So this is a cheesy re-post. Why would I be so lazy? Well, simply, because Spring has sprung, Summer is around the corner and so is camping, fishing, hiking and foraging. Why should I spend valuable time writing a blog reminding you what plants to avoid, when I’ve already done it? But I do want to bring this information back to the front of my readers mind. So do yourself a favor and click this link…I’m the link. Click it. Read it before you go venturing out. You might already know it, but a reminder never hurts. Enjoy the Seasons…Snow will be back soon enough.
Learning survival means you are out in the woods looking for various flora that can be used. Just because you looking for potential food stores, it doesn’t mean you don’t stop and “smell the roses”, so to speak. It’s been a beautiful Spring in the woods so far. Hope you enjoy these photos I took looking for vittles.
These flowers are not only beautiful, but the following are edible. (Keep in mind, it is illegal in Michigan to harvest wild flowers on state land.)
Edible: Trillium, Yellow Violet, Large-Flowered Bellwort, Spring Beauties, Wild Strawberry, Trout Lily, Pansy and Marsh Marigold (boiled several times).
Non-edible: Bloodroot, Jack- in the- Pulpit and Anemone.
Don’t ever forget that eating the wrong plant can spell disaster. Always know what plant you have and that you are using it 100% correctly.
During my studies of Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants, I have had the pleasure of photographing many flowers with an artistic intent. Many of which will soon be available through ImageKind.
Below are some of the images that will be available as a print or a canvas. Please enjoy. Soon I will provide a link where you can order prints and canvas’s for your home.
Please note: All photographs are property of Jeffrey Yenior. Using without permission prohibited.
I have many more that will soon be available. I will provide the link when the store is open.
Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is what’s for dinner. Today is March 12. Many a March 12 is still under a fairly large carpet of white, but not this year. Even if it were, the tasty little plant would still be under the snow ready to munch on if you really wanted to put some effort in to find it. Which isn’t really all that hard if you know where it was last year. It’s still there. Unless you did something foolish, like poison it.
So why go through the effort? Why do you go through the effort for any of the food you eat? None of it comes without effort, but here are a few reasons you might consider. Superior Nutrition, Superior Flavor, Chemical Free and Zero cost.
So what is this early bloomer? Simply put…Mustard. Very similar to Watercress, which is the oldest known plant to be consumed by humans, Bittercress grows on land rather than in the water as does Watercress. Similar in leaf pattern and flavor profile, both are crazy nutritious.
Bittercress is extremely high in vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, beta carotene, antioxidants and sulfur-containing compounds which helps boost immunity and helps in cancer prevention.
The cool thing about this little dynamo is that if you pull 4 or 5 up from the roots and place it in some water, it will keep on growing in your kitchen. Trim it like any herb and it comes right back. So add it to salads for a nice mustardy bite or drop a hand full into the soup or stew. I like it on sandwiches or on a taco as well. It is awesome in scrambled eggs.
Even though this is a fairly easy plant to recognize in its various stages of life, it is still crucial that you know 100% of the time what you are eating. Of course, the only real way to do that is to learn wild edibles and harvest for yourself. Otherwise, are you 100% sure what is in that food you are buying?
So, it has begun. It is time to start off the year exploring, learning, studying and eating wild edible foods. There are others out there, but Bittercress is my favorite to start off the foraging season with. Unless you like nutritionally inferior, expensive and possibly contaminated food, consider joining me.
March is just a few day’s away. It’s a real transition month…sometimes. Sometimes it can just plain be cold and April plays the transitional role. But looking at my crystal ball and the long-range forecast, I would venture to say, it’s March’s turn this year.
So what does that mean for us outdoor weed hunters? Well, there are some outstanding wild edibles that will start making their presence known, even with weather that can’t make up its mind. Cold one day, warm the next, rain, than snow, freezing rain, sleet and warm sunshine. It’s enough to make a hibernating bear hit the snooze button. It’s also enough to get some hardy wild edibles ready for harvest.
Suffice it to say, all the wild edibles that you find are highly nutritious in their own way. The key word here folks is “edible”. Remember that 100% identification is a must all times of the year. I’m not going to blast you with too much information about each plant, but I do want to remind you that the foraging season is almost on us.
Here are a few of my favorites that you should start keeping an eye out for. Some obviously will be sooner than others.
