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 How to make cordage using wild plants Tuesday July 20, 2010

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PostSubject: How to make cordage using wild plants Tuesday July 20, 2010   Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:43 pm

Cordage, plants used, basic techniques
Chat from Sunday, July 18th 2010
SURVIVAL AND PREPAREDNESS CHAT TONIGHT : 7:00 P.M. Central or 8:00 P.M. Eastern Time
Main Topic: This evening is Cordage, plants used, basic techniques, suitable dyes and applications.
Off Topic questions will be answered by the experts in that field.
Thanks and Hope you all are prepared to take notes.

PlantDoc: I thought we'd talk about fiber plants ones that you can use to make string cord rope etc
primitive mans world was literally tied together the ability to recognize and make from plant fibers twine, string etc. can help you survive, building shelter, catching food through the setting of snares and traps, clothes, ways to store gathered food, ways to dry gathered food it all depends on the ability to make some type of cordage here are a half a dozen plants that grow from coast to coast that can be used to make cordage from some were used commercially until the early 1900's when synthetics were able to be created
QUESTION: mountain people used to put apples in the ground in leaves... what do you know about that?
pits are good they keep foods fresh only fall/cold developing type
RESPONSE: when you dry leaves in July you will need a container to put them in weaving creates a tighter joined material than say cattails or split timbers pits are based on the frost line concept, root cellars are a modern version of pit storage pits should be at least a foot below the frost line that keeps the food from decaying but not cold enough to freeze many plants loose their cellular form when frozen making many foods mushy after they are frozen it depends on many factors, we had pumpkins in the cold room until the middle of January when temps got into the mid 70's the quick temperature change allowed it to begin to decay it was picked in October of 09 on top of a very high mountain I feel like a Mayan sometimes they had the ability to free dry food
Without modern gadgets their world was also tied together their sandals were woven and then tied you would have to live at their elevation and be in the proper location, food left out overnight freezes, before the sun comes up it is ground and allow to dry out in the heat of the day it is then stored as far as I am aware there are no such areas in the United States with the correct elevation and locations Milkweed stems have fibers that will produce a moderately strong 2 ply cord milkweed is easy to identify and is safe to use when its dry. Milkweed juice can upset some peoples stomachs and splitting it wet is difficult flash freezing and 90 degree temps are not something normal folks can duplicate and we don't have the land where such things are possible some used homemade equipment some use a combination
OK we recognize we have to be able to make some type of string, milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) being an easier plant to recognize is an easy safe plant to make cordage from usually milkweed is gathered after the first hard frost the green plant has sticky milky sap which in the heat of the summer is nasty to get off, it can be used as an adhesive if you need milkweed for cordage before the first frost you can cut it down put it in the shade for a day sometimes 2 then it can be used to make cordage with in the fall it is easy to identify milkweed as the open pods and feathery seeds stick to the dried plant what about using the milky substance as a covering for say, a cut for a cut it is fine it doesn't allow oxygen to get to the cells of the skin it works well with superficial bleeding wounds like paper cuts and edge testing slices the sap will get rid of warts as warts (except planters) need oxygen to survive, once that is cut off the wart dies and falls off after the first hard frost but you can if you cut and dry it use it in the summer it doesn't appear big enough to used until mid summer when it starts to flower the stem is ready to be used for cordage, allowing it to stand until the fall makes the fibers stronger summer plants tend to be less sturdy milkweed pods are filled with sterile non sticking fluff, as long as they are closed need to know what else is there before you learn how the how is the same for all plants only different with barks like grape and cedar once the stem has dried you carefully remove any leaf branches that remain, cutting them off goes against the grain of the stem causing a break in the fibers it is important to keep the plant fibers no matter what plant as long as possible this ensures a uniform cordage that won't break when tested cordage properly made will provide the means for a 10-15 pound animal milkweed is available for a long time during the growing season being able to trap is an important skill to have but you have to have cordage before you can make one
Cedar trees, (Thuja occidentalis Below left and Juniperus virginiana Below right) grow in some form or another in most areas in North America they too make strong cordage but unlike plants like milkweed they can get wet. Once the stems have been removed the stem is crushed between your fingers working from the bottom (thick end) to the top usually the stem will break into 4 somewhat even pieces if it doesn't turn the stem and repeat on the unbroken side once the stem is broken into 4 piece starting at the bottom work your finger up towards the top gently separate the fibers as you go you will have 2 pieces when you reach the top repeat with those pieces and now you have 4 taking one of the 4 pieces rub it between your palms like you would when making a worm out of play-dough it will get fuzzy, if the parts have a thick pithy part you will need to remove that before you rub the piece, the pithy parts make great fire tender stuff lining the bottom of a tinder basket (fire nest) any spark will catch its like natures Styrofoam since the piece is fuzzy you repeat with the other 3 piece take 2 of the pieces that are close to the same length and hold one end between the index finger and thumb of your non-primary hand twist with the primary hand until the section has a tighter form, sorta like taking yarn apart the pieces that remain once it has been unraveled repeat with the second piece Some people tie knots in the end of the pieces, some tie a knot then place the fibers over a nail head I just hold them between my thumb and index finger of my non-primary hand the section that is the farther away from that thumb is twisted and lifted over the other piece (initial piece is inside near thumb) the strand farther from the thumb is twisted and placed over the first one, this is continued until you add additional strands or tie the piece off this process makes a piece of 2 ply cordage one ply is the step just before twisting the 2 piece if you add additional pieces you can create large length of cord before we talk about the other types of cord.
