While we don’t recommend hording toilet paper or foresee an imminent shortage, we’ve all been stuck in the woods without any TP. Don’t just reach for any old foliage. Your bits are sensitive and accidentally using a toxic plant like poison oak or ivy could be disastrous. Luckily, Mother Nature provides and there are many soft and safe options should the need arise.
The most famous (and the best) option is also known as the TP plant. Mullein has large, soft, velvety leaves that are just perfect for use as TP. The silver foliage and beautiful large yellow flower spikes are beautiful and a great addition to any garden. Mullein also known as candle flower, candlewick, higtaper and lungwort. The last name is due to i’s ability to cure respiratory ailments like croup, coughs and asthma.
Another silky, smooth silver-leafed favorite, Lamb’s ear makes the perfect TP and, because it grows prolifically, is a good thing to plant next to your outhouse. Lamb’s Ear is also used as an antibacterial and antiseptic. A tea from the leaves is often used to treat diarrhea, fevers, sore mouth and throat.
Also known as “lumberjack TP”, the aster can usually be found in the shady undergrowth of large trees. They produce violet flowers in the summer. The heart-shaped leaves have been used in both indigenous cultures and by the lumberjacks of the Northeast and Great Lakes region. The leaves can be consumed and the Ojibwa bathed their heads in a tea made from the leaves to cure headaches. Iroquois used the root to loosen the bowels and to make soup.
These sturdy leaves are easy to find once you know what to look for. Also used to ease the sting of insects and the itch of poison ivy. The leaves also make a good addition to salads. The leaves can be brewed to make a tea that is used to treat coughs and bronchitis.
If it’s available and is free of any other plants, moss makes excellent TP. The moisture content helps with cleaning and it’s super soft too!