Hairy Bittercress-One of my absolute favorite early spring edibles. A member of the Mustard Family, you can find the rosettes under the snow. Delicious mustardy flavor.
Bittercress is very similar to Water Cress in appearance and flavor. Except you are going to find it in your garden and lawn vs a creek.
Purple Violets-One of the earliest blooming flowers in Michigan.
Sometimes, even under the snow. Great in salads and as a garnish.
Soon after the snow melts, start looking for fresh growth on Dandelions. Every part of the Dandelion is edible and nutritious.
Stinging Nettle-This is the best time to harvest this sharp plant. Look for the new sprouts, soon after the snow is gone, to start popping. With gloves, pinch off the plant at the ground.
Don’t pull it. It will regrow. Wash them in cold water then boil like you would any vegetable. Once cooked, it’s ability to sting you is gone, but it’s ability to provide you with an abundance of vitamins and minerals is crazy. Oh, and if you like boiled greens with a bit of lemon and salt and pepper, you will see why the effort is well worth it.
White Birch- Harvest some of the buds and leaflets if they are present. Makes an awesome tea, especially if you were able to collect some of the Birch sap to use. A delicious Spring tonic that the Chippewa of the region depended on to detoxify from the long Winter eating sub-par food. Just don’t get crazy pulling off buds or chopping up the trunk. Take a few buds and only a small hole will suffice.
Of course, Morels and Ramps are on the way as well.
Many Mints can be found very early and make an amazing garnish, flavor enhancer and tea. Harvest some for when you have a stomach ache. It works well to ease discomfort.
Look around sheltered sunny spots for early Mallows. Awesome in a salad or use it in place of Okra for making gumbo.
Garlic Mustard makes an excellent pesto. Absolutely delicious. It’s an evasive species. Eat as much as you want.
Do be careful transporting it after it flowers and has gone to seed. You will spread its seeds everywhere and wish you didn’t. Also, don’t throw pieces of the plant outside. Put it down the disposal or something that destroys it. It will propagate from the cuttings.
Mullein is a fantastic cold remedy that can be found year around.
Use the fuzzy leaves and make a diffusion to get rid of phlegm. Look for last years tall stalks and you will find Mullein rosettes growing near by.
These just touch the surface and are some of my favorites. Look at what ever is popping up. Just make sure you identify it perfectly. You might find some of your own favorites.
Risk Assessment may be one of the most important survival skills there is. So exactly what is it? Well, sometimes you run into a situation that your gut instincts tell you what not to do or what to do. For instance, jumping off a 5 story building. You pretty much know that isn’t a good plan. Risk Assessment is a bit different. It is the cognitive action of making an informed decision as to whether an activities reward is worth the dangers of the activity.
In other words, is it really worth walking across that thin ice to get to the other side of the lake? What is gained? Is the gain worth the dangers? What are the dangers? Is the situation dire enough to make it worth it? Questions such as these are the same questions military leaders ask before ordering their troops to do something.
Assessing the risk of an activity doesn’t always have to do with survival in the woods or out in nature in general, nor do you have to be a military leader to use it. Is that 6 pack of beer really worth venturing out in a freezing rain storm? Can you make it through the night without that gallon of milk or should you drive in the Blizzard to get it? Is that pot really worth smoking when you are looking for a job?
Risk Assessment is part of everyday life. But it is crucial when in a survival situation. Making wise decisions when lost in Nature can be the difference of living or not. How important is it to cross this river?
What would the benefits be? Getting to the other side, right? Well, do you see a house, that means rescue on the other side? Can you see the bottom? Or would it be wiser to just walk the bank down stream until you find a house?
The same process should be used when deciding whether or not to make camp for the night or try to walk out in the dark. Is the terrain rough? Do you have a compass? Do you have a flash light? Is someone in need of immediate medical attention?
One situation that you absolutely must use Risk Assessment is when making use of wild plants. It is crucial that you know 100% exactly what it is before consuming any plant. Mistaking a hemlock plant for a wild carrot will result in your funeral. Mistaking a poison ivy vine for a grape vine will result in a very uncomfortable few days…or longer.
So, are you starving to death? Not likely. Are you so weakened that you can’t continue without nourishment? I doubt it. Food in a survival situation can help in many ways, but is it worth the risk. Not if you don’t know 100% what you are eating. That’s why practicing plant identification before heading out into Nature is wise.
