Wild Plants Edibility Test

Blake

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See post by Templar below for detailed information..
 
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Templar

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Hmmmm… the Universal Edibility test…

This has to be one of the most misquoted writings in all of wilderness survival.

1- The test was not designed for general civilian wilderness survival, it was intended for SURVIVAL IN CAPTIVITY situations that military personnel may find themselves in and even then only after all attempts to obtain animal protein have been exhausted.

The test is meant for military (and very select military members at that) that have received very specific training in how to apply it.

2- As yet I am still trying to find a copy of the entire correct format for this test in a civilian publication.
3- The Universal edibility test is constantly being reviewed and updated by panels of experts for the best possible methods based on the updates put forward. The tests published and perpetuated in the civilian publications is not the same as the test taught to Military Personnel at the various schools of Combat Survival and U.S. S.E.R.E institutions.

WARNING - The critical factor in using plants for food is to avoid accidental poisoning. Eat only those plants you can positively identify and you know are safe to eat.

Universal Edibility Test
There are many plants throughout the world. Tasting or swallowing even a small portion of some can cause severe discomfort, extreme internal disorders, and even death. Therefore, if you have the slightest doubt about a plant's edibility, apply the Universal Edibility Test before eating any portion of it.

WARNING - Do not eat mushrooms in a survival situation! The only way to tell if a mushroom is edible is by positive identification. There is no room for experimentation. Symptoms caused by the most dangerous mushrooms affecting the central nervous system may not show up until several days after ingestion. By that time, it is too late to reverse their effects.

Before continuing with the following procedure, understand that this method is potentially life threatening, it should only be employed as a last resort, AFTER ALL OTHER POSSIBLE FOOD SOURCES HAVE BEEN EXHAUSTED!


UNIVERSAL EDIBILITY TEST:
1 - Test only one part of a potential food plant at a time.

2 - Separate the plant into its basic components — leaves, stems, roots, buds and flowers.

3 - Smell the food for strong or acid odours. Remember, smell alone does not indicate a plant is edible or inedible.

4 - Do not eat for eight hours before starting the test.

5 - During the eight hours you abstain from eating, test for contact poisoning by placing a piece of the plant part you are testing on the inside of your elbow or wrist. Usually 15 minutes is enough time to allow for a reaction.

6 - During the test period, take nothing by mouth except purified water and the plant part you are testing.

7 - Select a small portion of a single part and prepare it the way you plan to eat it.

8 - Before placing the prepared plant part in your mouth, touch a small portion (a pinch) to the outer surface of your lip to test for burning or itching.

9 - If after three minutes there is no reaction on your lip, place the plant part on your tongue, holding it there for 15 minutes.

10 - If there is no reaction, thoroughly chew a pinch and hold it in your mouth for 15 minutes. Do not swallow.

11 - If no burning, itching, numbing, stinging or other irritation occurs during the 15 minutes, swallow the food.

12 - Wait eight hours. If any ill effects occur during this period, induce vomiting and drink a lot of water.*

13 - If no ill effects occur, eat 0.25 cup of the same plant part prepared the same way. Wait another eight hours. If no ill effects occur, the plant part as prepared is safe for eating.

CAUTION: Test all parts of the plant for edibility, as some plants have both edible and inedible parts. Do not assume that a part that proved edible when cooked is also edible when raw. Test the part raw to ensure edibility before eating raw. The same part or plant may produce varying reactions in different individuals.

Before testing a plant for edibility, make sure there are enough plants to make the testing worth your time and effort. Each part of a plant (roots, leaves, flowers, and so on) requires more than 24 hours to test. Do not waste time testing a plant that is not relatively abundant in the area.

Remember, eating large portions of plant food on an empty stomach may cause diarrhoea, nausea, or cramps. Two good examples of this are such familiar foods as green apples and wild onions. Even after testing plant food and finding it safe, eat it in moderation.
You can see from the steps and time involved in testing for edibility just how important it is to be able to identify edible plants.

