10 Wild Edible Plants to Save Your Life

If you were hunting this weekend and got lost, would you know what you could eat? Knowing what plants are edible and which ones are not can be the difference between life and death

Identifying edible plants
The first rule to follow is that if you can’t positively identify a plant, don’t eat it. A plant could be poisonous and if you identify it incorrectly, that could be a bad end.

To complicate things, some plants are fine to eat when they are young but become poisonous later on in their growth. Some plants are poisonous during certain seasons. Others just have certain parts of the plants that are poisonous.

While some of the plants below will not fit these descriptions, as a general rule of thumb, avoid plants that have:

• milky sap
• spines, fine hairs or thorns
• beans, bulbs or seeds inside the pod
• a grainy head with pink, purple or black spurs
• a three-leaf growing pattern

Where to find edible plants
If you are in a humid region, most of the plants will be in sunny areas. If you are in a dry region, the majority of the plants will be found near water sources.

It’s a good idea to locate a local plant guidebook and familiarize yourself with it before you go out. You might also consider making it a part of your pack.

Wild asparagus plantAsparagus
Wild asparagus is common in many parts of North America, Europe and West Asia. It is very similar to asparagus that you find in your grocery store but has a lot thinner stalk. It typically resembles a cluster of green fingers. The mature plant is fern-like with red berries. The plant's flowers are small and green in color. Wild asparagus is most common between March and June. It is a great source of Vitamin C, thiamine and potassium. You can eat it raw or boil it. You'll most likely find it along ditches, fields, fences or at the base of ferns.[1]
Wild cattail plantCattail
These plants are known as cattails or punks in North America. They are known as bullrush or reedmace in Europe. They are typically found near freshwater rivers and ponds. They are tall plants that have a brown or bright yellow hot dog-shaped flower on the end. Most of the plant itself is edible. The best part of the plant is the stem near the bottom where the stalk is white. You can boil or eat them stem raw. Boil the leaves to eat them. If you want to eat the hot dog-looking part of the plant, you need to get it at the right time. The roots specifically, are very good sources of Vitamins A and B[2]
Lucky for you, clovers are edible! They are typically found in an open grassy area and are better when boiled. It's best to eat the blossoms, but don't eat the brown blossoms. You'll want young and fresh white, pink or red ones. The leaves are also edible however, you'll want to look for young ones. The younger leaves are digestible raw in small amounts - half a cup or so. Older leaves will need to be cooked.[3] You should be warned too that you'll never want to eat fermented clover leaves and clovers in warm climates can produce small amounts of cyanide so be careful.[4]
Wild chickweed plantChickweed
The chickweed is most common in temperate and arctic zones. The leaves are pretty thick and usually have small white flowers on the head. They are most common between May and July. Chickweed is very high in many vitamins and minerals. You can eat the leaves raw or boiled. The chickweed has a poisonous look-alike called spotted spurge. It grows close to the ground and can can even grow side by side with chickweed. Spurge exudes an acrid, white, milky sap when the leaves are cut. Chickweed does not.[5]
Wild dandelion plantDandelion
It should be pretty easy to identify dandelions. They are the ones that keep popping up in your perfect lawn! Your kids use them to draw with. Dandelion leaves have jagged edges, grow close to the ground and typically grow in bright areas.The great thing about them though is that they are entirely edible. You can eat the leaves while they are still young. The mature leaves aren’t bad but they will taste bitter. To get rid of the bitter taste, you can boil the leaves. You can also boil the roots before eating. You can also drink the water after you boil it.[6]
Wild fireweed plantFireweed
Fireweed is a pretty purple and pink plant that is common in the Northern Hemisphere. It can also be identified by its unique structure of the leaf's veins. The veins are circular instead of ending at the edge of the leaf. It’s better to eat younger fireweed plants. Mature fireweed is a lot tougher and more bitter. You can eat the stalk of the leaves. The flower and the seeds have a pepper taste.[7]
Green Seaweed plantGreen Seaweed
If you are trapped on a deserted island, seaweed might be your best friend. Seaweed is found in oceans around the world and is very common. After you pull the seaweed from the water, rinse it with fresh water and let it dry out. You can eat the seaweed raw or even include it in some type of soup.
Wild plantain plantPlantain
Not to be confused with the banana-like plant, the plantain plant has large spinach-like leaves. You can usually find plantain plants near marshes and bogs. They also tend to sprout up in alpine areas. The leaves tend to grow close to the ground, be large, oval and ribbed. They will also be short-stemmed. The leaves tend to grow 4 to 6 inches wide. Like many plants, the leaves are better the younger they are. Upon maturing, they grow more bitter.[8]
Wild prickly pear cactusPrickly Pear Cactus
This “Bear Necessity” of Baloo the bear in “The Jungle Book,” is most commonly found in the deserts of North America. It has a great taste and is very nutritional. The fruit of the prickly cactus is typically red or purple. Before you eat the plant, remove the small spines on the outer skin. You can also eat the stem of the prickly pear cactus if the plant is younger.[9]
Wild elderberry plantElderberry
Elderberry is most commonly found in wet areas like marshes, rivers, ditches and lakes. They are very common in North America primarily the eastern United States. You can identify elderberry by it’s many stems. It has a compound leaf and grows about 20 feet high. It’s flowers are very fragrant, white and grow in flat-topped clusters.Most agree that they do need to be cooked if you are going to eat more than just a few out of hand. That’s because they have a small amount of cyanide producing glycosides, which are released upon digestion, but so do loquats. Professor Julia Morton says the fully ripe black berries are not toxic and you can eat as many as you like.[10]

