Survival Plants That Can Save You in West Virginia

June 6, 2022

Mountaineer News | The Editors

'The Outdoors Specialists' - Edible Plants

BUCKHANNON, WV - Survival skills and knowledge of your surroundings can be the difference of life and death. Not only can a person get lost on a hike, but a natural disaster can strip away utilities and leave a person in a survival situation, including medicinal and edible plants native to West Virginia.


Morel Mushrooms

This is a popular and coveted mushroom that can be found in dark damp places, usually around different trees like elm, apple, poplar and ash. Although quite small, the taste of morel is unparalleled to any other type of mushroom or food.


With a very distinct shape in a variety of colors, morels are a safer choice in wild mushrooms because there really is no other mushroom that it can be be confused with.


There are a few mushrooms that look similar to a morel but are poisonous. As you will see by the depiction, it's easy to distinguish a morel from these poisonous look-a-likes:


HoneySuckle

Although this plant is not actual indigenous to West Virginia, it has found its home here.


Honeysuckle is an edible plant that is high in calcium, magnesium and potassium. Leaves can be eaten raw or parboiled and the flowers can be made into syrup. The plant has a lemon like perfume and can be used for many ailments or as an insecticide.


This plant has many medicinal qualities including; anti-bacterial, alterative, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, depurative, diureticm febrifuge and reducing blood pressure. Cattails

Cattails are another year round foraging plant, most of it being edible, with an exception to the leaves. The root-stock and shoots can be eaten raw or boiled and salted. Some even compare this plant to the taste of a cucumber. The unripe flower stocks can be cooked like corn and the buds nibbled off the stalk. With this plant, always remember to eat the tender white parts of the plant.

Also note-Due to emmanogogue action, this plant should not be ingested by pregnant women.


Ramps and Wild Onions

Ramps and onions grow almost everywhere in West Virginia and with such as strong smell, you can usually be smell them before seeing them.


The onions look exactly like their more domesticated counterpart and ramps can be distinguished for their broad leaves and smell; you really will smell them in the air when you are close.


These plants can be eaten raw, as well as boiled and salted.


Berries

West Virginia also has several types of berries that are edible and can be found in most of the state Mulberry, blueberry and even wild strawberries can be found in the right season. Pine

Pine trees can be utilized for a variety of things and with eight times the vitamin C of orange juice, can provide much needed nutrients to your body.


The needles can be boiled into a pleasant tea. Tender bark about an inch into the trunk can be eaten raw or cut thin and cooked crisp like a type of chip.


Young combs still on the tree will hold tasty pine nuts; The ones already on the ground will usually no longer have any nuts inside. Dandelions

A very common weed that can be seen in most states, this plant has medicinal properties as a diuretic and an appetite stimulant.


High in vitamin C and potassium, the leaves and roots of this plant can be eaten raw or steeped into tea. The flowers can actually be fermented and turned into wine. We consider it to be one of the most awesome plants in nature.

Pokeweed

*Not Edible at this stage

*Edible Pokeweed

This plant has many uses medicinally, some still under research. In animals, the plants berries are dried and have shown to have antiviral proteins (PAP) that can boost the immune system and counteracting cancerous tumors.

The shoots of this plant can be eaten raw and have been described to resemble spinach in texture and flavor. Many others will eat the young leaves boiled or scrambled in eggs. Please Note:

  1. The ROOTS are ALWAYS poisonous.

  2. The BERRIES are ALWAYS poisonous.

  3. The Mature Leaves, Stems and Stalk are ALWAYS poisonous

This is a plant that can only be consumed in it's beginning form in the spring, while the plant is between 12-18''. It MUST be cooked as well.


It is a plant that like many can be poisonous at certain times or certain parts of the plant. If you do not know enough about when to pick it and how to prepare it, then skip pokeweed altogether. Some people however, understand the risk and find it too good to pass up.

Highland Plantain

This is another native plant/weed of West Virginia that is edible, as well when mixed with water and placed on wounds, has been said to improve healing. The leaves can be boiled or fried into a type of chip. With all native plants, always perform due diligence and research before consuming.