The Top Winter Survival Plants You NEED to Have on Hand

Winter survival plants are few and far between, but that doesnat mean foraging is impossible when the cold reaches. If anything, this is the time when foraging abilities can be most useful. So if youare up for a bit of a challenge this wintertime, put your abilities to the test by hunting down these wintertime survival plants.

Winter Survival Plants You Should Start Growing Now


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Depending on your latitude, sometimes it can feel like the only thing that grows in winter are the weeds. Fortunately, this doesnat have to be a bad thing. Almost all thistles found in the continental United States are not only non-poisonous, but also generally edible. In fact, thistles have been used throughout history for human consumption, and make for one of the most commonA survival plants. Over in southern Europe, various types of thistles have long been used in rural areas as a inexpensive source of easy food. Meanwhile in Japan, the cabbage thistle( Cirsium oleraceum) was traditionally farmed. Similar practices were once common in India as well.

Human consumption of thistles was also likely common in antiquity. Even the genus name, Cirsium, is derived from a Greek word meaning aswollen veina a a reminder of a day when thistles were used as a treatment for swollen veins.

How to prepare : Thereas many ways to prepare thistles, though most of them start with the root. The secret is to use a spade to gently push the tap root to the surface. Remove the spiny stem and clean the root well. At this point, the root is edible raw, though itall either have no taste, or be a bit bitter. Either way, itas not pleasant, but better than starving. If youad instead something tastier, the thistle roots can be treated just like any other; simmered, fried, or even roasted. Personally, Iad recommend lightly fried with a bit of salt and chili. The chili can do wonders to cover up the otherwise lousy taste.

Hickory nuts

These guys are some of the best eats youall get all wintertime. Much like walnuts, hickories taste good and pack a serious caloric punch. Edible species are usually sweet and delicious. Some like the shagbark hickory can be slightly bitter, but never overwhelmingly so. If you find some that savor severely bitter or otherwise downright unpleasant, then donat eat them! As for calories, weare talking around 193 per ounce. To set that in view, hazelnuts have just 170.

In winter, youall likely be hunting for fully mature hickory nuts, meaning theyall has become a rich dark brown, and should be no more than 2.5 inches long and broad. The nut itself will be inside a larger husk, which is usually fairly easy to separate. The hard part is opening the nut itself. Like walnuts, they can be a bit stubborn, but shouldnat stand much of a chance against a hammer or ordinary nutcracker. Overall, the humble hickory is one of the most sustainingA winter survival plants you can be luck enough to stumble across.

How to prepare : hickory nuts can be devoured raw or cooked. They can be tossed in with salads, or otherwise used like a walnut or similar. Try experimenting. Iave heard they can even make a decent pie. Follow any recipe for regular pecan tart, but substitute the pecans for hickories. Personally though, I think theyare best roasted over an open flame. Other alternatives include softly toasting or cooking. If youare planning on storing them for long periods, make sure to subject them to the float exam. Any nuts that float in water may be contaminated by grubs, and should be consumed/ thrown away immediately.

Wild onions

All plants of the allium genus are held edible. You might know a few already: onion, garlic, leek and chive being among the most commonly devoured. However, allium is more than simply these four commercially created foods. Dozens of types can be found across the United States, and over 500 are currently known to exist worldwide. The hundreds of types that arenat cultivated commercially are collectively called awild onionsa. All are edible, though taste varies considerably. As the name suggests, many savour just like onion, while others can be a little garlicy. Some donat genuinely have much of a taste at all, but are still easy to get down. Better still, wild onions can grow year round, inducing them one of the easiest winter survival plants to forage. As long as they get a bit of sun, they can grow. Open fields are your best bet for foraging.

The only one problem is that wild onions can be hard to distinguish from poisonous lilies. Some signs youare dealing with a legitimate wild onion include maintaining an eye out for the distinct, bulb-shaped root, and sniffing for that classic onion stench. If the leaves donat smelling, try cutting a small incision in the root. As always though, if youare not 100 percentage certain, donat take the risk.

How to prepare : Wild onions can usually be treated just like regular onions. They can be eat both raw and cooked. Depending on the savor, you might want to consider boil or stew. So far, the only hours Iave utilized them have been with some instant ramen on the road. They actually added a good amount of flavor, and were genuinely tasty.

Pine nuts

Not the most reliable of wintertime survival plants, you canat necessarily expect to find too many edible pine nuts during the dead of winter. Usually, the nuts are ready to eat around a week to 10 days before the pine cone itself opens. As anyone who has ever enjoyed a springtime saunter through the countryside knows, the cones tend to start opening around mid springtime. Nonetheless, that doesnat mean you can’t count them among the more important wintertime survival plants. On the contrary, pine nuts are often still easy to forage even in late autumn, building them a great food to stock up on in early winter. The trick is to look for a tree with both open and closed cones. Grab a few of the closing of the ones, and uncover them to heat to stimulate them open. An open fire will do the trick, though stay away from microwaves( trust me, youall just ruin both the nuts and the microwave itself ).

All pine nuts are edible, though some are easier to munch down than others. The best are the biggest ones, such as the Colorado pinyon. I find the New Mexico pinyon has a wonderful buttery taste, and can be found up the east coast.