What others do you know of?
We’ve only listed 10 weeds that you can eat. There are countless books about edible plants and other self-sufficiency guides. What others do you know of? Comment below to share your wealth of knowledge.

[1] "Cooking with Wild Edbiles. Now Spear This: Wild Asparagus" Organic Valley Family of Farms. Retrieved from www.organicvalley.coop/recipes/features/wild-edibles/now-spear-this-wild-asparagus on 7/14/14.
[2] Deane, Green. "Cattails - A Survival Dinner" Eat the Weeds. Retrieved from www.eattheweeds.com/cattails-a-survival-dinner on 7/14/14.
[3] Deane, Green. "Clover, Available Around the World" Eat the Weeds. Retrieved from www.eattheweeds.com/clover-available-around-the-world-2 on 7/14/14
[4] Washington University in St. Louis. (2007, October 4). Genetic Differences In Clover Make One Type Toxic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 14, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071001151308.htm
[5] Brill, Steve. "Edible Chickweed: Here Chicky, Chicky, Chickweed" Retrieved www.hgtvgardens.com/foraging/wild-man-here-chicky-chicky-chickweed on 7/14/14
[6] Breyer, Melissa. 2011. "Eating Dandelions" Retrieved from www.care2.com/greenliving/eating-dandelions.html on 7/14/14
[7] Constantino, Laurie. 2008. "How to Harvest and Use Fireweed Shoots" Retrieved from www.laurieconstantino.com/how-to-use-and-harvest-fireweed-shoots/ on 7/14/14
[8] McDougall, Len. 2011. "Plantain: A Weed You Can Eat" April/May edition of 2011 Mother Earth News. Online edition available here: https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/common-plantain-zm0z11zhun.aspx
[9] McCord, Garrett. 2008. "How to Cut and Prepare Prickly Pears" Retrieved from www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_cut_and_prepare_prickly_pears on 7/14/14
[10] Deane, Green. "Elderberries: Red, White and Blue" Retrieved from www.eattheweeds.com/elderberries-red-white-and-blue on 7/14/14

78 thoughts on “10 Wild Edible Plants to Save Your Life”

  • Russell

    Well heres one the inner bark of most all pine trees and pine seeds,though very small and most all acorn trees,the bitter ones just bole them in water two to three times of changed water.

  • Leslie

    I recently took an edible plants class, and we were instructed NOT to eat the berries of elderberry raw . . . only cooked. I would double check that one.

    • The Ready Store


      Most types of elderberries are in fact OK to eat. Unripe elderberries contain sambunigrine which is only mildly toxic. To be safe, only go after the ripe ones and stick to the black elderberry plant.

  • Paula

    In a Natural History class we learned that there are two kinds of sumac trees. The one with white berries was poisonous,the one with the red fuzzy cones was not poisonous. Pioneers boiled the red cones to make a drink, that had a lemonade taste. The red berries are food for birds. Those cones can also be rubbed on boots to waterproof leather, but it will leave a reddish stain.

