Introduction: Identifying Edible and Medicinal Plants
Ever since the Neolithic Revolution, humans have focused mainly on other things than hunting and gathering. This is still true today. With today's high tech world, humans don't have to focus on their very survival. They can just drive to the store and buy everything they would ever need. Back in the Stone Age, the environment was their superstore. During the Paleolithic Age (Stone Age), humans relied solely on hunting and gathering for food. Once one knew what plants to eat and how to hunt game, they could live off the land. They were nomads, meaning they had no permanent home. They followed the animals, every season coming back to the same areas to gather plants they knew grew well in that area (and maybe exclusively). Once agriculture was established, there was no need to follow the animals and travel from place to place gathering food and supplies. Since there was a reliable source of food, they could stay in one place, developing permanent shelters and growing in numbers. Since their survival basics were covered, they could look at other ways to pass the time. Tools and arts were developed because of this. Eventually, they began to rely more heavily on trade from other villages for food and supplies. This has grown into today. Now people rely fully on others to feed and take care of themselves. Every person should know how to take care of themselves.Today I would like to share with you some wild plants that natives relied on for food and supplies. Nature will provide anything you need if you know how to look.
Step 1: Materials
Traditionally, men were the hunters and women were the gatherers but both knew each others' tasks. Step 1: Gather Materials The only materials needed are your two hands and common sense. Sometimes digging sticks were used but today we won't need one. A digging stick is a sturdy branch with a limb sticking out of one end. The stick acts as a foot peg much like on today's shovels. The digging stick is pushed into the ground like a shovel and is used to dig up under roots and break up hard ground, just like today's shovels are used.
Step 2: Violets
Blue Violets: Full plant. Likes shady spots. Leaves taste the best, but the whole plant can be eaten. Note the heart shaped leaf.
Step 3: Burdock
Burdock: Roots. Dig around the plant with your hands, a rock, or digging stick. The root will be about the size of a carrot. Eat raw or cooked.
Step 4: Ragweed
Ragweed is a medicinal plant that when the leaves are applied to bleeding cuts, it stops bleeding. This means it is styptic. If you get a cut, simply smash and roll the leaf in between your fingers and press onto cut. When it gets bloody, change it out.
Step 5: Pine Tree Needles and Inner Bark
The needles of pine trees can be chewed on and spat out, swallowing the vitamin c rich fluids. Also, the white inner bark can gathered by knocking the brown outer bark off and peeling the inner bark off. They both are slightly bitter, but make any easy meal.
Step 6: Sassafras Leaves
Sassafras, a small and usually slender tree can easily be misidentified. There are three types of leaves: single lobed leafs, two lobed leafs that look like mittens, and the classic 3 lobed symmetrical leaf. Leaves can be eaten raw, although slimy. The smaller the tree, the better. I usually look for under 5 feet because they taste the best. A little larger and they can taste bitter. They taste like fruit loops. Also, the root can be boiled to make crude root beer.
Step 7: Passionflower
Passionflower, or Maypop, produces a sweet tasting fruit that can be eaten raw. Consistency of bananas.
Step 8: Plantains
Plantains, such as broadleaf shown here, can be eaten like spinach. Also, the seeds can be added to soup to thicken it. If you are allergic to ant or bee stings, and you get stung or bit, chew up the leaf and apply to bite. It will save you a trip to the hospital.
Step 9: Dandelions
Common dandelion greens can be eaten raw or boiled like mustard greens. They are quite tasty.
Step 10: Yellow Woodsorrel
The whole plant can be eaten raw. Tastes great, has a citrus-lemony taste and freshens breath.
Step 11: Persimmon
Ripe persimmons taste sweeter than sugar. Unripe persimmons dry your mouth out they're so bitter (astringent). They are however, full of large seeds. A few minutes worth of gathering off the ground provides gallons worth.
Step 12: Grapes (muscadine)
Wild muscadine grapes provide a nice treat while gathering.
Step 13: Clover (white/red)
Clover leafs and blooms can be eaten raw and added to salads.