7 Weeds You Can Eat When SHTF

by Joe

The great thing about weeds is, they grow like… weeds!

This usually means they’re abundant, and when SHTF and you’re hungry, good old Mother Nature will provide.

These same weeds that we fight and curse at when they invade our green lawns and back yards could just be the stuff that saves our life. Funny how that works out sometimes.

Here are 7 weeds found all over the U.S. that are edible, nutritious (many are loaded with anti-oxidants), and have been a staple of native diets for centuries.

Eating Weeds

Many wild edible plants will taste the best when they’re young and recently bloomed.

As the plant ages, it will often take on a more bitter taste. So unless you like bitter, you’ll either need to get these weeds when they’re fresh and young or boil them.

Boiling usually takes off some of the bitter taste and will kill off any bacteria living on the plant, like an animal waste.

“Watch out where the huskies go and don’t you eat that yellow snow” applies here, too.

Remember that there are a number of poisonous plants in the wild, and you want to be sure that you’ve correctly identified the plant you’re going to eat. Familiarize yourself with what’s growing around your area.

There are a number of good field guides at Amazon.com. And there’s even an app for that!

Also, when SHTF, it might be useful to know the U.S. Army Survival Manual FM 21-76 and its “Universal Edibility Test.

Here’s a detailed breakdown I wrote about the 3 steps to find edible plants.

Note: some experts believe that this test is not to be trusted, because even skin contact with some plants can have serious ill effects.

The Army manual also strongly suggests knowing how to identify the plants in your environment BEFORE needing them is key. Use the test with caution.

It does, however, make some good “common sense” suggestions about where to find, and not find, plants you want to eat — for example, the manual says to avoid plants at the roadside because car exhaust and other chemicals will be present.

It’s easy to confuse some plants (like dandelions and hawksbeard), and having the Army Survival Guide as well as a good field manual, can be a life saver!

Good to remember, and worth a read.

Now, on to the good stuff!

7 Weeds You Can Eat When SHTF

Some of these you’ll probably have seen in lists like these before. But there are a couple here that might surprise you.

Either way, at the top of everyone’s edible weeds list, should be…


Anyone who’s tried to grow a beautiful green lawn knows this weed all too well.

7 weeds you can eat when shtf

Photo by Greg Hume

You can eat the whole thing raw or cooked. Some fry these, some boil them in a soup. The whole plant is edible.

But they’re best known as an old favorite for salads, raw.


Another weed similar in reputation to dandelion for its pervasiveness.


It has smooth flat “juicy” looking leaves, usually hugging the ground.

The plant can be eaten raw or boiled. Fried in the batter can be nice, and raw it can be added to a salad.


Is usually abundant over grassy areas, and you can eat all of this low lying plant.


Photo by Alvesgaspar

They’ll have three leaf configuration, but not to be confused with poison ivy! “Leaf of three, let it be” doesn’t apply here.The clover in this picture is the purplish flower, with the “leaves of three” at its base.

Clover grows in your lawn, just like dandelions, and is just as hard to kill off. Best tasting when boiled.

Plantain weed

Not to be confused with the banana-like plant found all over the tropics.

These plants are usually found near marshes and bogs. It has a wide leaf that is usually low lying.


Photo by Lorsh

Sometimes plantain has a stalk growing from it that resembles an asparagus tip.

This plant is so hearty you can often find it growing up from between a crack in the sidewalk or driveway.

The leaves can be eaten raw, or cooked, or boiled. That stalk can also be cooked, but be careful — there’s a ton of fiber in it. 🙂


These are found all around marshy areas and are so visually unique, they can be a great sign of water that you can identify from a distance.


Photo by Bogdan

Cattails look like a tall plant with a dark brown “corn dog” at the top.All of it can be eaten. Best to boil the stalk, leaves, and roots.

Some say you can eat the dark brown “corn dog” flower raw, especially when it’s newly formed, but it’s going to be dry.


Just like the amaranth you’d buy at the store, you can eat all of the plants, but the leaves tend to be bitter.


Photo by Pompilid

Boiling will help reduce some of the bitter taste.

The fruit can be ground up and eaten as well.

Burdock plant

You know those little barbed marble-sized balls that get stuck in a pet’s coat and are really hard to remove?

Rumored to be the inspiration behind Velcro, you can eat every part of this plant, but it’s often bitter and boiling it once or twice will help remove some of that bitterness.


Photo by Christian Fischer

That’s all 7 weeds you can eat when SHTF!


Whether you’re looking to survive when SHTF, or simply looking to add some wild, fresh variety to your daily diet, these 7 weeds are sure to please.

Some of these plants can grow large enough, or in enough of cropping, that you can find them easily from an aerial view.

Knowing how to identify and prepare edible plants can add to your survival confidence, and is a good skill to have — before you need it! Also, check out 5 ways to purify water in 60 seconds or less.

There’s something cool about eating plants growing in the wild.

But it can also be dangerous — use with caution, get a good field manual, and be sure you’re eating the right plant!

Disclaimer: This article isn’t a field guide, so before you start eating weeds or any wild plant, make sure you’ve consulted a proper guide and positively identified them as an edible plant.

This is something you don’t want to get wrong!

What’s your favorite edible weed?

Please share! Help us get the word out, because we’re all in this together!

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