Sunday, April 1, 2012

Edible Plants: A Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

I spent the weekend at the US Fish and Wildlife National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia. All West Virginia jokes aside, it was a good weekend, filled with networking and outdoor activities. We spent one afternoon getting a taste of various career paths within the Fish and Wildlife department. This meant going outside and getting to play!

One of the sessions that I did was a wild flower identification class. I really enjoyed it, even though I am not a plant person. Let me share with you why I don't consider myself a plant person. I kill plants. I have a black thumb. I had a cactus as a child that I killed, not because I over watered it, like every other person who kills cacti. No, I under watered the damn thing. I basically forgot that it was alive. That's why I'm bad with plants.

You think you'll survive off the wildlife?
Zombie squirrel says "think again".

Regardless, I think knowing about plants is really cool. Yeah, that makes me a nerd, but so what? When the zombie apocalypse comes and I survive on edible plants, who’ll be laughing then?

During the class I took a few pictures and decided I should share with all of you. That way, you too might have a chance at survival after the world ends.

Dutchman's Breeches gets it's name from the fact that
its flowers look like pants hanging on a clothesline. 
This makes me 'squee' at the adorableness.

This is called Dutchman’s Breeches. Like many spring ephemerals(ie. flowers that come up only for a short while in the spring), it was used as a blood thinner. In the early days, people thought that after spending the winter in your cabin, eating whatever potatoes and meat that you stored, your blood was thick and needed to be thinned. Thus, the first spring plants were thought to be blood thinners and were used to help clear out all the ick that accumulated in your body after sitting on your ass all winter. Actually, this flower might be toxic, so don’t actually eat it.

The next flower is an invasive, hiss. At least it's edible though. Feel free to eat away. The leaves taste mildly like garlic. Thankfully, I didn't taste any mustard or I would have spat it out immediately. Supposedly the leaves are good as greens in a spring salad and are best when young.

The photo here shows a clump of Ramps. Honestly the grammar involving the name of this plant confuses me to no end. Can there be a single Ramp? Is it Ramps or a clump of Ramps? I have no idea.

These are basically wild leeks. If you thought the Mustard Garlic was strong then you might not like these so much. You can eat the leaves, which have a STRONG garlic taste and the root, which is white and looks very similar to a small leek or thin onion bulb, is edible as well. Eat this to keep the vampires or other survivalists away.

Here is the Cut-leafed Toothwort, so named for it's leaves and the shape of it's roots. Apparently, back in the day, common medical thought was that if a plant looked like a part of the human body, that's what it was good for. Thus, toothwort was used for, you guessed it, teeth! This plant is related to horseradish and the root has a peppery flavor when eaten raw. I cannot verify this claim, as I only ate leaves during this particular class.
Finally, we have the Virginia Bluebell. As far as I know, it's not edible, so I'm just including it because it's pretty. I mean, this was a class in wild flower identification, so not everything was about stuff you can put in your mouth. Heh.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed my photos. Maybe next time you get off your fat ass and go outside, you can keep an eye out for some of these plants. Then you can impress your friends when you know the names of these plants. We all know impressing your friends is really the ultimate goal for learning anything.