Gathering plants from the desert

Posted: January 7, 2011 in food, garden, research
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The main goal of this weekend is to start learning how to gather useful plants in the desert. I still have trouble identifying a Mesquite tree from a Palo Verde from a Juniper tree; despite having lived in Phoenix for 8 years.

Here is my plan of how to start learning this stuff. First, last weekend I went to the Arizona Desert Botanical Garden for preliminary research. The one part I really liked was their “Plants and People of the Sonora Desert” path. They had the plants labeled along with a word of two of what the practical uses was of each. I snapped off some shots , but I think I need to return to better photograph and study the plants.

arizona desert botanical garden
Katie at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Step two will be to revisit my edible foods manual I made a couple of years ago when taking a class at the Reevis Mountain School of self-reliance in the Superstition Mountains of AZ. Peter Bigfoot, our awesome instructor, led us as we wandered around his property while we gathered plants , taped them into our book and then took notes.

Peter Bigfoot eating poison ivy

Step three, wander into the desert with my photos from the Botanical Gardern and my old manual and see what I find.

  1. If you go up to Montezuma’s Well they have a path with plaques by plants with their uses that are native to the area. Have you been there? It’s beautiful, and now is a great time to go. If you go, sit under the huge birch for me. They also have some interesting history on the tribe that lived there. If you haven’t been, just follow I-17 and follow the sign to the well, not to the castle.

  2. Is in’t ironic how the words plague and plaque are so similar? Birch trees are my favorite.

  3. It is a great big birch, and the hike up the well and down into it is a beautiful way to get to it. Or you can take the gentle sloping trail that goes around the well, but that is less fun. : )

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