the wheat flour in any recipe. Cattail Pollen Biscuits: Mix a quarter cup of cattail pollen, one and three-quarters cup of flour, three teaspoons baking powder, one teaspoon salt, four tablespoons shortening, and three quarters a cup of milk. Bake, after cutting out biscuits, in 425-degree oven for 20 minutes. For an even more golden tone, you may add an additional quarter cup of pollen.
Cattail Pollen Pancakes
Mix one-half cup pollen, one-half cup flour, two tablespoons baking powder, one teaspoon salt, one egg, one cup of milk, three tablespoon bacon drippings. Pour into a hot skillet or griddle in dollar, four-inch pancake amounts.
Two cups scrapped spikes, one cup bread crumbs, one egg, beaten, one-half cup milk, salt and pepper, one onion diced, one-half cup shredded cheddar cheese. Combine all ingredients in a casseroles dish and place in an oven set to 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve when hot.
It’s a great time to find one of the nicest types of fungi out there, relatively easy to identify and tasty to boot. Chanterelles.
they are easy to i.d. with their egg yolk yellow colour and a very mild, slightly sweet smell
but the false gills, looking more like folds or wrinkles than traditional mushroom gills, are a give away as to the fact you’ve found a chanterelle, (though just exactly what sub species of chanterelle is a different matter!)
I’m not one for fancy recipes, preferring to actually taste the mushroom itself rather than a whole mishmash, so make a skewer, slice the ‘shroom, impale it and roast it over the fire, it starts to release it’s juices quickly and once slightly crisp just eat..
one mushroom that tends to have a few more calories than most fungi, but to be honest as a survival food, you’re not going to get a huge amount of calories from fungi.
In a survival, prepping or disaster situation health and nutrition is crucial to surviving. In our 72hr Bug Out Bags or Get Home Bag it is commonly known (and recommended) to have essential items that will allow us to maintain and/or increase our energy levels, and at the same time ensure that the food in which we are consuming has the proper nutrition which will give us (as much as possible) optimum nourishment during that potentially stressful time.
Did you know that there is a Super food plant which can provide you with:
92 different nutrients
18 Amino Acids
9 Essential Amino Acids
If that wasn’t enough, this Super Food also is known to:
Boosts energy levels
Improved immune system function
Lower blood pressure
Protects the stomach lining
Treats stomach ulcers
Plus many more!
This Super food plant is known as the “Miracle Tree,” and is scientific name is “Moringa Oleifera”. Moringa has naturally occurring antioxidants which support the prevention of cancer and other debilitating diseases that attack the human body’s cells. Antioxidants, such as those found in Moringa Oleifera aids in dynamic cell restoration, which can combat oxidative stress by preventing free radicals from reacting and causing damage to cells. Moringa Oleifera has one of the highest ORAC rating of 157,000 (that’s off the chart folks).
Moringa Oleifera is a nutrient dense, whole Super food and that makes it a complete health product that will not only provide you with the vitamins you need, but also may improve your overall health. As a Master Herbalist I believe Moringa Oleifera is one of the best super foods which any Preppers will feel confident in having in either their 72hrs (Bug out Bag) or in their essential preps. Actually, I personally use this Moringa as part of my family’s daily nutritional supplements, it’s just that vital and effective.
How awesome is this? Moringa has:
14x’s more calcium than milk
9x’s more iron than spinach
4x’s more fiber than oats
4x’s more potassium than bananas
2x’s more protein than eggs.
The benefits of Moringa Oleifera is known and used in areas where there is dramatic famine and extreme malnutrition. Moringa Oleifera is/has been used in many African countries such as Kenya, Mali, Senegal and others. The USAid agency also has used Moringa in Hati. (reference: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/dec/26/haiti-miracle-moringa-tree-malnutrition) where they claim that 30% of the children there are malnourished.
What nutritional daily value can Moringa give?
