This is a very sensitive topic. It is about life or death situations. Hopefully, no one reading this will ever be in that situation while in the outdoors, but we can never completely remove that probability as long as we continue enjoying nature whether as hikers, mountaineers or campers. The disclaimer is still valid – don’t make any moves unless you are 100% certain that you know what you are doing. We are just going to present few plants that are edible which may make the difference of life and death in some unforeseen situations. Before ingesting any of these three plants, you should study them carefully, learn to recognize their leaves, the flowers and the roots. There are plenty of resources online. When you recognize any of the plants while you are outside, use the chance to study them up close.
The Plantago is a leafy plant that can be easily recognized. It grows approximately 3 to 7 cm from the ground and its leaves are in the shape of a spade. There are strings or let’s call them veins that pass through each leaf that remind of a big river’s delta. Usually, there are between three and seven leaves that stem from one plantago bushel.
The leaves of the plant can be eaten raw. If they are big they should be steeped in boiling water, which removes the bitterness, if there is any. The leaves can be stepped in water for tea. The smaller leaves are usually delicious and without any bitterness. The plant has vitamin A, a little bit of vitamin C and calcium.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
This plant is all too common, ranging from East Asia to the coast of California. When it has bloomed the flower is characteristic yellow and when it has dried it turns into small seed-bearing cotton-like things which become wind-borne and thus spread the plant. The Dandelion has many medicinal properties and it can be consumed in its entirety. The flower, when it is bloomed, can be eaten raw. When the leaves are young, although sometimes they come with a bitter taste, can be also eaten raw. The root can be boiled in water and eaten. Dandelion has become an accessory to salads and many merchants bring it to farmer’s markets to sell.
Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
This is another plant that is ubiquitous in meadows and grasslands. It is easily recognized by its characteristic appearance. Sometimes, but not always, there is one main stem which branches off into many similar stems that bear radiant blue and blue and bright-purple flowers. The stem is a bit woody, meaning when you press it between your thumb and forefinger it will not squish.
The flowers of the plant can be eaten raw or can be boiled in team. The root are also edible after boiled. The stems can also provide nutrients, but they should be stripped of the tiny layer of green bark.
Chicory grows from East Asia to North America and also in Australia