Monthly Archives: August 2017

If I’m in the forest and have no food, what are some of the natural foods in a forest that are safe to eat?

20 Common Wild Plants You Can Eat For Survival

In addition to edible plants, there are many plants you can find in the wild which are dangerous to eat, even poisonous. Unless it is a dire emergency, survival isn’t the time to go around trying new things. You don’t know what you might find that would hurt you.

Since there is no sure way of identifying which plants are safe and which are poisonous, the best way of protecting yourself is to stick to eating only plants that you know and can identify as being safe to eat. When looking at other plants, you probably want to stay away from any plants that have:

  • Milky or colored sap.
  • Any sort of spines, thorns or fine hairs.
  • Seeds inside pods, as well as beans and bulbs.
  • Any plant with a bitter or soapy taste.
  • Plants whose stems have an almond scent.
  • Any plants with three-leaved growth patterns.
  • Grain heads with spurs that are pink, purple or black.

Of course, there are edible plants which display some of those same characteristics. That just proves that not all poisonous or healthy plants have distinguishable characteristics. These characteristics only apply to plants that you cannot identify.

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Here are 20 of the most common wild plants that you can find, providing you with a starting place for identifying what you can eat in the wild. Learn them, and then go on to learn what else is available for eating in the area where you live.

1. Amaranth

Amaranth
Amaranth

Amaranth is a prolific weed which is native to North America. All parts of the plant are edible, although you do need to be somewhat careful. The grain from the amaranth plant has become more popular in recent years. There are spines on some leaves which should be avoided. The leaves contain oxalic acid, especially if the plant has grown in nitrate rich soil. To protect yourself against that, boil the plant in water and then throw away the water. If worse comes to worse, it can be eaten raw.

2. Asparagus

Asparagus grows wild in parts of North America, especially the northeastern part of the United States. Wild asparagus has a much thinner stalk than the commercial varieties. To harvest, bend it until it snaps off. It will snap at the right point to prevent killing the plant, while providing you with the most edible part.

3. Bamboo

If anyone around you has decided to grow bamboo in their backyard, it’s probably gotten out of hand. This prolific grass spreads rapidly, taking over everything in its path. While the mature plants are like chewing on wood, the shoots can be eaten. Shoots should be harvested before they are two weeks old and one foot tall. Peel off the outer leaves and boil them to soften. Bamboo shoots are often added to salads, put on sandwiches or used in stir-fries.

4. Cattails

Found near the edges of wetlands, cattails were a staple in the diet of many American Indian tribes. Most of the plant is edible. You can boil the roots and lower stalk for eating. The leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach. The flower spike at the top can be broken off and eaten like corn on the cob. Surprisingly, it tastes much like corn.

5. Chicory

Chicory
Chicory

Chicory is most easily identified by its flowers. It is a bushy plant with small blue, lavender and white flowers. Leaves can be eaten raw or boiled. The flowers are a quick, tasty snack. The roots can be eaten as well, but require boiling to make them edible. Toasted chicory root has been used in the past as a substitute for coffee when coffee wasn’t available.

6. Chickweed

This low-growing plant has bright green, pointed oval leaves. It is highly nutritious, containing vitamins, minerals and omega-6 fatty acid. Young leaves can be used effectively in salads. However, if too much chickweed is eaten, it can cause diarrhea.

7. Clover

Clover is very common throughout the country. Anywhere you find a grassy area, you are likely to encounter clover as well. They are easy to identify for the three leaves. The plant can be eaten raw, but will taste better cooked.

8. Curled Dock

These are some of the hardiest, most widespread and most persistent weeds found anywhere. You can find them nearly everywhere. Like dandelions, it is almost impossible to pull one out of the ground. If you do, it will probably be replaced by two more. The leaves are tasty and can grow as large as two-feet long. There are also other types of docks in this family, but the curled dock is considered the tastiest.

9. Dandelion

This common “weed” is actually edible; in fact, the entire plant is edible: roots, leaves and flowers. It’s also rather healthy, being a “cure-all” in herbal medicine. You’ll want to eat the leaves while the plant is still young, as mature leaves have a bitter taste to them. Boil the roots before eating, and then use the water from boiling the roots as a tea. The dandelion flower makes an excellent garnish for a salad.

10. Fireweed

This is another plant that was eaten by many American Indians. It is easy to identify by the vein pattern in the leaves. Rather than terminate at the edge of the leaves, the veins create a circular pattern.

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These plants are best eaten when young and tender. As they age, the leaves become tough and bitter tasting. Both the leaves and the stalk can be eaten. The flowers have a slightly peppery taste.

11. Garlic Grass

This is a wild strain of garlic which is often found in fields, pastures and forests. It resembles cultivated garlic or spring onions. The shoots are often very thin. Nevertheless, it can be used in sandwiches, salads, pesto or chopped like scallions to add to cooked dishes.

12. Green Seaweed

This particular variety of seaweed is found in all the oceans of the world. You can even find it close to shore and on beaches. Once harvested, it needs to be rinsed with clean water and allowed to dry. It can be used in soups or eaten raw. Add some fish and rice and you’ve got some sushi.

13. Kelp

Kelp is another common form of seaweed, and can be found growing in most parts of the world. The kelp plant grows very long, anchored on the bottom of the sea and reaching to the surface. Internal air bladders keep it afloat. This seaweed is used in many different oriental dishes. Like the green seaweed, it should be rinsed once harvested and can be cooked in soup or eaten raw.

14. Kudzu

This is known as the “weed that ate the South” for its prolific way of covering trees and other plants. Kudzu is a fast-growing vine, which could provide a literally unending source of nutrition if you have it in your area. The leaves make an excellent tea for treating colds, fevers and indigestion. The roots of this plant can be boiled until tender and eaten with a sauce, such as soy sauce. Jams and jellies can be made from of it.

