Harvesting Wild Plants to Fill Your Survival Needs

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    An emerging trend is the harvesting of wild plants. Survivalists have done this for some time, but it has recently been embraced by other members of the population as well. During the harvesting process, wild plants are obtained to fulfill the needs of the forager. These needs may be for energy sustenance or medical in nature among other things. The common ground in harvesting includes the realization that items from the natural world can be used to aid us in survival and thus more and more people are turning to plants to meet their various needs.

    While it sounds simple enough to go out and forage, there are some basic guidelines that should be embraced and followed throughout the process. For starters, being able to identify a plant and its potential uses is essential as not any ol' plant is suitable for any ol' job. Once you've identified a plant and have determined that a use for it exists in your life, you will need to properly harvest it. This includes knowing that part of the plant is required to give you the fulfillment you need. In other words, do you pick leaves off to get the job done, or is it the root you need instead? The part of the plant you will need will depend on both the purpose for which you intend to use it as well as well as the type of plant, all of which is information you should gather beforehand. A good resource for plants and their potential uses can be found here. Plant parts for harvesting may include bark, leaves, flowers, or roots.

    Photo: Hops Nature Walk

    Once you have identified the types of plants you wish to harvest, the next step is to find them. One thing that is vital to a good harvest is location. You do not want to harvest from areas where toxins such as pesticides are present. Instead find areas where plant growth is unimpeded by pollution, such as away from roadways were oil and vehicular fluids may have run off and seeped into the soil. Look for healthy plants that appear to be thriving and select those for your harvest. Plants that are wilting or in a state of decay could be negatively impacted by environmental factors that could in turn impact you.

    With the fall season upon us, now is the time to consider harvesting plants that thrive during this season. Depending on the time of year, different plants are better for harvest. During the spring and summer months, for example, the parts of the plant that grow above the soil are often of more use whereas during the fall, it is the root of the plant that can serve us best. Some good examples of plants that are useful and plentiful for harvesting in fall are:

    1. Boneset is a leafy plant used to ward off cold and flu. Dried leaves can be used to make a tea which can be consumed several times each day until illness passes.

    Photo: Joyce Road Blogspot

    2. Black walnut can be harvested when walnuts are still upon the tree but have matured to full size. Remove the green husk from within the shell and place them in alcohol such as vodka. Allow this mixture to rest for approximately a month and half, then add a few drops of water and drink to treat internal parasites such as worms or to clean minor wounds, lower blood pressure, and aid digestion.

    Photo: Food on the Food

    3. Goldenrod can be used to control allergies by cutting yellow tops and allowing them to dry before mixing with marshmallow root, oregano, and nettle root then submerging in hot water to make a tea.

    Photo: Edible Wild Food

    Methods of harvesting can vary widely amongst individuals with it being a very serious, spiritual experience for some, requiring rituals in which thanks is given to the plant harvested. Regardless of the ritual embraced, there are some basic behaviors amongst harvesters that are appreciated and should be embraced by all. This includes:
    • Taking only what you need.
    • Removing new growth, which stimulates further plant growth.
    • Using a sharp knife to prevent tearing of the plant.
    • Filling in soil holes left by roots as they are removed.
    Much can be gained through harvesting, especially in times when the SHTF and the only medicine you may have access to comes in plant form. For this reason and others like, brushing up on plants types and their potential uses can be beneficial overall.

    Are you a harvester of plants for medicinal or other purposes? Do you have specific locations you find best for harvest, or particular plants you prefer to use? Let us know in the comments.

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