Make like a tree and leaf

Until his mid-twenties, my Dad slept on what’s called a Shuck Bed. This is a mattress stuffed with dried corn husks. He recalls it being a little lumpy, but functional. It hasn’t been very long since people used natural vegetation insulation for sleeping purposes.

Our last Afternoon Alert was about survival hacks you can accomplish with leaves. There are so many uses, the topic deserves another installment. The Shuck Bed is not the only thing leaves can be used for……

Have you ever thought of leaf roof shingles? Large leaves from plants like burdock and skunk cabbage can be used to shingle a lean-to in a matter of minutes. Leafy branches can be used the same way. Remember to start from the bottom and work your way up, just like you would shingle a house. This overlapping pattern prevents rain from seeping through.

With a little creativity, you can use leaves to direct and harvest water. Rain water is the easiest form of fresh drinking water in the wild if you can get enough of it. Arranging leaves to harvest rain can gather exponentially more if you do it right. Look at them as nature’s little mini-tarps.

From plates to bowls, leaves can be repurposed in all types of different functional ways. I use basswood leaves for plates and napkins all the time. They’re edible, durable and environmentally safe! 

And lettuce not forget the most obvious use for leaves; food! I can’t even list all the wild plant leaves that are edible. I’ve eaten leaves raw, baked, roasted, dried and often use them as wraps instead of tortillas.

One of my favorite wild meals is shredded bluegill mixed with yellow wood sorrel and wrapped in basswood leaves. I also love young basswood leaves, dandelion greens and wood sorrel mixed in a salad with a little olive oil and vinegar. 

Do you have any secret survival hacks using leaves?

Remember, we’re all in this together,

Derek Paulson

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