Monthly Archives: May 2015

Wild Edibles


First of all— this is for an assignment of a workshop I am doing– I am a new learner in this. If you want to know about wild edible and medicinals- seek out a workshop and mentor who has a solid record and verifiable knowledge. Doing this wrong CAN KILL YOU.

Second, these any my field notes of the day. I know I still have tons of work to do in this area including more research and practice identifying each plant. My goal is to learn this for me and not to teach. Again- seek out an established mentor for identifying plants.

I met up with my buddy Josh who eats wild as part of his families diet. This is part of a skills swap. Josh is highly knowledgable in this area and I trust him and his knowledge. We covered both edible and medicinal plants. I am going to do this in the order of instruction as we walked through his place. Josh was good about showing the use, talking about variants, and then quizzing me on knowledge and identification. With the exception of two plants that are rare on his place, I cam back with samples of everything.

Shepherd’s Purse

Can be applied directly to the skin for nosebleeds, minor burns, and bleeding skin injuries.

Can be applied directly to the skin for nosebleeds, minor burns, and bleeding skin injuries.

Identified by small hearts or the purse—Can be used for clotting






Knot Weed

Listing as medicinal since it can be used to secure bandaging such as Mullen to a wound. Small spear like leaves and the stem was super tough.

Knot weed is good for making cordage to secure bandaging

Knot weed is good for making cordage to secure bandaging








LAtuka resides on all 7 continents and is edible. A very strong spinach

Dandelion on the left and Latukaon the right. Latuka resides on all 7 continents and is edible. A very strong spinach like leaf.

Latuka is like a spinach, only has a more bitter taste. This one I mix up with Dandelion when looking at just the leaf.


I have to admit that I knew about this, but had never tried it. Golden flowers on top. The flower was pretty good, the leaves were okay, but the stems were extremely bitter. Adding salad dressing to my survival pack is a must.


Bedstraw/Goose Grass

Goose Grass clings to you.

Goose Grass clings to you.

Can be used as a coffee substitute, but has a lemon type taste. We didn’t make any today but it is in the plan since it is a late season herb. The tips are edible but really it should be seeped. The stem is almost square and the top has 8 whorls. By touch it “hooks” or clings to you.



Red Clover

Red Clover was by far one of my favorites today!

Red Clover was by far one of my favorites today!

This was one of my favorites. purple, crimson or even red flowers with small variegated oval leaves. Josh pointed out to only eat fresh with no black spots or mold, it is very dangerous and possibly deadly if not eaten fresh. The flower was really sweet and I ate several.



Goose Foot/ Fat Hen

I had trouble identifying Goose Foot

I had trouble identifying Goose Foot

Can be used as an alphalpha substitute with chickens to fatten them up. Its a type of wild spinach. Two types exist- maple leaf and non- maple leaf. small leaf with “goose” imprint on the leaf veins. Can be cooked or eaten raw.




Common Mallow

Had I know I had “Mallow Heaven” in my yard I wouldn’t have spent the past five years to kill it, spending around $50 a month to do so. I liked Mallow that sat in the shade and had smaller leaves. Mallow grows in clusters and the leaves are packed with vitamins A and C. Has a mild flavor. I have a few spots in the yard where Mallow now grows— until I eat it

I spent close to $1200 the last five years to kill this stuff- only to find I was given a gift plant to eat!

I spent close to $1200 the last five years to kill this stuff- only to find I was given a gift plant to eat!








Sweet treat of the day- Columbine

Sweet treat of the day- Columbine








Another favorite- a really sweet taste to it. I have these on my place and sucking the stems of the bottom of the flower was a great treat. The nectar was a nice change from some of the other things I had been sampling.


Ground Nut

These helped sustain the Pilgrims when they first landed and were starving. It has a small “green bean” sprout and the root contains more protein than a chicken egg. Each stem has 5 leaves on it. It is also known as wild bean, Indian potato, and potato bean. Like potatoes, they are high in starches and carbohydrates. This is one I am interested in planting in my garden to cultivate.

Didn't get to try this since it is rare on Josh's place right now.

Didn’t get to try this since it is rare on Josh’s place right now.








Called skunk weed in Idaho, this medicinal can be used for TP, diapers, wound care and a mica-mist inhaler for bronchitis. I know it from bow drill/hand drill but the diaper thing was new to me. It has huge spikes of golden blossoms and the base has felt-like leaves from June through September.

