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survivalbooty

Edible Plants for Survival in the Wilderness

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So, you find yourself lost in the wilderness during a weekend camping trip, your last energy bar is gone, civilization is still several days away, and you need to keep up your strength. You need to find something to eat, and you need it pronto! What to do?

Edible plants may be a terrific alternative for you to obtain nutrition, many plants can keep you alive, but which ones? In a survival emergency situation, You must be cautious when trying a new plant to eat, even if the plant is thought to be edible, it may invoke a severe allergic reaction for some people. This, of course makes proper identification absolutely critical.

Clearly identify plants before you begin tasting them. If you are uncertain as to whether it is safe, do not consume any part of the plant.

Avoid plants that are...

* Three-leaved growth pattern* Grain heads with pink, purplish, or black spurs* “Almond” scent in the woody parts and leaves* Dill, carrot, parsnip, or parsley-like foliage* Bitter or soapy taste* Beans, bulbs, or seeds inside pods* Spines, fine hairs, or thorns* Discolored or milky sap* Mushrooms or other fungi - most are edible, but it's hard to tell the good from the bad

Take a day hike, look for plants you recognize from your past research.

Begin by discerning the edible parts of the plant. Roots, stems, leaves, buds, flowers, and seeds are all important parts of some plants. Understand that some portions of a plant may be edible while others are not.

Out in the wilderness, you may not remember certain specifics about the types of plants that are around you. You can begin to learn more about the plants by studying them. How does the plant smell, for instance? Is there a negative reaction by touching the plant? Touch a piece of the plant on your wrist. Normally, if you do not experience a skin response within 15 minutes, you are most likely safe. Be aware that skin responses are possible after this time, however this is usually an excellent guideline.

As soon as you decide which part of the plant is edible, prepare it in the way you mean to eat it. Do not just put it in your mouth and swallow. This can be extremely dangerous.

Place the prepared plant on the exterior of your lip. If you have a response to the plant in 5 to 15 minutes, see if there is a reaction. If nothing happens, place a tiny bit on your tongue and hold it in your mouth for a brief moment prior to spitting it out. You might go ahead and chew it for a minute, but do not swallow it. Wait another 15 minutes or so to determine how your body responds to this plant.

It might seem that this is a tiresome procedure, however preventing a fatal or serious response deserves the time and effort.

By this time, you will have the ability to identify if you want to consume this plant. Due to the fact that one part of the plant is edible does not mean that all parts of the plant are safe, do not naturally presume that. Repeat this procedure for each part of the plant before determining if it is vital and edible to your survival.

Keep in mind that people can survive for weeks without food. Edible plants might help to provide healthy nourishment in a survival circumstance, however do not eat a plant without testing it first. Getting the wrong plant can bring you plenty of trouble. Harmful plants can cause mild to severe responses. Some plants may be hallucinogenic or trigger a deadly reaction. Always take the time to experiment with each part of any new plant to be safe.

You have to be cautious when attempting to eat a new plant, due to the fact that even if the plant is considered edible, it may conjure up a major allergic response for some people.

You can begin to find out about the plants by studying the plant. See if you have a reaction to the plant in 5 to 15 minutes. Don't naturally presume that just because one part of the plant is edible that all parts of the plant are safe. Poisonous plants can cause mild to serious reactions.

Survival Booty

 

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I am notoriously bad when it comes to plant identification, @Elise has a green thumb though so I tend to go by what she says! Great post though- I wonder how people would prepare plants to eat? Beyond boiling or heating in a pan- what options do you have?

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Great write up, Survival Booty!

I'm currently terrible at plant identification, but since we've now moved to the UK, I've noticed I may just get better pretty quickly over time here considering Brit's obsession with gardening (which I am so excited about - no one really cared beyond making a garden pretty in Canada - that I knew at least; here everyone cares about plant identification, lots of people grow fruits and veggies in their garden, etc).

I'm always so worried about trying new plants to eat in survival situations that I've pretty much convinced myself it's better to fish or trap than to try out a plant I don't know. I'm not sure if this is the right way of looking at things, especially since I honestly have no allergies that I know about and so chances are that side of things I don't need to worry about, but I'm still very hesistant to just up and eat something I have no idea what it is. Even if it looks like it's fine to eat.

I've heard that a good rule of thumb for berries and such is if birds and other wildlife are eating them, they should be safe for you to eat them, too. But again. I'm not sure if this is a true rule that 99% of the time sticks or if this is just an urban myth. But basically, to combat my fear of eating something poisonous or inedible, I'll probably start teaching myself about the types of vegetation that grows naturally in the wild here to make sure I can identify more and more over the years.

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I remember being a kid back in the early 70's and in Southern Portugal visit on a hot day in Summer under the Stone Pines harvesting the nuts and breaking them individually with a hammer with my brother. Then we would wander down the old country lane and grab a few fresh figs and take apart fresh pomegranate on the way home leaving a trail of red seeds..

By the time we got back to Auntie's house we would be too full to eat dinner..

Good times..

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Good to see people interested in wild plants and fungi. However there are quite a few errors in the OP. 

    The opening premise is severely flawed. The vast majority of wild edibles give you vitamins, fiber and not much more. Important for long term wilderness survival, to be sure. Then again, we do quite well with few vitamins in our diet during short to medium term situations. However, you are not going to survive on only vitamins! To survive we need energy (fat, carbs, sugars) and protein. In general sugars and carbohydrates from plants are found in the wild only during very specific, and usually very short, seasons. Further, most carbs in the wild are time consuming to gather and prepare. Thus we are far better off focusing on fishing and trapping for short to medium term survival. 

