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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Desert Scrub Oak

Desert Shrub Oak can be found in open woodlands of pinyon, juniper and Joshua trees, on mountain slopes along desert edges, 3,000 feet to 6,500 feet. Leaves are 1.5" long, oblong in outline, yellowish green on both sides. Margins are toothed and spine-tipped, and apex is pointed. Acorns shaped like old-fashioned spinning top. Mature bark gray with dull cast. Shrubs are 10' tall.

Quercus turbinella is a species of oak known by the common names Sonoran scrub oak, shrub live oak, and grey oak. It is native to northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States from far eastern California to southwest Colorado, Rio Grande New Mexico, to west Texas.

Quercus turbinella is a shrub growing two to five meters in height but sometimes becoming treelike and exceeding six meters. The branches are gray or brown, the twigs often coated in short woolly fibers when young and becoming scaly with age. 

The thick, leathery evergreen leaves are up to three centimeters long by two wide and are edged with large, spine-tipped teeth. They are gray-green to yellowish in color and waxy in texture on the upper surfaces, and yellowish and hairy or woolly and glandular on the lower surfaces. 

The males catkins are yellowish-green and the female flowers are in short spikes in the leaf axils, appearing at the same time as the new growth of leaves. The fruit is a yellowish brown acorn up to two centimeters long with a shallow warty cup about a centimeter wide. This oak reproduces sexually via its acorns if there is enough moisture present, but more often it reproduces vegetatively by sprouting from its rhizome and root crown.

This oak easily hybridizes with other oak species, including Quercus gambelii and Q. grisea. Many species of animals use it for food, with wild and domesticated ungulates browsing the foliage and many birds and mammals eating the acorns. Animals also use the shrub as cover, and mountain lions hide their kills in the thickets.

Uses: The Hualapai use the acorns to make bread, stew, and mush; they also also eat the acorns roasted. The Gila River Pima eat the acorns raw. The Cocopa gather the acorns for trade with the Paipai for sheep skins. The Havasupai use the wood for hoe and axe handles.

The leaves are valuable browse and emergency winter or drought food for wildflife in southern and central Arizona. Quercus turbinella can survive heavy browsing and may remain as almost the only forage on deteriorated ranges in Arizona. New, succulent growth is most palatable. 

Mule deer and desert bighorn sheep browse on Q. turbinella in Arizona, as do cattle, domestic sheep, and domestic goats. The acorns are eaten by cattle, collared peccary, wild turkey, mule deer, numerous rodents, geese, grouse, quail, scrub jays, and many other birds. 

The cambium is eaten by sapsuckers, the bark by porcupines, and the twigs by beavers. Quercus turbinella thickets provide cover for wide range of birds and mammals.

Even acorns that taste relatively nice straight out of the shell (such as most members of the white oak group) still contain tannin and eating large quantities could cause troubles (e.g., stomach upset, loss of nutrients due to tannin binding with proteins).
[source: wikipedia]

To remove the tannin: (in survival situation)

  • 1. Remove nut from the shell.
  • 2. Smash the nuts into smaller pieces to make leaching the tannin out faster.
  • 3. For faster leaching, you need to have a way to boil the kernels. Place the shelled, pounded kernels into the cooking container and bring to a boil and change the water every 45 minutes or so for about 6 or 7 hours of boiling. The other way is to place the kernels into a container of cold water and change out the water about every 6 hours. This may take up to a week to accomplish. A faster way of using cold water is if you have stream available. Place the kernels in a cloth bag or something similar and place in the stream of running water. It should be ready in about 2 days.
  • 4. After leaching, pound the kernels into a mush and spread out to dry into flour, or use the mush to make porridge or to thick soups.
  • 5. Add water to the flour to make bannok bread if you have the ingredients to do so. If the flour is all you have, you can make flat cakes and cook on a flat rock.

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Poisonous Aspects Of The Datura Plant

Datura is a genus of nine species of poisonous vespertine flowering plants belonging to the family Solanaceae. They are known as angel's trumpets, sometimes sharing that name with the closely related genus Brugmansia, and commonly known as daturas. They are also sometimes called moonflowers, one of several plant species to be so. 

All species of Datura are poisonous, especially their seeds and flowers.

Colors vary from white to yellow, pink, and pale purple. The fruit is a spiny capsule 4–10 cm long and 2–6 cm broad, splitting open when ripe to release the numerous seeds. The seeds disperse freely over pastures, fields and even wasteland locations.

