Inner tree bark emergency food

11:25 p.m. on January 22, 2019 (EST)
244 reviewer rep
5,429 forum posts

Sometimes, wild food sources can be scarce. Especially during the winter months. But did you know that many kinds of trees contain an emergency food source, which can be accessed all year round? Certain trees contain an edible inner bark, known as cambium. The cambium layer in edible trees contains loads of starches, minerals, vitamins, and some sugars. Knowing which trees to harvest from, and how to harvest them could save your life one day. However, cambium is known as an emergency food. That means it should not be harvested under normal circumstances, because doing so can cause severe damage to the tree. By far, the most popular tree for harvesting cambium from is the pine. Most pine species contain edible cambium, although not all. This is why it's good to thoroughly research the trees in your area so that you can become familiar with the edible species, and also the ones that aren't good to eat from.

12:05 a.m. on January 23, 2019 (EST)
57 reviewer rep
87 forum posts

Great suggestion. I have feasted on inner tree bark on longer trips -- torn into strips and boiled. Takes sauce just like pasta. It's filling, nay [i]satisfying[/i], and caused me no discomfort or anything like that.

12:06 a.m. on January 23, 2019 (EST)
57 reviewer rep
87 forum posts

Gary, I feel like we might have met somewhere along the way. 

9:42 a.m. on January 23, 2019 (EST)
73 reviewer rep
4,048 forum posts

All trees have a cambium layer. 

On the Frontier, horses and mules were commonly fed cottonwood bark in the winter if nothing else was available.  I would be more interested in aspen, cottonwood or other Populous species.  Pine anything tastes terrible due to turpines.  Anyone ever had Retsina, the Greek wine?

The human gut has a hard time digesting grass, bark, roots and lots of other plant parts.  We are not ruminants.  Emergency food is the right term.  You can live for 3 weeks without food. Once you get really hungry, odd barely digestible foods are going to give you some trouble. 

11:46 a.m. on January 25, 2019 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
706 forum posts

Amen.  Those survivalists shows complete misrepresent what you need to do, and know, to stay alive.  Stay found, warm, hydrated, and safe.  You'll be fine. 

Get lost, get cold, get dehydrated, or do something stupid like eat wild roots or bark, and you will get into trouble. 

Don't show me techniques for after I have done something really stupid.  Show me techniques and decision-making to avoid those situations in the first place.  Of course, there is no drama to that...

9:17 a.m. on January 26, 2019 (EST)
82 reviewer rep
487 forum posts

What is the calorie content of cambium?  Do the calories expended in harvesting cambium exceed the energy gained by eating same?  Inquiring minds want to know...

12:36 p.m. on February 6, 2019 (EST)
57 reviewer rep
87 forum posts

I don't know the calorie count, but I can tell you that my own experience is that the bark was filling, even satisfying, with no stomach upset, normal er, "digestion" the following day, and provided lots of physical energy.

12:05 a.m. on February 7, 2019 (EST)
73 reviewer rep
4,048 forum posts

Zalman makes the point that if you are going to eat something like the inner bark of a tree, don't wait too long.  Try it while your gut is still working normally. 

10:33 p.m. on February 7, 2019 (EST)
295 reviewer rep
1,436 forum posts

Every locale has its wild edibles, you just have to know your locale and the plants and tubers/roots in your area. 

It reminds me of a long-ago Survivor episode on some island when a couple local experts joined the Survivor participants for a day and showed them all the edible plants in their area---but invisible to the contestants.  They were living in a grocery store and didn't even know it.

And it amazes me to watch Naked and Afraid and not see them keeping a big pot of water boiling and the pot stuffed with edible weeds, roots, leaves, inner bark etc.  While these might not provide chewable foods, the broth alone would provide all sorts of nutrients and keep the stomach full.

What's their problem?  They just don't have the local knowledge to procure and process these plants.  And the unwillingness to live on boiled broth.

