Herbs and Herbals, Herb!
Important desert botanicals, what they do, where to find them and how to use them. Reference books are listed below. Desert plants shift: in one phase they're edible, and in another, they're poisonous! *Beware of all plants with red beans or red blisters on the stems in the Sonoran desert. They're either poisonous or in a poisonous phase.
Arnica: low broad leaf found in modest light. Used on bruises. The bruises literally disappear within hours. Crush the leaves and apply sap to your skin.
Black samson sunflowers: the source of echinacea, a powerful immune booster. Pulverize the seeds and eat.
Yellow dock: looks like wild rhubarb. Use the root to make a salve for sunburn.
Wild rhubarb: eat only the delicious roots. The tops are poisonous. Cut just below the green leaves. Peel and eat.
Chia: seeds are edible. Excellent "thrival" food. Put a teaspoon sized portion in your mouth, and chew. They expand to make a mouthful. A little slimy but full of protein.
Yucca blossoms: excellent as or in a salad or a fresh trail snack. Available May to October..
Mesquite beans: can be chewed. Excellent protein and starch source. Taste like brown sugar. Ground: can be used like flour.
Pinon nuts: spread a blanket under the tree then shake it. Ripe nuts will rain down. Store raw nuts in a cool area. Soak them in water for about 10 minutes before oven roasting. Spread on cookie sheets, bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Use a hammer to crack the shell. Delicious. Use in pestos, salads, cookies or as a trail snack. Excellent hikers food. Amino acids, proteins and high oil content for energy. Nice nutty flavor. Wonderful in Mexican dishes.
Palo verde and mesquite "peas". The peas are in the pods. Split open. Pick and eat.
Barrel cactus pulp: peel like a cucumber and chew to release the juice. Discard the membrane. Survival source of water.
Prickly pear and saquaro fruit: clean off cactus needles and eat. Delicious and sweet. Do not eat the green cactus pads which are poisonous.
Jojoba leaves: do not eat any of them. The waxy substance on the leaves will harm your liver. However, jojoba oil is wonderful for your skin and hair. Pulverize the leaves and berries to product a wonderful oil.
Books on herbs and botanicals are listed below. Click on the selection for more information or to buy.