In nature, there are hundreds of species of plants. Large percentages are edible to us humans. However, the rest are a mix of bad-tasting and often harmfully poisonous plants so we have to be careful which ones we ingest. If we were ever stranded in the middle of the wilderness, which ones should we eat for our survival?
The truth is plants we see every day are edible. Take dandelions for example. These bright yellow blossoms are unfortunately considered weeds in the US, poisoned with pesticides and pulled from the offended gardens. But this isn’t the case everywhere else. In other countries, dandelion is known as a delicious source of vitamins and a valuable antioxidant. It is believed dandelion has medicinal qualities as well. They are used to treat digestive and common skin disorders efficiently.
The whole plant, even the blossom, can be eaten. The raw bitter greens can be used for salads or blanched to make the taste softer. The flower itself can be coated in egg and flour and deep fried for a yummy appetizer or left raw as a garnish. Of course in the wild you wouldn’t be able to do any of this, but rest assured the common dandelion is a good source of nutrition. Also, the root of the dandelion can be ground and brewed as a coffee substitute.
Another common plant that is safe to eat but often overlooked is chicory. Much like dandelion, it can be eaten safely in the wild, and provides many of the essential vitamins and minerals needed for survival. The whole plant including the root is edible.
Most common wild flowers are also edible, and can be used for specialized salads or as tasty, beautiful garnish. These include chrysanthemums, marigolds, carnations, and even day lilies.
Vegetable plants also produce edible blossoms, such as squash. These large yellow flowers taste better raw than the vegetable which produced it. The flavor is mild and very palatable, and the consistency is chewable.
Garlic produces small white or pink blossoms which are safe to eat, and only contain a slight and pleasant garlic taste. Of course you can eat the garlic safely as well, although the taste might be a bit much.
Other common plants that are safe to eat in the wild plentiful in North America are berries. Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are all recognizable. Only eat berries you are surely identifying properly because some are highly poisonous. Stay away from any that are growing moldy or look like they have already been bitten, for they might contain harmful bacteria.
There is an endless list of plants that are safe to eat in the wild. The most important thing to keep in mind is to never eat any that you cannot properly identify. If you have to question what it is, don’t eat it. Also, avoid any plants that look like they might be decomposing or those that have been half-eaten by other animals. These can contain bacteria which can make you sick. Remember that when it comes to wild plants’ edibility, the key word is wild. If it’s too close to civilization it might have pesticides or other harmful man-made agents. Happy foraging!