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A Survival Plant Edibility Test
for a wilderness survival situation


Study Guide for the Survival Plant Edibility Test

While many of us consider foraging on wild berries, fruits and other plants if we find ourselves in a survival situation, not as many research and practice plant identification techniques.  The following info is meant to help guide a person toward safe ingestion of the North American nutritious bounty served up by Mother Nature.

Before we get dinner on the table, it’s important to recognize the plants to avoid . . . some can make you sick or kill ya . . . please understand and embrace the following plant lore before and during foraging, it could save your life:

MUSHROOMS – Unless you are extremely confident and carry prior eating experience under your belt, avoid mushrooms or fungi.  There are many edible and nutritious mushroom and fungus varietals, there are also varieties that are toxic to human beings if eaten.  Discerning the differences between good and toxic mushrooms can be very difficult, get training specific to mushrooms or avoid them.
HE ATE IT! – Plants that are poisonous to eat for humans may not have the same effect on other animals, including other mammals.  Don’t eat any plants JUST because you saw an animal eating it.
SHINY, MILKY – Avoid plants possessed of shiny leaves and/or milky sap.  Dandelion stems carry milky sap, don’t eat them.  The rest of the plant, including leaves and flower, is edible.
BERRIES – Holly berries and poke are two varieties that might look tasty but are highly toxic to humans, even if the birds love the berries.
INFESTATION – If a plant is infested or eaten away by parasites, insects or worms, don’t eat it.
SMELL – Plants in the peach and almond family contain cyanide.  Never consume large amounts of anything that smells of peach or almond, it will kill you.  Of course, if it looks and smells fetid or has animal feces on it, find something else to test for edibility.

Survival Plant Edibility Test
for a wilderness survival situation

This Survival Plant Edibility Test is going to require time and effort, it will take over 17 hours to determine edibility and consists of six stages; 45 minute Rub Test, 10 minute Lip Test, 10 minute Tongue Test, 15 minute Chew Test, 8 hour Small Swallow Test, 8 hour Handful Swallow Test.

Again, practice now before you need to exercise the skill to survive.  Two weeks into a limited or no food situation is not the time to begin trying to teach yourself new tricks.

The food product you intend to test ought be available in abundant supply so you do not have to forage and test new things, everyday.

Test only one plant at a time and try not to eat anything else during the test period.

Separate the plant into three parts – roots, stem and leaves.  Fruit, nuts and flowers – plant products – ought be tested separate from the rest of the plant.  Test only one part of the plant at a time.

Okay!  Now that you have your test piece of a potentially edible plant, find a sensitive part of your body such as your wrist, inside your elbow or inner thigh and rub the plant piece against the  sensitive flesh.  Watch for signs of an adverse reaction, skin and/or systemic, over the next 45 minutes.   Should dizziness, vomiting, shortness of breath, hives or other skin rashes appear in the 45 minute test period, seek a new plant.  This one will probably kill you if ingested.

If a piece passes the skin test, prepare a very small portion of the plant section in the manner you plan to eat it.  It’s always a good idea to cook plants as some do contain toxins that are eliminated in the cooking process so cook your little piece, if possible.  If not possible, prepare to eat it raw like the animal you are. 😉

BEFORE EATING, touch a small morsel of prepared plant matter to your outer lips, try to hold it in place for a few minutes.  Wait ten minutes after touching your lips.  If there is no itching or burning sensation in your lips ten minutes later, move on to the next step.

Put the plant piece on your tongue.  DO NOT SWALLOW!!!  Hold it on your tongue for another ten minutes, feeling for any adverse reaction.

Ten minutes on your lips and ten minutes on your tongue caused no negative or adverse reactions?  Start to chew.  Chew your plant piece for 15 minutes, alert for any kind of negative topical or systemic sensations and reactions.  Again, DO NOT SWALLOW!

You’ve been chewing for 15 minutes and you’re alive, feel great, nothing unusual or unpleasant has occured . . . go for it, swallow what is in your mouth.  Time to wait eight hours.

If you feel queasy, immediately induce vomiting and drink as much clean water as you are able to drink.  Don’t eat that plant.

If it has been eight hours and you have not experienced adverse effects, eat a handful of the plant you are testing for edibility.  Wait another eight hours.

It’s been eight hours since you ingested a handful of the plant section you are testing and you feel fine, having experienced no adverse or negative reactions.  This plant is more than likely safe to consume as a food source.

Over 17 hours after you began testing a section of your potential plant food source, it’s chow time!

Some plants and berries can be deadly or make you seriously ill even if you PERFORM the survival edibility test WITHOUT ERROR

Education and experience are the tools that will help minimize the chance of accidentally ingesting poisonous plant food sources.  Learn now before it becomes more challenging to tell the difference between exhaustion and hunger-related sensations, versus the symptoms of poisoning because you just introduced something toxic to your system.

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