  • Guy

    Just a few to mention....
    1. Roses.....(wild rose as well). The petals of the flower are edible. The buld behind the flower, called the rose hip, can be boiled to make a vitamin rich tea or jelly if you have the time.
    2. Blackberry..... hardy plant that produces fruit late summer. VERY prolific in my area.
    3. Rasberry....another hardy plant but produces fruit in early summer...VERY prolific in my area. The young leaves make a light refreshing tea tea rich in vitamin C.
    4. White Pine......the new needles can be steeped to make a nice tea, rich in vitamin C.
    5. Fiddle heads (Young curled fern sprouts). Bitter when raw but nice when cooked.
    The list continues but includes acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts, duck weed, sasafras, morrels, and wild grapes.
    I grew up in the country with my grandfather showing me only a fool would starve :) I am no a father trying to teach my kids. A day outside "foraging" beats the hell out of a day on the Xbox. Thanks for all you guys do....Guy

  • meadowsandmore

    Wow. I cant really agree to follow the guidance of this blog. Especially what to avoid. Dandelion has a milky sap and stinging nettle has stings. The picture of a clover is not a clover...
    Of course everyone may have a different opinion about what tastes good and how to cook it, but these are not my favorites....

  • Barbara Inklebarger
    Barbara Inklebarger September 27, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Polk plant is gathered by many people living inTennessee. They call it polk salad. It is also cooked. I've never eaten myself. Thank you for info.

    • Cyber Geezer

      It's Poke Salad, not Polk Salad. Poke Salad grows wild all throughout the southeastern United States. If you want to live eat only the young shoots, avoid any red tinged stems. If you want to die eat the older leaves and stems which contain a highly toxic poison. The berries can be used to dye things, but there is some conflicting opinions on whether the berries can be eaten; so my advice is just to be safe do not eat them.

      To prepare: Young leaves taken from stalks less than one foot tall can be parboiled in two changes of water for several minutes each and boiled in a third water until tender. They taste a cross between asparagus and spinach. Can be mixed with either spinach or turnip greens or by themselves.

  • lucy

    fiddleheads-young center shoots of the fern plant,new young shoots of the milkweed plant-tastes a lot like spinache,leeks-loks like a scallion-more a wild garlic,delicious but smelly,sheepsorrow-tart and delicious,big white puff balls-wonderful eating-part of the mushroom family

  • Phil Molloy

    Something everyone might want to know is that, though edible, there is nothing you can do to make the dandelion plant palatable. I've tried them young and mature, raw and boiled, cooked with other edibles, etc. And no amount of your finest Caesar or Tangy Italian dressing will cover the bitterness. In short, the dandelion plant is is edible but it tastes just awful!
    If anyone has had differing results, I'd be happy to try a new way to prepare them.

    Thanks Ready Store! Great products, good prices, wonderful advice, and awsome customer service!

    Retired U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Emergency Preparedness Trainer, Wilderness SAR Operations, Prepper, Survivalist, and Outdoorsman
    North Carolina

    • Roger

      I love dandelion greens. Pick only the youngest leaves, that are not fully green (fully green leaves have the bitter taste). One paper grocery full makes about two servings. Simply boil them in water until wilted (like cooked spinach). Just add a little butter and salt to taste.

  • natedavidr


    Dandylion LEAVES actually do NOT have milky sap and are widely used as salad greens even by those not in a survival situation. But avoid the stems. The sting of stinging nettle is removed when you blanch them. A quick search on the Internet will show you how.

  • Mary

    I am 78 yrs. old. As a child, we put Plantain on our cuts/sores. Later, as a young woman, I came across Aloe Vera for sunburn; I decided at an early age that if it was good on the outside, it must be good on the inside. When I first married, 1951, I fed my husband a dandelion salad; he almost killed me, but, I survived and still use the young leaves to-day. I've never tried the flowers. Red Clover makes a nice tea. A friend introduced me to Mullein, which is good for sore throat. I would like to know about Burdock Root & Leeks. Please let me know what book this information came from. You people are great. Keep up the fantastic work.

