Native Americans have long used desert plants for both food and medicine. For example, the Pima Nation used various concoctions of Desert Thornapple to make analgesics, earache remedies, eye washes and poultices to draw out pus from boils and sores.
Edible parts of a desert plant typically include its seedpods, flowers or cactus paddles.
The pincushion cactus can be used as a water source. Just pry off the top of the cactus with a rock and then drink the water within.
Many desert plants have medicinal uses. For example, the pulp from the pad of a prickly pear cactus can be used as a salve to heal wounds.
Jojoba seeds produce oil that is a great natural skin care medium and can be used to create many homemade products. The leaves of the Mormon tea plant contain a small dose of pseudoephedrine, which means it can treat congestion and respiratory conditions.
Mesquite (seed pods) prickly pear cactus (the fruit and cactus pads) are both edible; the mesquite's seed pods can be ground into flour and prickly pear cactus paddles are good either boiled or grilled. Both plants have properties that help stabilize blood sugar. Agave in syrup form is often used as an alternative sweetener; the flowers are sweet and can be cooked and eaten.
Article Written By Susan Berg
Based in northern Wisconsin, Susan Berg has more than 10 years of experience as a writer and editor. Her work has been published in both print and online media, including the "Dayton Daily News" and BioZine. Berg earned a Master of Arts in journalism from Indiana University.