Nobody ever wants to be in a survival situation. The woods, however, offer beauty with a price for those who do not pay attention and lose their way. Whether trekking through redwood, oak or pine forests, knowing which naturally growing plants are edible can keep those who have wandered astray nourished.
Lichens are not all created equal. Most lichens, however, are edible and a good source of nutrients during survival situations. A combination of fungus and algae, bacteria or both, lichens are often found directly on the bark of trees---commonly along the north side. Some lichens, usually yellow varieties like wolf moss, are poisonous. Without exception, study which varieties will be found in wilderness areas to be visited. Boiling with ash can dissipate indigestible secondary compounds and polysaccharides found in many lichens. From here, lichens can be washed, dried and then pounded to make flour.
Dandelions grow in multiple environments but will be found in the forest usually near small clearings or rocky areas. Rich in vitamins and calcium, the entire plant is edible. Leaves can be eaten raw or boiled to create tea. Roots can be boiled after chopping or dried and ground to make a drink with a stimulant effect similar to coffee. The flower of the plant can also be eaten raw. Additionally, a tea made from this plant can be used as an inflammation reducer, potassium-rich diuretic and to normalize blood sugar.
Typha, commonly known as cattail, offers those in need of food multiple options. Cattail is easy to spot with its tall, thick stalks and brown, hot dog shaped seed heads. Starting underground, foragers can consume the rhizomes or lateral stems raw. Typha leave bases can be cooked or eaten raw. Shoots can be stripped and their soft white center eaten. Depending on the time of year, the seed heads can be eaten raw like corn or, when softer later in the summer, can be ground with water to form a flour-like substance that can be baked. When fully mature in late summer, the seed heads can also be used for tinder to start fires.