Newsletter 18 April 2017

by Green Deane

Brackish-water Sea Blite reaching the height of its season. Photo by Green Deane

Green Sea Rocket growing along the dune into the distance. (The root is non-related debris.)

There were five of them, all fishing with lures on the inland waterway side of New Smyrna Beach. They didn’t catch anything. They went home empty-handed after driving some 60 miles to the beach. It demonstrated to me how estranged most people are from nature (even among those who defend it and “get back to lt.”) The fishermen were surrounded by food in that particular spot and simply could not see it. That spot is the southernmost parking lot on the New Smyrna Beach end of the Canaveral National Seashore Park.

Sea Grape and Spurge Nettle beside the dune roadway. Photo by Green Deane

One the east side of the barrier island at this location nudists gather. One could think of them as a close-knit community but no knit is more accurate. They take up most of the parking lots so if you want to look at plants in the area you have to arrive before the sunbathers. Among the species one can see is Sea Blite, Purslane, Spanish Needles, Ground Cherries, Peppergrass, two species of Sow Thistle, Canaveral Bean, Cherokee Beans, Sea Grapes, Cactus, Spurge Nettles, Agave, Yaupon Holly, some late season Pellitory, seasonal mustard on the beach, Railroad Vine, two kinds of seaweed, and a little further north some Goji Berries. Most of those species are within 100 feet of each other.

Upper right Seablite, lower right some late-season Pellitory, bottom left, common purslane.

The most vigorous and abundant species from our point of view was Sea Blite. This member of the Chenopodium group is my candidate for a commercial crop. I often get governmental requests for Glasswort seeds but never Sea Blite whereas the latter is a great food. Edible raw or cooked, it has a mild flavor and pleasant texture. It is salty from growing near brackish water but it will easily grow in your non-salty garden as well. The only drawback I can tell — besides its name — is that it’s a seasonal crop. But so, too, is most of the food found in our produce sections. I think it would be a very successful commercial crop. You can read about it here.

Sea Rocket like many “mustards” is very seasonal. Photo by Green Deane

There is another beach-side plant that should be mentioned — Sea Rocket — because it is in season now and very easy to find on the beach…. kind of…. We have three “Sea Rockets” on our shore and they look similar but all are edible. The most common one is Cakile edentula though our local version is supposedly C. lanceolate. Every time I find the plant on the beach in the right place it always looks more like the former than the latter. It — they — are one of a very few edibles you actually find growing in beach sand, usually between the wrack line and the dune. The flavor is actually mild and if you look carefully you can see the typical mustard flower. You can read about the sea-side mustards here.

Tide and wind was brining Sargassum seaweed ashore. Photo by Green Deane

While beach side one could not help but notice all the seaweed coming ashore. This can be good or bad. Seaweed is like any other edible: Best eaten when fresh. Thus seaweed deposited on the shore often lost its footing and has been dying as it floated along. Rotting seaweed also smells quite foul. That said some seaweeds not only grab the bottom but are also free-floating. Sargassum is one such genus. Since it does not have to be attached to be healthy or growing it is a floating seaweed that is usually alive when landing on the shore and is fine to harvest. (A lot got caught in my cast net.) Like most seaweed it’s an acquired taste but good for you. Besides Sargassum, Gracilaria was also available. I have five articles on seaweeds on the main site.

Pawpaws are easy to spot now.

There are other blossoms to be looking for now. In more than one recent newsletter I’ve mentioned you should be on the look out for Pawpaws in bloom. They are very conspicuous now. A large field in Volusia County is virtually covered with them. Unfortunately that entire unused large pasture is up for development. If they don’t build for a few months there should a lot of Pawpaws there. (For the locals that is the intersection of  U.S. 17-92 and Dirkson Road, east of 17-92 and south of Dirkson.  By the way the exact opposite side of the intersection, northwest quadrant, north of Dirkson, west of U.S. 17-92, is where you can find in the summer and fall a lot of Horse Mint ,  Monarda punctata.)

The entire Oxalis plant is edible.

As I trundled around parts of the state this past week it was easy to see Oxalis in blossom. We have two general groups, small natives with yellow flowers, and numerous non-natives with large leaves and pink blossoms. The pink ones are easy to see now. They are usually colonial and can make large swaths of dark green and pink. The non-natives have a stronger and more complex flavor than the natives and a slightly softer texture … less grassy than the natives. They are a very nice trailside nibble and always a hit in foraging classes. There were several specie to seen this past week during my foraging class in Cassadaga. To read more about the Oxalis go here.

Classes are held rain or shine.

Foraging Classes: Except for hurricanes foraging classes usually are held as scheduled. We’re hungry when we are cold and wet so foraging classes are held when it is wet, when it is cold, and when it’s hot.

Sunday, April 23rd, Florida State College, south campus, 11901 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville, 32246. 9 a.m. We will meet at building “D” next to the administration parking lot. This class will have several herbalists attending. If the plant gods are happy we might even find some ripe Paper Mulberry fruit.

Saturday, April 29th, Bayshore Live Oak Park, Bayshore Drive. Port Charlotte. 9 a.m. Meet at the parking lot at the intersection of Bayshore Road and Ganyard Street.

To read more about the foraging classes go here. 

Do you know what edible seaweed this is? 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.

Spring orders have started their annual  increase. All of Green Dane’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 253

(PS: There is something wrong with my Archive Page thus I can’t add any newsletters or new articles to the archives. This has been a Word Press problem since November. If anyone knows about pages that exist, can be called up but not  seen in admin mode please let me know.) 

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

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Tommy April 20, 2017 at 09:47

Thanks for helping mankind to care for and have more appreciation for this great provision given to us for our good.

Reply

farouk April 19, 2017 at 16:09

Will it be true to conclude that all those plants: Sea Blite, Purslane, Spanish Needle, etc. are the same we usally find inland and that we may be able to grow away from sea shore? I should like to point to a study ( yr.1913 ) on” Anatomical & Physiological Responses of Saua eda Orszk. Ex. Scop. Under Different Habitat Conditions ” J. Applied Sciences Research, Jan.2013. Comparing: Suaeda vera, Suaeda pruinosa, & Suaeda vermiculata. Moreover, I’ve across ” Matsuoka Wong ” a corporate lawyer who has turned to a professional forager. How lovely is FORAGING.

Reply

Karen Eaker April 18, 2017 at 20:14

Hi, I’ve been a forager all of my life. I started learning from my grandmother as soon as I could toddle picking poke, dock, and wild onions. I teach a class called “Eat Your Yard” in Dallas to my friends and classmates of my daughter. Glad to find your website.

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