  • Rebecca

    I would love to take a class where we go outdoors and the instructor SHOWS us which plants are edible in our region, and how to prepare them, and even let us try them. Something like this doing it under pressure of being lost in the woods, or under stress, surely would cause me to eat the wrong thing and poison myself... I am intrigued and desirous of this knowledge.

  • Susanne

    This I am sure is for survival and You'd do a lot of things to keep alive!! Thank you for the great info.

  • grandma

    Here in the northeast there are lots of Japanese Knotweed plants that can be eaten in May and June. The stalks look similar to Bamboo and taste like Rhubarb. I don't know if the leaves are edible or not but I think it's only the stems. Please type Japanese Knotweed in your search engine for a picture and complete information on this wild, invasive weed. It contains lots of vitamins and is good for you.

  • Sue

    The above foods are not just for survival. We use many of them daily at our home. You should practice now or you won't know how to prepare or cook them later.

    I use NETTLES for tea; it is a mild antihistamine. Nettle tea helped my husband's clogged sinuses to clear. If we don't use the raw in the boiling water, I put them in the dehydrator for later use. When the nettle leaves are heated (boiled or dried) the stinging hairs are deactivated and I can handle the leaves with no problems. (Cooked nettles taste like spinach. Since I don't care for cooked spinach we don't cook the nettles.)

    Another great plant for salads is LAMB'S QUARTERS. You can positively identify it by the fuzzy white new leaves at the tips. The white fuzz feels a bit granular, but it washes off. We use the fresh leaves in a salad for most of the summer. A friend cooks hers like spinach and keeps it through the winter.

    We also eat the VIOLETS in our yard. The fresh leaves are added to salads all summer long. The flowers look beautiful on the salad as well.

    With the lamb's quarters and violets, the larger leaves that have been on the plant a while are a bit tougher, but still edible.

    There is another wild edible I have not yet tried - Amaranth. Supposed to be another spinach substitute.

  • Sue

    You don't have to boil the red sumac berries to extract the "lemon" flavor.

  • Sue

    You don't have to boil the red sumac berries to extract the "lemon" flavor.

    "Meadowsandmore"-You are right, that is not a "clover". It is a wood sorrel. Most people, however, will not know the difference. I love the wood sorrel's tangy, sour taste in my salads.

    Use gloves for the nettles then boil them for tea. It tastes "green" but it is good.

  • Kerry

    I live in Eastern Wyoming, and I am really, really interested in learning how to forage in thie area. Does anyone know someone who teaches?

  • Emily


    As the Ready Store said, totally edible. I used to have many elderberry bushes in my backyard and ate them regularly. They are delicious fresh, as jam, fermented into wine, or as a compote.

  • Amy

    Dandelions are definately bitter, but they go great on hamburgers with mustard. That's the only way I've found I can actually choke them down. Living in WA state, I can only hope to get lost late summer to early fall. Here we've got blackberries, blueberries, huckleberries,salmon berries, acorns, apple trees, plum trees, bear grass, cow lily, glacier lily,cat tails, ferns, asparagus, mushrooms of all sorts and of course dandelions. I'm interested in trying the plantain, though. See them everywhere, but never thought to eat them.

    Recently discovered that my local community college has a mushroom class each fall, which is conviently the harvest season for the lovely little fellas.

  • Mark Craig

    I live in the Ozarks would like to know if there are classes in the area.

  • Hollie

    Mustang grapes grow wild here in north Texas. They ate bitter raw but can be made into wine or jelly. Also acorns!

