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10 Edible Plants to Look for if You are Ever Lost in the Wild

If you were ever lost in the wilderness, surrounded by plants that could either nurture you or harm you, would you be able to make the distinction? If you're like most Americans, probably not.


Here's one that almost everyone should recognize. The inner seed of an acorn is edible (though bitter tasting).

And though the chances that you'll ever become stranded in the wild are admittedly slim, it's always a good idea to be educated about your natural environment -- and it's a great conversation starter for cocktail parties too!

A few words to the wise before we delve into some of the most common edible wild plants in the United States. Foraging for any type of food must be done with caution, and unless you are truly well-versed in the issue, should probably only be done on a survival basis.

This is because many plant species look alike, and safety can vary widely between similar-looking plants. Even "safe" edible plants can cause allergic reactions in some people, while others may be tainted by pollution (such as plants next to a roadside) or chemicals (such as those sprayed with pesticides).

With that in mind, here is a listing of common plants that ARE safe to eat if you are ever lost in the wild, or feeling otherwise adventurous:


Though typically thought of as a weed, crabgrass is entirely edible if you're in need of a survival food.

  1. Acorns: All acorns from Oak trees are edible. Remove the shell and eat the inner seed.

  2. Grasses: Most grasses in North America are edible, but the most nutritious sections are the large seed heads or clusters. The safest, and most common, grass varieties are crab, goose, foxtail, blue, rye, and orchard, along with wild oats and millet.

  3. Pine cones: The cones from pine trees contain edible seeds that can be extracted by gently heating the cone.

  4. Cattails: The root, new shoot and head of cattails are all edible.

  5. Dandelions: The leaves of the dandelion plant can be eaten, along with the mature flower and the root.

  6. Roses: Fresh rose petals can be eaten, and so can dried, pitted rose hips (which can also be found during the winter).

  7. Violets: The flowers and the leaves are edible.


Edible greenbrier plants can be found in most areas of the United States from spring to mid-autumn.

  1. Waterlillies: Almost all waterlillies are edible (the roots, leaves, buds and seeds are all safe) as long as you get them from non-polluted water.

  2. Sunflowers: You can eat the petals, the bud and the seeds.

  3. Greenbriers: The green leaves, sprouts and shoots can all be eaten raw.

Recommended Reading

Edible Flowers: 20 of the Tastiest and Most Versatile

Poisonous Plants: Common Indoor/Outdoor Plants that Most People Don't Know are Poisonous


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