General and Overview

Food in a survival situation – edible plants, animals and rations to survive in the wild

Introduction You can live for several weeks without eating but regardless, food provides life-saving energy to your body and replenishes substances that your body burns during physical and mental activity.  The average person needs 2,000 calories per day to function at a minimum level.  Any less than this and your…
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Overviews

Poisonous Plants – an overview of plant poisoning and how to avoid being poisened

Successful use of plants in a survival situation depends on positive identification. Knowing poisonous plants is as important as knowing edible plants. Plants Poisoning Plants generally poison by: Contact. This contact with a poisonous plant causes any type of skin irritation or dermatitis. Ingestion. This occurs when a person eats…
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Poisonous Plants

Water hemlock or spotted cowbane – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Water hemlock or spotted cowbane Cicuta maculata Parsley (Apiaceae) Family Description: The Water Hemlock, also known as spotted water hemlock, spotted parsley, spotted cowbane, and the suicide root, is perennial herb in the carrot family.  It is very difficult to distinguish it from other, similar looking plants.  Water Hemlock may…
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Poisonous Plants

Trumpet vine or trumpet creeper – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Trumpet vine or trumpet creeper Campsis radicans Trumpet creeper (Bignoniaceae) Family Description: The large, vigorous, woody Trumpet Vine or Trumpet Creeper may climb to 15 meters (45 feet) high.  It has pea-like fruit capsules. The oval leaves are pinnately compound, growing opposite to each other, 8 to 12 sharply toothed…
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Poisonous Plants

Strychnine tree – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Strychnine tree Strychnos nux-vomica Logania (Loganiaceae) Family Description: The strychnine tree is a medium-sized evergreen tree with a short, thick crooked trunk, reaching a height of about 12 meters (36 feet).  The wood of the Strychnine tree is white and dense and durable with irregular branches covered with a smooth,…
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Poisonous Plants

Rosary pea or crab’s eyes – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Rosary pea or crab's eyes Abrus precatorius Leguminosae (Fabaceae) Family Description: The Rosary Pea plant (also known as Jequirity, Crab's Eye, Rosary Pea, John Crow Bead, Precatory bean,Indian Licorice, Akar Saga, Giddee Giddee or Jumbie Bead) is a small, slender, high-climbing vine that twines around trees, shrubs, and hedges.  It…
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Poisonous Plants

Poison Sumac – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Poison sumac Toxicodendron vernix Cashew (Anacardiacese) Family Description: Poison sumac is a woody shrub or small tree that grows to meters (28 feet) tall with rough, scaly bark. It has alternate, pinnately compound leafstalks with 7 to 13 smooth edged leaflets per leaf.  The leaflets are oval to oblong, taper…
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Poisonous Plants

Poison Ivy and Poison Oak – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Poison ivy and poison oak Toxicodendron radicans and Toxicodendron diversilobum (previously Toxicodendron diversibba) Cashew (Anacardiacese) Family Description: These two plants are quite similar in appearance and will often crossbreed to make a hybrid. Both have alternate, compound leaves with three leaflets.  The oil in the plants is the primary culprit…
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Poisonous Plants

Poison hemlock, fool’s parsley – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Poison hemlock, fool's parsley Conium maculatum Parsley (Apiaceae) Family Description: The poison hemlock plant (also known as Beaver Poison, Herb Bennet, Musquash Root, Poison Parsley, Spotted Corobane, and Spotted Hemlock) is a biennial herb that may grow to meters (8 feet) high. The smooth, hollow green stem may or may…
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Poisonous Plants

Physic nut or Jatropha – tropical plant typically used as a poison has medicinal uses too

Physic nut Jatropha curcas Spurge (Euphoriaceae) Family Description: The Physic nut, or Jatropha plant, is a shrub or small tree found in the American tropics.  Also known as Barbados Nut, Purging Nut, Black Vomit Nut, Physic Nut, or JCL, the plant can reach a height of 6 meters (20 feet)…
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Poisonous Plants

Pangi – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Pangi or Keluak Pangium edule Pangi Family Description: The Pangi tree, also known as Keluak, Keluwak, or Keypayang, is a tall tree often reaching heights of 18 meters (54 feet).  The tree has large, glossy heart-shaped leaves in spirals each typically with three lobes.  Its large flowers grow in spikes,…
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Poisonous Plants

Oleander – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Oleander Nerium oleander Dogbane (Apocynaceae) Family Description: The poisonous Oleander shrub (or small tree) grows to about 9 meters (27 feet), with alternate, very straight, thick, leathery, dark green, long (2-8 inches), narrow (1 inch), lance-shaped leaves. Leaves typically grow in pairs or whorls of three.  Mature plants have grayish…
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Poisonous Plants