  • Tina

    I am a student of Herbalism and practice as such. I have a Family Herbalist Certificate and was working on a Consulting Herbalist Certificate when Clayton College shut its doors. However, with that said there are many online courses you can take if your are wanting to seriously learn about plants and what to do with them. Steven Foster has a website that is awesome in showing you what plants look like which gives you the ability to be able to identify them. StevenFoster.com Also some very good books to "learn" how herbs (plants) can be used are as follows... School of Natural Healing, by Dr. John R. Christopher, Herbal Reference Guide. The Book of Herbal Wisdom, Using Plants as Medicines, by Matthew Wood. Eyewitness Handbooks "Herbs" The visual guide to more than 700 herb species from around the world, by Lesley Bremness. A pocket Guide to Herbs, (illustrated guide), by Jenny Linford. There isn't enough space for me to list all the books I have in my library, However Plantain aka "ribwort" IS one of the very BEST herbs to have on hand. It will literally pull poison from a bee sting, snake or spider bite. It is an herbal drawing agent. Echinacea angustifolia or Purple Coneflower (you see them in many a neighbors yard) is your antibiotic plant. (as well as Garlic). Eupatorium purpureum, Gravel Root aka Joy pye weed aids in urinary infections. Monarda fistulosa, or Monarda didyma aka Sweet Leaf or Bergamot or Bee Balm was used by the American Indians. They used the leaves to boil and make a tea called Oswego Tea. (don't confuse this with the Bergamot used to flavor tea in the store Ie Earl Grey. Earl Grey is flavord by a small citrus fruit from Italy. I could go on forever, but I can't so lastly Milk Thistle, Silybum marianum. Milk Thistle was known to our ancestors as food and medicine. It has among many attributes the ability to "save your life" in the event you ingest one of the deadly "Death Cap Mushrooms". I truly hope you research wild plants and how they can not only provide food, but also medicine to each of you. Your state's Conservation Departments generally have a website that might help with wilds that can be eaten from your specific locations. :o)

  • Tina

    I forgot to say that Psyllium its the seeds from the Plantain plant. They are used as a laxative. Another gift from the Ribwort (Plantian plant). Salix alba, Willow is what they derive asprin from. Hawthorn the berries, I personally take everyday for Mitral Valve prolapse. Vitex or Chaste Tree Berry aka Agnus Cactus the berries have a balancing effect on the hormones and they taste like black pepper may be used as such. OK I promise I won't list again. Thanks!! :o)

  • Judy


    My husband grew up in the country and absorbed some of this knowledge from family. I learned a bit in scouts. We've discussed getting books and brushing up on our local flora before we start teaching our own children. We've found outreach classes through the local university/schools, community centers, and online. Try starting at foragersharvest.com

  • Oscar

    I am not sure about the rest of the country, but we have a plant called miners lettuce, in Northern California. It is at its peak in the late winter to early spring please look online to ID. I had to eat it once on a job we had that ran late and we were hungry. It is good stuff, and I read it has a lot of vitamin C.

  • Edith

    WOW! Awesome information. Thanks so much for the book info as I have been looking for good references for medicinal as well as food related plants. THANKS!

  • Faith

    The Elderberry is easily confused with Water Hemlock which can kill you, so proper identification is very important. I would remove that plant from your list of edible plants.

    • baby boy

      you sure it's not wild carrot (queen Anne's Lace) that looks almost exactly like hemlock? I have picked a lot of elderberries and they make the world's best pies. I really don't see confusing elderberry and hemlock but wild carrot is real close to hemlock.

  • beansprite

    This reference could be the death of you.
    -NEVER eat anything other than the young shoots of the asapragus. The berries are poisonous, as well as parts of the mature plant.
    -Carefull where you harvest your cattails. They most often grow in polluted or contaminated water, and can give you pericites.
    -Clover should be eaten immediately after harvested and cleaned. As it ages it becomes toxic, so when you pick it; make sure it is nice and green, because the toxin is enough to kill a cow.
    -EVERYTHING on the elderberry bush is toxic, accept for the berries and flower petals.
    -Do not eat or drink anything from dandelion if you are diabetic or have kidney problems, because it is a powerfull diuretic.

  • Doug

    The center stalk from the palmetto bush (found everywhere in the South)can be pulled out (sometimes a little difficult though)and the meaty soft tip of the stalk can be eaten I grew up eating it and still do today.

  • Kris

    Alot of times you can find websites (as mentioned) of local conservation/wildlife initiatives that will tell you when/how/what to harvest in your area. Also, getting a foraging book for your area helps, then go for a walk and see what's in the area. Keep a journal for the plants in your immediate area, how to prepare, what parts to eat, and take note of what time of the year they show up. Its not just for emergencies, great to gather this kind of information over the years --be in touch with nature and its bounty.

  • Brenda

    Here in the Southeast we have an abundance of cudzu. I have never eaten it, but understand it is very tasty deep fried or in salads. I believe that all parts of the plant are edible. Also, what my mom use to call "creasy greens" were very tasty and she would pick them growing wild from our yard and cook like collard or turnip greens.

