Using Plants For Survival

Using Plants For Survival

When you’re stuck in the wilderness, you might think that your emergency preparedness kit is the only thing you have to get you through. While it’s true that this essential kit holds a lot of the things you need to survive, there are also plenty of great options around you in the form of plants that can help with water, shelter, medicine, and more.

The rule with using plants for survival is to only go with those that you’ve thoroughly researched. Although this guide can point you in the direction of some better options, you should never eat or use a plant if you’re unsure of what it is exactly or how best to use it. The results could be dangerous and fatal in some cases, so don’t just assume it is safe.

Bamboo plants outside.

Bamboo Plants

Bamboo is one of the most unique plants in that it can offer you more than just one mode of survival. This plant, when used correctly, can give you a form of shelter, can bring you water when you need hydrating, and can even be used to start fires. There really isn’t anything it can’t do, and it’s often found in great supply when you’re in the right areas.

Fibrous Plants

If you’re in need of rope for shelter or making a raft, look for fibrous plants for the best supply. These plants include species such as elm and walnut trees, yucca leaves, and the stalks of hemp or stinging nettle. There are many varieties available for durable and reliable rope quality material, but you’ll need to ensure they’re durable before you attempt to use them.


These are one of the easiest food supplies you’ll find outdoors and because they’re so noticeable they aren’t hard to miss. They can be picked easily and plentifully so when you’re feeling hungry they’re a great way to last a little longer without a decent meal.


Bark is usually the most useful product you’ll find for starting a fire, but you need to know where to look. The best bark for fire starting purposes is found in the middle of the tree where there’s little moisture. You might need to strip away for a bit to reach the ideal area, but it’ll worth it when you’re treated to a hot and cozy fire.

Japanese knotweed held in hand.

Japanese Knotweed

The shoots of Japanese knotweed can be cut off and cooked, and although they can be quite tart they’re also extremely filling. The good news is, this plant is considered a pest in many areas around the world and is often found in great abundance giving you an endless supply of food should you need it.

Grass Seeds

Grass seeds and many other types of seed might look small and unfulfilling, but they’re actually some of the most nutritious things you can source in the wilderness. Don’t just eat any old seed, though, as they can be toxic and fatal. Grass seeds are easy to spot and will help to keep the hunger pangs away while you search for other food.


If you’re lucky enough to find them, walnuts are an amazing source of survival food that comes from plants. Walnuts are a good source of fiber, can keep depression at bay, and they taste absolutely delicious especially when you’re living off survival plants and rations.


There are countless berries available in the wild with uses in food and medicine, but you need to know what you’re looking for. Some of the most common berries found in the outdoors that are safe to eat include blackberries and blueberries.

An important rule to remember is to stay away from green, white, or yellow berries as 90% of these are poisonous. Black, blue, and aggregated berries are usually safe to eat but should only be ingested if you know what they are for sure.


This is one of those amazing plants that can treat a range of medicinal needs, so if you’re suffering from skin irritations which can be quite common in the wilderness this is the one you want. Althea can also treat ulcers and sore throats, but for the best application use it directly on your irritated skin.


Catnip plant outside.

Not just for our feline friends, catnip is another great medicinal plant that you can use in an emergency. Because it grows well in many types of soils you can find it in plenty of places, and it has a myriad of uses. Catnip can be rubbed directly onto sores to stop bleeding, and can also relieve migraines, gas, stomach aches, colds, and fevers.

Final Thoughts

The wilderness is full of so many useful plants that can help you survive, with everything from medicine to food supplies being available if you know what you’re looking for. The number one rule to remember in the outdoors, though, is that if you’re unsure of a certain plant species it’s best to leave it alone.

As a reminder for what you can and can’t use in the wild, if any plant seems milky, has a bitter or soapy taste and has spines or thorns, you can be fairly sure that you should stay away. Unless you’ve thoroughly researched plant life for yourself, there’s no way you can know for sure.

Although these plants can be helpful in a number of ways, they can also be dangerous and even fatal so it’s best to avoid them if you’re unsure of what they are. For this reason, always be sure to have your own survival kit packed with enough food, water, and medicine to meet your needs in an emergency situation.

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