Didn't know the Indians in the west used these as diapers...

Didn’t know the Indians in the west used these as diapers…







Rose Hips

We didn’t try any the day we went out with Josh, but this is on my list for my wife’s roses. While they will add to the visual aspect of our BushLab, I am going to add them because roses also produce fruit. Rose hips are rich in vitamin C. The British government encouraged its citizens to harvest rose hips and make them into syrup, jam and jelly in order to get more vitamin C into their diet during WWII. My plan is to harvest and then make a Jam out of them.


Rose hips are better to use in a jam since the tiny hairs can irritate the throat











Wild Lettuce

Wild lettuce can be strong if it is stressed or in direct sun It is used for coughs, restlessness, excitability in children, and joint pain. It has also been used as a remedy for excessive sex drive in women (nymphomania) so I doubt I introduce this into our regular diet. It can also be applied directly to the skin to kill germs.

Wild Lettuce will not make its way into my home for some very obvious reasons...

Wild Lettuce will not make its way into my home for some very obvious reasons…








Lance Leaf Plantain


I found the flowers on Lance Leaf Plantain the most interesting of all the plants we looked at














IMG_1420 IMG_1421

Leaves and young shoots can be cooked or eaten raw. The leaves can also be dried for a tea or used in soups and broths. Highly nutritious food in moderation, but Josh warned it could trigger lupus.




Oyster Plant







We didn’t go into depth on this one so much since it was the only species he has on his place and my brain was already starting to spin from all the info I was taking in.


Common Plantain





Great for Mosquito bites. We didn’t go in great depth on this one- but it is on my list to study and find specimens.




This one was pretty bitter. You can cook them in water and throw out the water to reduce bitterness. Chicory has a tough, grooved, and more or less hairy stem, about 10″-40″. It can have up to 1″ flower heads that are a light purple.
Plants we Identified- but I am still learning:
(Some pictured below)

Stinging Nettles

(We harvested and ate these by steaming for 1 minute. Ate stems with peanut butter–ate leaves as a salad. I did not include these above since I really want to explore this one in more detail and grow confidence.)


(Abundant in our area–but due to pesticides did not try. Exploring this plant beyond fire and more in area of edibility. )



Wild Amaranth

Jerusalem Artichoke (Just Planted in my yard)



It was interesting on how my perspective changed and I was more aware of what I was stepping on. Josh has a few plants that are rare on his place and is still learning to cultivate them. I became mindful that instead of tromping through a “weed patch”, I was beginning to tread lightly through his future harvest.

I now have a few plants to work on and perfect. I am going out on a medicinal walk-about in the Boise foothills in July with an instructor who owns an herbal remedy shop. Hoping to grow that relationship into a mentorship. It will be interesting to gain an additional perspective.

This was a good chapter. I struggle with wild food and I think it comes from a long history of viewing these plants as weeds to be destroyed and not food to enjoy. One of my plans is to plant several of these in my BushLab so I can practice (not teach) various plants I can live on when in the wild.

Pics from my Journal entries below:IMG_1247 IMG_1248 IMG_1249 IMG_1246 IMG_1237 IMG_1238 IMG_1250
Additions since first post…


Desert plant, 4 to 15 feet high, dagger-like leaves shedding threads, yellow to light green flowers and droopy.



First Bushcraft / Survival Knife

I get several questions about knives a week. Through email, facebook postings, and questions from participants in our workshops, more than any other, people want to know about knives.

I’m somewhat divided in my answer to each. Usually I ask what they plan on doing with it. The answers range from the unrealistic expectation to simple camp task.

I have several knives I pack with me. I have a BOB which is a great knife, but sometimes falls outside the price range for some new to the craft and the same can be said for the Tracker I have in my bag at times. So for a first knife for all no matter level, but specifically for those just venturing into the discipline of fieldcraft and bushcraft I recommend the Morakniv.


For a new bushcrafter or survival student this is a great first blade. A price point around $20 makes it attractive. A self locking sheath keeps it well secured and gives a new explorer a first leather project, making a scabbard or sheath should they chose to do so.

