Jack In The Pulpit are strange plants. They’re listed amongst the edible species but that’s barely, and they readily change sex. After reproducing they become males and do nothing but hang out on the forest floor drinking sunlight and making starch. When enough is collected for reproduction they become females… It’s not a species that does much dating. We saw some during a foraging class in Jacksonville this past weekend. To read more about Jacks you can go here.
Perhaps the “Seasons In The Sun” are changing and I don’t mean the song. Some common plant schedules are off this year. Pellitory, a plant rarely seen locally after St. Patricks Day can still be found fresh in shade. In the past I have occasionally seen Pellitory in deep shade in mid-April. But to find some young and fresh in June is quite the surprise. Another plant that is surprising is Podocarpus. I start looking for ripe fruit around August sometimes as late as September. This is early June and I have found some ripe fruit.
One or two species that are confounding the seasons are our Juniper trees, wrongly called the Eastern Red Cedar and Southern Cedar. Six months ago in the northern part of the state on Amelia Island I think virtually every tree was heavy with juniper “berries.” Locally there was noting until this past weekend mid-state where I saw some trees heavy with berries (actually cones) that have not had them for several years. A few extremes do not a pattern make, but it time they might and that might suggest the weather is indeed changing. I know the weather bureau has been dramatically wrong this past nine months on predictions of rain, both for and against. Weather predictions are in part based on the past but if patterns are changing then the predictions will be less accurate.
If you could choose one wild plant to become a commercial product, what would it be?If you could choose one wild plant to become a commercial product, what would it be?
Many people have tried to make poke weed (Phytolacca americana) a green in your local grocery but toxicity and the required two-boilings have always plagued its commercialization. The ground nut (Apios americana) was one of the original exports from colonial America but it has at least a two-year growth cycle. Louisiana State University (1984-96) developed a commercial variety but the program disappeared when the professor-in-charge, Bill Blackmon, changed colleges. In 1962 Professor Julia Morton of the University of Miami recommended Spanish Needles (Bidens pilosa) become a commercial product. A half a century later that hasn’t happened, perhaps because of flavor or the fact it can grow almost anywhere as a weed. My candidate would be Suaeda linearis, Seablite, and if I could figure out how to do it I would.
Seablite has everything going for it except perhaps for its name. It’s mild but tasty, has excellent texture, can be eaten raw or cooked though cooked is the usual way. It’s nutritious, stores well, looks good, easily grows in salty ground (read unused land) and even feels good to handle. About the only downside, for me, is that I have to drive about 60 miles to get some. I need to introduce it to my garden.
Think of Seablite as a Chinopodium that likes to grow in salty places, either near the ocean or salt licks. It has a high sodium content but boiling reduces that significantly. If you live anywhere near the ocean or inland salty areas, now and the next few months is the time to go looking for seablite and seepweeds.
What Do You See 15 is courtesy of Pascal Baudar. The topic was the difficulty of picking out young edibles and identifying them. In this picture there are three common edibles species, one edible after cooking, and one very deadly plant whether you cook it or not. Can you see them? The answers will be here next week or you can see them in the Green Deane Forum now.
What you see 14 is a Bacopa family reunion. Number 1 is Water Hyssop (Bacopa monnieri ) and 2 is Lemon Bacopa (Bacopa caroliniana.) I have issues with both. The second is called Lemon Bacopa but it clearly smells more like lime then lemons. It makes a nice tea. It is listed as “frequent” but I have found it only twice in some 30 years. I must not be frequenting the frequent places. And there are actually three bitter Bacopas, the B. monnieri, and B. innominata and B. repens. They are sorted by the number of leaf veins but B. monnieri seems to be the one I see the most often. The bitter Bacopa is a memory aid and is used in herbal medicine. Some of you also spotted a dollarweed in the mix, #3.
Upcoming foraging classes:
Saturday, June 14th, Boulware Springs Park, 3420 SE 15th St., Gainesville, FL 32641, 9 a.m.
Sunday, June 15th, Jervey Gantt Recreation Complex, 2390 SE 36th Ave., Ocala, FL, 34471, 9 a.m.
Sunday, June 22nd, Dreher Park, 1200 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach, 33405, 9 a.m.
Sunday, June 29th, Bayshore Live Oak Park, 23000 Bayshore Rd., Port Charlotte, FL 33980, 9 a.m.
For more information about upcoming classes go here.
My foraging videos do not include alligators but they do cover dozens of edible plants in North America. The set has nine DVD. Each DVD has 15 videos for 135 in all. Some of these videos are of better quality than my free ones on the Internet. They are the same videos but many people like to have their own copy. I burn and compile the sets myself so if you have any issues I handle it. There are no middle foragers. And I’m working on adding a tenth DVD. To learn more about the DVDs or to order them click here.
On the Green Deane Forum we post messages and pictures about foraging all year long. There’s also a UFO page, for Unidentified Flowering Objects so plants can be identified. Recent topics include:Recent topics include: Sugar Pine Chewing Gum, Making my own Camphor, Bee Balm, What Is Your Favorite Flower To Eat? What Prunus? Deadly Poison Hemlock, Elderflower Class, Mulberry, Protecting Pawpaws from Pilfering, and Lemon Curd with a Chocolate Earthworm Crust. The link to join is on the right hand side of this page.
There was no newsletter June 3rd and this letter is shorter and less edited because of the activities of a would-be hacker. Hopefully thing will be back to normal by next week’s newsletter.