17 medicinal plants that can also be used for toilet paper

Updated: Mar 5

We've all been there. You're stuck in the woods on a camping trip or a hike when suddenly you hear the call of the wild...or rather you feel the call deep in your guts. You have to go #2! But you didn't bring any toilet paper! Now what!?

Never fear because your friends here at Roots Down always have your back. We've put together this handy list of plants that not only have medicinal qualities (and in some cases are even tasty treats) but whose leaves can be used for some backwoods "toilet paper." Huge shout out to Toby Hemenway and his book Gaia's Garden for compiling this list.

Now onto the list!

Alum root

Heuchera glabra

Medicinal qualities: antiseptic

From Wikipedia: Native American peoples used some Heuchera species medicinally. The Tlingit used H. glabra as an herbal remedy for inflammation of the testicles caused by syphilis. To the Navajo, H. novamexicana was a panacea and a pain reliever. The roots of H. cylindrica had a variety of medicinal uses among the Blackfoot, Flathead, Kutenai, Okanagan, Colville, and Shuswap.


Balsamorhiza sagittata

Medicinal qualities: anti-rheumatic, diuretic

From Wikipedia: Native Americans used the sticky sap of this plant as a topical antiseptic for minor wounds. The entire plant is edible and nutritious, but not necessarily enjoyable because it contains a bitter, strongly pine-scented sap. The large taproots produced by Balsamorhiza sagittata are edible and were harvested, dried, and ground into a starchy flour by Native Americans when other food plants were scarce. The plants' large taproots are reported to be very palatable and far less bitter than the above-ground parts of the plant.


Actaea rubra

Medicinal qualities: analgesic, emetic

From Wikipedia: This plant is grown in shade gardens for its attractive berries and upright clump forming habit. Native Americans have traditionally used the juice from the fruits of various baneberry species to poison arrows, and used the root as a herbal remedy for menstrual problems. The root of this species has been used as a strong alternative to black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) for menstrual cramping and menopausal discomfort.

WARNING: The berries of Red Baneberry (and White Baneberry) are very poisonous if ingested and may affect the nervous system. European species have fatally poisoned children, but baneberries are not reported to have caused death to humans or livestock in the United States. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a person’s age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxici