If you’re stuck in the wilderness, you might be able to get light, water and shelter—but doesn’t that mean you’re out of the woods yet. (Pun fully intended!) You’re still going to need food—and hunting large animals might not be a great option at this particular point in time. In such a case, you’ll have to forage for wild plants—but which ones are edible?
We’ll discuss species that fall into this category soon. But first, there are some precautions you need to know. First, you’re not limited to only certain kinds of plants; you can get nutrients from flowers, moss, fungi, and a wide variety of plants. Another thing to keep in mind is that plants can look very similar, whether they’re poisonous or edible. As a result, making a simple mistake between two plants can lead to certain doom—so, of course, you’ll want to be very careful.
Even with edible plants, there might be one part which is all right for the taking—and another part which can be very dangerous once consumed. You can compare these plants to fugu, which refers to meals made of a few species of Japanese puffer fish. As you might remember from National Geographic (or that one episode of The Simpsons), much of the puffer fish’s meat is toxic—so eat the wrong part, and you’re dead and gone before you know it.
Taking these into account, it’s now time to discuss wild edible plant life that can be found in North America. More specifically, which species are good to eat? Well, if you get stuck, you can eat daylilies—flowers, tubers, and buds; cook the tubers—as well as roses. With roses, you’ll want to focus on the rosehips—the fruit at the base of the flower—in addition to the petals. With rosehips, you can make both tea and jam.
You’re not limited only to flowers. Another option is goosefoot, aka lamb’s quarters. While it’s disliked by gardeners, this weed is a good source of nutrients out in the wilderness, thanks to its high amount of proteins. Dandelion greens are another possibility, as are cattails. In the case of the latter, the shoots, in particular, are a good choice. Another weed is Western black nightshade, which (believe it or not) belongs to the same family as tomatoes and eggplants. Once you know the right species in the Solanum genus, and focus on the berries (which, interestingly, taste like spicy tomatoes), you can feed yourself.
When it comes to trees, deciduous oaks are the way to go. Acorns constitute a decent source of good nutrients; you’ll have to know how to prepare them to reduce the bitterness, but—once you know that—you’re good to go. You can grind the acorns into meal or flour so that you can bake with it. Wild apples and crab-apples are also a (tasty) possibility, so don’t neglect them.
So, those were some helpful tips for the next time you’re stuck in the wilderness and need to access food, fast. And here’s a final, indispensable piece of advice: if you’re going out into the wilderness for any reason—regardless of how long you’re planning on staying, even if it’s only for a day—do lots of research beforehand. You need to be prepared one hundred percent of the time, because—on the off chance that something goes wrong—then you’re screwed. So, prepare yourself, and read all about edible wild plants; you never know what nasty surprises might lay in the near future.