Edible Plants

Edible Plants

Plants You Can Eat   by vjj dunn

Most of us are spoiled to heading to the grocery store whenever we're in the mood for some fresh veggies, herbs or fruit. But what happens in a crisis situation when you're forced to fend for yourself (and probably for your family too)?

If you find yourself in such a situation, here is a list of edible plants that will help you survive.

DISCLAIMER: I highly suggest getting an edible plants and herbs book for identification purposes. Going by internet pictures isn't always the best method of identifying plants. If in doubt, don't eat it!

Here are some great resources (non-affiliate link; I get NO MONEY from this): Edible Wild Food



Easily recognized. Cooked acorns are a bit bitter, but can be eaten in a limited amount.


Wild asparagus grows in most of Europe, North Africa, West Asia and North America. While just as tasty as the store variety, wild asparagus will have a thinner stalk. Packed with Vitamin C, thiamine, potassium and vitamin B6, you can eat it raw, but for best palatability, boil it like you would store-bought.


Wild blackberries are easy to recognize, as the berries look just like those you buy in the grocery store, but probably smaller. The plant itself has reddish stems with long thorns like a rosebush and the leaves are wide and jagged. Depending on where you live, the berries ripen from mid-July through September.


Also known as "Punks" or "Corn Dog Grass" in the USA, as well as "Bullrush" or "Reedmace" in the UK and "Cumbungi" in Australia, this plant is normally found along the edge of freshwater and were a diet staple for many Native tribes in North America. Most of the plant is edible. The plant is best eaten boiled. The roots are edible and the best part of the stem is the white part at the bottom. The leaves are also edible.


Other common names include chickenwort,  craches,  maruns and winterweed. These usually appear May and July, you can eat the leaves raw or boiled. Very high in both vitamins and minerals, the plant is often used in anemic patients due to its high iron content. The liquid from the boiled stems is used to treat skin diseases (especially for itching) and aching bones and bruises.


Starting in the spring and throughout the summer, you can recognize this plant by its bright yellow "fuzzy" flower. The entire plant can be eaten raw, or you can cook them to help alleviate some of the bitterness (they are less bitter in the spring). Dandelions are full of vitamins A and C and beta carotene.

Fiddlehead Fern

Several species of this plant grow worldwide, but some are dangerous to eat raw, so always cook first to be on the safe side. Gather early in the spring before the fronds begin to unfurl. When picking fiddleheads, it is recommended to take only half the tops per plant/cluster for sustainable harvest. Rich in iron, fiber, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and are an antioxidant.


Known in the USA as fireweed, in Canada as great willowherb and the UK as rosebay willowherb. Cooked fireweed shoots are similar to wild asparagus and can be used in soups, mixed cooked greens, or any dish that calls for cooking greens.  Fireweed shoots must be gathered when they first emerge; once the leaves start spreading out, they are too bitter for most people.  Boil the shoots briefly, discard the water and finish cooking in fresh water.


This plant grows tall (5.5 to 8.5 feet). The stems and leaves are shiny green to yellow-green and smell somewhat like a cross between parsley and celery when crushed. The flowers are yellow/greenish-yellow. Use raw leaves in salads, or cooked in soups, with rice or with other greens. The roots can also be eaten. The seeds can be used as a spice and are similar to fennel.

Monkey Flower

Also known as musk flower, flowers are red, pink, or yellow, often in various combinations. A large number of the species grow in moist to wet soils with some growing even in shallow water. Native Americans used this plant to season wild game as a salt substitute. The entire plant is edible, but very salty and bitter unless well cooked. The juice from the leaves can also be used to treat mild skin irritations and burns.


Nettles should be picked before they flower and always wear gloves when harvesting. Older leaves should not be eaten, as they contain cystoliths, which are harmful to the kidneys.  Always cook nettles and use the leaves as you would any other mixed greens.


The entire pigweed plant is edible. The seeds are very small but packed with nutrition. Easy to harvest, the seeds can be ground into flour for baking. You can also sprout the seeds to add to salads or sandwiches. Young leaves can be cooked like any other greens or eaten raw, and the leaves can also be used to make tea.


Pine is available all over the world and there are over a hundred different species.  Simmer a bowl of water and add some pine needles to make tea. Rich in Vitamin C, Native Americans used pine to cure skurvy. This tea is great with a little sugar.


Plantain grows in gardens and driveways, but it’s also edible. Pick the green, rippled leaves and leave the tall flower stems. The leaves are great sautéed with garlic and butter.


Many gardeners consider this plant a noxious weed that takes over landscapes. But purslane is nutritious, providing several vitamins and minerals. Ghandi considered purslane one of his favorite foods! The succulent leaves have a slightly sour taste that can be tempered by boiling. This plant grows from the beginning of summer through fall (depending on where you live).

Wood Sorrel

Growing in much of the world, with flowers ranching from bright yellow to white and leaves resembling clover, this plant is esteemed for food and medicinal purposes. The Kiowa ate wood sorrel, as well as chewed the stems to alleviate thirst. Cherokee used the plant to cure mouth sores. While the leaves are tasty and a good source of Vitamin C, the roots can be boiled, the taste resembling a potato.

Well, that's it for now. I've tried to add plants to the list that can be found all over the world. I hope you are never in a situation where you have to survive on plants in the wild, but it's nice to have the knowledge just in case. You just never know what's coming around the corner.

As with the other articles, I highly suggest you print this out. One day we may find ourselves without electricity. --vjj dunn


No spam, no share, no sell--guaranteed!

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Powered by Optin Forms