Newsletter 11 July 2017

by Green Deane

Tallow Plums are sweet with a hint of tartness. Photo by Green Deane

Tallow plums, or Hog Plums, or whatever you choose to call them, are unusual. Large-seeded, sweet and tart when ripe, they like to grow in dry places. They are native to North America and a commercial fruit in other parts of the world. We know surprisingly little about them except they taste good. If you find several of them growing in one area, is it actually several different shrubs or are they all part of one clone? And are they non-parasitic or semi-parasitic, whatever that means? Do they need to leach off pines and oaks or can they live on their own? Botanist debate those issues.

Native to the Americas there are cultivated elsewhere. Photo by Green Deane

Sunday we found some almost ripe fruit in Ft. Pierce at the LaStrange Preserve. They were all low bushes, some not more than a branch but fruiting here and there nonetheless. If you go 150 mile north towards Titusville and the “Enchanted Forest” they are large, sprawling shrubs with long branches coated with fruit. You will note these are both coastal locations. The one plant I know of in the middle of the state has blossomed but has not put on fruit yet.

As a species the Tallow Plum is not flamboyant. Most of the year you would pass it by with barely a first glance. But with ping-pong sized bright yellow fruit it is much easier to spy. Now is the time to look for it. Locally it likes scrubby area with a lot of saw palmettos and sparse pines, dry and sandy with room to spread out. You can read more about the Tallow Plum here.

The False Roselle has edible tart leaves. Photo by Green Deane

Also responding to the warmer wetter weather is the False Roselle. To the eyes of anyone who looked at plants in a northern climate ones first guess on seeing the False Roselle is that it is a misplaced Red Maple. The resemblance is superficial but close enough to give one pause. Though I would not label the tree with a Pampered Chef epitaph but to me the leaves say “Salads and Stir Frys.) Its purple leaves — true purple, not the reddish green of the true Roselle — are tart and just rightly so. They go into salads well. More so, they take to quick vegetable-lush stir fries and do not lose their color or taste on cooking. It’s even a good tree to nibble on wherever you find it. (There’s one in Osteen FL we bicycle past and scrump a few leaves from.)

The blossoms are edible, too. Photo by Green Deane

The species, interestingly, is not long-lived, a few years at best like Elderberry. But it spreads easily and can be grown from seeds or better from shoots. Just cut off a few young branches, take off the lower leaves, put the stems in water and within a couple of weeks you will have well-rooted twigs to plant. In fact I over-winter some every year. A heavy frost or a light freeze will die them back to the roots. Young trees will come back in the spring, but often older plants won’t. So I raise a few in the winter to make sure I can restock in the summer. The blossoms are edible as well and a juice can be made from the caylexs. Red Maple are more iffy. Red Maple leaves are bitter but humans can eat a few of them. However, Red Maple leaves are deadly to horses and they will eat them. Keep your horses away from Red Maples. You can read about the False Roselle here.

Couscous is keeping a Bunya Bunya cone company. Photo by Green Deane

Is if fair or accurate to say the seasons are a little off this year? Sunday, during a foraging class in Ft. Pierce, we found Pellitory, a nice cucumbery weed normally seen in our winter, November to March, perhaps in deep shade in April. It was very out of season and nearly too old to taste but it was still here. Also totally ripe were native grapes, Vitis munsoniana. Dark purple and sweet this was perhaps the first time I have seen the native grapes ripen in July and in early July at that. I usually expect to see them from mid-August to mid-September or later. Then again, I saw a persimmon fruiting in January this year, quite unusual. It is also in August when I expect to find Bunya Bunya cones. As I know where there are a few of them I think I will inspect them early this week. Throughout the range persimmons are putting on fruit for this fall as are Pawpaws though the latter will ripen before the persimmons. Still fruiting in the northern area of the state and up earth are Paper Mulberries. One writer saw the fruit on the ground and wondered if they were fungi. I can see the connection. My advice was to “look up.” Sometimes Paper Mulberries are heavily ladened with fruit and other years will have just one or two fruit per branch.

Classes are held in sunshine and rain.

Foraging classes this week include Cassadaga — near Deland — and Sarasoata. Both are fun locations for different reasons. Colby-Alderman Park in Cassadaga used to be part of a resort a century or more ago. Since then the spring has dried up and the lake is mostly seasonal. One can see now walk a dry canal that connected two lakes for resort boating. The banks are covered with bamboo, left-over landscaping from earlier halcyon days. The park also has the dreaded Kudzu, Chanterelles in season, and edible yams growing wild.

