Using the Universal Edibility Test to See If Plants Are Edible

Do You Know How To Identify Edible Plants Using The Universal Edibility Test?

In the history of human kind many people have likely died because they’ve eaten a plant which proved toxic and killed them.

Well now that it’s 2015, and we’ve got the gift of hindsight, you need to be make sure not to repeat the same mistakes they made.

There’s certainly a benefit to memorizing certain plants so you know what’s edible and what isn’t.

But what would you do if you were caught in a crisis and none of the plants around you were familiar?
The problem is there are thousands upon thousands of plants out there, and even the most advanced botanist in the world don’t know them all.

And you, the average person without much knowledge of plant life might be up crap creek without a paddle if confronted with that kind of situation.

The good news is there’s a way to go about testing to see if a plant is edible.

It’s time-consuming and not entirely foolproof, but if you follow these steps it’ll still greatly improve your chances of surviving a crisis.

So if you’re ever stranded in the wilderness and need to eat plants to stay alive the following 6 steps can help you escape with your life. This is known as the Universal Edibility Test and it’s a great test to perform to makes sure you can safely eat a plant in the future.

Test to See if Plants Are Edible Using The Universal Edibility Test

Step 1: Deconstruct The Entire Plant:

The idea here is just because one part of the plant is edible doesn’t mean the other is. So you’re going to want to separate everything. Pull the leaf from the stem, pull the berries off, get the flower and roots off too.

There are 5 distinct parts to most plants

  • Leaves
  • Roots
  • Stems
  • Buds
  • Flowers (berries count as flowers).

Not all plants have all 5 parts but you’re going to want to make sure if a plant does all 5, each is isolated from the other.

Note* If while deconstructing you find bugs or parasites it’s safe to assume the plant might be rotting. Stay away from that plant and get another.


Step 2: Smell Each Part Of the Plant

The rule of thumb here is if the plant emits a noxious odor it’s probably not safe to ingest.

That doesn’t always apply but you can make a quick determination through smell as many plants with a milder smell are more likely to be safe to ingest.

Step 3: Put The Plant Into Contact With Your Skin

The reason you do this is because if a plant irritates your body externally then it’s safe to say it’ll do the same internally.

Here’s what you’ll do.

Crush one of the parts of the plant (just one) and rub it on the inside of your wrist for around a quarter hour. You don’t need to rub vigorously, just make sure it’s touching your skin.

Then wait 8 hours.

During this time you won’t want to eat anything else and the only thing you’ll want to drink is water.  This is because you don’t want there to be a food/plant interaction interfering with your test.

A burning sensation, redness, welts and bumps all mean this plant piece isn’t good for you.

Once you’re done with this move onto step 4 if things are all clear.

Step 4: Cook the Plant

Here’s the thing, some plants that would inedible raw actually become edible when they’re cooked.

The preferred preparation method here is boiling. So get some water to a rolling boil and then leave it in there for a few minutes.

Once boiled take it out, let it cool and then rub it on the inside of your lips for a few minutes.

Again if you feel a burning sensation then that part of the plant probably isn’t safe so you’ll want to restart.

If you can’t cook the plant (no fire for instance) then do the same thing with the raw plant. Rub it on the inside of your lip for a few moments. If a burning sensation results start over with another part of the plant.

Step 5: Take A Tiny Taste

You’re going to “taste” the plant.

More like you’re going to take a tiny bite and then let the food hang out in your mouth for a few minutes. If you feel it begin to burn or tingle spit it out and wash your mouth out with some water ASAP.

You can probably guess but that part of the plant isn’t edible.

Step 6: Chew the Plant Without Swallowing

If you’ve made it this far you’re almost there.

Here you’re going to take a slightly larger bite, masticate it with your teeth and hold it in your mouth.

If your mouth is free from the sensations listed above then you’re probably good to eat it.

It might not taste good (it probably won’t) but it means it’s probably edible.

To be absolutely safe you’ll want to wait another 8 hours before ingesting any more of the plant so you can make absolutely sure it’s safe to eat. There’s no telling if it might be harmful in large doses. When you back to eat it try about a quarter cup of the good and then wait again to see if you fell OK.

The Bottom Line On The Test Of Edibility

With this information in hand you now have a backup plan in place in case you ever.

Sure, this process is time-consuming but it might help save your life.

Another thing, there are some warning signs you can follow before you even begin this process.

As How Stuff Works notes:

” WARNING SIGNSAside from the universal edibility test, there are a few other tips on what kinds of plants you should avoid. These tips may rule out some plants that are edible, but it’s better to do that than to risk getting poisoned.

  • Never eat plants with thorns.
  • Steer clear of plants with shiny leaves.
  • Don’t eat mushrooms. Many are safe to eat, but many are highly toxic and even deadly, so it’s not worth the risk.
  • Umbrella-shaped flowers are a bad sign. Stay away from these plants.
  • Don’t eat plants with white or yellow berries.
  • If the plant’s sap is milky or discolored, leave it alone.
  • Avoid beans or plants with seeds inside a pod.
  • If it tastes bitter or soapy, spit it out.
  • Avoid anything that smells like almonds.
  • Same as poison ivy, stay away from plants with leaves in groups of three.”

One of the smartest decisions you can make when it comes to emergency food is travelling with an emergency food supply.

Foods that’s lightweight and sealed is always good to have with you…whether you’re on a business trip or just driving through the woods…they can help you buy some time in the event of a crisis.

Click Here to see some of our most popular emergency food supplies.

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Using the Universal Edibility Test to See If Plants Are Edible

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