Native Americans made twine from hundreds of different plants. Two that were commonly used, dogbane and milkweed, are easy to find nearly anywhere in Missouri. Look for dogbane and milkweed in pastures, prairies, along roadsides, and even in vacant lots. Pinching a leaf off of one of these plants when the plant is still green will cause milky sap to seep from the wound.
Collect dogbane and milkweed stems in the fall, when the plants are brown, dry, and dormant. Cut off the stems a couple inches above the ground. This won’t hurt the plant. As long as you don’t pull its roots out of the ground, the plant will regrow the following spring.
Now that you know how to make twine, you can use it to make fishing line, rig up a snare, lash together branches to build a shelter, and all sorts of other useful things. To make rope, all you have to do is twist or braid together several strands of twine.
Angie Daly Morfeld
Nichole LeClair Terrill