    The insinuation that we can go around testing and eating unknown plants and fungi will get people killed. If you are not 100% sure plus experienced with a plant or fungi you are far better off giving it a wide berth. That is in the here and now with modern medical care nearby. It applies a thousand fold in actual survival situations. 

    That "leaves of three" maxim is such a tired old pile of hogswallop! Many benign and even some edible plants have three leaves. Thus that saying is no help at all. Sad to see people just parroting it by rote without examining it in the light of logic and experience. 

 

Not meant to be combative, just calling it as I see it. Especially important that we not allow errors to pass unchallenged when lives are on the line. 

Cheers y'all. 

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No doubt DTD! While eating most of the wild plants and fungi that are not known to be edible will only make us sick, a few can kill us. Even those that "only" make us sick, well... that can become mission critical in a survival situation. Such as excessive vomiting or diarrhea while already dehydrated, being dizzy while climbing down off a mountain, stacking the eating of several unknown plants and/or fungi on top of each other such that the cumulative effects become serious, etc. 

Your post brought two events quickly to mind. The first is I actually know several individuals who have had their health and minds permanently impacted for the worse by the ingestion of a misidentified species of fungi. Just one time of eating the wrong mushroom! The other is this article from last month. 

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/food-poisoning/news/20170601/wild-death-cap-mushroom-seriously-sickens-14-in-california#1

From the article: ""Inexperienced foragers should be strongly discouraged from eating any wild mushrooms," wrote Dr. Kathy Vo, of the University of California, San Francisco's department of emergency medicine, and colleagues." 

In the words of the desk sergeant from Hill Street Blues: "Be careful out there." 

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On July 15, 2016 at 3:09 AM, Elise said:

I'm always so worried about trying new plants to eat in survival situations that I've pretty much convinced myself it's better to fish or trap than to try out a plant I don't know. 

*******************************************************

I've heard that a good rule of thumb for berries and such is if birds and other wildlife are eating them, they should be safe for you to eat them, too. But again. I'm not sure if this is a true rule that 99% of the time sticks or if this is just an urban myth. 

Edited by DuxDawg
Learning to use the editor.

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This editor is interesting. Could neither add my own comments, nor split Elise's comments into two parts. Might be the limitations of using Safari. 

 

Pressing on! As to the first portion of that post Elise, after decades in the outdoors I came to the same conclusion. A survival situation is the last time we ought to be wildly experimenting. Further, as I noted above, getting what we need and getting it in a calorie positive manner yields fishing and trapping as hands down the way to go. Of course, as with all skills, it takes both knowledge and experience to have consistent success. 

They say that most short term survival situations are resolved within three days. In that case thermoregulation, hydration and First Aid are likely to be all that we need to know. If we are going to walk out on our own, we will obviously also require skill with and gear for navigation. 

 

As to the second portion of that post, sad to inform you that it is in the same category as the "leaves of three" myth. Some that come readily to mind are berries of Poison Ivy, Buckthorn, Jack-in-the-pulpit, etc. All of which many birds and mammals will eat, yet a few will put a hurt on us and handfuls could kill. Then there are those such as Mulberry, Elderberry, etc that are edible when fully ripe yet the unripe berries are toxic. 

The "advice" in this article is very contradictory. 

http://m.wikihow.com/Identify-Common-Poisonous-Berries-in-North-America

In #2 they note exceptions to every guideline they've just stated. Crazy! 

In #3 they we see the "three leaves" maxim again. *sigh* Also the "milky sap" myth. Have they never heard of people eating Dandelion, Milkweed, many of the Wild Lettuces, Dogbane, etc???? Much less eaten such themselves!

 

 In the course of learning and consuming hundreds of gallons of edible wild plants and fungi over the course of the last few decades, I have noticed many myths. By the way, I spend at least three years learning each species. Read everything I can find on it, learn to find it (where it grows, what it looks like, what looks like it, etc), follow it throughout the seasons (to learn every stage of its growth), etc. Only then do I begin to cautiously test, sample then finally consume. As you can see, quite the lengthy and involved process. Fortunately we can learn multiple species simultaneously!! 

 

Best of health y'all! 

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A mushroom hunter I knew once said "you know what they call somebody who tastes unknown mushrooms to see if they're safe?"

"The late ......."

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16 minutes ago, Wyzyrd said:

A mushroom hunter I knew once said "you know what they call somebody who tastes unknown mushrooms to see if they're safe?"

"The late ......."

 They're mostly water anyway, aren't they?, so not worth too much risk?  As kids we picked every mushroom we could up at Waskesiu and let mom sort 'em out.  There was some sort of general rule about the gills, but I can't remember what it is.  Big puffballs would get sliced and fried like French toast.  That's how to raise kids, send them into the forest along the fairway on the golf course next to the dump which is absolutely lousy with bears early in the morning to directly compete for their food, (and pick golf balls). :D  One of the few edible plants I know is wild onions/chives that we have on the prairie here; with a little salt or substitute that could go a long way to making other food palatable.  I've had the traditional dried moose meat and my jerky is a lot easier to take.   As noted elsewhere, follow the fat survivalist...

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I always make a point of identifying any new plants I come across, especially when I move to a new country ... I take a few detailed photos on my iPhone and then research the plant when I get back home ! ... If it is edible I add a NOTE to my iPhone (with photos for future identification) ... Likewise ... if it's poisonous I add a similar NOTE in a separate Notes Folder.

I have built quite comprehensive reference guide for use in emergencies.

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