Datura belongs to the classic "witches' weeds", along with deadly nightshade, henbane, and mandrake. Most parts of the plants are toxic, and datura has a long history of use for causing delirious states and death. It was well known as an essential ingredient of potions and witches' brews.

All Datura plants contain tropane alkaloids such as scopolamine, hyoscyamine, and atropine, primarily in their seeds and flowers. Because of the presence of these substances, Datura has been used for centuries in some cultures as a poison. There can be a 5:1 toxin variation between plants, and a given plant's toxicity depends on its age, where it is growing, and the local weather conditions. These variations makes Datura exceptionally hazardous as a drug.

Datura toxins may be ingested accidentally by consumption of honey produced by several wasp species, including Brachygastra lecheguana, during the Datura blooming season. It appears that these semi-domesticated honey wasps collect Datura nectar for honey production which can lead to poisoning.

In some parts of Europe and India, Datura has been a popular poison for suicide and murder. From 1950 to 1965, the State Chemical Laboratories in Agra, India, investigated 2,778 deaths caused by ingesting Datura.

In some places, it is prohibited to buy, sell, or cultivate Datura plants.

Effects of ingestion

Due to the potent combination of anticholinergic substances it contains, Datura intoxication typically produces effects similar to that of an anticholinergic delirium (usually involving a complete inability to differentiate reality from fantasy); hyperthermia; tachycardia; bizarre, and possibly violent behavior; and severe mydriasis (dilated pupils) with resultant painful photophobia that can last several days. Pronounced amnesia is another commonly reported effect.

In Pharmacology and Abuse of Cocaine, Amphetamines, Ecstasy and Related Designer Drugs, Freye asserts: Few substances have received as many severely negative recreational experience reports as has Datura. The overwhelming majority of those who describe their use of Datura find their experiences extremely unpleasant both mentally and often physically dangerous. 


Due to their agitated behavior and confused mental state, victims of Datura poisoning are typically hospitalized. Stomach pumping and the administration of activated charcoal can be used to reduce the stomach's absorption of the ingested material. The drug physostigmine is used to reverse the effect of the poisons.

Benzodiazepines can be given to curb the patient's agitation, and supportive care with oxygen, hydration, and symptomatic treatment is often provided. 

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Buffalo Gourd Survival Uses

Cucurbita foetidissima, has numerous common names, including: buffalo gourd, calabazilla, chilicote, coyote gourd, fetid gourd, fetid wild pumpkin, Missouri gourd, prairie gourd, stinking gourd, wild gourd, and wild pumpkin.

The feral perennial buffalo gourd has evolved in the semiarid regions and is well-adapted to desert environments. It contains high amounts of protein and carbohydrates and yields abundant oil. The carbohydrates that are formed in the tap root have led to the idea of growing the plant for biofuel.

The fruit is consumed by both humans and animals. When mature, a stage marked by increasing desiccation of vine, leaves, fruit-stem, and fruit, the fruit begins its final gourd stage.


The buffalo gourd has the potential of being a crop adapted to arid to semiarid lands.

Fresh gourd: The fresh young gourd can be eaten like squash. When the fruit is mature, it is no longer edible due to bitter compounds.

Oil: The extractable oil content in whole seeds reaches from 24.3% to 50%. Linoleic acid, an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid, comprises 38% to 65% of the oil. A characterization of the oils from buffalo gourd indicates that this oil is similar to other common edible oils.

Protein: Whole Buffalo gourd seeds contain approximately 31% crude protein, which is usable for human consumption and for feed. The seeds can be roasted and eaten like pumpkin seeds. The seeds can also be boiled and turned into a mush, or dried into a flour.

Starch: Is mainly located in the tap root which forms after the first year of growth. The starch content in the dried root is between 47.5% and 56%.

Fodder: Fresh leaves or the whole plants can be used as animal food.

Biofuel: Biodiesel can be produced from the oil in the seeds. But the main interest to produce renewable fuels is to produce biofuel with the carbohydrates which are located in the tap root.

Other uses: In many Native American cultures, the fruit and other parts of the plant, buffalo gourd oil, were used for soap. The young leaves can be used as a mild soap. Take few leaves in your hand and add water and then agitate by rubbing between your hands to produce a green soapy froth.

Furthermore, the protein can be used for industrial purposes (water paints, paper coating, adhesives and textile sizing). The Zuni people use a poultice of powdered seeds, flowers and saliva for swellings.

The dried gourd can be turned into containers to hold water or food.

The dried gourds are also used to make ornaments.

[Source: Wikipedia]

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!