  • Hungry Man

    Anybody seen the TV spots on PBS "I eat weeds and trees"? It's just a few minutes long (5-10) from the 80's although it has been shown on my local channel in the last few years. Very good info and he shows example from finding to cooking..."weeds and trees"

  • Terry

    Here in Oklahoma we make jelly out of Elderberry the grandkids love it make it just like grape

  • Michael Zlogar

    Does anyone/school offer a foraging course. I am also interested in a foraging first aid course. in Pennsylvania

  • Jonathan Tyndall

    Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium album) is a leafy vegetable that grows in the wild and often around livestock pens. Some folks call it wild spinach or pigweed. It taste like mustard greens and is very good raw in a salad or boiled with your favorite seasoning. I grew up on this green in rural South Carolina and I love it to this day (when I can find it). Another tasty option is sassafras tea, which is made from the roots of a sassafras tree sapling. You'll have to do an internet search to get the specifics on this one

  • JeannieC

    re the elderberries. My siblings and cousins ate elderberries straight off the tree every year growing up - none of ever even got so much as a stomach ache! LOVED them! My uncles also made elderberry wine every year.

  • JeannieC

    Just read the comment about dandelions!!! Oh my! Last summer, for the first time in my life, I ate fried dandelion flowers!! Thoroughly cleaned, stem removed, dipped in batter and pan-fried. I wouldn't have missed that for the world!!! Just amazing and wonderful! I definitely look at that "weed" in a different manner now! They're a pain to pick "enough", clean, and fry, but sooo worth the effort! Also - have sucked the sweet from clover flowers allll my life.

  • Kyle

    In the North East its fairly easy to find plants that will sustain you. The easiest to find are Wild Onion, due to the smell. Second would be Pine nuts/inner bark boiled as its easy to spot.

    Here is a short list of not tasty, but life sustaining edible plants that are easy to identify.
    Any Mint weed

    Most of your flowers are edible, only the flower part. The best rule of thumb is to try a sample no larger than your thumbnail, wait 1/2 hour, try another thumbnail size wait another 1/2 hour, if your not sick or dead, keep eating.

  • PA Wildman

    I have to take issue with what beansprite wrote. Sweet clover only becomes toxic if it spoils or molds as you would see in hay bales stored outside or baled wet. Note however that wilted maple leaves are toxic to horses and I would have to assume other ruminants.

  • Becky

    In Wyoming, might try your county extension office for info. I've found them to be very helpful on anything relating to plants in the area, including what grows well here and how to have a successful garden (which is not easy here).

  • max

    A boy scout instructor showed me a small potato like ball (1-2in diameter)in the root structure of a cactus, and said that it was very "starchy".
    I didn't try to cook one until I got hungry during military survival school. I found several and cooked them in a broth made from wild onions, polk leaves, salt and pepper, and those little cactus potatoes. I didn't get sick...but the pototoes were very starchy and gooey.

  • Tina

    Here are a couple websites I just came across. They may be a source of information for some. I especially enjoyed Purple Sage. It had nice pictures along with the discussion of the plants.



  • steve

    can you tell me if theres a class around bay minette al. that teachs what plants you can eat and survival

  • Charles Walter


    You mentioned taking the spines off of the prickly pear but people whohave never encountered a ripe preckly pear may not have nuderstood. All of the soft-looking, downy white fuzzy hairs are cactus throns. They are tiny and if handled bare handed will leave thousands of 'prickers' in the skin. Either peel the skin carefully with a knife (still a small risk of leaving some behind) or skewer them and roast them over a small fire. The downy thorns will curl and wilt and the warmth will make the pear a little bit sweeter.

  • mimi

    I've got a story about elderberries. In the 30's, when my Dad was 16, he came across a wild stand of elderberries. Being young and hungry, he sat in the shade of the bushes and munched on those elderberries for hours, until he was bursting.

    Hours later yet, he 'got sicker than he'd ever been in his life'. He was so sick he couldn't walk, crawl or mew like a kitten. Ok. We've all been there, right?

    Yes, elderberries do contain a mild toxin that will make you wish you were dead.

    But here is the crux of the story. That same week polio blew into town. It killed my Dad's cousin in 24 hours flat. My Dad got it. He survived.

    I've always wondered if it wasn't the antiviral properties in the elderberries that saved his life. (look it up!)

