Live Off the Land : Survive With Edible Weeds





Introduction: Live Off the Land : Survive With Edible Weeds

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Whenever I go out I always look for edible weeds which grow naturally in the open land near water sources, under some trees like coconut and Banana and in the wild. Most of these edible weeds are neglected and forgotten as our life style has changed and are being destroyed in the name of development.

Here I have gathered few edible weeds from our home garden and also from surrounding areas, which we used as green vegetables with lunch. Most of these weeds are also used by our ancestors as medicine to cure various ailments naturally. In case you are stranded in the wild, you can look for these kind of edible weeds for your survival.

Step 1: Indian Pennywort or Asiatic Pennywort

Indian Pennywort or Asiatic Pennywort grows in abundance in wetlands. Commonly known as Centella asiatica or simply centella is also a medicinal herb. You can easily recognise this plant by its kidney shaped leaves. They spread along the ground in wetlands.

This plant is indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and wetland regions of the Southeastern US.

Step 2: Ceylon Spinach or Surinam Purslane

Talinum fruticosum, also known by different names as Ceylon spinach, Surinam Purslane, Philippine spinach and Florida spinach, grows everywhere along river banks, paddy fields and wet lands. This plant can be easily identified with its fleshy leafs which look like spinach with small pink flowers.

Also known as Waterleaf plant, it is native to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. It grows in many parts of Asia also and used as a leafy vegetable.

Step 3: Green Amaranth

It is an edible weed growing everywhere. There are so many different species of these weed and most of them are edible.

You can find this weed in almost all the places.

Step 4: Black Nightshade or Green Nightshade

Solanum nigrum also known as Black Nightshade or Green Nightshade is commonly found in many wooded areas. The plant has tiny white flowers. The small berries are purple black in color.

Step 5: Asiatic Dayflower

Commelina communis, commonly known as Asiatic Dayflower is a weed with a beautiful looking tiny blue flowers. These flowers lost for a day only, so the name Dayflower.

As per wikipedia, the plant's native distribution includes East Asia and Southeast Asia. The species has been introduced to much of Europe and eastern North America. It is also present in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada, and in most of the eastern and central American states from Massachusetts and New York in the northeast, west to Minnesota and south through the Great Plains to Texas and east to extreme northern Florida in the United States.

Step 6: Asthma Plant

Euphorbia hirta, also known as Asthma Plant, grows in open grasslands, roadsides and river banks. If you break the stem, you will a find a white latex seeping out from the stem. The leaves are elliptical with flowers at each leaf node.

It is native to Asian countries and used in Ayurvedic Medicine in India.

Step 7: Thoodhuvalai, Solanum Trilobatum

This plant grows in the wild and is full of thorns. Even the leaves have thorns on the underside. It is also a medicinal plant used widely in Ayurvedic medicine. While collecting the leaves, remove the thorns from the leaves before using it for cooking.

it is native to Asian countries

Step 8: Malabar Spinach

Basella alba, also known as Malabar Spinach, Climbing Spinach and Red Vine Spinach. It is a creeper with red stem.

As per wikipedia, this plant grows in tropical Asia, Africa,Brazil, Belize, Colombia, the West Indies, Fiji and French Polynesia

Step 9: Wash, Chop and Cook

I have gathered enough greens, washed them in clean water to remove any soil particles and then lightly chopped them into pieces. The chopped greens were boiled with little salt till the raw smell disappeared. A little tempering with oil, onions and red chillies makes the dish very tasty.

There are so many edible weeds growing in the wild. These weeds may differ from region to region. If you are not sure of which one is edible, seek advice from local people. These weeds will help us survive in case we are stranded in the wild.


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According to sources Nightshade contains a potent neurotoxin. Bittersweet is Solanine which acts very similar to an organophosphate. Some common nightshade contains Atropine. The berries contain 0.75 to 1% and the leaves 0.25% at least for the bittersweet nightshade.

Thank you for your information. The Nightshade variety growing in our place is "Solanum nigrum". We use the leaves and berries regularly in our diet. The leaves are sold in local market also as green vegetable.
The other variety, "Solanum Americanum" may be toxic, but it is not growing in our place.

Very detailed Instructable!

didnt know so many of the weeds we kill were edible. Great Instructable!

I wonder whether Black Nightshade can be edible in some places, and poisonous in others? The berries make lovely jam. I've always eaten them in moderation (in South Africa). I didn't know you could eat the leaves.

To the best of my knowledge, all nightshade leaves are poisonous.

The leaves and berries of the Nightshade variety grows in our place is edible. Even the seeds are available in ebay India site (200 seeds for about 2 dollars). You can see the posting and also the description of the plant at this link.

I guess not all nightshades are equal. As the author says below, "In our place we use the leaves as green vegetable." I'm going to try it myself next time I see some that aren't right on the road...