Risk Assessment is important everyday. It will keep you from making poor decisions in life and will keep you from doing something that might cause a survival situation.
When in Nature…it’s crucial. A mistake 5 miles from nowhere can be the difference between hypothermia and a pleasant walk in the woods.
As mentioned in a previous post, Pine Pitch is a very useful tool. When among pines, look for the white residue that runs down the bark. It sorta looks like a giant bird crapped on the side of the tree if it is from an older wound.
It looks like very thick syrup on a fresh wound.
Pine Pitch is extremely flammable and can be used to start your fire. Scrape the whitish, harden pitch into a powder or or small chunks. I have been able to use a magnifying glass to catch this on fire on a sunny day and I’ve also been able to spark it with a ferrous rod. Easiest is, of course, direct flame. Put some next to tinder so you are ready to feed the hot flames from the Pitch.
Fresh Pitch, from a freshly broken branch or a knife cut on the trunk, can be used on a wound to stop bleeding. It even has anti-bacterial qualities.
Use an old can to melt some pitch into a liquid. Add charcoal powder, that you crushed, from your fire and some sort of wax. Don’t use ash. Actually crush some of the black charcoal. Remove the mixture from the heat and keep stirring it into a ball of blackened pitch. It will ball up around the stick as it cools. You now have a portable and non sticky ball of glue and sealant.
In a survival situation, you of course will do what ever it takes to make it to safety. As a matter of practice, don’t go around breaking pines up and slashing them to get the pitch flowing. Look around. You can almost always find some from an old wound.
Just scrape the pitch into a container and collect what you can.
Don’t forget to put a small handful of Pine Needles in some fresh water to boil into a Vitamin C rich tea.
If you have any questions please comment below and watch our YouTube channel for a future video on using Pine Pitch. Click here to view Nature’s Access Videos.
Typically when people think of a plant for use in a survival situation, they have things like Dandelion, Plantain, Cattails, or Mullein in mind. Not generally do they think of trees. Heck, sometimes trees are left out of the plant discussion altogether.
But the fact is, there are many trees that have profound survival uses. Maybe more important than all other plants. Trees provide shelter, building material, food, medicine, fuel and utility material.
Fuel is probably pretty obvious, but also taken for granted. Most people realize that wood is the fuel of choice in most survival situations, but there are some things that should be noted. One, not all wood is created equal. Simply put, soft woods are superior for starting fires and hardwoods are superior for sustaining a long burning hot fire. Soft woods in general are your evergreens. Hardwoods are your deciduous. There are some exceptions though and not all deciduous trees are hard woods. Therefore, it would be wise to be able to identify Oaks, Maples and Beeches. If you learn to identify those in all seasons, you will be well served. When it comes to fuel and starting fires there are two trees to keep in mind. Pine (any variety) and Birch.
Not only do dry pine needles, pine cones and twigs make great tinder, but the pitch is very flammable. It does light better with direct flame, but I have been able to spark it and use a magnifying glass to ignite it. Once lit, it burns hot and for quite awhile. If in a survival situation and you can’t find a natural occurring wound, break a live branch off at its base or use your knife to create a wound on the trunk. Don’t do that just for practice. But in a survival situation, do what ever it takes. If you are in a stand of pines, you’ll find some pitch on one of the trees.
The bark of White Birch is very flammable. It will burn very hot and long enough to ignite other tinder. By scraping the white side with your knife, you can accumulate a pile of white bark dust and flakes. That Dust and flake pile takes a spark very well. It will easily catch the bark itself on fire allowing you to add more fuel.
Something a little less obvious than fuel, is food. Of course nuts and fruit are available on a myriad of trees, but don’t assume they are edible. If you don’t know what you have, don’t eat the berries or nuts. Positive Identification is as important on a tree as it is on any plant. Aside from berries, nuts and fruits, there are also other ways to provide nutrients with trees. Birch and Maple water in the Spring is very refreshing and cleansing. They are both great sources of fresh potable water. Teas from leaves and needles, from both Birch and Pine are very nutritious and valuable during a survival situation. Again, don’t assume everything can be used. Cherry leaves for example should not be consumed.
