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12 Survival Edible Plants And 13 (Beautiful) Poisonous Plants To Avoid

Last Updated: July 31, 2022

So you’re stranded in the wilderness and you consumed the last nub of your Granola bar two days ago,..

You’re feeling famished. 

Civilization is still several days away, and you need to keep up your strength. The greenery all around you is looking more and more appetizing.

But what to nibble on?

Special Report: Experts Call It “The Holy Grail Of Self Sufficiency”

Some plants will keep you alive and are chock full of essential vitamins and minerals, while some could make you violently ill….or even kill you.

Which of course makes proper identification absolutely critical.

Below we’ve given a primer on 12 common edible wild plants (and 13 poisonous ones!)

Look them over and commit the plants to memory. If you’d like to discover even more edible wild plants, we suggest checking out the U.S. Army Survival Manual.

What Not To Eat

If you can’t clearly identify a plant and you don’t know if it’s poisonous, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Steer clear from a plant if it has:

  • Milky or discolored sap
  • Spines, fine hairs, or thorns
  • Beans, bulbs, or seeds inside pods
  • Bitter or soapy taste
  • Dill, carrot, parsnip, or parsley-like foliage
  • “Almond” scent in the woody parts and leaves
  • Grain heads with pink, purplish, or black spurs
  • Three-leaved growth pattern
  • Umbrella shaped plants
  • Plants with yellow or white berries

Many toxic plants will exhibit one or more of the above characteristics. Bear in mind that some of the plants we suggest below have some of these attributes, yet they’re still edible.

Hidden Content

The characteristics listed are just guidelines for when you’re not confident about what you’re dealing with. If you want to be completely sure that an unknown plant is edible, and you have a day or two to spare, you can always perform the Universal Edibility Test.

Just as you learn to identify safe plants in your area, do the same with deadly ones. The more you know about the wild plants in your area, the more likely you are to survive when you are depending on them.

Hidden Content

Guide to Poisonous Plants

13 (Beautiful) But Poisonous Plants To Avoid

poison ivy

1. Poison Ivy

Like its cousins poison oak and poison sumac, it has an oily sap in its leaves called urushiol. This causes an allergic reaction that can make your skin red, swollen, and itchy. It grows over most of the U.S. except Alaska and Hawaii. Each stem grows into three “leaflets” that might help you notice it in the woods. In the East, Midwest, and South, it grows as a vine, and in the North and the West as a shrub.

poison oak leaves

2. Poison Oak

It looks a lot like poison ivy, but its leaves are more similar to those of an oak tree. The sun-facing side of the leaf has tiny hairs on it and is a darker shade of green than the ground-facing side. Though it grows all over the country, it’s more common in the West. It could be hours or days before your skin reacts to the plant sap (urushiol). And your rash may eventually turn bumpy and form blisters that ooze.

poison sumac leaves

3. Poison Sumac

This woody shrub grows in wet, swampy areas all over the U.S. Each stem has 7 to 13 leaves and clusters of green berries that droop. Cool showers and calamine lotion might help relieve the itch, but mostly, you wait: A week or two should bring relief. See your doctor if the rash is on your face or private parts, covers more than 25% of your body, you notice pus from the rash, or you breathe in smoke from burning leaves.

large fiberous stock with small white flowers

4. Giant Hogweed

It lives in the rich, wet soil near ditches, streams, and farms, especially in the Northeast. It has umbrella-shaped groups of small white flowers, leaves with deep creases, and stems with white hairs and purple splotches. It grows as tall as 15 feet. Its sap can make your skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light, which could blister, burn, or scar it, sometimes permanently. It could even damage your vision.

gloved hand holding nettle plant

5. Stinging Nettle

The little hairs on the stems of these plants can inject your skin with a combination of chemicals. One of these, formic acid, helps put the “sting” in bee stings and fire ant bites. It’s part of what causes the itchy and even painful allergic skin reaction. Stems grow unbranched in patches to about 4 feet tall, but sometimes as high as 6 feet. Look for those stinging hairs on the stem, which are the telltale sign.

small yellow flowers

6. Wild Parsnip

Coarse, saw-toothed leaves grow on hairy, grooved stems that are 2 to 5 feet tall. The yellow flowers grow in an umbrella pattern like other plants in the carrot family. When juice from crushed leaves, stalks, or flowers touches your skin, sunlight can cause a skin rash within a day or two. Look for the distinctive yellow flower in fields, roadsides, pastures, and Midwestern prairie.

poinsettia plant

7. Poinsettia

This decorative plant is one of many in the “spurge” group that also includes prostrate spurge, spotted spurge, and leafy spurge. It has a milky sap that could irritate your skin. Like wild parsnip and giant hogweed, sunlight triggers the skin rash. If you eat it, as kids sometimes do, it can give you an itchy mouth, diarrhea, and nausea, though it usually isn’t serious.