According to Optima of Africa, Ltd., a group that has been working with this tree, says that for every 25 grams (less than an ounce) daily of Moringa leaf powder will give a child the following daily allowances: protein 42%, calcium 125%, magnesium 60%, potassium 41%, iron 71%, vitamin A 272%, vitamin C 22%. The same benefits apply to adults and senior citizens, but only the percentages change. Obviously, Moringa is beneficial for people of all ages in one serving of Moringa Oleifera leaves, you can find:
22% daily value of Vitamin C
41% daily value of Potassium
61% daily value of Magnesium
71% daily value of Iron
125% daily value of Calcium
272% daily value of Vitamin A
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS: Moringa oleifera leaves and seeds contain beneficial essential fatty acids (EFA’s). Moringa seeds contain between 30-42% oil, with 13% saturated fats and 82% unsaturated fatty acids. Oleifera is the Latin term for “oil containing.” About 73% of the Moringa oil is oleic acid, while in most beneficial plant oils, oleic acid only contributes up to 40%. Olive oil is about 75% oleic acid, and sunflower is about 20%. Oleic acid is linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, artherosclerosis, infections, and certain types of cancer, and it helps to regulate blood glucose levels. Our Moringa contains both: Both omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
Moringa’s unique combination of nutrients can help to boost the immune system. It also helps to maintain healthier blood sugar levels within a normal range. People with high blood pressure or diabetes may also find moringa oleifera to be an effective supplement for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
When the Moringa Oleifera leaves are dried out and used in powder form you have a lightweight, high density superfood. The pack below is enough to provide all of the nutrients outlined in this article for one adult individual for a over 15 days and as long as it stays dried will still maintain is potency for 5+ year easily.
Moringa for lactose intolerant individuals & children:
Growing bodies need nutrients, and moringa is the most nutrient-dense plant ever studied. Moringa gives children the nutrients they need to grow health and strong, in an easily digestible form with high absorption rates. Nursing mothers can also use moringa to increase the nutrient content in their breast milk. Moringa can increase the natural calcium levels of mother’s milk by an amazing 25%. Again Moringa has 125% daily value of Calcium making it the perfect substitution for lactose intolerant people as well. You need calcium for health bones and health blood pressure control. Moringa does not contain any lactose.
You’ve now probably just discovered one of the most nutritious plants on the planet packed with over 90 vital nutrients and that includes essential fatty acids. Get Moringa in your bug out bag.
We are not aware of any negative effects. However, women who are pregnant or wishing to get pregnant should not consume this product. It’s maybe UNSAFE to use moringa if you are pregnant. Chemicals in the root, bark, and flowers can make the uterus contract, and this might cause a miscarriage.
Disclaimer: Information contained on this website is for general information purposes only and must not be used to treat or diagnose dental/medical conditions. The products and statements on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended as medical advice. Should you have any health concerns please check with your medical doctor before self-administering any natural remedy.
Please double check all of these plants using other websites before consumption. Wild edible plants are everywhere you turn. Not only it is free food, but eating wild plants is a huge stride toward wilderness self-sufficiency. Once you know where to look and how to prepare plants you find in the wild, you’ll be well prepared whether you’re planning on surviving on free greens or you just want to try some new flavors next time you go camping. Be careful, though: eating the wrong plant could be fatal.
Know where the best food is, depending on where you live. Keep in mind that if you live in a humid region, the majority of wild food will be in the sun – whether clearing or ‘edge’. In a dry region, such as the Southwest, most of the wild food will be near water.
Pick up a local plant guidebook. Get guides to the most common edible plants in your area, typically referred to as “weeds.” Learn the top 20 or 25 and try to memorize them — they might come in handy later.
Start with the number-one habitat for wild edible plants — your lawn. Any place that is regularly cleared is loaded with weeds such as dandelion, chickweed, plantain, wild onion, violets, wood sorrel, henbit, clover, dead-nettle and sow thistle — all of which are 100% edible.
Start with grass. All grass is edible. Anything under 6″ is easy to chew and digest. The flavor ranges from intensely sweet to mild to bitter – anyone who’s tasted a shot of wheatgrass knows just how sweet grass can be. Grass that’s over 6″ can either be chewed for juice and spit out, or run through a manual wheatgrass juicer for a healthy shot.
