Foragers benefit from bad ideas. One of those is taking plants from one place on earth to another. We harvest and eat a lot of local plants that came from somewhere else. One of them is so far from home that it fruits in February.
The Silverthorn is native to Southeast Asia. It came to North America as an ornamental about 200 years ago. Early botanists were sure it would not become an invasive pest because they said the fruit were not nutritious for birds. Thus the birds would not eat them and spread the seeds around. The problem is no one told the birds that (and if birds did not spread the seeds around in Asia, what did?) In some areas the Silverthorn is an invasive species and forbidden. In other areas it is still sold as an ornamental. We call it tasty.
While the Silverthorn fruits around February now is the time to be looking for the shrub and blossoms. The bush hides the blossoms and they are a bit strange looking, if not futuristic. The four-petaled speckled blossom turns into a red jelly bean-like fruit with gold and silver speckles. They are bitter and sour until ripe. The shelled seed is also edible. Altogether the fruit is high in vitamin C, lycopene, and Omega 3 fatty acids. And that is a tasty treat in the middle of winter. To read more about the Silverthorn go here.
It is the time of year for Poor Man’s Peppergrass. While the mustard member is here all year it favors the cooler months. It can be found everywhere locally and will be in profusion for a few months. The most difficult thing about Peppergrass is that it always looks different in warmer climates. In northern areas it is a two-year plant and is either a basal rosette of leaves or a seeding flower spike. Because seasons are amorphous locally it can be in any stage any time. So you might find it low with big, wide leaves, or tall with skinny leaves. You just have to learn to recognize it in all of its growth stages. One constant theme is that is always tastes the same while green. To read more about Peppergrass click here.
Found a few sprigs of chickweed during a foraging class this past weekend. This was possible only because I knew exactly where it grows in the winter time (which is a good argument for roaming over a given area all the time so you learn to know its plants and patterns throughout the seasons.) What samples we did find were barely beyond sprout size, a couple of inches at best. It really does not get up and going and easy to find in abundance for another few weeks. You can read about Chickweed here. Two other seasonal species also to be on the lookout for are Swinecress and Stinging Nettles (our own Urtica.)
Upcoming Foraging Classes:
Sunday, Dec. 20th, Dreher Park, 1200 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach, FL, 33405, 9 a.m.
Sunday, January 17th, 2016, Mead Garden,1500 S. Denning Dr., Winter Park, FL 32789, 9 a.m.
To learn more about the classes go here.
All of Green Deane’s videos are 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 the newsletter. If you want to see the videos without ads and some ins lightly 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 Christmas or birthday gift. Individual videos 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.
Want to identify a plant? Perhaps you’re looking for a foraging reference? You might have a UFO, an Unidentified Flowering Object, you want identified. On the Green Deane Forum we — including Green Deane and others from around the world — chat about foraging all year. And it’s not just about warm-weather plants or just North American flora. Many nations share common weeds so there’s a lot to talk about, such as the one to the left. 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. Recent topics include: Wild Cucumber, Melothria Pendula, Edibility of Flowers From Landscape Hibiscus, Primitive Survival Class, Which Agave? Gallium or Carpetweed? Dichotomous Key: This made me smile, Foraging “For Real,” Spiky Fruits, Pine Cough Drops and Needles, Skullcap, Malodorous Plant? Another NJ Tree, Maypop? Roadside Plant, Unknown in Sudan, Please Help Identify, Preserving Prickly Pear Bounty, and Bearberry. You can join the forum by clicking on the button on the upper right hand side of this page.
And this Friday, December 18th, will be my fifth, free Urban Crawl, a foraging class held in downtown Winter Park. We meet at 10 a.m. in front of Panera’s, 329 N. Park Avenue (that’s on the north end of Park Avenue, NOT the south end.) There is free parking west of Panera’s in the parking garage, levels four and five. We wander around Winter Park stopping at about 2/3 the way for coffee and a bathroom break a the Winter Park Library. We’re usually done by 1 p.m. or so. No reservation necessary. Friday is expected to be rainy so dress accordingly.
This is newsletter 187.
To donate to the Green Deane Newsletter or website click here.