Which plants would you choose for wilderness survival.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Which plants do you think are the most crucial and why?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Can you be more specific? Like food plants, medicinal plants....

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

I guess I should have been more specific.
What I meant to say is, if you had to go into the wilderness to escape from a disaster, which plants would you take with you to help you survive? Food plants and medicinal plants, which plants do you think could sustain you for an indefinite period of time.

Ida, MI

In my neck of the woods the thing I would make sure I took into the wilderness is a good book on identifying edible and medicinal plants. They are everywhere in temperate N America. The common dandelion for instance is extremely nutritious. Any plant you took with you would either have to cared for or you would run out. Any foragers out there?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Ahhh, thanks. I know a little more about food plants so those would be high on my list. BUT so would Euell Gibbons' books and a good medicinal herbal identification book. In fact, those are already packed in my survival kit, along with a bunch of heirloom seed packs.

Food plants... I'd certainly look at a good winter squash. They are very nutritious, and you can bury them to keep over winter. What kind of squash might vary with family size. For example, Hubbards are too large for my family of one, but butternuts are just right. Last year I had almost 2 bushels of butternuts from 90 of seed and I didn't use all the seed. I'd do sweet potatoes before white potatoes just for nutritional value. I'd also take some gourd seeds to make vessels. Consider cabbage, keeps well underground. (I've never grown cabbage.)

I don't know enough about beans... the kind you can eat fresh or dry plus save seed to replant but they would be high on my list. And, several small packets of heirloom tomatoes will fit in my pocket.

As important to my survival might be a hiking water filter, matches, candles, etc. First Aid Book. Hatchet or axe. Tarp.

Y'know, many many folks have put down those of us who became quasi prepared in the Y2K scare. However, I consider that a good education and think I may be more prepared than the average person. I am trying my best to be prepared at this house but still have many wants/needs. I want a bicycle, to be used for transportation and as a source of power. I wouldn't even have to feed it!

I could go on and on, but my thoughts do not really address your question.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Yes they do, you have mentioned a few of the vegetables I had thought about, I love butternut squash!

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

I think that I would take some hemp seeds. It is extremely useful, has a shortish growing cycle and is resistent to most pests. http://www.thehia.org/faqs/faq7.htm However it doesn't provide greens or tobacco.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I hope if it ever really gets tough, a couple of you that are willing workers might find your way here.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

I would just sit in front of the computer until the end came.

KC Metro area, MO(Zone 6a)

LOL. I have no idea what I would do. Every situation is different.

Ida, MI

Darius, I too am trying to be prepared, IMHO we are in a very precarious position in this country, but should my homestead become nonviable for some reason, I'll deffinately head to the mnts. and try to look you up!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Spot, the future is a crapshoot, kinda like the weather. Old rules/ideas/thoughts/plans do not work anymore. I think the entire lovely blue planet we live on is in a precarious position although I think the planet will survive even if humans do not.

Franklin Grove, IL(Zone 5a)

Darius - I agree with all of you choices - especially the beans. Many kinds can be eaten fresh for a while and then the balance left to dry for storage. I'd also add root vegetable seeds like carrots, parsnips, beets, and onions. If I had to escape to the wilderness for a period of time, I might not be able to stay in one spot for a season to babysit a garden. But given the chance of enough moisture, the beans and root crops could pretty well fend for themselves (as they have in my own garden in years that I was away too much help them out much).