Firenest made from Cedar, charcloth has taken a spark with a few soft breaths fire will be made in seconds.
Did I loose anyone horribly? in the basic preparation and construction?
How to make rope & twine from plant fibers E-Book

Twine from plant fibers is like making yarn yes but with a different fiber
QUESTION: cut the leaves off going with the grain?
Once twisted small fibers stick out if the cordage is uniform run the cordage through your lips allowing your saliva to moisten it at this point it can be wafted through a flame any flame and the cordage will be smooth it is better to peel or break them once the plant is dry (this applys to plants not to bark) human saliva is a wonderful thing. Saliva moistens things like plant fibers and animal part that allow them to be worked but yet retain their oils after drying water doesn't allow for that water in any form it strips the oils from fibers through evaporation porcupine quills especially there are more cordage plants than the ones I will talk about tonight, many plants actually all of them have a certain amount of fiber how strong, durable etc depends on the plant or tree Cordage can also be obtained from animals, tendons, ligatures and connective tissues will produce smaller lengths of a more durable cordage today we refer to this as sinew.
Most thistles (yeah those nasty spiney things that provide many a cool drink from the pockets formed by their leaves) have very long singular fibers these can be found between the leaves and are often slightly curved
PlantDoc: the best two being Milk and Blessed Thistle due to their height and thickness of their stem
the inner pulp of thistles is edible, yes even bull although they do become bitter as they age survival food yeah foraged food not unless your desperate but for cordage yes the thick leaves will keep other foods from burning when cooked on hot rocks or coal base pits/fires etc
there is a difference between survival foods and foraged foods if I have been running for a day, hot sweaty without support I will take the first edible I find, if however I am walking along at my pace I will gather the edibles that taste good have multiple uses and require little prep if milkweed is in pod, pods are edible and there are many in one patch I will gather 2-3 by the roots, eat some of the pods, allow the plant to dry, allow the leftover pods to dry (for wound care) when the stems are ready I make cordage never know when I might want to oh set a trap or tie a bunch of windfall cherries together or whatever I forage a lot while walking of course I never have enough pockets and gathering bags are cumbersome and are hard to skimmy up a rock face with
PlantDoc: Nettles (Uritica dioica) make great cordage their pitch even better fire tinker but they are also poisonous in their green state, however their stems remains through early summer sometimes and finding them in the winter is relatively easy, they are burgundy to brown in color allowing them to be seen easily even with snow on the ground I have dug through snow to get them if the spring is wet nettles will decompose quickly
PlantDoc: nettles are edible, and they are the best thing for any lactation problems for man or beast, animals will not eat them fresh due to the needles but once dried the needles evaporate and they will eat them allowing herbal medicine to be given to critters especially horses, donkey, cow, sheep, goat, chicken, duck and goat if mushed in with other things dogs and cats will eat it and kids too, nettles has more iron and vitamin C than most store bought fresh foods dry the leaves, crush, looks like parsley can be placed into any other soup stew pizza etc. When I said Urtica dioica (Stinging Nettles) were poisonous I was referring to those nasty microscopic thorns when the plant is green those needle urticate which means the plant stem give them a toss when something brushes up against them like a tarantula and other spiders with hair they toss little fine cilia at you nettles and spiders having a mild toxin that's what causes the rash the itching burning omg rash that appear immediately, once dried those needles evaporate along with the toxin once dried perfectly safe and high in nutrients, in poultice form they will draw even the most stubborn splinters combined with other plants make a good drawing poultice for stings and bites
Dogbane is another very common plant used for cordage, dogbane is also a bio-reclamator, (also called phytoreclamation) meaning they draw up hazardous waste into their stems, into the pith which can be dangerous to humans, if the dogbane is growing in a field there is less chance of man made poison but dogbane is not good to eat, in any way shape or form and it has no medicinal purpose dogbane will draw things like zinc, mercury and dioxins out of the soil and into them some areas like Love Canal have been reclamating the heavy metals while clearing up an environmental area keep in mind nettle rashes will not cause any lasting effects, jewelweed always grows nearby as do a few other plants that will take the itch/sting out
QUESTION: same as wild touch me not?
