First thing, thank you everyone who attended the Oct. 22 and Nov. 5 workshops. Both days had really good groups and we all left with more knowledge than when we started. There are no winter workshops scheduled at this point but I am always up to doing a private workshop if you have 6 or more people.
Below is my latest Master Naturalist plant article.
'The Basswood tree ( Linden )
The Basswood is by far my favorite tree. The Basswood has edible parts all year long, it can be used medicinally and has many utilitarian uses. This tree grows from the western Piedmont, there are a few in the Cville area, all the way to the W. Va. line. It likes moisture and rocks and seems to like slopes best. In the summer, you can see pockets of them literally a mile away by their silver/dark green leaf color.
In the spring, you can drink limited amounts of the sap, it is very high in sugar, or you can boil the sap down into a usable syrup. The young leaves and buds can be eaten raw or the leaves can be cooked. During the summer, the flowers can be eaten raw or cooked and the nectar is one of the better honey producers ( upstate NY mostly depends on Basswoods for its honey crop ). Late summer/fall the seeds/nuts are edible and in the winter/early spring, the inner bark can be eaten raw, cooked or dried to be used as flour later on.
Medicinally, bark tea or poultices can be used to treat burns. The flowers have flavonoids and are a mild sedative. The leaves can be used to treat fevers and cellulitis. There are other uses for this great tree but please do your own herbal homework. The soft, light wood was used for the first prosthetics.
From a primitive technology viewpoint, this tree is nothing short of amazing. The wood is the number one material for the friction fire fire board. The bark makes great bast ( a fibrous material, hence the tree's name ). Plus, the wood is used commercially for veneer and crates/boxes. The inner bark makes a very useful, prolific but not strong cordage used for mats, belts, baskets and bags. The wood can be carved into bowls/spoons.'
I always have folks coming to my workshops who don't own a knife. I really recommend the Morakniv brand of knives and the Companion is a very good introductory knife. It is not a heavy duty camp knife but it is inexpensive, sharp, rust proof and easy to carry w/o a belt. You can also get it with a small ferro rod in the handle. www.industrialrev.com/morakniv/companions/
This is a great time of year to practice your fire making skills, try different methods of starting fires and go out after a hard rain and try your luck ( or skill ).
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