    It's not called "elder" berry for nothin'! Elderberries are revered in European folklore for giving a person long life and good luck.

  • Christine Mack

    My grandma use to roast the roots of dandelion then grind it very finely and make it into a drink like coffee. It has a very mild taste and has a lot of antioxidants in it. Also, the flower makes a great jam and wine you just need a bunch of them.

  • Lynda

    My Nature Study professor told our class that Mullen can be crushed, thrown into a lake or a pond to drug fish. He said that the native Americans in my area of Michigan did this In order to catch fish to eat.

  • peter


    My wife cooks her dandelions With a few lentils mixed in with them. The lentles seem to absorb the bitter taste.

    Tiger Lillies and Day Lillies.
    You can eat the flower shoots before they open up raw or cooked they look like a green bean in that stage and taste similiar. Excellant as they tend to grow in large clusters.

  • Rebecca

    I've had elderberries growing up dozens of times and never got sick from them. My great aunt used to make elderberry syrup too, which would cure a cold and keep my asthma under control.

    We had sauteed dandelion greens with steak too. I think the flavor is much better when they are cooked.

    I've never had plantain because I am allergic. I wonder if that is a common allergen for others in the northeast too, like ragweed. That might be one to approach carefully.

  • Lorraine

    My grandfather used to pick "woolen britches" for greens. I tried to find them online and finally found out they are called "woolen breeches". They grow on our hillside right in with the stinging nettles and wild lettuce. All very tasty. Pigweed that grows as a weed in the garden is amaranth, lambsquarter is much different, both very good. We have an abundance of purslane in our garden too, and it is VERY good for you. I read in a survival book once that the new little soft tips on spruce has more vitamin C than oranges, and makes a wonderful tea. If you get into a patch of nettles, do as the Indians did and rub yellow dock leaves on the stings til the skin turns green. It works and you will find yellow dock in the same area as nettles.

  • Just Someone

    You forgot:
    Wild Onion

  • lisa

    Wildman, I agree. Clover isn't toxic unless it's molded. Even at that, I think the part where people think it's toxic to cows is because cows and horses can't burp or vomit. If moldy food gets in, gasses build up and they can't get rid of them. What kills them is not toxin..it's colic or bloat.

  • Namelorrie kravig
    Namelorrie kravig July 9, 2013 at 10:30 am

    These comments are great and helpful. I teach a class to high school seniors every fall and try to add a new plant to my repetoire every year. This year I found a great stock of water lily bulbs and have found the seed to be pretty sticky and difficult to extract. Is there an easy way? Should I open them and dry them first, or let them soak to slime and strain, or what?

  • Ann

    My survival book says you can also eat the inner bark of the birch tree- raw, cooked as thin strips like pasta, or ground down to use like flour.

  • Polly

    Actually, I have a question. Most everything listed above are available during the growing season. What is available in the winter months?

  • jon heitz

    look up chaga...it grows on birch trees,i make tea...very good,and good for you

  • Julie Ann


  • Julie Ann

    And what they are calling clover, in the picture is not clover, it is what I called as a child.. "Sour Grass" Oxalis pes-caprae AKA Bermuda buttercup, African wood-sorrel, Bermuda sorrel, Buttercup oxalis, Cape sorrel, English weed, Goat's-foot, Sourgrass, Soursob and Soursop. I ate that all the time as a kid.

  • Carol

    American Beautyberry (what we called Spanish Mulberry when I was a child) is ripe now in East Texas. It has beautiful bright purple seeds that are slightly sweet. I gathered some last week to use in a mixed salad. I'm trying to teach my husband about the plants my grandfather showed me when I was a child. He grew up in the Big Thicket of East Texas and could easily live in the woods as long as he wanted on the plants and animals he knew to eat.

  • Laurie

    service berries,choke cherries, pig weed, lambs quarter,marshmallow weed,mushrooms if you know how to identify them correctly,

  • Charley Griffith
    Charley Griffith October 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    I'm a wild edibles teacher and yes, there were some errors in the article, and some errors in the blog comments; but if this subject whets your appetite, buy a couple of wild edible plant field guides, and start learning from them - my three favorites are: one by Lee Peterson, another by Elias and Dykeman, and the third by Linda Runyan; and there is a plethora of other excellent books on the subject - I have at least 30 or 40. Don't eat anything that you cannot positively identify. Inquire locally about teachers in your area who truly know wild edibles and also ask about classes - often at Nature Centers (where I teach most often).