Manchineel – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Manchineel Hippomane mancinella Spurge (Euphorbiaceae) Family Description: The deadly Manchineel tree (sometimes written “manchioneel”) is a flowering tree reaching up to 15 meters (45 feet) high with greyish or brown, scaly or fissured bark and alternate, shiny green leaves and spikes of small greenish flowers. The Manchineel tree’s glossy leaves…
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Poisonous Plants

Lantana – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Lantana Lantana camara Vervain (Verbenaceae) Family Description: The poisonous Lantana plant, also known as Spanish Flag, Big Sage, Blacksage, Wild Sage, Prickly Lantana, or West Indian Lantana, is a low erect, shrub-like plant that may grow up to 45 centimeters (18 inches) high. It has opposite, round to oval shaped…
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Poisonous Plants

Poisonous Death camas (death lily) plant looks like an onion

Death camas, death lily All of the Zigadenus species Lily (Liliaceae) Family Description: The poisonous Death Camas (or Meadow Deathcamas) plant arises from a bulb and may be mistaken for an onion plant. Its leaves are long and grass-like. The bulbs look like onions but do not smell like onions. …
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Poisonous Plants

Cowhage, cowage, cowitch – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Cowhage, cowage, cowitch Mucuna pruritum  (Mucuna pruriens) Leguminosae (Fabaceae) Family Description: Cowhage, also known as velvet bean or cowitch, is a vine-like plant that is known for its ability to cause extreme itchiness.  The plant is a climbing shrub with oval leaflets in groups of three growing off of short…
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Poisonous Plants

Chinaberry – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Chinaberry Melia azedarach Mahogany (Meliaceae) Family Description: The poisonous Chinaberry tree (also known as bead-tree, Persian lilac, white cedar, Texas umbrella, pride of India, or Cape lilac) has a round, spreading crown and grows up to 14 meters (42 feet) tall. It has alternate, compound (odd-pinnate) leaves with toothed (serrated…
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Poisonous Plants

Castor bean, castor-oil plant, palma Christi – how to identify this poisonous plant and diagnose/treat poisoning.

Castor bean, castor-oil plant, palma Christi Ricinus communis Spurge (Euphorbiaceae) Family Description: The castor bean is a semi-woody, flowering plant with large, alternate, star-like leaves that grows as a tree in tropical regions and as an annual in temperate regions. Its glossy leaves grow to 15-45 centimeters (6-18 inches long…
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General and Overview

Using plants as food in the wild – how to find, identify, test, and prepare plants for eating.

Introduction After having solved the problems of finding water, shelter, and animal food, you will have to consider the use of plants you can eat. In a survival situation you should always be on the lookout for familiar wild foods and live off the land whenever possible. You must not…
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Other Uses for Plants

You can do a lot more with plants than just eating them. Here are a collection of miscellaneous uses for plants.

Plants can be your ally as long as you use them cautiously. Be sure that you know the plant and how to use it. Some additional uses of plants are as follows: Make dyes from various plants to color clothing or to camouflage your skin. Usually, you will have to…
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Other Uses for Plants

Medicinal use of plants in the wild – sedatives, antihistamines, antiseptics, anti-fungal washes and more

When using wild plants for medical treatment, positive identification of the plants involved is as critical as when using them for food. Proper use of these plants is equally important. Many plants have the ability to synthesize chemical compounds that help them defend against attack from a wide variety of…
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Edible Wild Plants

Yam bean – edible wild plant – how to find, identify, prepare, and other uses for survival.

Yam bean (Pachyrhizus erosus) The yam bean, commonly known as Jicama (and also known as Mexican Turnip or Mexican Potato), is a climbing plant of the bean family, with alternate, three-parted leaves and a large root. They can reach a height of a few feet given suitable support and grow…
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Edible Wild Plants

Yam – edible wild plant – how to find, identify, prepare, and other uses for survival.

Yam (Dioscorea species) These plants are twining, tuberous vines that creep along the ground or occasionally climb trees and other structures. The woody rootstock, or tubers, is pale brown, knotty, and cylindrical in shape.  Stems are reddish-brown and can grow to over 30 feet in length.  They have broad, alternate,…
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Edible Wild Plants

Wood sorrel – edible wild plant – how to find, identify, prepare, and other uses for survival.

Wood sorrel (Oxalis species) There are over 800 species in the Oxalis family.  Wood sorrel (also known as Woodsorrels, Yellow Sorrels, or Pink Sorrels) resembles shamrock or four-leaf clover, with a bell-shaped pink, yellow, or white flower.  The plants can grow up to 15 inches tall.  The leaves are divided…
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Edible Wild Plants

Wild rose – edible wild plant – how to find, identify, prepare, and other uses for survival.

Wild rose (Rosa species) The Wild Rose shrub grows 60 centimeters to meters (24 inches to 8 feet) high. Larger stems are usually densely covered with straight prickles.  It has alternate, sharply serrated edged leaves with 3-7 oval or slightly spear-head shaped leaflets per leaf. Its oval to pear-shaped flowers…
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