“What tree is that?” The answer was “I don’t know.” That’s something I don’t say as much as I used to but when you don’t know you don’t know. Fortunately a couple of people in the class did know: Tamarind.
We were in Dreher Park in West Palm Beach. That explained a lot as Tamarind, Tamarindus indica, is from warm Africa. Today it is commonly found in South Asia and Mexico. India is the world largest producer of the legume… hmmmm… pod. And the two trees were heavy with ripe pods. It was the first time over several years I was at the park at the right time to see them. Timing is often everything.
Tamarind’s nutritious pods are consumed raw and cooked and is one of the current flavor darling of many avant-garde restaurants. The flavor is distinctive, both sweet and sour. The tree itself is slow-growing and long- lived. Without the pods it’s just another pea tree, of which there are so many here in Florida. But the next time I’m asked “what tree is that” I’ll have an answer.
While on the topic topical I carried a couple of Sea Almond seedlings home with me from West Palm Beach. They won’t survive the winters here unless taken inside so I put them in moveable pots. As such I don’t think they’ll be much an invasive threat here. Two hundred miles to the south it’s a different story. Though an attractive edible it’s on the state’s hit list. The seeds float up from Central and South America and are a common beachcomber find. During class this last week we cracked several of the “almonds” and enjoyed the tasty seed inside. The unripened green seed pods are also reported as edible but I haven’t been able to make them so as of yet. Also called the Tropical Almond, to read more about the tree click here.
As a new disciple of recumbent biking I rode 30 miles on the West Orange Trail one morning last week taking pictures from a closer-to-the-ground perspective. While there was the usual foliated forest to see a couple of plants did stand out. One was a persimmon jumping the ripening season by three months. They usually don’t golden up locally until around October, which is also long before any frost. The other plant was the Silk Bay, Persea humilis. I have personally seen it growing only on the Central Florida Ridge. (Yes there is a Central Florida Ridge, low as it is. Interstate 4 travels along a good portion of it as do most of the disruptive sink holes.) Like two other relatives, P. palustris and P. borbonia, the leaves of P. humilis can be used like a bay leaf. What makes the Silk Bay striking, and easy to identify, are the back of the leaves: They are bronze-colored. To read more about the Bays go here. You can also read more about bike trip and pictures on the Facebook page: The Green Deane Machine.
Upcoming Foraging Classes:
Saturday, July 25th, Boulware Springs Park, 3420 SE 15th St., Gainesville, FL 32641 9 a.m.
Sunday, July 26th, Jervey Gantt Recreation Complex, 2390 SE 36th Ave., Ocala, FL, 34471, 9 a.m.
Saturday, August 1st, Wickham Park: 2500 Parkway Drive, Melbourne, FL 32935-2335, 9 a.m.
Saturday, August 8th, Bayshore Live Oak Park, 23000 Bayshore Rd., Port Charlotte, FL 33980, 9 a.m.
Saturday, August 29th, Mead Garden: 1500 S. Denning Dr., Winter Park, FL 32789, 9 a.m.
Saturday, September 5th, Colby-Alderman Park: 1099 Massachusetts Street, Cassadaga. Fla. 32706, 9 a.m.
To learn more about classes go here.
Need to identify a plant? Looking for a foraging reference? Maybe you have a UFO, an Unidentified Flowering Object, you want identified. On the Green Deane Forum we — including Green Deane — 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. There’s also more than weeds. The reference section has information for foraging around the world. There are articles on food preservation, and forgotten skills from making bows to fermenting food. There was a recent link to the newest list of edible insects. Recent topics include: Fern? Elderberry Blossoms. Edible Insect PDF. Eggs in the Hopper. Holes in Blackberry Leaves. Removing Urushiol (Poison Ivy.) Great Ragweed, Another NJ Tree, Tree South NJ, Cultivated Flowers, Pawpaws Almost Ripe, Cross Wine, Quite the Taproot, Venation is Plantago-esque, Sumac? Unknown Ornamental, Pipsissewa uses? Artemisia douglasiana, Smilax, Yet Another Vine, Is This Cilantro or some kind of nettle? Mulberries as far as the eye can see and Becoming a Wild Food Expert. You can join the forum by clicking on the button on the upper right hand side of this page.
Are the seasons changing? Whether there is global warming and whether it is man-made will probably be arguments we will hear for decades. But one thing seems to be so, and that is the seasons are changing though perhaps irrationally. Two plants come to mind. One is the Podocarpus, a common hedge plant locally. I used to be able to count on it having fruit in August. Now I can find it as early as June and as late as December. More shocking is Pellitory. It was a cold-season crop, much like stinging nettles. I would start looking for it around Thanksgiving and it would disappear around St. Patrick’s Day. Saturday, July 18th, I found some in West Palm Beach. Not only out of season, but in a warm area of the state. Then again, it was growing under a Banyan, the same tree I found Honey Mushrooms growing under about a month ago, again out of season. These might be normal variations or perhaps things are changing though the effects are a bit unusual. To read more about Pellitory go here.
This is newsletter #170. To subscribe to Green Deane’s weekly EatTheWeeds newsletter, go to the upper right side of this page.