Greensboro, AL

wilderness survival foods: First of all, you would want to look at what people living under wildnerness conditions in your area used. In most cases the diets of American Indians have been documented.
Also, there are a lot of edibles available under most wilderness conditions, and you would want to investigate the seasonal availability of those: In our woods we used quite a few edibles and my family who still lives there make regular trips to the woods to enjoy those. We lived in a sugar maple forest and tapped the trees just as the spring thaws began. As the snow melted, and the wildflowers appeared, there were also morels that popped up in woody places, in old tree tips, and tree falls. And leeks. Eggs, leeks, and morels--a very fine omlet. Later there were wintergreen berries and leaves for tea. And June berries, little apples on shrubby trees. In high summer the berries: dew berries, blue berries, and wild strawberries. etc. Of course if you were a meat eater, which I am not, there would be some animals if you were up to killing and butchering them, etc. which I am not. But they do provide edible protein and can be dried for jerky etc. then with your seed stash. you can harvest corn, beans, and squash of all kinds, for harvest in the late summer. Then in the fall there are nuts, hazelnuts, and others. A prudent person could prepare all of these for use through the winter.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Gloria, it looks like you would not have a hard time at all in the wilderness. I think it would be hard to live without your regular routine. I guess I am a creature of habit, I like things the way they are.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

We all like things the way they are. Unfortunately that seldom happens.

I was at my best at age 50 but I kept getting older, LOL.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

I would be so far ahead of all you folks because I would haul my beer-making equipment into the wilderness. So while you all would still be grubbing for berries & roots, I would be setting the entrepreneurial feudal foundation for generations of my descendants to live like the Windsors.

Except that I neglected to have children.

But you would all be offering me your pathetic berries & begging for fermented substances.

Missouri City, TX

Berrys in the final process yield some great beverages - i.e. Lindemann's.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Very funny Summerkid, but you would not be making a profit off of me, I don't drink alcoholic beverages, but I am sure you would have a lot of customers.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Ah, but remember frostweed, once your world is turned upside down & you are exhausted from root-digging & running from bears, you WILL be turning to drink.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Well, you do have a point there.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Hmmmm, just getting ready to plant some Jerusalem Artichokes that I got in a trade. They would certainly qualify as a good plant to have. Carefree, pretty flowers, and edible tubers!

Waynesboro, MS(Zone 8a)

When the rioting and looting begins I will need a 18 wheeler to move all I think I would need.
On second thought I would probably load up my flat bottom boat and head for a secluded river.
Aboard I would have a couple of chickens in a moveable bottomless coup I would take fishing equipment,a shovel,a hoe,a magnifing glass,my guns,a tent,axe,seeds of collards,southern peas,tomatos, carrots,chicory for wild greens,
beans,corn.and any other I had on hand including
Potatoe tubers
The chickens and fish would provide fertilizer for the plants.
I would also bring all the dry food I had in the house.
I would probably have to make more than one trip and stash the dry food and matches in watertight containers at various points on the river.
Then I would try to convense my sons to do likewise.
I do not relesh being alone in the woods for any lenght of time
I think I would go stir crazy.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Good plan Hemental.

Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

id want willow bark

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

why willow bark?

Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

They use to Make Asprin From it Before they learned how to make it in the Labs The old ones used it {Cro Magnon} they belive now after lots of studys that asprin stops some types of cancer some forms of Dementia and a few other things the germans was the first to use willow bark to make asprin its the soft pulp in side the bark all so the bark can be used as a cast on broken legs arms its applyed wet then drys tight around the break ps it also thins blood but you have to take it on a regular schuldle

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

So, which Willow? I have yellow willow and weeping willow. Have no clue how many kinds there are and I'm too lazy right now to go to plantfiles.

Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

I belive its all Willows

Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

How about flax? The seeds are high in calories and healthy fat and the stem fibers can be used to make linen. If anyone actually knows how to turn them into linen, please let me know. I've got a tool I inherited from my grandfather's family that was used to do it but I don't have the first clue where to start.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Now you have my cuiosity aroused... can you post a photo of the tool?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Hey I found this...

The Processing of Flax

The manufacture of linen from flax is complex, time consuming and passes through several stages:

This is the process by which the outer bark of the stem is rotted to allow access to the inner fibres. This was been done through a process of dew retting, arranging the stems in the fields to allow the dew to wet the plants or water retting, placing the stems in streams, river, ponds or vats to give the same effect. Dew retting involved sprinkling the flax with water several times a day, for up to 21 days. Water retting took between 7 to 10 days.

