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How To Check If a Plant Is Edible [Universal Edibility Test]

With the edibility test you can check whether a plant is edible or not. You will learn which plants you absolutely have to avoid and which is universally edible.

Universal Edibility Test

There are many plants that are edible.

But there are some that you should definitely avoid.

Knowing all the plants in the world is impossible.

In this article you will learn which is universally edible. Also, I will show you how to check if a plant is edible without any adverse consequences.

What Plants To Avoid

Generally avoid plants that:

  • are sticky
  • have milky, white or yellowish juices
  • Have fruit that is divided into exactly five parts (e.g. orange is divided into many parts)
  • have the warning color red
  • that have shiny leaves
  • which have yellow or white berries
  • have seeds in a pod
  • taste like soap
  • are umbrella -shaped or have umbrella-shaped flowers

Above I wrote that you should avoid plants that have milky juices. Surely you immediately think of the dandelions. This is an exception and there will always be exceptions.

I also wrote that you should avoid red fruits. This is only a guideline for unfamiliar plants. If you know the plants and fruits, like the tomato or the apple, then of course the statement doesn’t apply.

These are rules of thumb that apply worldwide . It’s better that you stick to it than be reckless.

Below you can see the red foxglove. All parts of the plant are highly toxic. Two leaves can lead to fatal poisoning.

The red foxglove is highly toxic
The red foxglove is highly toxic

Observe Animals

Another rule of thumb is that you watch what animals eat .

What sparrows or pigeons eat cannot be bad for you. If you are traveling in other countries, you can observe monkeys or small mammals.

You can taste what they eat.

But do the edibility test (more below). Because the same applies here: There are exceptions and some birds also eat berries that are poisonous to us humans. If you are not sure, don’t worry.

For example, birds like to eat mistletoe berries, which are poisonous when raw. You should not eat the leaves or the berries.

How To Check If a Plant Is Edible [Universal Edibility Test]
Sparrows like to eat sunflower seeds, which are also edible for us humans

The Universal Edibility Test

Your choices have now narrowed down based on the plants you avoid.

Now you have a plant or fruit in front of you and you have to check it for edibility.

If it’s a plant, look under the plant . Are there dead insects underneath? Then move on.

If not, do the following:

1. Check Smell

To do this, rub a small sample of the plant between your fingers.

Sniff the sample. If it smells unpleasant and gross, leave the plant alone.

If the smell is pleasant, go to step two: Test a small piece.

2. Tongue Test

If the smell is okay, feel it a little with your tongue .

If it tastes bitter or if it is caustic, then stop the edibility test here.

If the sample is okay, go to step three: swallow sample.

3. Swallow Test

Take the sample of the plant and swallow it.

Be sure to wait half an hour.

watch your body How does he react in time?

If you don’t feel any changes, such as stomach pain, hiccups, retching, or esophageal spasms, go to step four.

4. Eat A Larger Amount

If you get to step four, you have no complaints – that’s good.

Now eat a larger amount of the plant and wait again.

Take an hour before eating more amounts.

After 24 hours at the latest you will know if the plant is ok.

Only then can you integrate them into your diet.

When Nausea And Pain Occur

If you are sick or in pain, empty your stomach.

To do this, stick your finger deep down your throat.

It is best to drink a large sip of salt water beforehand.

Then everything will definitely come out.

Plants as Food

Now the disillusionment: Unfortunately, plants are not suppliers of energy .

If you need a lot of energy, you need carbohydrates and proteins.

Plants mainly contain vitamins and fiber.

But there is still the positive effect that your stomach has something to do and the illusion that you have done something good for your body.

Examples of Edible Plants

In our local forests there is delicious forest salad.

For example:

  • wild garlic
  • dandelion
  • nettle
  • goutweed
  • Chickweed
  • daisy
  • plantain
  • sorrel
  • buckhorn
  • chamomile
  • Jerusalem Artichoke
  • young birch leaves
Dandelions, various flowers, birch leaves
Dandelions, various flowers, birch leaves

Are You Allowed To collect plants In The Forest?

Unfortunately, no. You are not allowed to collect plants in nature reserves.

Not even in forests, where the forest owner prohibits this with signs.

Otherwise, you can take small amounts with you from the forest and meadows for home use.

Book Recommendations

There are hundreds of plants and many have been properly described in books.

I would like to recommend two good books to you.

Edible Wild Plants – A North American Field Guide to Over 200 Natural Foods : View Price

Foraging for Beginners – An Easy Guide to Foraging Edible Wild Plants : View Price

Wrapping up

All in all, the Universal Edibility Test can be an extremely useful tool for people who find themselves in a situation where they are completely reliant on foraging for food.

It reduces the risk of accidentally eating something that could make you sick or worse.

But of course, it is important to remember to never eat wild plants unless you are absolutely certain of their safety.

By following the steps of the Universal Edibility Test, you can be sure that you will be consuming foods that are safe to eat.