Trees help you survive every day just by cleaning the air, but that’s not all they’re good for. With a little knowledge, they could also give you a lift in a survival situation.
You might know indigenous peoples relied on Earth’s arboreous inhabitants as sources of food and material long before you could enjoy a pair of nylon hiking trousers or a handy plastic-wrapped granola bar. Read on to discover exactly how you can take advantage of various trees while in the wilderness. You never know when you might need them.
Trees Provide Food
Even though you probably think of more commonly farmed plants as sources of food, trees also provide a number of products you’ve likely purchased at the grocery store. You can consume things like walnuts, pine nuts, syrup and —when processed correctly — several herbal and medicinal teas. Black walnuts, acorns, hickory nuts and pecans can all provide sustenance on the trail or in a survival situation.
You should be aware that specific tree nuts can be acidic, such as acorns. While they can be found throughout the American open space, you’ll need to rinse ground acorn meat in water to leach out the bitter tannin before consuming. Wild almonds contain cyanide and should be avoided unless you know how to prepare them for consumption. For a sweet treat, seek a mulberry tree and grab some juicy berries.
Tap Into Sap
In addition to the obvious nuts and berries, many trees are sources of sap that can be consumed or used for practical purposes. Maple sap, which you’ve probably eaten in the form of syrup, is easy to attain by boring a hole into the side of a tree. For easier access, insert a hollowed-out stick or length of tubing. Sap flows best on the south side of the tree, so see if you can orient yourself before making your tap.
Plant a Tree and Sustain Yourself
You probably won’t benefit from this if you find yourself lost in the woods, but if you’re the type of person who appreciates the ability to self-sustain, planting a tree is one of the best things you can do. It’s an easy job, and depending on the type of tree, it might just outlive you. You’ll be able to enjoy years of tree nuts, sap and other good things.
Many species of trees provide fibrous bark and branches that can be used to make basic tools and fabrics. The fallen leaves and bark can be used as compost and food for other plants. With a little work, you can even process raw bark into papyrus, a form of simple paper that has been in existence for thousands of years.
It’s no wonder people are so passionate about protecting our planet’s tree life. Trees are some of the plant world’s best and longest-lasting providers. Do some research and find out which types of trees grow in your area, and you might find a new survival partner.