[Disclaimer: The information on this page represents my own perspective, practices, beliefs, and experiences. I am not a botanist nor am I a doctor or nutritionist. I have done my research and each reader must do his own. I take no responsibility for an individual reading and using this information. SOME PLANTS CAN KILL YOU OR MAKE YOU SICK IF YOU EAT THEM OR HANDLE THEM WRONGLY SO YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE WILD EDIBLES THAT YOU MIGHT INTERESTED IN USING OR INGESTING. YOU ALSO NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THEIR ACTION AND INTERACTION WITH MEDICINES, ETC. PREGNANT WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN, OLD PEOPLE, PEOPLE WITH CHRONIC DISEASES (DIABETES, ETC.), CAN BE NEGATIVELY/BADLY AFFECTED BY THINGS THAT HEALTHY PEOPLE CAN TOLERATE. I HAVE EATEN WILD EDIBLES--SO HAVE NATIVE AMERICANS, EUROPEAN AMERICANS, AFRICAN AMERICANS, AND TRIBAL PEOPLES. FOR ME, LEARNING THIS KNOWLEDGE HAS JUST BEEN RECAPPING AND LEARNING WHAT GOD GAVE US FOR FREE OUTSIDE. THIS PAGE IS JUST A PLACE FOR SOMEONE TO GET SOME INFORMATION--IT WILL NOT MAKE YOU AN EXPERT. I take no repsonsibility for the use, non-use, abuse, misuse, etc. of this information. Some weeds have medicinal action. I have heard that dock is so high in vitamin A that we don't need to eat more than two inches of it (maybe the person meant raw, I don't know)--and yet it is good to know about dock--some children have lost their eyesight (especially in "developing"/raped countries) for lack of vitamin A. If you are taking medication, you will want to be sure that eating wild edibles will not negatively impact your body. If you are a woman with child, you will not want to eat these things without ensuring that there are no contraindications (ill side effects) for you--or the baby in your womb. The very young, the sick, women with child, lactating (breastfeeding) women, those with chronic diseases, and the elderly can be afflicted by things that most healthy persons can tolerate. Talking to a knowledgeable doctor and performing research examining multiple sources is important. Look for what can go wrong. Look up the words "dangers" and "contradindications". This page could be used as a primer based on a few weeds I've interacted with but it is by no means authoritative. You need to know something about their action under various conditions and what parts you can eat and can not eat. A potato is good, BUT ONLY EAT THE POTATO PART of the plant. A person cannot just eat any plant or any portion of any plant. Irresponsible actions can kill.. Consult multiple color photographic references (not drawings). Even if you go on a weed walk with what seems to be an expert, double-check everything. Further down this page is a list of resources that I have found helpful--for those interested in further research. CHILDREN DO NOT EAT ANY WEEDS WITHOUT YOUR PARENTS' PERMISSION!]
Universal Edibility Test(See Army FM (Field Manual) 21-76, Chapter 9. Do not just quickly believe any download you find on the internet; look for a reputable source for your documents. This manual is easy to read and extremely useful. It has field expedient shelters like a lean to (I do not remember if it has a survival bed* in it. *Just basically crosshatch some long branches to avoid sleeping on the ground, if that is called for in a situation.)
1. Test only one part of a potential food plant at a time.
2. Separate the plant into its basic components - leaves, stems, roots, buds, and flowers.
3. Smell the food for strong or acid odors. Remember, smell alone does not indicate a plant is edible or inedible.
4. Do not eat for 8 hours before starting the test.
5. During the 8 hours you abstain from eating, test for contact poisoning by placing a piece of the plant part you are testing on the inside of your elbow or wrist. Usually 15 minutes is enough time to allow for a reaction.
6. During the test period, take nothing by mouth except purified water and the plant part you are testing.
7. Select a small portion of a single part and prepare it the way you plan to eat it.
8. Before placing the prepared plant part in your mouth, touch a small portion (a pinch) to the outer surface of your lip to test for burning or itching.
9. If after 3 minutes there is no reaction on your lip, place the plant part on your tongue, holding it there for 15 minutes.
10. If there is no reaction, thoroughly chew a pinch and hold it in your mouth for 15 minutes. Do not swallow.
11. If no burning, itching, numbing, stinging, or other irritation occurs during the 15 minutes, swallow the food.
12. Wait 8 hours. If any ill effects occur during this period, induce vomiting and drink a lot of water.
13. If no ill effects occur, eat 0.25 cup of the same plant part prepared the same way. Wait another 8 hours. If no ill effects occur, the plant part as prepared is safe for eating.
Test all parts of the plant for edibility, as some plants have both edible and inedible parts. Do not assume that a part that proved edible when cooked is also edible when raw. Test the part raw to ensure edibility before eating raw. The same part or plant may produce varying reactions in different individuals.
Some parts of a plant may be safe to eat and other parts of the same plant may be poisonous so be sure to treat different plant parts as seperate entities. While common fruits such as apple, tomato, and mango are edible, parts of these plants are toxic. Plants growing in water may have Giardia on them. Boiling them may help to disinfect them. Be especially leery of any plant that has a bean pod or looks like a tomato, potato, or morning glory. Avoid any plant or plant part that smells like almonds or root beer. Avoid fruit that may have developed mold.
Never test mushrooms for edibility. Never test umbelliferies (umbrella-shaped flower tops. apiaceaes / carrot family--wild carrot and poison hemlock are look alikes. The hemlock can KILL) plants for edibility.