You probably won’t find the Purslane at your local grocery store, but given its wide distribution, you MIGHT find it growing in lots and parks near your grocer. In fact, it’s found in nearly every temperate climate zone in the world north of the Equator. In North America, if can be found as far south as Mexico right up to the Arctic Circle, though some contend the plant is an invasive species in the New World. Regardless of its origins, this “lowly weed” is a hardy and versatile, if somewhat under-appreciated, source of nutrition. And yet, most people couldn’t distinguish the plant from a line up of common plants in their region. If you can learn to identify the Purslane, you’ll be well ahead of your contemporaries and able to enjoy a free, tasty treat with little competition.
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Whether at home or in the backcountry, there’s one weed everyone can recognize at 100 yards: the dandelion. Lawn and golf course caretakers across the country try to stem this little yellow monster that spreads like wildfire. However, with its deep taproot and remarkable regenerative properties, the dandelion will probably destined to outlast manicured lawns and fancy gardens. The weed’s tenacity and omnispresence can be turned to your advantage, however… as a tasty veggie burger!
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When a visitor to your garden compliments you on your chenopodium as well as your tomatoes, you know he’s a hardcore forager. Where you see a blaze of summer beauty in a stand of day lilies, the hardcore forager sees fritters and cooked buds and a salad made with the tubers. A lake fringed with cattails is liable to bring paroxysms of joy in the hardcore forager. There are flour, vegetables, and even something for the pickle crock there, not to mention a meat course of fish or frog legs. Experienced foragers see food, medicine, and other useful things in every forest and field.
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Many self-reliant people rely on natural treatments and remedies whenever possible. While there are hundreds of recognized medicinal herbs and plants, many grow only in a specific area or require extensive preparation before using. The following seven plants are commonly found all over the United States. They are simple to prepare and use and, most importantly, are effective.
In primitive circumstances, medicinal plants are usually utilized in three ways: as a tea, a poultice, or raw. When preparing a tea, the part of the plant to be used is gently simmered in water over low flame to release its active ingredients. If the tea is to be ingested, adding honey or other flavorings will make it more palatable.