Description: These plants have large clusters of thick, fleshy leaves borne close to the
ground and surrounding a central stalk. The plants flower only once, then die. They produce
a massive flower stalk.
Habitat and Distribution: Agaves prefer dry, open areas. They are found throughout
Central America, the Caribbean, and parts of the western deserts of the United States and
Other Uses: Cut the huge flower stalk and collect the juice for drinking. Some species have
very fibrous leaves. Pound the leaves and remove the fibers for weaving and making ropes.
Most species have thick, sharp needles at the tips of the leaves. Use them for sewing or
making hacks. The sap of some species contains a chemical that makes the sap suitable for
use as a soap.
Description: Bamboos are woody grasses that grow up to 15 meters tall. The leaves are
grasslike and the stems are the familiar bamboo used in furniture and fishing poles.
Habitat and Distribution: Look for bamboo in warm, moist regions in open or jungle
country, in lowland, or on mountains. Bamboos are native to the Far East (Temperate and
Tropical zones) but have bean widely planted around the world.
Other Uses: Use the mature bamboo to build structures or to make containers, ladles,
spoons, and various other cooking utensils. Also use bamboo to make tools and weapons. You
can make a strong bow by splitting the bamboo and putting several pieces together.
Description: This tree has a single, narrow, tall trunk with a cluster of very large leaves
at the top. Each leaf may be over 6 meters long with over 100 pairs of leaflets.
Habitat and Distribution: Coconut palms are found throughout the tropics. They are
most abundant near coastal regions.
Other Uses: Use coconut oil to cook and to protect metal objects from corrosion. Also use
the oil to treat saltwater sores, sunburn, and dry skin. Use the oil in improvised torches.
Use the tree trunk as building material and the leaves as thatch. Hollow out the large stump
for use as a food container. The coconut husks are good flotation devices and the husk's fibers
are used to weave ropes and other items. Use the gauzelike fibers at the leaf bases as
strainers or use them to weave a bug net or to make a pad to use on wounds. The husk makes
a good abrasive. Dried husk fiber is an excellent tinder. A smoldering husk helps to repel
mosquitoes. Smoke caused by dripping coconut oil in a fire also repels mosquitoes. To render
coconut oil, put the coconut meat in the sun, heat it over a slow fire, or boil it in a pot of
water. Coconuts washed out to sea are a good source of fresh liquid for the sea survivor.
Description: The date palm is a tall, unbranched tree with a crown of huge, compound
leaves. Its fruit is yellow when ripe.
Habitat and Distribution: This tree grows in arid semitropical regions. It is native to
North Africa and the Middle East but has been planted in the arid semitropics in other parts
of the world.
Other Uses: The trunks provide valuable building material in desert regions where few
other treelike plants are found. The leaves are durable and you can use them for thatching
and as weaving material. The base of the leaves resembles coarse cloth that you can use for
scrubbing and cleaning.
Description: This tree has alternate, simple, often lobed leaves with rough surfaces. Its
fruits are blue or black and many seeded.
Habitat and Distribution: Mulberry trees are found in forests, along roadsides, and in
abandoned fields in Temperate and Tropical Zones of North America, South America, Europe,
Asia, and Africa.
Other Uses: You can shred the inner bark of the tree and use it to make twine or cord.
The Alder tree, found in areas in Europe, has many uses and no
known hazards. This deciduous tree grows near lakes, streams and
wet areas in woods. It's in leaf from March to November and in
flower from March to April. It's seeds ripen from September to
November. This tree is noted to attract wildlife but has no known
The Alder tree is an excellent plant to help re-establish woodlands
because of its fast growth rate and toleration of poor soils. Once
other trees grow, the Alder will die out because its seed don't grow
well in shade.
Its powdered bark has been used as and ingredient in toothpaste
and sticks of bark chewed as tooth cleaners. Ink and tawny-red dye
can also be obtained from the bark. Other colors of dye can be
obtained from other parts of the tree like the catkins and fresh
The wood of the tree is very easy to work with and fairly light. It's
very durable in water and elastic. It's also been used in situations
where it has to remain underwater. Alder tree wood has been used
for furniture, pencils, bowls, woodcuts, clogs, and more.