PlantDoc: Yes, Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis scientific name, ) is called Touch-me-not grow near moisture meaning edge of thicket/forest not plains plants like milkweed and thistles which are found in more dry locations like prairies and fields Jewelweed can have orange, yellow, or a mix of both flowers, they can be striped or spotted or have no markings at all.
PlantDoc: cold running water will work as well for nettle rash many trees have fibrous barks the best two being the two cedars, Thuja occidentalis Juniperus virginiana (see pictures posted above) Thuja is soft to the touch, Juniperus has sharp needles - ouchy,
PlantDoc: I used to play games with my cousins with the seed pods, see how many you could gather up in one hand before one popped and test our skills at knots by un-knotting their tendrils
PlantDoc: If you come across a downed tree, peel some bark it will either break (brittle) or peel (fibrous) if it peels give it a twist, if you feel fibers that would make cordage it will work, cedars are impervious to water making it great to make fish cairns cooling boxes (wood and cordage open spaced boxes for cooling fruits vegetables etc)
Grape is a vine not quite tree more than plant we talked about the high sap content (one stem the size of your finger will provide a safe drink) we know the inner "wood" is used to make baskets, furniture
PlantDoc: grape is a quick easy to make cordage option it is not very strong but can be made in minutes if needed it is light in color and will accept dye easily, it can be woven on a loom to increase its tinsel strength
Some of the desert plants including members of the agave family have very tough fibers along with moisture and edible pulp there are usually at least two uses for every plant tree lichen etc... most people only know one
QUESTION: you mention bindweed last time
PlantDoc: yes there are hundreds of plants that make cordage, bindweed is used as is, strip off the leaves and braid a lot of the vines can be used braided as cordage Virginia creeper is a common one as is runner bean those thick stems the beans are attached to can be used to hold drying cornstalks with
QUESTION: I believe you said earlier that you would provide some links to drying information? Will that be later?
Putting Food By and Stocking Up books
Both books list primitive and modern ways to can, dry and root cellar, instruction on butchering, making potash etc. both available in paperback but I use hard backs as they last longer have worn out 2 of each in my lifetime so far figure another 10 years I'll need another oneI dehydrate everything including eggs which are stored as powder for used in omelet in winter baking and other things like that you make fruit roll ups right? use bananas as the base add any other fruit home made fruit leathers are not as vividly colored but taste much better no sugar required used to be the 'fanner' when grandmother would make grape rolls, no electric so someone had to keep the flies off while the water evaporated lol modern conveniences gotta love them
QUESTION: How long will your dehydrated eggs last in storage? Say, in Mylar with an 02 absorber? Do you know of any sites that might have a chart of food/storage method/longevity?
PlantDoc: I have some that are a year old and still great, in Ziploc in glass jar in cool dark pantry (need a headlamp in my pantry and cold rooms no juice lol) I can find some for you, I have friends who own chats just for dehydrating after class I'll open the floor for discussion questions that would be useful will post links shortly after class and FemVet is our scribe, when she completes transcription it will be listed on the page as well
QUESTION: if a person with a low budget whom wants to acquire long term important survival and prep items. What would that person look at getting first ?
