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It already looks like the heat and drought will break some records this summer. The hotter it gets, the easier it is for us to succumb to dehydration in the outdoors. This makes every drop of water an important commodity. And it makes the skill of gathering water from plants look a lot more practical.

So which plants produce the biggest water payout?

Berries
Edible berries can be a great source of clean drinking water, and that water has added benefits. The sugar, vitamins and minerals from fresh-squeezed berry juice make it a good stand-in for drinks like Gatorade. You might be thinking that it would be just as good to eat the berries for hydration, but you’re not thinking the whole process through. All those seeds and skins will have to leave your system sometime, and that is going to cost you some water. But the berry juice alone will give you hydration and nutrients with no significant solids for your body to process.

To make your “survival Kool-Aid”, pile some blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries in the middle of a cloth or clean bandana; twist up the cloth; squeeze your berry juice into a container; and enjoy.

Grapevines
Grapevines (of the genus Vitis) can yield water throughout the late spring and early summer months. Cut small vines about one inch in diameter a few feet above ground and they’ll drip water for some time. Cut a notch in larger vines and they will gush water. Just be sure to make a positive ID of the vine.

Thistle
The thistle plants (of the genera Cirsium and Carduus) have some water in their stems prior to the budding of their flowers. Carefully cut the stem from the plant when it’s about a foot tall. Then cautiously shave off the spines with your knife. The stem can be eaten like celery; or chewed with just the juice being swallowed. You’ll know it if you missed a thistle spine.

Good luck getting something to drink out there, and remember that it’s better to bring water with you than to simply hope you will find some.

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