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Water from plants

By Peter Steyn (Adventure Tribe)

Please note:
This information should be seen as informative and educational (although it has been applied in survival situations) no liability whatsoever will be accepted from usage of this information, which does not have the desired outcome.

We all need to consume about two liters of water per day to have our bodies functioning optimal. Summertime is hot and humid and more fluids need to be consumed. Water is the most important element in survival, even more important than food.

Some facts about water
Water’s main function in our bodies is to transport nutrients to and from cells, as well as the transport of waste products from cells. Body fluids are lost in the following ways:

• Secretion of waste (+/- 50%)
• From lungs whilst breathing (+/- 33%)
• Sweating to maintain normal body temperature (+/-16%)

The way water in the body works can be explained on the hand of a canvas water bag and a glass of water. Water in the canvas bag is colder than in the glass, because water constantly seeps through the bag and evaporate. The escaping water needs heat energy to evaporate; this energy comes from the immediate surroundings. About 70% of body mass is water, 20% can be lost and you may still live, after 20% loss, physical and mental functioning may be impaired. This may amount to about 45 liters of water. Roughly 30 litres is inside the cells and about 15 litres outside. The 15 litres is again divided into 12 litres of tissue fluid and 3 litres of plasma.

To maintain a body water balance the daily body loss of water must be compensated for by an intake of water equal to that which the body has lost. Should the body gain an excess of water it will become over-hydrated. Conversely, should the body not be compensated by an equal amount of water to that which it has lost, dehydration will occur?

There are no fluids that can act as a substitute for water.

The body’s intake of water is initiated and controlled by a sensation known as thirst.
Water should be drunk in small sips rather than large quantities at a time.

Some animals are extremely dependent on water, game which are dependent are:
Baboons and monkeys
• Impala
• Waterbuck
• Buffalo
• Rhino
• Warthog
• Lion
• Leopard
• Elephant
• Hippo
• Zebra
• Bushbuck
• Bushpig

Water-bearing plants
More than half of a plant’s mass comes from water; some consists of more water than others do. Remember, plants cannot provide large quantities of water in short periods of time. If the plant has been identified the water can be consumed without purification, drink water from plants within 24 hours, as it may start to ferment. Some plants that can assist you are:

1 - Alo species
Water can be obtained from the leave. The interior of the leave contain much water if it is chewed, getting to it can be a problem, as just beneath the leaf’s surface lies a bitter layer, and it is this layer which protects it from being eaten by wild animals.
2 - Depa creeper (Renja & Redza)
This is a vine, which has long strong, dark green, leafless stem and grows to a height of 10 metres. The stem has a figure-of-eight shape, looking almost as though two stems have grown together. Its fruits are small and red, also does it holds a good supply of water. The vines are found among rocks and along watercourses. Water is extracted by cutting the vine as high up as possible (water move downward in the vine), cut the vine then at ground level. The whole length can then be cut into pieces, place all the pieces in container as water would start to drip from them. A good measure to remember is that about 200cm can give you +/- 500ml of water. At midday the most of the water moves through the vine.
3 - Horned cucumber
This is a trailing annual with many branches, which spread and often take root at the nodes. The stems are light green, hairy and have tendrils protruding from leaf joints. The leaves have three to five dull green lobes, the biggest being the center lobe. The texture of the leaf is rough and coarse. Flowers are light yellow, the fruits are oval and covered in thick pointed spines. It is light green and when ripe turns bright orange. This is a good source of water as well as food. It can be eaten raw or roasted and the new leaves boiled as spinach.
4 - Bitter lemon
A spreading annual with stems, a khaki colour growing about two metres long. The leaves are dull green with hairs on the veins. The flowers have different colours, the male being greenish on the outside, and pale yellow on the inside. The fruit varies in shape and size but is usually oval, pale green mottled or striped. The flesh is reddish pink, sometimes light green or yellow. The value of this fruit lies in that it comprises 90% of water and remains fresh for a very long time.
5 - Ilala palm
This is a single or multi-stemmed tree, which can grow to a height of 20 meters with its branches and foliage crowning the top of the tree. The stem is fibrous and has distinctive gray rings from old growth. The leaves are large, fan-shaped and can grow to two metres in length from a thorny stalk. The tree can be tapped for their sap; each tree can produce about 60 litres. To tap, an incision has to be made just below the growing tip, the sap will flow from this incision, after a time the sap will harden and form a scar which has to be removed to get the sap flowing.
5 - Mother-in-law’s tongue
This plant is common in most gardens; The plant consists of lang leaves growing upwards, with a distinguished green and white-yellow striping, the root can be chewed for its water content. Beware not to swallow the fibers.
Other plants of importance are the maroela, ’kremetart’ and tsamma. The y will be discussed in future articles.
Try some water from the mentioned plants, this will help you to work efficiently when the real situation requires your skill and knowledge.

One very important piece of advice all should remember in a surviving situation, is not what food to eat or where to obtain water, but one’s attitude and the will to survive. This should be paramount. Remember that we are only but custodians in nature.

Adventure greetings until next time



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