Newsletter 20 June 2017

by Green Deane

Hairy Cow Peas are related to Mung Beans and Black-eyed Peas. Photo by Green Deane

Hairy Cowpea sounds like a crusty character out of an Old West novel. What it actually is a small pea that likes to live near water.

The blossom is the preferred edible. Photo by Green Deane

The plant’s choice of location had always been curious. It’s not found in water (unless there’s a flood or the like.) Conversely it also does not grow (naturally) away from water. It is truly riparian… down by the river side, or pond side or lake side. For a long time I knew only that the blossoms were edible (the Pea family can be iffy.) Later I learned that the peas actually have a good amount of protein. The young pods and peas are also edible raw and then later the seeds cooked (which resemble their mung beans relatives.) As one might expect the blossoms have a pea- or bean-like flavor. Hairy Cow pea has a long season and blossoms continuously. You can read about it here.

Only eat the orange part of the fruit. Photo by Green Deane

Still fruiting is the Paper Mulberry. We found quite a few fruit this past weekend in a foraging class in Jacksonville. Interestingly the Paper Mulberry is a temperate forest tree and apparently needs a certain amount of chill hours to fruit. I’ve seen them fruiting in Ocala and Jacksonville but not fruiting on any of the trees here in Central Florida. The fruit itself does not travel well. It’s best eaten where you find it. The tree used to be in the same genus as regular mulberries but then was farmed out. Like some Suriname Cherries spied this year the Paper Mulberry seems to be extending the season a little. Young leaves are edible cooked but have a texture issue. You can read about the tree here.

Grassleaf Lettuce, always on the bitter side. Photo by Green Deane

Wild Lettuce is also flourishing. While it sounds like a nice edible Wild Lettuce tends to be bitter and says bitter even after cooking. There are numerous species of lettuce and they can be a bit of a trial to identify. Locally there are five species of Lactuca but I only see four regularly: L. canadensis, L. floridana, L. graminifolia, and L. serriola. The less spied is L. intybacea. Sap color, blossom color, leaf shape, and in one case stiff hairs on the leaf helps you sort out which one you’ve got. Wide leaf, beige sap, yellow blossom is Canadensis. Wild leaf, white sap, blue blossom is Floridana. Wide leaf, white sap and hairs so stiff on the under leaf you can run you thumbnail along them and make a sound, Serriola. Very long skinny leaf, sap white, blue/light purple blossoms Graminifolia. Lastly there is a well-hyped Wild Lettuce that the Internet crowd believes is mild altering — L. virosa — but is really very mild and more likely to give you a good night sleep. It has been used as a diuretic, laxative and sedative. Eaten to excess — really huge amounts — it can cause agitation, irritate various bodily systems, and while you’re sick induce a hallucination or two. You can read about the Wild Lettuce here.

Classes are held rain or shine.

FORAGING CLASSES: Had two fun classes this past weekend in Jacksonville and Orlando. This Sunday the class is in West Palm Beach, the land of few frosts and more tropical plants. Also notice a new location for a class the end of July in Leesburg and also a rare class in Ft. Pierce.

Sunday, June 25th, Dreher Park, 1200 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach, 33405., 9 a.m.

Saturday, July 1st., Spruce Creek Park, 6250 Ridgewood Ave. Port Orange, 32127. 9 a.m.

Sunday, July 2nd, John Chestnut County Park: 2200 East Lake Road, Palm Harbor, FL 34685.

Saturday, July 8th, Blanchard Park, 10501 Jay Blanchard Trail, Orlando, FL 32817. 9 a.m. Meet at the covered picnic table, east side of the tennis courts near the YMCA building.

Sunday, July 9th, George LeStrange Preserve, 4911 Ralls Road, Fort Pierce, FL, 34981, 9 a.m. It’s a nice location but without running water or formal bathrooms. Never crowded.

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.

Saturday, July 22nd, Florida State College,  south campus, 11901 Beach Blvd.,  Jacksonville, 32246. 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.)

To read more about the foraging classes go here. 

This pretty plant is toxic. You would know that 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.

Roundup resistant Palmer Amaranth in Soy Beans

We eat weeds. And many of the weeds we eat are threats to commercial crops. In fact most people who study botany — some 90% — end up working for government agencies combatting weeds, many of them edible. Not long ago I noticed eight of the top ten invasive weeds in Kentucky were edible. In Australia they have invented — literally — an alternative to herbicides. It’s a machine the pulverizes weed seeds among them Wild Radish, Barnyard Grass and Palmer Amaranth, three edible weeds. This link takes you to an article on the new machine as well as a 20-minute video. The video clearly promotes the crop growers’ point of view. But in the process of telling their story there’s some interesting information about weeds, their influence, and their cost to agriculture. The goal overall is to use less herbicides. Other ways to raise food and other sources of food is not part of the strategy.

This is issue 262

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