To avoid potentially poisonous plants, stay away from any wild or unknown plants that have--
• Milky or discoloured sap.
• Beans, bulbs, or seeds inside pods.
• Bitter or soapy taste.
• Spines, fine hairs, or thorns.
• Dill, carrot, parsnip, or parsley like foliage.
• "Almond" scent in woody parts and leaves.
• Grain heads with pink, purplish, or black spurs.
• Three-leaved growth pattern.

Using the above criteria as eliminators when choosing plants for the Universal Edibility Test will cause you to avoid some edible plants. More important, these criteria will often help you avoid plants that are potentially toxic to eat or touch.

(*) To induce vomiting mix a slurry of 2:1 charcoal powder and water and drink or, mix 3 table spoons of salt into a small cup of water for the same effect.

Remember also that the test must be conducted for both the cooked and uncooked state as the chemicals in the plant may be affected by exposure to heat, either removing a toxin or concentrating it...

(Universal Edibility Test: Updated May 2002. As per FM 3-05.70 Survival Manual. Supersedes FM 21-76 SURVIVAL 1999)
 

auscraft

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Very good advise.
In regards to Australian Bush tucker if your using a guide for identifing plants be sure it includes special food preparations if required, As many plants the Aboriginals use are actually TOXIC requiring special treatment and time perps.
There are many foods in Aus Bush that can eaten straight from plant but correct Identification is vital even something as the Macadamia nut, there is a fruit/plant simular that is Toxic .I will find this example and post in food database as soon as i can find pic of the toxic plant to show comparision.
I have new computer as from last weekend and need tofind my files to share please be patient.
 
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Blake

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Templar. Thanks for that great and detailed post. I will remove mine and put yours at the top as it contains much more detail and information.

I should have made it clear this is in no way what I use to identify what is edible. However I did think it would help add an extra layer of saftey. Obviously if the plant is ID'd correctly this wont be an issue but im not perfect although i try to be very safe.*

In your opinion Templar is this something that should be avoided unless one has the proper training you mentioned in your post? Can or should this be used in conjunction with proper ID of new plants in a NON survival situation? I would be keen to get your thoughts on this.

Cheers
 
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Templar

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No worries Blake,

In general we want to avoid experimenting with plants we don't know, the test should only be used in a survival situation when done on plants you DO NOT know.

However, if you find a food plant that you can positivly identify, that you have never eaten before, then the test is also used. The test is used in this situation to see if YOU have any reaction to the plant, just because others can eat it without effect, doesn't mean that you can.

There is a plant used for food here in Viet Nam that the locals eat all the time, it's a green leafy herb type plant that looks like a form of Basil (the mint family) yet if I eat this, I get serious cramps followed by the runs for a couple of days after... the first time this happened I put it down to travelling in a third world country and poor hygeine by the cooks, however it became a regular thing, no matter where I went. So i went down to the local market and bought samples of all the leaf herbs I had seen and conducted the test on them, sure enough I found the culprit...

So the test can/should be used whenever you find a new plant, that you haven't eaten before, that has been identified as edible by others.
 

Aussie Forager CQ

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Hi All,

I thought I'd add this exerpt from Greane Dean's Eat The Weeds. It really opened my eyes to some of the hazards of edibility testing. I think it compliments the seriousness of the above steps.

For those who havent heard of Green Deane he apparently is 'the most watched Forager in the world' on you tube. He has a comprehensive website that is defenately worth a look www.EatTheWeeds.com. It's American based but plenty of the content has made it's way over to OZ.

I was just going to add a link but I thought it's just as easy to copy it over -

*♣ Don’t even consider trying to eat the blossom of the Salvia coccinea, the Scarlet Sage. While it blossoms year round it is responding to the warm weather with wonderful displays of scarlet red blossoms. While they look like they would be wonderful additions to a salad they can put you in the hospital. The Scarlet Sage is one good reason why I am opposed to “field testing.”