small white flowers

8. Poison Hemlock

This plant looks like a wild carrot or an unusually big parsley plant because of the umbrella-like bunches of tiny white flowers and distinctive leaves. But it might be poison hemlock if you see purple blotches on the stem, a ridged fruit, or if it grows especially big (3 to 7 feet tall). It also has separated leaves that look similar to parsley.  It can poison humans and livestock when eaten. You could also get sick if you absorb plant oils through your skin.

bell shaped flowers

9. Foxglove

People grow it for its looks throughout the United States. It thrives in the wild in some places, too. Its bell-shaped flowers are often bright purple but can be white, yellow, or pink. It blooms in the spring. It also has a fruit with lots of seeds, which kids sometimes eat. All parts of the flower are poisonous and can slow or disrupt your heart.

bitter nightshade plant with red berries

10. Bitter Nightshade

This woody perennial has a stem that grows through the year. It can reach up to 6 feet. Purple flowers in groups of three or more bloom around July or August. Kids are sometimes drawn to the roundish, juicy, glossy, red, poisonous berries. The poison (solanine) can give you headache, drowsiness, stomachache, vomiting, trembling, lowered temperature, dilated pupils, and diarrhea. If you think someone’s eaten it, get them to a doctor right away.

small white flower

11. Jimsonweed

This strong-smelling nightshade herb has thick stems that grow 4 feet tall, with leaves up to 3 inches long. Nectar from the white, trumpet-shaped flower could make you sick, along with the leaves, and even the seeds, which some people use to get high. It makes you nauseous, thirsty, and feverish, weakens your pulse, and raises your heart rate. You might even forget where you are or see things that aren’t there.

white berries on mistletoe plant

12. Mistletoe

This plant lives off of other trees and shrubs, which makes it a parasite. Its stems are thick and easy to break, with lots of branches. The leaves are often thick and stay green all year. Its little yellowish flowers don’t have petals. The small, white berries have one seed and contain a sticky, poisonous pulp. Keep this common Christmas holiday tradition away from kids and pets. The berries can give you diarrhea and slow or stop your heart.

pink flowers on bush

13. Oleander

This tall shrub has long, leathery leaves that grow in groups of three. Bright clusters of flowers bloom at the ends of branches in colors that vary from red and pink to white. All parts of the plant are very poisonous. Just one leaf is enough to kill an adult. You may have serious stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, dilated pupils, dizziness, and breathing problems.

BONUS: If You See This Plant… Burn It Immediately!

Guide To Edible Plants

Before you start harvesting them though, it’s important to know the growing condition of these plants.

Some are considered weeds, and many people treat them as such. You don’t want to eat wild plants that have been doused with weed killer. The chemicals can leach into the ground and cause problems for quite a while after application.

Instead look for plants in wild areas, or in areas where no chemicals have been used.

Now, let’s look at 12 common wild plants that are safe, and offer some nutrition:

Edible Plant 1. Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

The vegetable that makes your pee smell funny grows in the wild in most of Europe and parts of North Africa, West Asia, and North America. Wild asparagus has a much thinner stalk than the grocery-store variety. It’s a great source of source of vitamin C, thiamine, potassium, and vitamin B6. Eat it raw or boil it like you would your asparagus at home.

Edible Plant 2. Dandelions

Dandelions

One of the most easily identified plants, every part of a dandelion is edible. The leaves are best when young, as they develop a bitter taste as they mature.

You can harvest the leaves and stems and put them in a salad. The yellow flowers are delicious when battered and deep fried. They’re also good as a garnish to your salad. The roots can be boiled to make a nutritious tea.

Edible Plant 3. Plantain

Plantain

Plantain is a common source of food found in many lawns. The leaves are shaped like a wide-oval and are ribbed. You want to eat the leaves, not the stems or flower spikes.

Pick these leaves when they’re young to avoid bitterness. They taste great when sautéed in a bit of butter. Cook this leafy green however you’d cook kale.

Edible Plant 4. Clovers (Trifolium)

Clovers (Trifolium)

Lucky you — clovers are actually edible. And they’re found just about everywhere there’s an open grassy area. You can spot them by their distinctive trefoil leaflets. You can eat clovers raw, but they taste better boiled.

Edible Plant 5. Cattails

Cattails

If you’re in a swampy area, or near a creek or lake, cattails are a good source of nutrition. You can eat the root raw or boil it. This part is underground, like a potato, so make sure to clean it well before cooking or eating.

The stem portion of this plant can also be boiled or eaten raw. Cook the leaves like you would spinach.

Even the flower spike on a cattail is edible, if eaten in the spring and early summer before it develops fluff. Boil this spike and eat it like corn-on-the-cob.

Edible Plant 6. Chicory

Chicory

Chicory is a bushy plant with small flowers. The flowers can be blue, lavender, or white. When coffee wasn’t available in the past, many people roasted the chicory root and ground it. Then they used this as a coffee substitute.