PlantDoc: what ever is available needs to be split between food-medicine and utility items (those types of items include safety-lighting-housing) if I have$20 dollars a month to spend I am going to purchase $5 of dried goods or staples beans, rice, sweetener etc. $5 of OTC medications like diphenhydramine Tylenol
what sort of medical items would be good for a beginner without much medical knowledge another $5 will go to items hard to get ammo for example or lamp oil/kerosene the last $5 with either be held onto for a large purchase such as a solar battery charger w/batteries or a solar shower etc in 6 months you will have accumulate about 3 moths for 4 people you vary the types of staples one month its dry goods next month its canned meats etc..
Lighting like an oil lamp or hurricane lamps (oil lamps with wire cages around the glass bulb) they will take more abuse
STATEMENT: i have a pressure cooker canner
Plantdoc: I can milk, egg drop soup, stew meat meat broth rabbit squirrel nuts just about anything mushrooms onion soup fish
QUESTION: so I've heard people talk about blow out kits are those important ?
PlantDoc: there is a quick clot bandage that is absorbent and easy to clean its a modern need to have but ask any EMT and they;ll tell you they don't like it sponge type isn't bad better than powder but you can manipulate the sponge better
QUESTION: won't ground cayenne work to quick clot?
PlantDoc: Yes but it hurts is better to blend a styptic using multiple substances like cayenne, puffball, yarrow, and milkweed or cattail to cover primitive living is not as hard once you know the difference
the difference is the knowing walk talk gather repeat while off to get a) you pick up b) c) and sometime all the way to z)
QUESTION: When we were young, much younger, we used to chew a plant we called 'rabbit tobaccie'(cuz wer southern). Have you ever heard of this plant? As I remember we used to get a little buzz when we chewed the leaves. It tasted pretty bad too.
PlantDoc: sounds like a member of the bergamot family aka oswego tea aka Rusticae
RESPONSE: smells OK sorty minty/citrusy?
PlantDoc: does your waccy bacy have with or blue or purple flowers
RESPONSE: I don't rightly remember but the leaves were thin and greyish green
PlantDoc: with points or not? if it is the plant I think it is it belongs to the everlasting family, no as mints including evergreen are soft fuzzy and soft lobed everlastings give us stuff like balm for lineaments, topical pain killers and such It grew about one foot high with probably 20 to 30 leaf branches, a pretty thick little bush that has flower stems about 5 inches above leaves lower leaves larger sorta formed a flat area around base?
RESPONSE: Never saw flowers and all leaves were pretty consistent in size and Kudzu is an awesome cordage plant
PlantDoc: that it is and taking more than you need is never frowned upon lol
Mother Nature's Emporium was my first book, its very detailed and some say rather dry lol Coast to Coast Survival Plants, one of my eBooks, contains about 20 plants that grow from coast to coast that are edible, medicinal and utilitarian plants, pictures and anecdotes about these plants. It is available from
I have taught for HTTP:// in Ohio I have also taught with Christopher Nyerges of CA The ability to learn the tricks of plant identification will not be of any use unless everyone can learn it like being able to identify black raspberry and blackberry in the winter raspberries are round black berry's are built like boxes, raspberry stems are round blackberry stems have corners
RESPONSE: i have lots of B-Berries
PlantDoc: dry em, freeze em can them best thing for vomiting and diarrhea
bacterial or viral causes hard to get people to swallow stuff that's nasty
Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra has a seed pod/seed that are edible yes stems sap inner bark is slightly toxic but large stems have a pith center and are long and straight once dried properly make good small game arrows smaller trees and saplings are very flexible, the sap is slightly insect repellant so tying them gently together will provide a sun/wind/rain break when they have leaves to me they smell somewhat like peanut butter, tea made from the red seed pod/hairy seeds can be used to clean wounds with very antiseptic also high in vitamin C sumacaide is what the scouts used to call it as it is easy to identify and use, is not permitted these days rules and all any plant or tree with a high V-C content can be made into a tea for cleaning wounds he tea is pink in color looks good tastes great as is a lot of people add sugar Poison Sumac, Toxicodendron vernix, is more like a vine, the leaves are not the same and it tends to grow like grape, as a parasite on other trees, shrubs and plants.
QUESTION: How do you test to make sure someone isn't allergic to the herb before giving it to them?
PlantDoc: you can place a piece of the fresh plant on the skin if it reddens or itches a reaction has occurred. I like the one at a time concept, use a little of one plant only the known safe ones, then add a new one allow a few days between new plants until you find out which ones are safe for you to use. if there are no problems there will most likely be no serious allergic reactions
when using plants for medicine they are NEVER Boiled boiling is a destructive process that releases many combinations of chemicals (like bleach and drain cleaner) boiling water is poured over them and allowed to steep covered is better if possible if not cloth works too only a few things are boiled barks for example, other than that there are very few that can be boiled safely
QUESTION: what about ferns...bracken fern and southern is the best way to eat them?
