Plants Stems as Water Reservoirs: Silybum, Notobasis, Urtica, Foeniculum and Malva
[Silybum] and [Notobasis]
The two species resemble each other and are used in the same way. They differ in the color of their leaves and how flat they are (Figs. 4.8.1-4.8.2)., After peeling off their hard “skin”, young stems may function as a rich and tasty source of water (Fig. 4.8.3). They are very common in the rainy parts of the country on garbage heaps and on ruins. Circles of [Silybum] and [Notobasis] in areas of low-growing grass may indicate nests of harvesting ants (Figs. 4.8.4-4.8.5).
The taste of water in the young stems of [Urtica] species is regarded by many as especially “good”; several species are also known as having medicinal properties. The main problem in the [Urtica] species is their “stinging” hairs distributed all over the plant ([usefulplantsd6 Figs. 4.6.4-4.6.6]). To avoid stinging one’s hands, cut the plant close to the ground and move the hands from the lower to the upper parts. This damages the hairs and they do not sting. The stem’s skin is peeled off and the inner soft part of the stem may be chewed to supply the tasty water it contains.
[Malva parviflora] and [Lavatera cretica]
These plants often form carpets on sites rich with droppings ([usefulplantsd6 Figs. 4.6.1-4.6.3]). Young stems and petioles may be juicy and tasty (Figs 4.8.6-4.8.8), thus supplying the hiker with water. This mallow also grows in desert areas.
During the winter and spring months, and at the beginning of summer, the peeled stems, young leaves and petioles of the spontaneous fennel (Figs. 4.8.9-4.8.11) can provide a good source of tasty water when chewed. There are populations of this plant in the Negev Highlands as well.