Rons Primitive Skills

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wild food class

Earlier this month I took a group from my survival class to Kaweah Oaks Preserve east of Visalia. We were looking for edible plants. The trip went very good. We found more than a dozen edible and useful plants. Note: some of the photos are older stock pictures I use. Only a few are from the trip.

First is Sheperds Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris, a member of the mustard family. The whole plant is edible cooked or raw. It has a peppery taste. Usually grows in the open, but also in shaded areas.

Here is Stinging Nettle, Urtica dioica. The young tops of the plant can be cooked. It can't be eaten raw due to the many needles on the undersides of the leaves and on the stems. Under the microscope these needles look like tiny glass injectors. They contain formic acid, the same chemical in ant stings. The fibers from nettle is one of the best cordage for nets, bowstrings, etc.

The next four photos are Miners Lettuce, Caltonia perfoliata (also Montia perfoliata depending on the textbook you have). This is my all time favorite wild edible. The whole plant is edible raw or cooked. The first three photos were taken today in my back yard.

This photo shows Goose Grass, Galium aparine, also called bed straw, cleavers, and other names.
The young tops are edible raw but the older stems and leaves are best cooked. Its a very god edible. There is an enzyme in Galium that is used to make milk curdle in the cheese making process.

Here's a photo of Elder Berry, Sambucus nigra. The berries are edible when they are ripe. You must use caution with this plant. The berries must be completely ripe (black and somewhat sweet) or they will give you a very upset stomach. The leaves, flowers, and bark contain poison. The stems have a substantial pith core that is easily hollowed out. The Indians used them for various tools and musical instruments (flutes). The old dry stems are safe to use as long as the bark is removed.

RedCurrant, Ribes calofornicum. These grow in the lowlands and mountains. The ripe berry is red when ripe and they are very tasty. They can be eaten raw or cooked into jam.

This is Chickweed, Stellaria media. There are several species of Chickweed in our area. All are edible raw or cooked. They have a taste similar to spinach.

This is a shot of Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus. The ripe berries are black and very sweet. They ripen from mid July to mid August depending on altitude. The leaves can be made into tea and contain vitamin C as well as certain chemicals useful for female problems.


Eric The Cleric said...

Awesome post Ron, I've been dying to get some info on local flora and fauna. Keep it up!

The Pilgrim said...

Ron, real good read! I just came across your blog and have bookmarked it. Thank you for posting good, useful info. Keep it going!