Neighborhood Plant Inventory
Urban survival practice can benefit from a documented “Neighborhood Plant Inventory.”
Observe the picture above, as an example. Just beneath the letter “N” is a clump of Sage bushes, which can be used as a spice in cooking; can be rubbed over the teeth and gums as a toothpaste substitute; or can be steeped in a tea to help with stomach disorders. The sage is bordered to the left and right by Palmettos, the bases of which can be eaten. In the background is a Pine tree that offers edible cambium bark in its inner layer, along with healthy doses of vitamin C in its needles (also to be used in a tea.) The ground is covered with light-green Reindeer Lichen or Moss, which can be boiled or eaten. It is not advisable to eat lichens without preparing them, however, due to their acid content. Often the lichen is boiled and rinsed repeatedly before consumption, or at a minimum, added to soups. They can be eaten raw but a stomach ache is likely to ensue. Lastly, areas such as this one with numerous lakes and ponds often host vibrant cattail forests, which can be harvested at eaten almost year-round.
Many colleges, community colleges, and other local-level organizations offer plant identification classes. Books are also readily available. One of my favorites is Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Edible and Medicinal Plants. As always, obtain professional verification before consuming unknown, wild plant life.
In developing your own local Plant Inventory, it is also advisable to “Google” the plants that grow in your area and print the information for addition to an ongoing notebook. If the grid goes down, those notes can prove valuable!
What plants grow in your area?