Categorized | Food and Water, Tips & Tricks

Plants for Wilderness Survival

Essential Plants for Wilderness Survival

Plants can be found almost everywhere on our planet. We tend to eat only those that we feel are worthy enough to eat. Animals that aren’t as picky are willing to eat a much wider variety of plants than we will. If unforeseen circumstances occurred, you could survive by eating plants that you may not normally eat.


Plants You Can Eat – The Salad Bar in the Forest


1. Cattails – There are two species in North America; one has a broad leaf and the other has a narrow leaf and is always found in and around water. Only eat plants from clean water. The roots, shoots and flowers are all edible. Pull off the outer skin of the lower stem and/or root by sautéing in butter as you would asparagus.

2. Watercress – Choose from a free flowing stream only. Growth can be up to almost 4 feet in height and becomes bitter once flowers are produced. This plant can be found almost all year round and used like lettuce. Simply pick the greens and sauté or use in soups or sandwiches. Watercress is an excellent source for calcium, folic acid, iron, iodine and Vitamin C.

3. Duckweed – You see this plant covering water and are generally a slimy material. A source of high fiber and grows quite rapidly. Duckweed can be used to treat hypothermia and also kidney infections. Eat right out of the water or add into soups.

4. Stinging Nettle This you may see walking through the forest but stay away due to the “stingers” poking your hand. By the way, the stinging sensation is the histamine that is being injected into your skin by the plant. By simply crushing the leaves first, the “stingers” are removed allowing the plant to be eaten raw or cooked. Growing three to seven feet tall, the leaves which can be one to six inches in length offer a high source of fiber.

What to Watch Out For and Avoid

Not everything in nature is safe to eat and drink. The extent of our toxic pollutants we expel into our environment every day is extremely damaging to the environment we live in. Plants and water that are near highly traveled roadways and other highly populated areas are absorbing toxins from the air and soil in which they grow.

This means that if the soil and/or water are toxic then whatever is growing in that area will also have a certain level of toxicity as well. With this in mind, you eat plants growing in toxic soil, water and air you are ingesting toxins whether you want to or not. What signs of toxins can you look out for? Some of these are:

1. Plants with a milky or showing discolored sap

2. Plants with fine hairs, spines and/or thorns

3. Grain heads that have a pink, a purplish or black spurs

4. An almond scent in the leaves or woody stems and have a three-leaved growth pattern 

If you are not familiar with a plant, it is best to keep looking. However, some plants can be boiled which will remove much of the toxic substances it may contain. If you do boil the possible toxic plant(s), be sure to discard the toxic water away from where the healthier plants are growing. The key is to learn what the Plants for Wilderness Survival are.

Learning about the plants that grow in your backyard, in your community, in the region you live in will help you, if/when you may ever be in a predicament, when food is required and not readily available. Education about essential, edible plants will help you survive if the need arises. We recommend this book: A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America.

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