This process was highly obnoxious due to the rank smell and the poisoning of water. Henry VIII made a law that stated "No person shall water hemp or flax in any river...where beasts are used to be watered on pain of forfeiting, for every time so doing, 20 shillings." Staveley, near Knaresborough, had a town hemp-dyke for retting. It was also forbidden to dry hemp in ovens or by the fireside, presumably due to the foul smell which would arise.

Gervase Markham (1568 to 1637) wrote in The English Housewife,

"Now for the watering of the hemp or flax, the best water is the running stream, and the worst is the standing pit; yet because hemp is a poisonous thing, and infecteth the water and destroyeth all kind of fish, it is more fit to employ such pits and ditches as are least subject to annoyance, and so let it continue in the water four days and nights, then take and wash out every bundle, and rub it exceedingly clean; which done, load it up and carry it home, and in some open piece of ground rear it upright either against hedges, or such like, where it may have the full strength or reflection of the sun, and being thoroughly dried, then house it."

Seeds were removed by drawing the flax through coarse combs.

This process involved crushing the outer hull, without damaging the inner fibres. Until the fourteenth century, flax was laid out on wooden tables and beaten with wooden mallets. The Danish breaker was introduced in the fourteenth century, a wooden blade on a frame, used in a chopping motion to break the outer hull.

This involved separating the broken stocks from the fibres. The broken stems were placed on a scutching board and a large wooden knife scraped the fibres clean of the debris.

This involved the removal of all bits of straw and all short fibres - the tow. It also prepares the fibres for spinning by laying them parallel to one another. There were three or four sets of hackles, tools similar to those used to comb wool. The coarsest hackle was used first and the fibre worked on up to the finest heckle. The tow was used for cheap linens, sacking, candle wicks and string or rope. The flax straw was used in bedding and was considered to repel fleas.

Cellulose fibres tend to have cell walls that have a left-handed spiral and thus it is best to spin them in a counter clockwise direction. Linen is not easy to spin when it is dry, finer yarn is produced if the fibre is dampened. As the industry flourished spinning was a bottleneck - it took five or six spinners to produce enough yarn to keep a weaver busy. However, the mechanisation of flax spinning was more difficult than for cotton and the first efficient spinning machine was not invented until 1790, by Matthew Murray - working in Leeds.

Looms were capable of weaving different fibres and could have been set up for wool or flax. William Lightfoot of Harrogate in 1609 had "a woollen loom with four pairs of woolen gears, one pair for harden and two pairs for linen, thereto belonging." Harden is the fabric produced from hemp.

Linen can be bleached to a pure whiteness by boiling the fabric in lye. This was reinforced by natural bleaching over the life of the cloth - hanging the fabric up to dry in the sun.


Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

Actually, reading that, I think the tool I have is for:

"Seeds were removed by drawing the flax through coarse combs."

It's essentially a board with handles and sharp iron spikes coming out of it. I can see why they don't really make much linen anymore. Seems too difficult and time-consuming to get the fibers out.

I'll post a pic of the tool and I'm growing some flax this year so I'll let you know how it works out.


Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

darius, it's traditionally white willow.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Thanks. I might have time to do a PF search later.

Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

Here's a pic of the flax tool. My Grandfather used to tell me he spanked my Father with it when he was bad. I was VERY well behaved around him...

Thumbnail by jkehl
Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

A side view so you can fully appreciate the spikes in this thing...

Thumbnail by jkehl
Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

Because I've given up my quest to make linen after that info you posted Darius, I have another plant to suggest for most valuable in wilderness survival.

By the way, before I do, just wanted to say this is a neat topic. You might never need it, but it's a fun mental exercise to think about regardless.

So my new entry is... Bamboo. You have to be in the south or have a pretty temparate climate to get the full benefit, but the canes have tons of uses. You can build with them when they're larger and even use them as water pipes with a proper sealer. They're a bit like a natural pvc.

Also, they make a good fishing pole and you can grow vining vegetables up them.

The new shoots are edible and tasty.

They grow very fast and spread like weeds in a decent climate...


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