Wilderness Survival / Primitive Skills/Plant Knowledge



I'm interested in learning all I can about my local plants. Mainly edible, medicinal, and utilitarian plants; but I would enjoy being able to name others too. How would you recommend going about this process? I am willing to do anything from taking notes and sketches, to taking pictures and uploading on answers.com

Perhaps you could recommend some books on the subject, or a good reference site with lots of pictures.

Thank you very much for your time. My apologies if this strays from your expertise.

Good Morning Christy.  The book that fits your needs exactly would be "Ancestral Plants" by Arthur Haines.  It is the first in a three volume series. While volume one is the only one in print so far, each volume details 100 of the most important plants for edible, medicinal, and utilitarian uses.  There are close up photos of each plants, traditiona uses, modern research when available, recipes, insrtuctions for medicinal and utilitarian uses and personal experiences written about each one.  Here is the link:  http://www.arthurhaines.com/ancestral_plants.html

I hope this helps.

Wilderness Survival / Primitive Skills

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Michael James Douglas


I can answer questions about wilderness survival, primitive skills, bushcraft, mentoring, outdoor education, nature, awareness and tracking. The subsets of these skill areas are vast and include Shelter Building, dressing for the out of doors, fiber arts, wild crafting, making cordage from plants, trees, and animal parts, flint knapping and stone tools, bone tool making, crafting and using hunting tools from the landscape, tracking, trailing, track interpretation, edible, medicinal, and utilitarian plants, trees, and shrubs, primitive pottery, fermentation, fungi for food and medicine, identifying hazards, movement, camouflage, and concealment, making baskets and containers, water gathering and purification, using bird language to read the landscape for survival needs and the movement/location of other living things on the landscape, primitive/modern navigation, fire making off the landscape, fire by friction, ice lenses, and approaches to survival atttude.


Student of Survival and Primitive Skills since 1980. Founded The Maine Primitive Skills School. Have been sharing and learning skills professionally since August 4, 1989. Studied with Tom Brown jr., Charles Worsham, Paul Rezendes, Jon Young, Mark Elbroch, Arnie Neptune, Ray Rietze, and all of the students, volunteers, interns, instructors, and staff at The Maine Primitive Skills School and the schools that have been started by its community. We go on full survival outings at least twice a year to build community and develop our skill sets. New instructors are allowed to bring a metal knife. These trips usually last between 5 and 10 days. We have also been weaving in permaculture and sustainable land management concepts at our main campus.

New England Environmental Educators Alliance Maine Environmental Educators Alliance

MAMLE-Middle Association of Middle Level Education Ancestral Plants-A Primitive Skills Guide to Important Edible, Medicinal, and Udeful Plants of the Northeast.

B.S. University of Maine, College of Education, Environmental Education USMC-Numerous military Survival Schools (SERE, JWS, Cold Weather) Tracker School (16 courses from 1989-2003) Kamana (Wilderness Awareness School) Paul Resendez (numerous Tracking Workshops)

Awards and Honors
Vigil Honor-BSA-1984 Primitive Skills in the Modern Classroom-1992 Volunteers of America Star Award-2002

Past/Present Clients
U.S. Military Unity College Bowdoin College Colby College Scouting Maine Conservation School 4H

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.