Field Testing Can Be Dangerous
One year I, too, thought the blossom might be a good salad edition. I researched the species extensively. It was a native, exported around the world for 400 years, had no reports of toxicity, had one medicinal report, and came from a good family, the sages. I decided to field test the plant, under very controlled conditions. That’s means I had researched the plant very well, knew exactly what I was doing, was NOT in an emergency situation, had good health insurance and a hospital nearby. Those are the only acceptable conditions, in my opinion, for “field testing.”

Thus I began the field testing in stages. On the appropriate day of the schedule I ate a piece of the red blossom that was 1/8 of an inch square, which as exact as I could get with my exacto blade and the delicate blossom. Forty minutes later my head spun and my stomach cramped and I was ill for three weeks. I was close to going-to-the-emergency room ill within the hour. By day two I was just sick. Pepto Bismo calmed the stomach and Coca-cola syrup (both from the pharmacy) controlled the nausea. For three weeks I consumed little but Pepto Bismo and Coca-cola syrup.

Imagine if I were not intentionally testing the plant under optimum conditions? What if it had been an emergency, and I was responsible for others, and I took it upon myself to “field test’ an unknown plant as, unfortunately, far too many “survival” books recommend. I would have been out of commission, useless, of no help to any one exactly when needed the most. And if you “field test” the wrong plant you could be more than just sick. The next time someone starts to teach you the “field testing” method ask one question: What plant do you eat now that you discovered by field testing? The answer is always “none.” Then ask: “have you actually ever field tested a plant?” The answer is usually “no.” A lot of foks are teaching something they have never done. I turned down a lucrative fee to go to a convention and teach “field testing.”* I don’t think “field testing” should be done in the field. Just the opposite; if ever it should be done under very controlled conditions after a lot of research and with medical facilities near by. In other words, rarely, if ever. There is a picture of the non-edible Salvia cocinnea here. Let’s just say: don’t go there.
 

Hairyman

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Thanks for that AF.Another problem with edibility testing is an individuals alergic reactions.
My wife for instance developed a severe alergy to tomatoes but not it seems to other common edible Solanums
such as potatoe and capsicum. Still without knowing exactly what the chemical was it would be quite a risk for her to
try any of the many native bush tomatos in this genus. Bizarrely a few people with specific food alergies I know
push their luck by eating their nemesis occasionally?????
Why some people develop alergies and most dont is a mystery to me.
 
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Aussie Forager CQ

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Yeh your right it's got me stumped as well regarding the difference in the allergic reactions. It's something I've been contemplating lately as I try different (researched) wild foods that i havent tried before. So far so good......
 

Iwalk

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For a civilian version see Bob Cooper's "Outback Survival". not surprisingly little different to this. Bob has long been involved in teaching survival and bush living including to the military.

Hmmmm… the Universal Edibility test…

This has to be one of the most misquoted writings in all of wilderness survival.

1- The test was not designed for general civilian wilderness survival, it was intended for SURVIVAL IN CAPTIVITY situations that military personnel may find themselves in and even then only after all attempts to obtain animal protein have been exhausted.

The test is meant for military (and very select military members at that) that have received very specific training in how to apply it.

2- As yet I am still trying to find a copy of the entire correct format for this test in a civilian publication.
3- The Universal edibility test is constantly being reviewed and updated by panels of experts for the best possible methods based on the updates put forward. The tests published and perpetuated in the civilian publications is not the same as the test taught to Military Personnel at the various schools of Combat Survival and U.S. S.E.R.E institutions.

WARNING - The critical factor in using plants for food is to avoid accidental poisoning. Eat only those plants you can positively identify and you know are safe to eat.

Universal Edibility Test
There are many plants throughout the world. Tasting or swallowing even a small portion of some can cause severe discomfort, extreme internal disorders, and even death. Therefore, if you have the slightest doubt about a plant's edibility, apply the Universal Edibility Test before eating any portion of it.

