My camera and I took a long walk today along a recreational path near where I'm staying, to scope out the potential wild foods for my week 5 action mission
to take advantage of the gift economy inherent in nature. I'm starting officially on Sunday, but I'm doing some experimentation already, because I'm so excited. However, today's walk was a bit depressing, as the path is afflicted with monoculture, and the aim of the landscapers seemed to have been "keep it boring". Trees, grass, and bark mulch mostly. I did find a wee little dock plant, which I didn't really know what it was, but took a picture of it, so I could look it up in a book when I got back and the book seems to have identified it as dock, which is highly edible, and very good for you, and quite tasty right now in the early Spring, so yay!
And I picked up some pine needle branches that had fallen off the tree in our recent storms, vaguely remembering that you can make a tea with the leaves. And when I got back, I looked up pine trees in one of my wild food books, and Tom Brown, in Tom Brown's guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants
had to say this:
There is a very special place in my heart for pines, especially the pitch pine. Pines have always been part of my life and are the first real trees I ever saw. I grew up in the Pine Barrens; the trees were my teachers, and the forests my home. Pines have fed me in times of famine and cared for me in sickness. They have given me shelter when there was none other about, and they make any survival situation easier.
And then he goes on to tell a wonderful story about his mentor, Apache elder Stalking Wolf, using pine for tea, pancakes, and epoxy.
So I made my tea! I boiled some water, cut the pine leaves, plopped them in the water, turned off the stove, and let them steep in the hot water for about ten minutes. The tea was very mild and tasted pretty much like the rest of my milder herbal teas, unlike what I was expecting. My guess is that there isn't really any food value in the tea, and any vitamin C that's reported to be in the needles is destroyed by the heating, but there may be some medicinal oils that stay in the tea, and it's a nice warm drink to have on a cold spring night, and I even used some rain water that I'd collected recently, so the wh*** mug of tea was wild! :-)
Pine tree to pine tea!