5:16 p.m. on February 8, 2019 (EST)
73 reviewer rep
4,048 forum posts

I have studied plants as part of my career for 45 years.  Local knowledge is important, but the time of year has a lot to do with what is available.  Lots of plants are suitable in late summer and early fall.  Some are available in the spring.  Some you cannot digest, and some will make you sick. 

The best approach is take a part of a candidate plant and rub it on your skin and wait a an hour.  If there is no allergic reaction, try eating a small portion and wait a couple of hours. The last thing you want to do is eat a lot of unfamiliar plants all at one time.  Avoid plants with milky white sap, strong odors and those with a lot of cellulose.  Use caution.  Boiling is a good idea. 

There can be grave consequences for getting really sick in the bush with no help around from eating the wrong plants.  You lose energy, you get dehydrated, and you can become incapacitated. Minimize the risk with caution. 

The people on Naked and Afraid seem to get sick pretty often.  They are in unfamiliar territory and 3 weeks without much food makes everything tempting. 

5:42 p.m. on February 8, 2019 (EST)
57 reviewer rep
87 forum posts

ppine said:

The best approach is take a part of a candidate plant and rub it on your skin and wait a an hour.  If there is no allergic reaction, try eating a small portion and wait a couple of hours. The last thing you want to do is eat a lot of unfamiliar plants all at one time.  Avoid plants with milky white sap, strong odors and those with a lot of cellulose.  Use caution.  Boiling is a good idea. 

This is basically how I learned what to eat along the way, though admittedly I wouldn't have thought to try tree bark had I not read about it somewhere. I add the step of chewing on a tiny bit and spitting it out, and waiting a half hour.

I also intuitively avoid red berries unless I'm familiar with them, no idea if that's rational.

10:36 a.m. on February 9, 2019 (EST)
73 reviewer rep
4,048 forum posts

I learned recently of ponderosa pine trees in Montana that were historically used for food by Native Americans.  Many of the trees are really old but definitely show the effects of repeatedly having their bark removed in vertical strips. 

3:23 p.m. on February 9, 2019 (EST)
295 reviewer rep
1,436 forum posts

I learned from two books---the Peterson guide to flowering plants---and the Peterson guide to wild edibles.  Identifying a "weed" or plant is usually easy but can be very difficult too.  There are hundreds of edible plants and tubers/roots in the Southeast where I backpack---and several like Chickweed stay green in the snow.  Nettles for instance have a very high protein content.

As mentioned, the Naked and Afraid contestants just don't have the in-depth knowledge they need in the area they're squatting---and so they take risks as ppine mentions---and therefore focus on Meat procurement when in reality they're often sitting in a grocery store of plants/bark/tubers etc.

Here in the Southeast we usually have a yearly Acorn spurt which can be harvested and with proper processing support life for a couple weeks.  It feeds the bears.  "Processing" is another topic in wild food gathering---often discounted.

Stone mortar and pestle, creek water dilution, boiling, etc.  These are part of the processing equation.  For instance, wild clover leaves are full of nutrients but the human stomach has a hard time digesting it---so enters the stone grinder to make make a mash and boiling water to help with ingestion---if not the crushed leaves then the nutrient-rich liquid.  Clover is everywhere.

5:47 p.m. on February 9, 2019 (EST)
57 reviewer rep
87 forum posts

I once nabbed a fallen pine cone that was heavy with nuts before the squirrels got to it!

6:57 p.m. on February 9, 2019 (EST)
295 reviewer rep
1,436 forum posts

One of my faves is Indian Cucumber Root---a small delicacy in our woods.  It tastes good and fresh and well . . . like a cucumber.  Problem is, the dang thing is half the size of your pinkie finger.

See---

https://joshfecteau.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/indiancucumberroot.jpg

8:50 p.m. on February 9, 2019 (EST)
73 reviewer rep
4,048 forum posts

We harvest pine nuts around here. They are nutrious and have plenty of fat and calories. The Pine Nut Mountains are behind my house. There the single leaf pinon pine  (Pinus monophylla) is common. The local Washoe and Paiute Natives traditionally carried pine nuts over the Sierra to trade with the Digger Indians on the western slope.  California black oak (Quercus kellogii) acorns are some of the best to eat in the US.  They were ground into flour, made into soup and made into a kind of pudding.  I helped a friend that had a contract with a small tribe in the Owens Valley to collect a few tons of acorns.    We scouted the isolated stands of black oaks in the canyons coming off the dry east side of the Sierra near Big Pine and Independence, CA. 