Both the Carbon steel and stainless steel blade options come out of the box ready to make feather sticks, shavings, and with care can batton wood to make split-wood for creating fire. It holds a good edge and can be made razor-sharp. I have even done a few wood projects such as bowls, spoons, and whittled a forest wizard on a hiking staff with mine. The blade can even be used to spark a fire steel if in a bind. I like how the handle fits the hand and its easy to grip with wet or sweaty hands.

I like this knife so well that we provide it in our FireCraft and other workshops. Check out the Morakniv and no matter your level of experience in the outdoors get one to throw in your pack.

Here is a link to get yours!

One Hand/ Off Hand Fire

I have done this kind of fire a few times for practice, but never before because I was actually hurt. This last Saturday in a haste to get out the door to work with a cohort on wild foods in our area to eat, I took a tumble-down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs sits a metal Elk. Only about 12 inches tall, it is heavy steel and armed with sharp antlers.

Somehow my boot caught on the carpet of the second stair from the top and I shot forward head first. I know I saw the Elk at the bottom of the stairs and I covered my head and neck with my arms to protect it. What followed was a crash and immediate pain. My shoulder and back felt like it was being pulled off my body, my fingers burned and my ears were ringing. I fought to stay alert.

My wife and daughter quickly found that I was bleeding badly and went for pressure points to stop the blood. I had impaled my self on the metal Elk we have at the bottom of the stairs. Two powder-coated antlers gauged through my arm, barely missing the main artery and nerves. Fortunately, I brought my arm up to cover my face/neck area! Which would have had harsher implications. My shoulder felt like it was torn and I knew I was pretty banged up. In moments we were out the door and headed for the ER.

In the ER they got me on Norco right away to help manage pain…it didn’t manage me and I guess I dropped my normal quiet and shy disposition and became chatty….making friends with anyone who stopped by.

A few hours later after multiple x-rays, testing, cleaning, stitching, and an arm sling we headed out the door….but not before giving a lecture to those in the waiting room on survival psychology. Tessa Smith can attest to this…




Along with being chatty on Norco, I felt the need to be productive. So after getting home and against the wishes of wife and daughter, I proceeded to build a one arm fire.

Fire is the hallmark skill and being able to do it in any condition is essential. So why not build one when one is truly hurt.

I began by gathering tinder in the backyard. This included an abandoned finch nest, cattail collection, and dried red grass. Next, I made a small bundle of shavings by propping my MoraKniv up on a 2″ block of wood, holding it steady with my foot, and working the wood across it.

Next I split wood using hatchet and MoraKniv. This seemed to take forever. Placing the tinder on a thick chunk of Cottonwood, I used my foot and brace again to hold my Mora in place. Using my ferro rod, a Light My Fire, I was able to spark the tinder on the first try.

Within moments I had good flame and began adding wood splits to bring the flame to full life. The Light My Fire is by far the most reliable item in my combustion kit, and its exercises like this is why I use it.

So try to do a one-handed fire at some point and if you need a greater challenge, do it with your weak hand.







Stroop Effect and Impact in Wilderness Survival (Overview)

Say the colors you see as quickly as you can.

Say the colors you see as quickly as you can.

The Stroop effect is a great tool for understanding how the brain tries to process complex information in stress or when the brain is distracted in stressful situations, such as in a survival situation. It mimics the processing the brain must do when your car goes off the road and you wind up in a creek, a friend comes back into camp with a cold-weather injury and you have to quickly react, or you find yourself lost in the woods and have to make a decision to find your way out or set up a comfort zone as rains pelt you and the cold has numbed both your fingers and your mind.

I often use this to help demonstrate the reaction time that is lost and the frustration one can go through in a survival situation. It shows how both relevant and irrelevant information are often processed at the same time. It can also demonstrate how we have selective attention in a survival situation- which leads to fixation. Sky divers and new pilots can become fixated on a single task and ignore everything else going on around them, just like what can happen in a wilderness survival situation.

To see the effect- look at the list above and say the color of the word as fast as you can. You should see (and feel) the impact immediately as you struggle through the list, keeping in mind you are most likely in a safe area, away from harm, and relatively comfortable.

Placed in a wilderness survival situation where you are exposed to the elements, have increased stress because of the event that most likely placed you in a survival situation, and may be attending to physical limitations that brought on the situation, it is important to recognize that the brain is trying to process information that for a moment may not make any sense. This is one of the reasons we teach immediate action drills in survival, which we will discuss in a later posting.