Testing Edible Plants

This is a guest post by Craig Caudill the chief instructor at the Nature Reliance School. If you’d like to submit a guest post for YourCampingExpert.com, then please check out our Write For Us post.

Any person who is interested in preparing for an emergency, crisis or survival situation will need to spend some of their time training in the procuring of food. Hunting may be what springs to mind at first, but there is another, more readily available option–plants. Not to mention, plants will not run from you and are usually a lot easier to harvest than a wild animal.

The key to harvesting plants found in the wild is to be able to recognize what is edible and what is poisonous. Obviously there are a ton of different plants in the great outdoors and native plants will vary from region to region. How can you possibly remember what is safe to eat and what isn’t? Studying, training and regular practice is about the only way you will commit it to memory. Even then, you may question whether you are looking at an edible plant. Read on. We are going to talk about how to determine whether or not a plant is safe to eat with a few tests.

First of all, let’s focus on the studying and training aspect. It is a rather fun experience that the whole family can and should get in on. You will need at least three reputable sources, a notebook and a willingness to try new things.

When choosing your sources, it is best to find sources that have pictures of plants that have been drawn. Photography simply cannot capture every nuance of a plant. An artist’s rendering will reveal all the tiniest details that will help you make a definitive identification.

You will also want to use your notebook to draw the plants you do see. Make sure you note as many characteristics as possible. Your sketch does not need to be worthy of an art gallery. Just make it to the best of your ability and have some fun with it.

There is a strong possibility you will be unable to identify a plant strictly from a book. This is where you will need to go about testing a plant’s edibility status. This is handy information to know, especially if you are in a survival situation in a strange land. You may not recognize the plants around you.

Step 1-Rub a little piece of the plant on the inside of your forearm near your wrist. Wait about 15-30 minutes and check for any kind of adverse reaction. Redness, burning, itching or anything else that is not right indicates the plant is not edible. Find something else to eat. If everything is good, move on to step 2.

Step 2 -Take another piece of the plant and put it under your tongue. Again, wait about half an hour to see if there will be any negative side effects. You are looking for the same things in the first step. If all is well, move on to the next step.

Step 3 -Eat some of the plant. Do not get carried away. Wait a full 24 hours before making any kind of determination about whether the plant is truly edible. Always remember, even the safest food can result in nasty side effects if too much is consumed. The key is moderation.

Get out there and start learning all you can about what you can and cannot eat today. Save yourself some time and wasted energy scouting for what is edible during an emergency situation.

Craig Caudill not only tests wild plants but also tools for survival for Dan’s Depot. He also is the chief instructor at his Nature Reliance School.

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