How to prepare : The various uses of pine nuts are worth an entire article on their own. For brevityas sake, some of the common applications include: in salad, homemade pesto, roasted or even in soups. You can add them to marzipan balls to make a classic Catalan desert, the panellet. In rural Russia, pine nuts have been traditionally added to vodka bottles to make a drink called akedrovkaa. The petroleums from the nuts seep into the vodka, and can turn bottom-shelf liquor into a delicious treat that they are able to keep you warm til spring.

Pine bark

alphanumericlogic/ CC

If you discover your pine tree is out of nuts, then donat fret: thereas still a feed to be had. Cut through the rough exterior of the trunk and extract the softer bark beneath. It might not voice appetizing, but pine bark is amazingly starchy, and can fill you up on a cold wintertime day. The same can be said for a handful of other trees with edible bark, such as the maple, beech and aspen. In other words, all these common trees are, in themselves, greatA wintertime survival plants.

How to prepare : One trendy way to prepare pine bark is to make vegan bacon. Marinate the bark in salt, then roast til crispy. If you close your eyes and think positive guess, it can almost savor like the worst bacon youave ever eaten. In all seriousness though, pine bark is an extremely useful winter survival food. Itas common, easy to forage and simple to prepare.


Linnaea Mallette/ CC

The supermarket of the inundates is open all year round. Cattails are a classic survival food that every survivalist should know how to use. These common plants are incredibly useful, with each part of the cattail having a practical application. As one of the most easily obtainedA wintertime survival plants, they excel thanks to their high starch content. You should try searching along the shores of swampy water, and be prepared to get a bit muddy while foraging.

How to prepare : Cattail roots should be thoroughly cleaned and peeled, before being used much like any other root. They can be eaten raw, but are much better boiled or fried. Just treat them like potatoes, and you canat go wrong.

The shoots, on the other hand, can be genuinely delicious. Clean them, soak in vinegar, then prepare them as you would a similar green veggie. Personally, I find theyare pretty good when chopped thin, and fried in oil. Then, smother them in butter and feed with roasted potatoes. Youall be surprised by how good they taste.

Eastern Teaberry

You probably didnat expect to see any berries on this list, but the teaberry canat run unmentioned. Discovered across much of North America, the eastern teaberry is around 6-9mm broad with a reddish colour. You’ll find them grown in low shrubs, and can be foraged all year round, building them one of the more reliable wintertime survival plants on the east coast. The best place to look is in hardwood woodlands, particularly among pines. Appear out for sunny clears in the forest, where the berries are most common. If thereas snowfall, simply scratch beneath the surface, and you might get lucky.As for savour, expect something distinctly minty.

How to prepare : In some parts of the east coast, teaberries are serious business. You can find teaberry flavored ice-cream, gum and tea. New England is particularly fond of teaberries.

You can eat the berries raw, and they usually pack a lot of flavor. You can use the leaves to make an excellent tea, though youall have to dry and prepare them as you would any other tea. Ideally, you should also ferment them for 2-4 days to maximize their potency.


Usually considered more of a spring survival food, dandelions are still extremely useful in wintertime. Long after the flower has withered, the rest of the plant is still perfectly edible. Dandelions are super common, and even in winter you shouldnat have trouble procuring a few plants.

How to prepare : You can eat the dandelion plant raw, but savor pretty mediocre. Frankly, I find them better whenA boiled, which dulls the bitter savor somewhat.


This common plant grows all year round across Northern america. Appear for it in shallow, operating rivers, with each stem usually having somewhere between three and nine small oval leaves. The taste is nothing to write home about, though the leaves are rich in vitamins, calcium and iron.

Some traditional societies have used watercress to treat minor ailments such as coughs. However, itas also a diuretic( itall attain you pee-pee a lot ). So if youare concerned about hydration, give watercress a miss.

If youare keen on trying watercress, itas not hard to find in shallow streams. In winter, the plant does shrivel up a lot, and can be hard to pasture. Also, avoid watercress in unclean water. The plant is like a sponge for toxins, and can make you quite ill if it’s been growing in contaminated water. As for the harvesting process itself, itas pretty simple. Bring along a par of scissors, and snip the plant at the waterline. You can also simply rip it out at the root, but this is more labor intensive, and youall have to remove the grimy roots afterward anyway.

How to prepare : Watercress is best employed like collards. Cook them, and toss aem in with some vegetables. You can eat them raw, though they donat make for a particularly fulfilling dinner on their own. One good alternative is to make a salad with watercress foliages and hickory nuts. The flavors go together really well, especially if you throw in some pine nuts and oranges. Drizzle with a nice zesty vinaigrette, and youave got a respectable salad.

If youare going to store your watercress, thatas totally possible, but be careful. Maintain them in shallow, clean water, and change the water everyday. If they smell bad or start looking downright disgusting, throw them out immediately. Which of these wintertime survival plants will you start growing?

Seeming for more wintertime survival news and tips? Check out these articles !
15 Must Have Survival Food For Winter
Car Survival Kit: 12 Must Have Winter Survival Items You Need

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