  • Kad

    Just a quick note: Pregnant and nursing mothers should not eat dandelions or ferns. There is a chemical in them known to cause problems.

  • elli

    heres my list for nortern utah
    -bullrush (we called them reeds)
    -juniper (berries & bark)
    -wild rose (retals)
    -thistle (peeled stock)
    -wild onyons
    -wild garlic
    -day lillies (buds)
    -choke cherries

  • don zuke

    I studied forestry in college and know a good bit about the wild forest in the northeast. I didn't read all the comments but here are a few Pawpaw American ginseng and echinacea. Stag-horn sumach with the red cones. beach nuts if you can get to them. Sassafras is a carcinogen. Easy to identify though just cut the bark and it's orange inside and smells great.

  • Bob

    We ate polk leaves as a salad while camping in Scouting. When in college I tried again and nearly died from throwing up and dehydration! Turns out the older plants, taller then about 18", are poisonous!

  • samuel

    awsome website try it

  • walt

    Article had photos and text overlapping, making much of it unreadable on my device. Where can I download it? Thanks.

  • edibleplantguy
    edibleplantguy May 27, 2014 at 12:33 am

    This site is a bogus hoax! First, the plant marked clover is the very poisonous water-fern known as Marselia. It was a member of this genus that killed the Burk-Wills Expedition across Australia. The plant labeled Asparagus is actually an Ornithogalum often called asparagus, but unrelated to the plant discussed.

    This so-called article was stolen from other sites that do not have any appreciable expertise either. This is not a site to trust for anything. BEWARE!

  • Bob Lamb

    The blue elderberries in Utah will make you sick if you eat them raw. I've eaten just a small handful on some ice cream and got very sick for several hours (couple of years ago). Makes great syrup when cooked and mixed with sugar though. Picked 19-gal bags this month up in the mountains. Lots still up there.

  • Tyler M

    I cant remember what it is called but it is grown in Montana mostly but it is a white berry and dose not grow more than a foot off the ground it is bitter but very good for your health.

  • Mary M

    I agree with doing the prep work BEFORE an emergency. Local book stores carry excellent reference sources. Take little day side trips with guide in hand. Never eat what you can't positively identify. There are ways to test, but better safe than sorry. I live in NE GA and was raised in extreme northern NY. Two different worlds as a forager! Most capped berries (raspberries, blackberries, red mulberries) and nuts are edible. Mushrooms don't supply enough nutrition to take any chances, unless you are absolutely certain. Many Appalachian, Adirondack, Ozark, and Smokey Mountain cultures, as well as Native Tribal peoples still sustain themselves with the bounty found in nature. Creases, dandelion, chickweed, sheep sorrel, dock, leeks, ramps, clover, violets, Indian cucumber root, many teas, ground nuts, burdock, nettles, may apples, cattails, ferns, poke salad, sourgrass, wintergreen flavor of birch, maple sap, spruce gum, pine needles, sassafras root, chives, acorns, wild game and fish, the list is endless!! Not something to do only in a survival scenario, a way of life and helps the grocery money go farther in these days of uncertainty! Great info but photos over lap article on my device, as well! Thanks!

  • Sheila

    There is one plant I've eaten since I was a child. When it's small it resembles clover, however it gets tall. It gets small white flowers on it. I have no idea what it's called, but I call it sweet grass. It's, sweet with an under lying tart to it. Been eating it for years and look forward to it every year, but usually only around in early to mid spring

  • Al

    When hiking in the Badlands in early spring I like to eat the young stalk of the yucca plant. It looks and smells a lot like a large asparagus. If you can get to it when it is very young, less than a foot tall it is tender and delicious. I understand that the root is also edible but I have never tried it.

  • Ben Henderson

    I was intersted in survival when much younger. I started preparing in the 1960's and storing books and survival equipment, underground. The USA appeared to be falling apart but I think it may be worse now. If I were looking for information now, the Internet and book stores like Books-A-Million would be a great help. This is an enjoyable passtime for me to read all these comments and at age 78 I am "fit as a fiddle".

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