Part of your outdoor survival and self reliance education should include knowledge of plants. The learning, however, can be overwhelming, so much so that it can scare some people off from learning it all together. Fortunately, however, even just learning a few plant families can greatly increase your knowledge, even if you don’t know the specific plant. Many times, that’s all you need to help let you know if the plant is edible or not. I know, for instance, there are no known toxic plants in the mustard family, so if I can key it out, regardless of not knowing the plant, I know it is safe to eat.
The newer, colored version of “Botany in a Day” is a big departure from the original book, but still maintains the core knowledge, along with a few additions. This new expanded and color edition, makes it even easier for the neophyte to learn plants. Christopher Nyerges is quoted as saying, “If this book would have been around when I was learning, i would have learned everything in half the time”. And, you know, he’s right. I have other books on Botany, but this one really breaks it down in a format that helps key out quickly…. How quickly? How about this?
Every plant in the mustard Family has:
- 4 petals
- 6 stamen (4 long, 2 short)
With this new knowledge, just looking at a flower with four petals could lead you further into investigating whether it is in that family. If it turns out it is in the mustard family… The entire family is safe to eat! We’re talking; mustard, watercress, kale, radish, etc. In fact, Worldwide there are 375 genera and 3200 species. About 55 genera are found in North America. In other words, it doesn’t matter which species of mustard you find. As long as you have correctly identified it as a member of the Mustard family, then you can safely try it and see if you want it in your salad or not.
How about the Asteraceae?
The uniqueness of the Aster or Sunflower family is that what first seems to be a single large flower is actually a composite of many smaller flowers. Look closely at a sunflower in bloom, and you can see that there are hundreds of little flowers growing on a disk, each producing just one seed. Each “disk flower” has 5 tiny petals fused together, plus 5 stamens fused around a pistil with antennae-like stigmas. Look closely at the big “petals” that ring the outside of the flower head, and you will see that each petal is also a flower, called a “ray flower”, with it’s petals fused together and hanging to one side. Plants of the Aster family will have either disk flowers or ray flowers, or both. When the seeds are ripe and fall away, you are left with a pitted disk that looks strikingly like a little garden plot where all the tiny flowers were planted.
Still not convinced? How about this really quick video that will teach you a few families very easily .
This book, in my opinion, is worth every bit of money you spend on it, and certainly even more so with the new color edition.
Pick yours up today, you won’t regret it