WARNING - Do not eat mushrooms in a survival situation! The only way to tell if a mushroom is edible is by positive identification. There is no room for experimentation. Symptoms caused by the most dangerous mushrooms affecting the central nervous system may not show up until several days after ingestion. By that time, it is too late to reverse their effects.

Before continuing with the following procedure, understand that this method is potentially life threatening, it should only be employed as a last resort, AFTER ALL OTHER POSSIBLE FOOD SOURCES HAVE BEEN EXHAUSTED!


UNIVERSAL EDIBILITY TEST:
1 - Test only one part of a potential food plant at a time.

2 - Separate the plant into its basic components — leaves, stems, roots, buds and flowers.

3 - Smell the food for strong or acid odours. Remember, smell alone does not indicate a plant is edible or inedible.

4 - Do not eat for eight hours before starting the test.

5 - During the eight hours you abstain from eating, test for contact poisoning by placing a piece of the plant part you are testing on the inside of your elbow or wrist. Usually 15 minutes is enough time to allow for a reaction.

6 - During the test period, take nothing by mouth except purified water and the plant part you are testing.

7 - Select a small portion of a single part and prepare it the way you plan to eat it.

8 - Before placing the prepared plant part in your mouth, touch a small portion (a pinch) to the outer surface of your lip to test for burning or itching.

9 - If after three minutes there is no reaction on your lip, place the plant part on your tongue, holding it there for 15 minutes.

10 - If there is no reaction, thoroughly chew a pinch and hold it in your mouth for 15 minutes. Do not swallow.

11 - If no burning, itching, numbing, stinging or other irritation occurs during the 15 minutes, swallow the food.

12 - Wait eight hours. If any ill effects occur during this period, induce vomiting and drink a lot of water.*

13 - If no ill effects occur, eat 0.25 cup of the same plant part prepared the same way. Wait another eight hours. If no ill effects occur, the plant part as prepared is safe for eating.

CAUTION: Test all parts of the plant for edibility, as some plants have both edible and inedible parts. Do not assume that a part that proved edible when cooked is also edible when raw. Test the part raw to ensure edibility before eating raw. The same part or plant may produce varying reactions in different individuals.

Before testing a plant for edibility, make sure there are enough plants to make the testing worth your time and effort. Each part of a plant (roots, leaves, flowers, and so on) requires more than 24 hours to test. Do not waste time testing a plant that is not relatively abundant in the area.

Remember, eating large portions of plant food on an empty stomach may cause diarrhoea, nausea, or cramps. Two good examples of this are such familiar foods as green apples and wild onions. Even after testing plant food and finding it safe, eat it in moderation.
You can see from the steps and time involved in testing for edibility just how important it is to be able to identify edible plants.

To avoid potentially poisonous plants, stay away from any wild or unknown plants that have--
• Milky or discoloured sap.
• Beans, bulbs, or seeds inside pods.
• Bitter or soapy taste.
• Spines, fine hairs, or thorns.
• Dill, carrot, parsnip, or parsley like foliage.
• "Almond" scent in woody parts and leaves.
• Grain heads with pink, purplish, or black spurs.
• Three-leaved growth pattern.

Using the above criteria as eliminators when choosing plants for the Universal Edibility Test will cause you to avoid some edible plants. More important, these criteria will often help you avoid plants that are potentially toxic to eat or touch.

(*) To induce vomiting mix a slurry of 2:1 charcoal powder and water and drink or, mix 3 table spoons of salt into a small cup of water for the same effect.

Remember also that the test must be conducted for both the cooked and uncooked state as the chemicals in the plant may be affected by exposure to heat, either removing a toxin or concentrating it...

(Universal Edibility Test: Updated May 2002. As per FM 3-05.70 Survival Manual. Supersedes FM 21-76 SURVIVAL 1999)
 
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