Wednesday, June 23, 2021
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Monthly Archives: September 2015

When Thursdays, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM | September 17, 24 & October 1, 8
Where Trackers Earth Portland | 4617 SE Milwaukie Ave (main parking area)

In September & October Trackers instructors will collect fibers during our Thursday Skills Evenings. Also, consider joining our Skills Evenings ($5 entry) where you can learn different skills such as fire with no matches or weaving. Or you can loose arrows in the archery range.

Trackers loves to teach making cordage (rope) from natural fibers in our camps and programs. The uses for this rope are essential and includes wild craft projects, shelter building, bowstrings and much more. In an effort to use more local sources, we invite our community to responsibly gather plant materials to bring into our first annual Fiber Drive!

Many of these plants are often pruned and thrown out while landscaping. Some might grow in your own backyard. Consider harvesting to share with our students. We really appreciate the gift! Above all, put caring for the plant and the natural world first.

How-to Harvest

During the fiber drive, drop-off is outside in our main parking area (Thursdays). Below you’ll find descriptions of the different fiber plants we’re looking for. Along with helpful hints for caretaking and harvesting.

By Moriori (Originally uploaded to Wikipedia, here.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Modification cropped and contrast.


The best yucca leaves for fiber are the largest, longest ones. Harvest from the outside, these are the oldest. Only take a few to not stress the plant. Cut at the base of the leaf at a downward angle away from the plant with a sharp knife or pair of scissors (follow knife safety). If your yucca bloomed and seeded this year, you can collect the dry seed pods to start new ones! Also, feel free to bring in the any flower stalks that are straight and sturdy (we use these for hand drills—tools for fire with no matches). Learn more about Yucca.


By Emőke Dénes (WWT London Wetland Centre). Modified cropped and contrast.

New Zealand Flax

This fiber rich plant can grow to be very large and is cared for in a different way than yucca. Many people thin the leaves of their flax plants by identifying older leaves and removing them. Very old leaves start to yellow and should be removed first (although the fiber inside may be compromised at this point). Identifying a new fan of leaves and only harvesting the outside leaves, leaving the three tallest middle leaves of this fan, is another way to thin. Never harvest from a plant with a developing a flowering stalk as it will cause too much stress. Learn more about fiber from New Zealand Flax.

Stinging Nettle

A great time to harvest stinging nettle for fiber is after it’s produced its seeds (for food is at a different time). At this point, it’s beginning to transition the energy into its roots or rhizomes for Fall and Winter. Stinging nettle has little micro needles that can cause a sting (irritating but not dangerous). Make sure you wear gloves and clothing that protect your skin while harvesting. Use a knife or pair of sharp scissors and cut the stalk at the base, just above the ground. Remove the leaves, which are full of nutrients, and let them fertilize the land where you harvested, or put the leaves in your garden compost. Learn more about Stinging Nettle.