These wilderness field guides assist in making accurate identification of plants, herbs, and trees. Being able to accurately identify plants and trees in the field is a necessary skill for long term survival. Without knowing the plants and trees in your area you’re taking a risk by using those plants and trees for food and medicinal purposes – not something you want to guess at in a survival situation.
Choosing a field guide from the vast array in the marketplace can be a daunting task for the beginning prepper, survivalist, or bushcrafter. Luckily they are not very expensive, usually costing less than $20, so buying more than one is a viable option.
Some things to consider when making a selection are the specific region you will be using the guide, does it include photographs or illustrations, and size. Some guides limit the included species to ones found only in a specific region or state within the US. If you live in the east and never expect to go to the west coast, maybe you don’t need an all inclusive guide for North America. Minimizing the number of species found in a field guide is especially helpful for a beginner.
If this is your first field guide, it is best to select one with illustrations instead of photographs. Illustrations allow unique field marks specific to a species to be emphasized. Photographs don’t always show or emphasize these field marks due to the lighting or the angle of the subject.
The following guides are the ones I’ve personally settled on considering my location in the US, quality of content, and field experience. I may not always carry all four guides with me, but if I do decide to take them out it’s generally the Peterson Edible Wild Plants & the Tree Identification. Here is a YouTube video highlighting the two guides used to identify the mentioned wild edible.
These guides can all be purchased through Amazon.
Peterson Edible Wild Plants – The Peterson Field guides have been the best that I’ve come across for several reasons. Not only do they have quality high resolution pictures, but they have equally quality written content, and they don’t take up a lot of room in your kit. As with all field guides I recommend taking this guide out into your yard and local park to start identifying local resources. This will not only get you familiar with resources in your local area, but get you comfortable with using the guide itself.
Peterson Medicinal Plants and Herbs – The Peterson Medicinal Plants and Herbs guide uses a damn near perfect blend of high resolution color pictures and written content to educate and assist the user in finding and selecting the proper plants.
Handbook of Native American Herbs – The advantage this book has over the Peterson Guide is that it gives you common dosages to use when making medicine from natural resources. It comes in handy when wondering how much of what to use when make teas or other medicinal type resources.
Golden Field Guides Trees of North America – The benefit of being able to identify trees is that they are a 4 season resource unlike plants and herbs. Not only can certain parts of trees be used for medicinal purposes, but knowing the type of wood can also play into your advantage when making primitive weapons such as survival bows, arrows, and spears. the best thing for the beginner to do is get the field guide and then spend some time in your yard and local park identifying trees and learning what they can be used for in a survival situation.
When it comes to long term survival and living it’s not enough just to have a closet full of gear. You need to have the knowledge to back that gear up and the knowledge of your surrounding environment. In a true long term survival scenario your fancy medical first aid kits will eventually run out – then what? Now is the time to be educating yourself and practicing your skills so that your as prepared as possible for the unknown. Get outside, get some dirt time with your kit, and have fun with it.