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Survival Plants That Can Save You-West Virginia


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 disastor can strip away utilities and leave a person in a survival situations. This will include medicinal and edible native plants of West Virginia, a state chocked full of wild and wonderful terrain.



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 unparrelled 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 like it to be confused with. There is one mushroom that is poisonous, but as you will see by the picture, they are quite easy to distinquish between.

Poisonous Look-Alike





Although this plant is not actual indeginous 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 rawed 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 are another year round foraging plant, most of it being edible, with an exception to the leaves. The rootstock 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, Wild Onions and Berries

These two plants grow almost everywhere in West Virginia and with such as strong smell, wil usually be smelled before seen. The onions look exactly like their more domesticated conterpart 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.

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 trees can be utilized for a variety of things and with 8 times the vitamin C of orange juice, can provide mch needed nutrients to your body. The needles can be boiled into a pleasant tea. Tender bark about an inch in to 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 probably no longer have any nuts inside.




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.

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Poke Weed

Not Edible at this stage

Not Edible at this stage

Edible Pokeweed

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 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, skip pokeweed. 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.

Highland Plantain


With all native plants, do some research and make sure before you eat it, it is what you think it is. If you are from West Virginia or are planning to travel here, go to the link below for a free pamphlet on all the edible plants in West Virginia.
I am planning on doing all 50 states, so any suggestions on the next one?


kaiyan717 (author) from West Virginia on July 31, 2016:

Thanks for bringing to my attention that it needed to be more clear. on July 30, 2016:

I read that mature pokeweed was poisonous

anonymous on June 12, 2012:

I would like to point out that pokeweed is toxic unless it has been cooked, and that is only when it is young. Also, the roots are highly toxic and should never be consumed.

My sources: ,

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