Testing Edible Plants

Food is a pretty popular subject in the world of survival. Surprisingly, food is really not at the top of your list of needs. Despite its relatively low rank on the list of needs, it is typically at the top of most want lists. Now, just because it isn’t physically necessary, doesn’t mean food should just be ignored. It can go a long way to making a person feel better, which is just as important in a survival situation.

With that said, the following tips and clues will help you procure food, without expending a great deal of precious energy. It is less taxing on one’s energy stores to dine on edible plants rather than trying to find some meat source. In fact, in some situations, it is more beneficial to stick with plants rather than waste the time and energy trying to find a meat source and then going through the task of making it edible.

That means, you need to study up on edible plants. It is actually a lot of fun to learn. To get started, you will need at least three separate, reliable sources to consult. Preferably, choose sources that have very detailed drawings, rather than photographs. More information is revealed at the hand of a talented artist than in a simple photo. Another handy trick to learning about edible plants is to draw them yourself. You don’t have to be a fabulous artist to do this. The act of sketching each plant will help you to remember specific details.

You may find yourself in a situation where you are not sure of a plant or its characteristics. There is a 3-step process you can use to determine whether or not the plant is safe to eat.

1-Take a piece of the plant and rub it on the inside of your forearm, between your elbow and wrist. Wait 15-30 minutes to see if there is any reaction. If there is no reaction, move on to the next step.

2-Take another little piece of the plant and place it under your tongue. Wait another 15-30 minutes and see if you have any kind of reaction. A negative reaction could be swelling, burning, itching or anything else that leaves you feeling not quite right. If there is no reaction after the allotted time, it is time to move on to the next step.

3-Eat a small portion of the plant and wait 24 hours. Take notice of any digestive issues, like cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, or anything else that is abnormal. If you don’t notice any of these symptoms, you can eat more of the plant. However, moderation should be practiced.

This experimental procedure should not take the place of your plant studying. You don’t have to wait for a survival situation to enjoy foraging. Get out there and do it now. It is something the whole family can and should be doing and will likely enjoy.


Chickweed is an edible plant that fortunately, when you find it, you will find a great deal of it. It is one of nature’s little delicacies and is actually rather tasty. There are no strong bitter or sour tastes accompanied with chickweed, which makes it an ideal plant for even the pickiest eater.

The stems will have fine hairs in a distinctive row. White flower petals look like spades or shovel heads. And although it looks like there are 10 petals on each flower, there are actually only 5. They have deep cuts that nearly split the petal in two, which gives them the look of having more petals than they truly do.

Chickweed is packed full of valuable nutrients including the necessary daily vitamins, A, C, and D. Surprisingly, the little plant also contains folic acid, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin. Still not impressed? It also contains an assortment of minerals, including, potassium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, iron, manganese, phosphorous, and calcium. Pretty powerful for a small weed don’t you think?

Pay close attention to the plant you are picking. There are poisonous imposters, Spotted Spurge and Scarlet Pimpernel. Take the time now to learn how to identify the plant you actually want to eat.

It does not require a great deal of energy or time to harvest chickweed, which makes it an ideal choice during a survival situation. Simply pull the entire plant out of the ground. Chickweed makes an excellent salad base. You can add dandelions and other edible weeds to create a tasty, nutrient-rich food at anytime.


Dandelions may be the bane of your existence or one of your favorite things in the world. “How could anybody love a dandelion?”, you are probably thinking. Well just wait until you hear what makes people fall in love with that little yellow weed.

Dandelions, or what are technically referred to as, Taraxacum officinale, are pretty resilient as most folks with lawns know. The invasive species loves dirt and will thrive in disturbed habitats. Basically, anywhere the dirt has been turned or moved around at all. Hence the word, disturbed.

But, before you automatically start plotting your revenge on the little yellow flower, know this, they are actually like a supermarket all in one. Each part of the dandelion is edible or useful in some way. Just in case you are not familiar with dandelions, there are a few characteristics you need to look for to make a positive identification.

  • Yellow flowers that are very familiar to most
  • The stalk is hairless and hollow
  • No hair on any section of the plant
  • The leaves point away from the flower and have visible “teeth”
  • Leaves grow out from the same part of the plant in a basal rosette fashion

The leaves of the plant are best eaten before you see the actual flower. After the flower is visible, the leaves will have a bitter taste, which isn’t necessarily bad, and can actually be good for your digestive tract. The flower heads are quite tasty all by themselves. You may want to remove some of the bitter outer green portions of the flower head or what is known as the sepal.

Now, the roots may be pushing the bitter boundaries. However, if you need a good source of fiber, the roots are the perfect solution. Just think, if you are in need of fiber, you don’t have to head out to the pharmacy, you can get a good fiber source from your front yard.

Preparing dandelions for consumption varies. You can eat them raw, which is perfect in a survival situation. Another popular choice is to make a nice dandelion salad. This is the perfect opportunity to add a few other “weeds” for more flavor and variety. Drizzle your favorite dressing and voila! Some folks like to sauté the leaves or deep fry the dandelion flowers. With any type of heat processing, you will lose some of the healthy aspects of the plant, but even so, dandelions are cheap and good eats.

The next time you look at your lawn full of dandelion and chickweed, don’t look at is as a nuisance, but a valuable resource of free food.

When Craig Caudill is not eating weeds, you can find him blogging here, possibly about subjects such as survival fire starting or teaching at his Nature Reliance School.


From Prepper Link

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