15. Lamb’s Quarters

Lamb's quarters
Lamb’s quarters

This plant is a relative of wild spinach. It grows from two to six feet high and is easily identified by the shape of the leaves, which are a jagged-edged and diamond shaped. This plant has a high amount of protein, making it one of the few non-beans that does. It is also rich in iron and vitamin B2. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.

16. Plantain

This weed will grow just about anywhere and is often found on the edges of gardens or driveways. Pick the rippled leaves, leaving behind the stems and flower stems. Like kale and other tough greens, plantain is best eaten after cooking. Blanching it with some butter and garlic makes it come out quite well.

17. Prickly Pear Cactus

Called “nopal” in Mexico, the prickly pear is not only edible, but extremely good for your health. Not all the leaves are eaten, but only the newest ones where the spines have not been fully formed. The spines are cut off and the leaf cut up for cooking. It can be boiled, but is most often fried, along with tomatoes and spices. The fruit of the prickly pear, which looks like a red or purplish pear, is also edible, although hard to encounter.

18. Sheep Sorrel

Although not native to North America, sheep sorrel has found a home here. It is a prolific weed, especially in highly acidic soil. That means it will grow in places where many other plants won’t grow. It has a tall, reddish stem that can reach 18 inches tall. You really shouldn’t eat large quantities of it, but the leaves can be eaten raw. They taste almost like lemon.

19. Watercress

Watercress, which comes in a number of varieties, such as garden cress, rock cress and pepper cress, is common in Northern Europe. It has been migrated to the United States, where it is more commonly found in northern climates with a lot of moisture. It has a spicy tank, making it great for salads, soups and sandwiches.

20. Wood Sorrel

Wood sorrel grows in all parts of the world and in all climates. There are many varieties of this plant, and the flowers vary in color. The Kiowa Indians ate it, and chewed on it to alleviate thirst. The Cherokees ate it to cure mouth sores. The leaves of the plant are a great source of vitamin C. If the roots of the wood sorrel are boiled, they can be eaten. It has a flavor similar to potatoes.

For further information on this and other plants, it would be advisable to buy a book that deals with the edible plants in your area, as it varies from region to region around the country.

By Off The Grid

How good is the Eagle’s eye’s, how far can they see?

An eagle’s eyesight is estimated to be four to eight times more powerful than the average human’s. Birds of prey, including eagles, can see four to five times farther than we can, which means they have 20/5 or 20/4 vision. And while eagles weigh an average of only about 10 pounds, their eyes are about the same size as ours, and are larger by weight than their brains.

It is believed that an eagle can spot an ant crawling on the ground from atop a 10-story building, or a rabbit two miles away. As he drops from the sky to attack his prey, the muscles of his eyes make constant adjustments to the curvature of the eyeballs, enabling him to keep his prey in sharp focus as he makes his approach.

Eagles, like all birds, also have excellent color vision. They see colors more vividly than we do, and can distinguish more shades. They also see ultraviolet light, which allows them to detect the urine trails of small prey.

They can distinguish between five different-colored squirrels, and can find even camouflaged or hidden prey on the ground below. Bald eagles can see fish in the water while they soar or glide several hundred feet above the earth. This is more difficult than you might think, because most fish are counter-shaded — darker on top/lighter on their underside — and harder to spot from above.

From a perch at the top of a tree, the eagle can dive at 125 to 200 miles per hour to catch prey with its talons.

Each eagle eyeball moves separately, and the eyeball is so large and tightly fit that it barely turns within the eye socket. Eagles swivel their heads to locate prey and other objects of interest, moving their telephoto lens (the fovea) across their entire field of view. Once he’s spotted prey, he turns his head toward it and uses his stereoscopic vision (input from both eyes simultaneously) to judge the distance he must cover and the speed at which he must approach.

Eagles’ eyelids close when they sleep. They also have an inner eyelid called the nictitating membrane that sweeps across the eye from front to back every three or four seconds, removing dirt and dust from the cornea. The membrane is translucent, so the eagle can see through it as it slides back and forth.

By Dr. Becker

When did the Bald Eagle became our National Bird

Most people don’t realize what It took for the Bald Eagle to become the United States National Bird. Back in 1792 when President George Washington was in office, the Declaration of Independence had just been signed, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were assigned the duty of finding a new National seal for the United States. At first Franklin’s idea was a design that featured a Biblical scene featuring Moses and Pharaoh. Ben Franklin also wanted the “Wild Turkey” to be our National Bird said that the Bald Eagle was more like a vulture. The Bald Eagle was lazy and often would steal his food from other birds and animals.  Jefferson wanted a scene depicting the children of Israel and two Anglo-Saxon mythical figures.Thomas Jefferson also wanted the “Peacock” as his choice due to it’s beauty when it spread/fanned out it’s feathers.  Adams wanted another mythical figure: Hercules. John Adams was in favor of the Bald Eagle . 

The three Founders brought in a designer, Pierre Eugène Du Simitière, to work with them. He rejected those ideas and designed a seal with a shield held by the Goddesses of Liberty and Justice. The designs were quickly rejected by the Continental Congress.

A third committee in 1782 came up with a complicated design that featured a crested imperial eagle and a dove as elements. The idea didn’t fly with Congress.

The frustrated lawmakers asked Charles Thomson, the Secretary of the Continental Congress, to settle the Great Seal issue. It was Thomson who made sure the American Bald Eagle was the focus of the front of the Great Seal, while using the pyramid and eye design from the third committee as the back of the seal.