The flowers and leaves can be eaten raw. You can also boil the leaves for a different taste.

Question For The Pros: What Happens When You Pour Salt Into A Cabbage?

Take a good look at this picture. Do you know what happens when you pour salt into a cabbage?

I sure was not expecting that!

  1. The salt mixes with the cabbage juice inside and begins to ferment
  2. The cabbage phytonutrients get “supercharged” by the acidity and turn into cholesterol sweepers
  3. After 3 days you get a very powerful natural painkiller

This life-saving information was still common knowledge just a few generations ago.

Today it’s all but lost.

I first read about this forgotten cure in “The Lost Book of Remedies”, an old tome that tries to save the most powerful remedies of our forefathers.

Edible Plant 7. Lamb’s Quarter

Lamb’s Quarter

If you’re looking for a plant that offers some protein, you want lamb’s quarter. It has easily identifiable leaves. They have jagged edges and a diamond shape.

You can eat the leaves raw, in a salad, or cook them like spinach. This plant does have oxalic acid, so you don’t want to each too much of it raw, especially if you have kidney problems. Cooking it first neutralizes this acid.

Edible Plant 8. Purslane

Purslane

Often found growing through cracks in the sidewalk, purslane has small yellow flowers and smooth leaves. The stems and leaves make a nutritious addition to your wild plant survival salad.

Purslane can be used as a thickener for soup if you boil the leaves and stem. This versatile plant can also be added to stir-fry or sautéed.

Edible Plant 9. Pig Weed (Amaranth)

Pig Weed (Amaranth)

This plant can grow tall (sometimes over 6 feet tall). It’s found in gardens, fields, and other areas where the ground has been cultivated.

The flower part of this plant makes it easily identifiable. They are small and green, appearing in bristly spikes near the top of the plant.

All of this plant is edible, though the stems, leaves, and seeds are most commonly eaten. You can collect the seeds by shaking the top of mature plants. You can cook the seeds like a hot cereal, ground it into flour, or eat them raw. The stems and leaves can be boiled or eaten raw in a salad.

Edible Plant 10. Curly Dock

Curly Dock

Related to rhubarb, curly dock plants have large, wavy leaves. They grow from a taproot, and are drought-resistant.

Though poisonous to cattle and sheep, this plant offers many nutrients for people. Treat this leafy green like you would kale. You can boil it, sauté it, or even bake it with a little oil into dock chips.

Edible Plant 11. Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle

Though very spiny, the milk thistle plant is edible. It’s distinguished by its light purple flowers and prickly leaves. Make sure you are using gloves when harvesting to avoid getting poked.

If you take the spines off the leaves, they are tasty eaten raw or when cooked. After you peel the tough stem, you can cook it like asparagus.

Edible Plant 12. Chickweed

Chickweed

Found in partially shaded areas of the lawn and other cultivated ground, chickweed plants are stringy. They produce a tiny white flower.

You can eat chickweed like you would sprouts. Put it onto a sandwich for a nutrient boost, or use it as the base of your salad.

BONUS: Do You Recognize This Tree?

Curious?

Click on the image to find out

Start Eating Wild Plants Now

When you know what you’re doing, wild plans make a good food source when times are tough. But, don’t wait until the SHTF to start adding wild plants to your diet.

Get yourself a good reference book for plants in your region. Make it a point to study plants that you can eat and ones you need to avoid. You don’t want to feed your family a deadly meal because you made a mistake in your plant identification.

Instead, take the time now to learn about these plants. Learn to identify, prepare, and store them for longer term use. Eat them occasionally to introduce your taste buds to the unfamiliar tastes. This preparation will go a long way in helping you survive a disaster situation.

NEXT STEPS

The better prepared you are, and the more you have studied, the higher is your family’s chance of survival even during the darkest times.

This article was inspired from The Lost Book of Remedies. The book is helping Americans achieve curative self-sufficiency even in the darkest times by saving the lost remedies of our grandparents.

For example, you’ll learn:

  • The common plants growing in your backyard that will  replace your antibiotic pills…
  • The common weeds that can numb your pain just like morphine…
  • The “tourniquet” plants that can stop your bleeding in minutes…
  • You’ll also discover the plants that work better than modern drugs to reverse joint damage from Arthritis…
  • And to safely lower your cholesterol…
  • Stabilize your blood sugar levels…
  • And even turn the clock back on degenerative brain disease
  • And a lot, lot more.

The book is also going to share with you the strange story of one of the greatest healers who has ever lived. 

You’ll find out how you can make and use three of his most powerful remedies immediately:

  1. One for severe pain, 
  2. One for life-threatening infections, and.. 
  3. One that will greatly improve your quality of life from this day forth. 

The last one will totally take you by surprise.

This man had desperate people in front of his house day and night hoping to find relief after conventional medicine failed them.

If you are serious about protecting your family’s health even during the darkest times, then the next best step is to learn all you can from this old doctor.

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