PlantDoc: early early spring when they are very young, Bracken fern, Pteridium aquiline, can be toxic to grazing animals, however they must consume about 3% of their body weight for it to be dangerous, and once it has grown above 3 inches its pretty fibrous, they tend to not eat it when other less tough plants are available, Southern Lady ferns, Athyrium asplenioides, have medicinal properties and the fronds are tighter meaning the individual leaflets are closer together, Southern Lady leaves are only edible when they are very young, Bracken fern can only be eaten before the leaflets open, they are tightly curled against the stem and that is THE ONLY TIME they can be eaten, they are occasionally called fiddleheads, (however some other ferns are also called by that name) Many conservatories, botantical gardens, parks and state parks offer free nature walks on edible, medicinal and utilitarian plants.
RESPONSE: problem here here its hard to find enough to eat deer and such get em first
PlantDoc: by spring we are a hungry bunch up here on the top lol most of the ground here is rock we have a creek but rock, rock and more rock lol our hearth stones were quarried here they are 5 feet by 3 feet by 4 feet provide the center foundation for this house
QUESTION: how do you store meat...or do you just eat it as you kill?
PlantDoc: a lot depends on how big the meat animal is, canned, dehydrated or frozen, brains for tanning, bones for marrow and bone meal for dogs sinew for bows yes the ligatures also snares, I live a primitive life I always have something to do lol
PlantDoc: spin, weave, crochet, forage, dry can tan feed/water, running cold water only one in one out wood heat propane stove electric 1940 era not dependable, have about 800 glass jars of home canned food from asparagus to zinnias lol (add herbs to the lot jar counts probably closer to 2 thousand) there are a few but they have some odd ideas of "living"
Questions: like no weapons
PlantDoc: that's not safe regardless of where you live, shoot a pencil can be a weapon in the right hands lol like mine disposable silverware, pieces of plastic a knuckle yeah ore a rockā€¦have to bend over to pick up rock leaves self in a vulnerable positions so what ever is at hand even hand if need be down in your neck of woods having strong upper body should be a prerequisite to living there boar and runaway bovines have to be able to swing self out of the way or climb I pop on in summer about 4 times a day intentionally to cool core temps force self to cool avoid problems related to heat
RESPONSE: it can go from 65 at 0500 to 98 by noon
PlantDoc: am grateful for the cool evenings winter times a whole different ballgame we have manual plumbing its indoors but requires human effort, the toilet bowl freezes when temps drop freezes anything on the floor in the kitchen had water sitting on oak table one night got up to frozen jugs of water next morning I turned off the small freezer no need to waste energy
QUESTION: so whats the secret to staying warm? layers and proper wood solar blankets on the on the windows the type of wood used is important to how hot how quick it gets hot etc.. I have two cast iron wood stove no fans in each side of the 1707 corbel fireplace traps heat from the sun on the inside even walking a short distance in frigid weather causes sweating, you take everything off and replace with dry inside clothes eliminates the chill wood and silk are important to have in such situations both retain heat even if they get wet or damp and at night to keep the heat in we drop down out door carpet (with the rubber on the out side) to trap the heat in I made inside the antique window shades using outdoor carpet the type that has the thick waterproof back cuts out any breeze and retains heat I made inside the antique window shades using outdoor carpet the type that has the thick waterproof back cuts out any breeze and retains heat inexpensive and very effective the density even provides a black out effect no light can penetrate it in the winter if you don't look at our chimney you might think we were in bed and quilts Capote (1740 wood coats here is a link to a free pattern for a capote, I skip the hood fringe gets caught on stuff like limbs, weeds etc. liners for sleeping bags can all be made from recycled wool clothing i made many quilts from men's wool dress slacks most out door carpet can be picked up as scrap from carpet stores real cheap wool cloth is what was used as rubber pants back in the day when cloth diapers were the norm

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PostSubject: Re: How to make cordage using wild plants Tuesday July 20, 2010   Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:50 pm

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PostSubject: Re: How to make cordage using wild plants Tuesday July 20, 2010   Tue Mar 29, 2011 5:17 pm

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