Visit other areas that are regularly cleared. Try roadsides (note warning below), fields, parks, and so on. They will also have tons of edible plants. Chickweed can be picked by the bucketful. Here’s what to look for:
Dandelion (taraxacum officinale): The young unfolding greens in the center are great raw. The entire plant can be steamed. The flower is the best part. Pick it off the stem, and with your fingers pinch off the green base of the flower, so there’s no white sap (the sap is very bitter). You’re left with a sweet, meaty, filling wild food that can be found in incredible abundance.
Chickweed (stellaria media): The entire plant can be eaten raw. It has a sweet, grassy flavor. If you want to avoid the stems, and eat mostly the new growth, pluck off the tops and eat those.
Wood Sorrel (oxalis spp): The whole plant is great raw – it has a nice acid flavor, refreshing. The flowers of the cosmopolitan weeds are yellow, but many varieties grow in the wild with pinkish flowers. If you eat it, try the stem, but not the red part as it and the leaves are bitter. This is a plant extremely common not only in lawns and cleared areas, but also deep in the wilderness. It should not be consumed in big quantity as it contains relatively high levels of oxalic acid, which, while is vital for humans, may cause the gastrointestinal upset or illness when consumed in big amounts.
Henbit (lamium amplexicaule): Another plant entirely edible raw. It’s a Lamium, a very mild mint. Like chickweed, it has a sweet, grassy flavor – pluck off the tops to avoid the stems. This plant will form huge carpets in places, very early in the year, with an understory of chickweed beneath it.
Dead-nettle (lamium purpureum): Another Lamium, just like henbit. It’s eaten the same way – and will also form huge carpets covering the ground, especially in spring.
Plantain (plantago lanceolata): Young leaves in the center are good raw – have a slight salty flavor. There’s both a common and an English plantain, that are very similar.
Sow thistle (sonchus spp): The young leaves are decent – treat it like dandelion, and try and avoid the bitter latex sap. Sow thistle has excellent yellow flowers very similar to dandelion, yet even better, that’s prepared the same way and eaten raw. Unlike dandelion, sow thistle has an upright stalk and a more prickly-looking thistle-like appearance.
Wild onion (allium spp): Very common in areas that are mowed. A very mild onion that is excellent raw. Harvest bunches of it and use it just like scallions.
Cress (cardamine spp): This is one of the many wild plants in the mustard family common in cities. When young, the leaves are excellent raw, with a mild mustard flavor. As they get older the full plants can be steamed, just as you would prepare mustard greens at home.
Berries:Look for berries on ornamental shrubs, such as this silverberry.Ebbing’s silverberry is frequently planted in cities as bushes and hedges – but it will escape into any disturbed habitat and form thickets. The stems, foliage, and berries are all speckled with silver. The red berries are excellent when fully ripe.
Look for berries on trees. Even in the dead of winter, such as on this laurel cherry. Like most wild cherries, these have a long ripening process and aren’t fully ripe until the fruit starts to soften and shrivel.
Check out ornamental trees. These are planted for their showy flowers — those flowers can lead to fruit, such as cherries or crab apples or plums. They may be small, but can be very tasty.
Look for nuts beneath trees. Walnuts and hickory nuts can be smashed open with a rock and the edible flesh picked out. Fresh nuts are wet and filling and easy to digest, with a lot of flavor. Acorns are abundant beneath oaks — if the oak has round-lobed leaves, the acorns will need minimal to no processing. Some white oak acorns will have no tannin at all. And keep in mind you get used to it and stop noticing it after the first few — it’s how pigeons eat so many acorns.
Find fruiting trees. Check roadsides (note warning below), forest edges, and beside water for fruiting trees. Fruit needs sun to ripen – there’s not much fruit in deep woods. The ‘edges’ of any environment are the most productive – trees are fertilized and keep a moisture and humidity from the forest behind them, but have access to full sun at the edge of a clearing or waterway. This is where you will find fruit like persimmons, wild apples, mulberries, autumn olives, hackberries, and so on. Below are persimmons.
