The first rule of survival preparation is to learn about what you can do in any situation – even if you end up trapped in the desert. No matter how far you live from the nearest desert, anything is possible, and you may end up there without food or water. It’s good to know what you can do, just in case. Thankfully, the desert isn’t as empty as most people believe. There are several different edibles to be found, as long as you know what to look for and have a knife handy. Of course, you can always use a knife to scrape off the spines of these plants.
1) Chia Sage
This plant is distinctive, thanks to its spiky protrusions that grow periwinkle-colored flowers. You can eat the chia seeds produced by the flowers, and the flower themselves and even the leaves are edible. Many people use the leaves for seasoning, but they taste fairly good when raw as well.
2) Prickly Pear Cactus
Every part of this plant is edible, except for the spikes that grow out of the leaves, or pads. Unlike other desert plants, this one tastes pretty good, thanks to its high sugar content. The pads can be eaten cooked or raw, and even the flowers and fruits are fairly tasty.
3) Pinyon Pine
The Pinyon Pine is a tree that grows in many dry, desert climates. It either is small and shaped like a bushy shrub, or it resembles one of the pine trees that you’ll put in your home around Christmas time. Either way, you’ll find plenty of pine nuts on this tree, all of which are perfectly edible and quite tasty.
The round bundles of spiky leaves with white flowers protruding from the top are the hallmarks of this plant. You can remove the fruit that grows on the top of them, and eat it either cooked or raw. The leaves can be eaten the same. However, if you want to eat the roots, make sure to boil them first, as they can be toxic.
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5) Cholla Cactus
Your first instinct might be to avoid this plant, thanks to many prickly spines that cover every inch of it. However, if you can get to the seeds and flowers without getting pricked, then you’ll find that they are edible and quite tasty.
6) Desert Christmas Cactus
This cactus looks more like a shrub with its green leaves and berries, but it is indeed a member of the cactus family. It produces small red berries that are edible, as long as you scrape the spines off of them. Some say that they taste a little like raspberries.
The pods of the mesquite tree look a lot like green beans. They are also edible, as long as you prepare them properly, which involves drying them, bashing them into a pulp, and then mixing them with water. After this, you can eat them raw or bake the “batter.”
Agave plants resemble the smaller aloe ones that many people grow in their yards or home. However, they are slightly different in color (a paler green), and unlike aloe, you can eat the seeds, flowers, leaves, and even stalks of this plant. Just look for ones that aren’t too dry.
9) Saguaro Cactus
These cacti are easy to spot, thanks to their extreme height. Some of them can grow to be 45 feet tall. Look for ones that have produced white flowers or red fruit, as both of those are edible. Also, the main part of this cactus contains quite a bit of drinking water.
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