Pine Needle Tea Makes an excellent decongestant. Boil the needles and breath in the vapors. Don’t burn yourself. This works similar to Menthol. Willow and Slippery Elm Teas contain salicylic acid which can be used as a pain reliever.
You will notice how often I mention the White Birch. White Birch may well have been the most important plant available to Native Americans in the North Eastern States and Eastern Canada. The Chippewas of Michigan relied heavily on the tree for everything from Medicine, drink, sugar production, homes, transportation, and utility. The Sap was a very important Spring Tonic used to purify the blood after a long winter eating sub par food. The Bark was used to make everything from baskets to pots and utensils to canoes and hogans. Without the Birch, the people would have had a much tougher life.
The point is, while studying survival plants, take some time to study the trees. There are way more than I mentioned with way more benefits. This barely brushes the surface and does trees no justice. This Spring I will post videos on rope making, basket making and other useful tidbits. keep an eye for them. Meanwhile, study your trees.
Having all the right equipment during a disaster of any kind is certainly the right thing to do. No question a proper knife is a must. Long shelf life food is a great plan. Shelter material is awesome. It’s very wise to have some pain relievers and anti-biotics. No argument here. Click on our affiliates to the right to get some of the best supplies out there.
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The Statgear Survival knife is perfect at only $45 bucks. You can’t go wrong with it’s full tang, rubber grip. fire starter rod, cord cutter and sharpener.
But here is the thing. Supplies run out. If the disaster last too long, your food will run out, your shelter material will get ruined, God forbid you lose your knife. That would be bad!!!
So eventually, all the conviences will be gone, so now what do you depend on……..? Your brains, survival instincts, common sence and faith. I’m here today as testimony that those are important attributes. But the fact is, the more you hedge your bets, the better off you will be. Hedge your bets by educating yourself. There is no substitution for knowing how to survive. With knowledge, you will discover that God has provided all the materials you need to survive.
Get to know what plants are utilitarian, medicinal, healing, soothing and nutritious. Your life depends on it. Learn 5 to 10 plants that you can use for each of those catagories. In the following weeks, I will help you identify just that. Check back often. Commit those plants to memory. I will focus on readily accessable plants from the Great Lakes region. If you have any questions on them or any plant, let me know.
I know the following info is common sense to experienced Preppers. But, maybe not so much for many of my readers who haven’t given it much thought.
I hear alot of talk on shows, like Glenn Beck, on how important gold will be when the financial crisis strikes. Your bank accounts will be worthless, your cash unwanted. The historical evidence is there to support that. Pre WWII, Germany’s Mark was really only valuable to help get a fire started. But in reality, is gold the way to go?
In a true global disaster, gold might be a good thing to hold on to if you have any. Bury it somewhere and forget you have it. If and when the situation improves it is possible that the gold will have value, but really, why does it have value? It isn’t particularly useful. It does make shiny jewelry. There are some minor industrial applications. It isn’t all that rare like it’s touted to be. Go to any department store and you will find some. Rare things are just that, hard to find.
So is gold what you should be spending your hard-earned cash on. Well, maybe, it could turn out to be a great investment, if the economy worsens, but doesn’t collapse or as opposed to the stock market, yes. It could be a good thing to have some and put it aside. Real gold though. Actually possess it. Don’t fall for the companies that issue you a piece of paper that says you own gold. That’s probably as worthless as the paper the promise is written on.
So maybe a little gold is good, but in a disaster, what is much, much, much more valuable than gold? Simply put, things that will keep you healthy, safe and comfortable during the disaster.
If you want currency that will be valuable, hoard some things that you know people will want and be willing to trade for. Cigarettes for example. Try giving a gold ring in exchange for passage through someones territory. See how far that gets you. Try giving a pack or two of “Joe Cools” and I bet you get further.
Coffee will be another luxury that people will take as payment. Coffee is one of those items that people don’t forget when it comes to packing for a wilderness trip.
I know by experience how important it is when on long military campaigns. Having a decent amount of long shelf life coffee on hand will help you get through some tough times. Both for your own consumption and as a barter item.
Food and other survival items like tarps, knives, fire starting equipment, packable fishing equipment, radios, batteries, on and on. All will be more important during the crisis than a few oz’s of Au. While you are thinking about investing in the future, you might do yourself a huge favor and buy some things that will be of true value in an emergency. Long term items that will feed, shelter, protect and comfort you and your family.