For preppers, your land will play a significant role in assuring you and your family will be fine when the SHTF. While nuts and fruits from trees can be blessings when food is scarce, their usefulness extends well beyond that.
Trees can be grown as protection for your property and serve as natural fences to pen animals or discourage trespassers. Their wood provides fuel and materials for building everything from structures to bins.
Some trees can be processed into medicine, soap (no ash required), and glue. Other still provide materials for baskets and rope. Some of the top trees used by preppers are below:
Soap Berry Tree (Sapindus saponaria): There’s no ash required to make soap out of this tree. Instead, it drops golden berries, which can be boiled to make soap after their black seed is removed. While this variety grows in the southern United States, there is a Northern variety suitable for colder climates as well as Old World varieties for other continents.
American Basswood (Tila americana): The wood of this tree is preferred for hand carving, being soft, but easy to rot. The tree’s best use is for making cordage. You can peel incredibly strong fibers right off young branches and weave them to create a very durable rope. As a bonus, the leaves of this tree are edible.
Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera): In its home-range, in Texas and surrounding areas, the Osage Orange has been used as a hedge tree. Its grows strong and short, prevents soil erosion, and blocks wind magnificently. Its rot resistant wood is often used for more traditional fence posts, but it is full of knots and hard to work. As a tough wood, it burns well too. Although the green fruits smell wonderfully, DO NOT eat them.
Booth’s Willow (Salix boothii): Willow bark contains salacin, a kind of aspirin. Pain relief is as simple as chewing on the bark or brewing a tea from it. When willow bark peels in the spring and summer, you can also make cord from it and baskets from weaving its leaves. If you’re looking for a tree to survive disasters, Booth’s Willow is tolerant of both floods and wildfire. In particular, it will prevent erosion along rivers. There are literally hundreds of varieties of willows, so you’re sure to find one that fits your conditions — even in the arctic.
Eastern Hawthorn (Crataegus aestivalis): Young Hawthorns can be trained to grow into a fence, and their thorns make any such fence unappealing to humans and animals alike. The fruits of most hawthorns, called haws or mayhaws, are edible and often made into jams. Though the tree is used in herbal medicine, especially for heart disease, no consensus has yet been reached in the medical community as to its use or dosage.
White Pine (Pinus strobus): The quick-growing pine famously provides a lot of firewood and is easy to start burning, but there’s so much more you can get out of this tree. All pine sap can be collected, boiled, and mixed with ash to make a strong glue. Pine needles, when soft, are great insulation in shelters or beds. You can also brew a tea with the young needles that is very rich in vitamin A and C. The tea is a great way to prevent scurvy if you’ve run out of fruit. Avoid making tea from Ponderosa pine, Australian pine, or Norfolk Island pine, as some studies have linked it to difficulties for pregnant women. White pine is simply the most available and easiest to identify in the United States.
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum): Any maple can be tapped for syrup, but the sugar maple has the highest concentration of the sweet stuff. While it requires a lot of boiling, sources of sugar will be invaluable after SHTF. What’s even more useful is the sap flows best at the most precarious time of year: early spring. If you’re low on calories or water this time of year, you can drink the sap straight. Maple wood is also great as building material and cooking fuel.