Surviving in the Deep South! (Part 2)
in Part 2 of “Surviving in the Deep south” , we are going to look at foraging for local plants and nuts in the Deep South. There are many wild edible plants here in the Deep South, but there are surprisingly few articles on them in the Prepper sites that I have seen. There are everything from Pecans to Cat Tail plants to choose from, as well as many edible other nuts and berries that are not found throughout most of the Northern United States. For this reason I am going to spend this part of this series covering these.
While the Cat Tail Plant is not unique to the Deep South and can be found throughout most of Northern America, it grows in great abundance here in the Deep South. For that reason, I have decided to include it here. The Cat Tail Plant also know as cattail, catninetail, punks, or corn dog grass is found near water ranging from Lakes and Rivers to common everyday ditches. While many parts of the plant are edible by Humans, they can absorb pesticides and other chemicals from the water that they grow in. The starchy rhizomes are nutritious with a protein content comparable to that of maize or rice. hey can be processed into a flour and are most often harvested from late autumn to early spring. The outer portion of young plants can be peeled and the heart can be eaten raw or boiled and eaten like asparagus. The leaf bases can be eaten raw or cooked, especially in late spring when they are young and tender. In early summer the sheath can be removed from the developing green flower spike, which can then be boiled and eaten like corn on the cob. This plant is so versatile that it would almost be a must in any survival situation.
Chickweed is another commonly found plant here in the Deep South. Chickweed are medicinal and edible plants. They are very nutritious, high in vitamins and minerals, can be added to salads or cooked as a pot herb, tasting somewhat like spinach or other greens. When cooked together with salt, pepper and butter it can make a great tasting meal. New research indicates that Chickweed can be used as an effective antihistamine, and in some cases for constipation. Because they grow in abundance here in the Deep South, it would be wise to learn to recognize the plant and maybe try cooking it a few times just to be sure that you can locate and prepare it when SHTF happens. Remember, learning to recognize and prepare wild edible plants is one sure way to prevent starvation when things go south here in the US. You can learn more about this plant by clicking here.
One of the most common edible wild plants in the Deep South is clover. Clover can be eaten raw or cooked and is a good source of vitamins A and C. Clover can be found growing almost anywhere from lawns to potted plants and open fields. It is quite literally everywhere! For this reason, I am including it here. The flowers can be eaten raw and the young leaves picked before the plant flowers, can be eaten raw in salads. As the plant matures, cooking the leaves is recommended. The flowers can be used raw in salads as well as sautéed, stir-fried, or fried as fritters. They are also popular for making teas and wines. The dried leaves are said to add a slightly vanilla-like flavor to baked goods. Learn more here.
Wild Onions and Garlic are always a wonderful find. These can make just about anything taste better. If a plant looks like an onion and smells like an onion you can eat it. If a plant looks like a garlic and smells like a garlic you can eat it. If you do not smell a garlic or an onion odor then you may want to avoid it as it may be toxic! Wild leeks can also be found growing near water and in ditches around the Deep South. Again if it doesn’t smell like onions, then it not a leek. Always use common sense when deciding on what plant to eat and not to eat. There are plenty of easily recognizable edible plants out there so stick with the ones you know. Learn more here.
Wild Mustard greens can be cooked like turnip greens or collards, with Bacon or other seasonings. But the mustard plant is a little more delicate in texture than those familiar greens, which means it can serve other purposes as well. The leaves are covered with a fine coating of small hairs that may give you pause about eating them when you first see them in their raw state. Not to worry, they all disappear as they are cooked. They are an excellent source of Vitamins and Minerals that that you will need while tying to survive in the Deep South. On top of all of that, they really taste good which is always a plus. Learn more here.
Nuts abound in the Deep South. (No, not that kind!…well maybe.) One of my favorites is the Pecan. These trees seem to almost grow wild here. Pecans are an excellent source of manganese and a good source of protein and unsaturated fats. Like Walnuts, Pecans are rich in Omega-6 Fatty Acid. They are also great when added to salads providing a slight crunch and a buttery flavor to your meal. They can be roasted in a metal skillet and sprinkled with sugar or honey for a delightful snack. Just be aware that because of their high fat content they do not store well for long periods of time. If you find a few of these trees after SHTF and the Pecans are dropping to the ground (usually around November) , thank your lucky stars! Learn more here
Blackberries are another wonderful treat that grows wild here in the Deep South. The flowers are produced in the late Spring or early Summer and the fruit develops not long after. These are delicious in my humble opinion. They are lightly sweet and make great cobblers and pies. They are known for being high in dietary fiber as well as vitamins A and K. A cup of Blackberries contain one half of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C and in a survival situation this could be critical. The seeds contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids as well as protein, carbohydrates and antioxidants that are essential to proper growth. Blackberries make excellent jellies and jams that can be preserved for long periods of time. Learn more here.
There is no way to cover all of the wild edible plants here in the Deep South, however I have tried to hit on some of the most common ones. I’m sure there are many that may come to your mind and if you get the chance, please add them to the comments below. As you can see, there are an abundance of edible plants here if we only open our eyes and take the time to get out and learn about them. After all many of them are right here in our own back yard. This completes Part 2 of “Surviving in the Deep South”. In Part 3, we will cover Different types of edible wild animals here in the Deep South as well as how to clean some of them. Until then, just remember that Prepping is a journey and not a destination! Cheers!