Determining what you can safely eat and what is not safe for you to ingest is a key to wilderness survival skills. Knowing how identify edible wild plants is critical. Learning to complete the universal edibility test should be a priority before you set out on any camping trip or even a hike in the mountains. Preparation can save your life.
Prepare to Perform the Test
Fast for eight hours to insure that test results are accurate and any reaction comes from the plant ingested rather than an unknown source.
Separate the plant you're testing during this eight hour fast. You'll want the leaves separate from the stem and any flowers separated as well.
Test for reaction by placing one portion of the plant against your lips. Wait fifteen minutes to see if you react. If there is no stinging or burning, you can continue.
Place the portion you're testing against your tongue. Do not chew or swallow. Wait fifteen minutes to see if you react. If you do not, you can test another portion of the plant in the same way. Continue until all sections have been tested.
Reacting during any part of this test means the plant portion has failed the universal edibility test and is not safe for ingesting.
Complete the Test
Take one portion of the plant that passed the tests above, and prepare it as you would plan to eat it if it were an edible wild plant.
Place a small amount in your mouth and chew, be sure you do not swallow at this time. Wait three minutes. If there is no reaction, you can continue the test.
Swallow the portion of the plant you've chewed and wait eight hours. During that time frame, if you experience any reaction, induce vomiting to remove the toxins from your system. If there is no reaction, you can continue the test.
Prepare a 1/4 cup of the plant portion and eat. Wait an additional eight hours. Again, if you react at all, induce vomiting. If there is no reaction, that portion of the plant is safe to eat and has passed the universal edibility test.
Test each part of the plant for edibility. Just because one part is safe to ingest does not mean that other sections of the plant are safe to ingest. Each portion needs to be tested separately to insure that you are dealing with an entirely edible wild plant.