Preparing acorns to eat is not so easy.  They have a lot of tannic acid.  The Native solution was to put them in a creek for a couple of days and then boil them and change the water a few times.  They taste sweet once the acid is removed. 

11:27 p.m. on February 9, 2019 (EST)
295 reviewer rep
1,436 forum posts

I mentioned the mortar/pestle mashing, creek dilution and boiling when it comes to acorns.

My fave in the fall is black walnuts.  And red berries? The best are wintergreen berries---low growing and evergreen.  Also called eastern teaberry.


330px-Gaultheria_procumbens.JPG

7:37 a.m. on February 10, 2019 (EST)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
5,734 reviewer rep
1,140 forum posts

ppine said:

There can be grave consequences for getting really sick in the bush with no help around from eating the wrong plants.  You lose energy, you get dehydrated, and you can become incapacitated. Minimize the risk with caution. 

 I guess most of us have heard one or another version of the Into The Wild story. Krakauer himself revisited it a couple of times, and it seems possible to likely that McCandless was poisoned by non-protein amino acids in some legume seeds that he ate, compounded with general starvation.

From a backpacker's nutrition perspective, I'd mention optimal foraging theory -- that any food you take should yield more energy than it takes to find and harvest it. It helps if whatever it is actually tastes good. I would also calculate in the opportunity cost of spending a lot of time harvesting wild food when I could be movin' on. I'll stop and pick berries or chew on some wood sorrel, and take chanterelles if I happen to see any, but otherwise I'd rather just cover some territory.

12:26 p.m. on February 10, 2019 (EST)
57 reviewer rep
87 forum posts

I don't know that I've ever come across wintergreen berries out West here. We do get red gooseberries which are absolutely delicious (that's one red berry I AM familiar with). 

12:30 p.m. on February 10, 2019 (EST)
73 reviewer rep
4,048 forum posts

Big Red,

Moving requires energy.  Early in a survival situation I agree with everything you said.  Later as the body breaks down due to lack of glycogen and people lose energy. The furnace goes out.  Then finding food can be the difference between being able to walk out or not. 

For most survival situations outside of Alaska and remote Canada it is best to stay put anyway and conserve energy. 

4:07 p.m. on February 10, 2019 (EST)
295 reviewer rep
1,436 forum posts

I'm a big proponent of gathering and eating stinging nettle---as I've been doing it for the last 40 years.  If it's good enough for Tibetan Yogi Milarepa it's good enough for me---

https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/green-koans-the-green-yogi/

Here's a pot of nettles I brewed up on a recent backpacking trip---


TRIP-136-074-L.jpg
Good info here---

8:55 p.m. on February 10, 2019 (EST)
73 reviewer rep
4,048 forum posts

All this talk about procuring food reminds me of a trip to the Boundary Waters of MN in 1985.  We flew to Ely and hired an outfitter for all of our equipment including food.  After several days of eating dehydrated food we did not chose, we started looking for something to eat.  We were working hard paddling flat water and making portages all day.   We caught plenty of walleye, small mouth bass and pike for protein.  In late summer there were lots of berries around especially blue berries for pancakes and dessert at night.  We started to look for greens by the creeks because there were few vegetables in our prepared food.  We had a couple of meals that was all foraged in the North Woods.  We were there at the right time and it was not that hard. 

February 20, 2020
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: CampinGAZ replacement valve Newer: Who has gone stoveless or to "cold soaking" exclusively?
All forums: Older: First meeting with the ocean and getting the pilgrim credentials in Irún| Day 3 of Camino del Norte Newer: Mountain Hardware Trango 2