Red Bug Slough in Sarasota is a preserve nestle among residential areas. Sometimes we wander into the local neighborhoods to look (unintentionally) edible landscaping. Red Bug Slough also has the aforementioned Tallow Plums. As for mushrooms there I have seen Gilled Boletes and other edible members of the Bolete group, specifically Gyroporus. Colby-Alderman is Saturday, Red Bug Slough Sunday. Don’t forget there is a rare class scheduled in Leesburg on the 23rd. I will also schedule a class at Haul Over Canal as soon as federal officials open the bridge there.

Saturday, July 15th, Colby-Alderman Park: 1099 Massachusetts Street, Cassadaga. Fla. 32706. 9 a.m.

Sunday July 16th, Red Bug Slough Preserve, 5200 Beneva Road, Sarasota, FL, 34233. 9 a.m.

Sunday, July 23rd, Sunday, Aug 21st.,  Venetian Gardens, 201 E. Dixie Ave, Leesburg, FL 34748, 9 a.m.  Meet in the parking lot between the pool and the lake. (The wading birds are quite friendly so if you like to feed them and take photos it’s an opportunity.)

Saturday July 29th, Bayshore Live Oak Park, Bayshore Drive. Port Charlotte. 9 a.m. Meet by the parking lot across from Ganyard St.

Sunday, July 30th, Dreher Park, 1200 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach, 33405, 9 a.m.

You can read more about the classes here. 

Do you know what these are? You would if you read the Green Deane Forum.

Want to identify a plant? Looking for a foraging reference? Do you have a UFO, an Unidentified Flowering Object you want identified? On the Green Deane Forum we chat about foraging all year. And it’s not just about warm-weather plants or just North American flora. Many nations around the world share common weeds so there’s a lot to talk about. There’s also more than weeds. The reference section has information for foraging around the world. There are also articles on food preservation, and forgotten skills from making bows to fermenting food. One special section is “From the Frightening Mail Bag” where we learn from people’s mistakes. You can join the forum by clicking on the button on the upper right hand side of this page.

The Nine-DVD set includes 135 videos.

All of Green Deane’s videos available for free on You Tube. They do have ads on them so every time you watch a Green Deane video I get a quarter of one cent. Four views, one cent. Not exactly a large money-maker but it helps pays for this newsletter. If you want to see the videos without ads and some in slightly better quality you can order the DVD set. It is nine DVDs with 15 videos on each.  Many people want their own copy of the videos or they have a slow service and its easier to order then to watch them on-line. They make a good gift for that forager you know. Individual DVDs can also be ordered. You can order them by clicking on the button on the top right of this page or you can go here.

This is issue 265

If you would like to donate to Eat The Weeds please click here.

On a personal note:  Also it is my annual time to look for a possible rental in southwest Florida. If you know of a small house, duplex, or mother-in-law cottage that will be available this fall please let me know. Two rooms and a kitchen is fine. Three bedroom and two baths are nice but too large for me and two cats. I can also trade out handyman maintenance and landscaping. Alternatively if you know of an RV for sale in reasonable condition that’s a possibility, too. Maybe it’s time to take Green Deane On The Road. 


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Oscar Ortiz July 18, 2017 at 11:00

Hi Mr. Dean. It is a pleasure finding you and your work. It’s even better to know we can meet in person. Are you going to offer a class in the Hillsborough/Pinellas area soon? Many many thanks!


Green Deane July 19, 2017 at 13:13

Yes, I have a class Aug. 5th (2017) at John Chestnut Park in Palm Harbor. Details are under “classes” on my main website, Eattheweeds dot com.


Nina July 12, 2017 at 14:46

I eat False Roselle in salads. I mix the leaves with Spanish Needles and Purslane, sprinkle with lemon juice and eat. Delicious and free.


farouk July 12, 2017 at 00:25

I’ve not yet witnessed any blossoms on my native grapes – may be they are different species . However, l hope with great expectations to see those within coming mid- august to mid – sept as mentioned. At present three cow peas ( black- eyed ) have freely climbed whatever on their way – even plants – and creeped extensively t o cover a wide area in my back garden. I can see some yellow characteristic small flowers as well as some developed longitudenal pods.


Lorenzo Casarez July 11, 2017 at 21:43

Hi will you please provide me with information regarding weeds in the west Texas, New Mexico border. Thank you.


Green Deane July 12, 2017 at 20:48

Delena Tull has a book on just that, Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest.


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