Medicinal wild plants are a staple of outdoor survival. One of the imperative survival skills any back-country hiker must learn is the recognition of local flora that is safe to eat and possesses medicinal properties. Hikers who are aware of the plants that occur naturally in the area where they will spend some time outdoors almost always have an emergency food source and also first-aid item at their fingertips. Learn about some of the most commonly occurring medicinal wild plants, which parts are safe for ingestion and what medicinal purposes these plants serve.
Vaccinium Macrocarpon Is a Nutritious Diuretic
Look for Vaccinium macrocarpon, also known as cranberries. Fruits are bright red and easily recognizable against the dark leaves of the shrubs on which they grow. Cranberries grow primarily in colder areas where there is sufficient wetness and sun. Eat cranberries raw--they are fairly tart--or boil them in sugar water until they pop open. They contain fiber and vitamin C, and serve as a diuretic. Hikers seeking to guard against suffering from a urinary tract infection benefit from the ingestion of cranberries.
Taraxacum Officinale Calms Nerves
Keep your eyes open for Taraxacum officinale, the weed known as dandelion. While a bane of many gardeners' existence, dandelion leaves actually make an excellent food source. Leaves rival spinach in vitamins A and C, and there is even iron contained within the plant leaves. Roast the roots and grind them up for use instead of coffee. Dandelion has a calming effect on nerves, and root coffee stimulates proper gastrointestinal functions. All portions of the plant are edible.
Search for Pine Trees
Look around you and see if you can find pine trees. Seeds are a perfect food for survival in the wilderness, and the bark of young pine twigs can be made into a filling meal. Cook a tea using the green pine needles you would strip off a branch, and you are rewarded with an aromatic drink that also contains a lot of vitamin C. Hardening resin from the pine can become an interim filling for a hurting tooth.
Article Written By Sylvia Cochran
Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.