Did you know….there are many plants which grow wild, or have been cultivated for our flower beds, that we could actually learn to SURVIVE on? I have already written about some of these in previous articles, while others may be described more in depth in the future.
We hear a lot today about people stock piling food and other supplies in order to survive for an extended period of time. While I believe in preparedness… what happens when those things are used up? These stockpiles should be used only as a “back-up” plan. We should be looking more at how to survive on what is around us for as long as we are able. We need to learn and utilize the many wondrous gifts of both food and medicine which are readily available. Of course how far we must search for them is dependent upon how foolish we and our neighbors have been about trying to rid ourselves of them.
One of the best investments we can make in our future survival is knowledge, and it is as close as your local bookstore. I highly recommend at least one or two books on plant identification. Both the National Audubon Society and Peterson Field Guides are excellent resources to have. They have numerous volumes on edible, medicinal and poisonous plants, along with mushrooms, animals, insects and more. There are also many books which will give various uses for them. I have a hundred or so books in my own library for just these purposes, but there are only a few that I will use for identification… and identification is KEY!!! There are many plants which are similar to each other. While one is highly useful, the other may be toxic. Don’t let that deter you from learning. Other than the cost of a couple of inexpensive books, taking your own nature hike or herb walk is revitalizing, relaxing and FREE.
Here is a short list of plants worth noting:
Spruce: young needles (high Vit C) chew or brew tea
Birch: inner bark-raw or add to soup
Young leaves, twigs, cambium, rt. bark- brew tea
Wild Rose: rosehips /seed (high Vit C) raw, dried, tea
Wild Grape: fruit and seed (vit C & antioxidant)raw
Vine- good source of water
Burdock: tender, young stalks (peeled) - raw, cooked
Root- cooked (2 changes of water)
Cattail: roots- roasted, boiled, dried (f/ground meal)
Young shoots- cooked, raw (before flower)
Chicory: root- coffee substitute
Red Clover: blossoms, stems, seeds- raw
*Dandelion: All Parts- raw, tea, dried, roasted, cooked…. *Highly Nutritious*
Yellow Mustard: leaves- cooked
Flowers- salad, flavoring
Plantain: leaves, young shoots- raw, cooked
Purslane: leaves, stems- raw, cooked (raw=water source)
Thistle: young plant stalks- peel and boil
Violet: leaves, buds, flowers- raw
Yucca: flowers- raw
Fruit- stewed or baked
Wild Ginger: roots- dried or fresh
Groundnut: tubers (root) are sweet- raw, boiled, roasted
There are a few basic rules for harvesting. You must be conscious of the life cycle of the plant. If you wish to use the leaves, early in the season is best before the flower stalk (if applicable) appears. The plant focuses its energy into the leaves first. After that, the energy is shifted to the blossom. Harvest the blossom soon after it opens. If it is the root you want, waiting until the flower and leaves begin to die back and the seed has been set (if any), assures that the energy of the plant has gone back down to the roots and any repropagation should be able to continue. Remember, when you harvest the whole root, you are essentially killing that plant.
One of the most important things to remember is our manners. I learned at a very young age that the two most important phrases are “Please” and “Thank You”. We must ask the Divine to please bless the plant and allow us to harvest her bounty from the earth. Afterwards, we must give thanks for graciously fulfilling our needs.
Survival comes through reverence.
This article is for informational purposes only.