Look for plants that grow in wet areas. Search bodies of water for signs of cattail, bulrush, and watercress. Cattail typically needs an area of stagnant water to thrive, though it will grow in streamsides. Cattail can be in preposterous abundance in lakes and bays. The shoots are wonderful raw, and the pollen in early summer tastes like cake flour. You can gather whole bags of it. Pollen is so nutritious it’s considered a “superfood.”
Nibble on safe flowers. Sample the flower petals of plants you know to be nonpoisonous. Flowers are often very mild to sweet and full of antioxidants. Some excellent blooms are daylilies, violets and honeysuckle. DO NOT EAT AZALEAS! Azaleas are deathly poisonous.
#*The base of flowers can be strong to bitter — it’s better to break off petals and not eat the green material.
Check out thorny brambles for food. Rose, blackberry, raspberry, and greenbriar are good examples. Rose has edible hips (the common weedy thicket-forming multiflora rose is the best – the hip is small and tangy), blackberry/raspberry has berries, and greenbriar shoots and tendrils, as well as berries that are rather tasteless but still edible. Below is a multiflora rose.
Learn your vines so that you can distinguish grape. Wild grapes are found throughout the U.S. and are one of the best wild foods. There’s a variety which you will see everywhere throughout the South called “muscadine” — the grapes are thick-skinned and very large, with a flavor like bubble gum. Wild grapes have both edible leaves and tendrils as well as fruit — the leaves can be steeped in apple cider vinegar and used to make dolmas. Muscadine leaves are tougher and benefit from a week-long glass jar ferment. Grape vines also make very sturdy baskets.
Find deciduous leaves. Try the deciduous leaves of trees like linden, sassafras, Boxelder, sourwood – all are excellent raw. Beech leaves are also highly edible when young, for the first 2 to 4 weeks. You can pull whole salads off the trees. Linden leaves are so large they can be used as tortillas.
Pick the new growth off conifers in the spring. The young green shoots at the tips of the branches are great raw – a pleasant acid taste. The male pollen cones on conifers are also edible – some are very sweet. And again, it’s pollen – extremely nutritious. Many species of pine have edible nuts in the cones in late summer to fall.
Ignore the hype about spraying. Most clearings are periodically mowed and otherwise ignored — they are not sprayed. Whereas the majority of grocery store food has been sprayed heavily throughout its life, then allowed to sit and gather germs and dust and mold. The wild plants you pick are the purest food possible. The only areas where you might use caution would be in mulched garden beds where they are deliberately trying to keep down weeds. This kale growing in the back of a bed of pansies is an example – but keep in mind that if they’ve just sprayed, the plant will taste awful. If they’d sprayed a while back rain has washed it down into the soil, to be stored in the roots. Don’t eat the roots.
Go slow with mushrooms. Mushrooms are very difficult to learn, and expertise takes years. Stick with the obvious, such as oyster mushrooms, lobsters, chanterelles, morels, boletes, puffballs – these are easy to identify and understand. But keep in mind mushrooms can affect people different ways, and many can be difficult to digest even after long cooking, such as oyster and lobster mushrooms.
Try sampling wild plants on an empty stomach with a clean palate. If you’ve just had a burger and fries, that dandelion is not going to taste like much.
Avoid plants growing in areas that may have potentially been subjected to the dumping of toxic wastes.
Especially if you live in an urban or high-traffic area, avoid plants growing immediately next to roadsides, or anything with a sticky blackish residue. This could be solidified air pollution!
Don’t try eating wild peas. Even though some can look very much like garden peas – most are poisonous.
Avoid the carrot family if you’re a novice, and you won’t have any worries about being seriously poisoned by wild edible plants. Species like water hemlock and poison-hemlock can kill you. Harvesting plants like wild carrot are not worth the risk of confusing it with a deadly relative, unless you really know what you’re doing.