The rule of eight is the new revision of the plant edibility test. It was developed by Vern Page who, at great potential risk to himself, tested and refined this procedure. I know what you are thinking. That the test is a crock and no self respecting woodsman wold go "grazing" around the hinterland if they did not know what they were eating. That is partially true but there are some exceptions.
The original test was developed for service men fighting in the Pacific during WWII. It was devised especially for those that found themselves in enemy hands. If you are trapped in an enemy POW camp and there is a select few plants to chose from, you have to have a system to see which ones can be eaten to supplement the meager rations if there were any rations at all. That is why the test exists but there are a great many versions out there in military publications and even more on the net and in books written by supposed experts on survival. This is the new revision that is now or soon will be taught across the board. Learn it and if you find yourself in a bind, foraging TO SUSTAIN LIFE, not playing survivalist on the weekend, then you will have one of the many tools to be successful.
This is no replacement for knowledge, experience and proper training on the topic of wild edibles. This is another tool that you will have in a REAL survival situation. The correct way to solve this problem is to seek training and slowly build a personal catalogue of common plants that you can rely on. You might try your local community center, some actually have wild plant food walks and classes.
I wish that I could give you the entire document but for the time being that is what I can give you.
Through research, testing, and peer review the author has put forward the following:
a. Successful Tips When Testing Plants.
b. SERE Plant Edibility Test.
SERE PLANT EDIBILITY TEST (testing criteria)
1. WHEN TO TEST AN UNKNOWN PLANT:
a. Long-term SERE situations.
b. For the purpose of maintaining life.
2. SELECTING A PLANT:
a. Test starchy parts of plants like grains, seeds, root stalks, and bulbs.
b. Test fruit for sweetness.
c. Test berries that are black, blue, or red. NEVER TEST white, green, or yellowish berries.
d. Test leaves and stems from plants growing in shade or in moist soil.
e. Test only plants available in sufficient supply.
3. KEEP YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM CLEAN WHEN TESTING:
a. Start with an 8-hour empty stomach.
b. Test only one plant part at a time.
c. Drink only purified water during test.
a. Never assume a raw plant is edible, because the cooked plant you tested was edible. Cooking often destroys certain toxins.
b. Never assume the entire plant is edible, because one part of plant is edible.
c. Never assume a plant is edible for humans, because you observe an animal eating the plant.
d. Nicotine users should be cautious using taste to identify toxins, because tobacco use reduces their sensitivity to a number of specific plant toxins.
e. Testing an unknown plant always come with some risk of a negative reaction.
5. REACTIONS TO A POISONOUS PLANT MAY INCLUDE:
a. Tingling. b. Cramping.
c. Burning. d. Vomiting.
e. Numbing. f. Diarrhea.
g. Redness. h. Nervousness.
i. Itching. j. Dizziness.
k. Swelling. l. Drowsiness.
m. Pain. n. Eye sensitivity to light.
o. Nausea. p. Lethargy
PLANT EDIBILITY TEST
RULES OF EIGHT
YOUR SENSES CAN IDENTIFY AN UNKNOWN PLANT’S EDIBILITY:
1. FIRST LOOK FOR plant parts that contain high energy.
b. Seeds, grains, nuts.
c. Roots, bulbs, tubers.
2. NEVER TEST:
a. Fungi – (i.e. mushrooms, mold).
b. Seeds in pods (i.e. beans, peas).
c. Plants with umbrella shaped flowers (i.e. dill, hemlock).
d. Plants with milky sap (i.e. poinsettia, poison oak).
e. Shiny/glossy leaf plants (i.e. many tropical house plants, poison oak).
1. If any unpleasant odor is present, STOP TEST!
a. Moldy or musty.
b. Unusual smell.
2. Almond scent – STOP TEST!
1. Place the juice of plant on outer lip for 8 minutes.
2. If reaction occurs, STOP TEST!
3. If no reaction occurs, move on to taste test…
1. Taste a small amount of the plant juice…
2. Chew a pinch of the plant and leave in mouth for 8 minutes.
3. If unpleasant taste or reaction occurs STOP TEST!
4. If no reaction occurs swallow.
1. After swallowing wait 8 hours.
2. If no reaction occurs, then…
3. Chew a handful of the plant, swallow, and wait 8 hours.
5. If no reaction occurs…
CONSIDER THE TESTED PLANT PART EDIBLE