August is a hot month. Foraging falls off, class attendance is down, folks are on vacation in cooler climes. I usually spend a couple of weeks in North Carolina rummaging around. But August can be an extremely productive foraging month. Locally you should be able to find many things during your foraging treasure hunt. Grapes are ripening, both single tendril and forked tendril. Simpson Stoppers are still fruiting here and there as are Pindo Palms (the wine started two weeks ago is coming along nicely.) The American Beautyberry is happily coming into it’s own with bunches of magenta berries, and, as mentioned in last week’s newsletter, be on the look out for Horsemint, its pink bracts and preference for sandy, dry locations makes it an easy find.
And while they are not yet ripe it’s easy to spot Saw Palmetto berries and Persimmons (both are still green.) The Saw Palmetto berries will go from green to gold (see photo right) then to black though they will probably be poached before they turn black because they can be used medicinally when green. The Persimmons won’t be edible until around mid-October or so and then the best ones are those you have to fight the ants for. No frost is needed. Now is also a time to be looking for Hackberries aka Sugarberries, some are almost ripe but September is their better season. The tree’s green pea-sized fruit will turn to burnt orange in color. Crunchy. Black Gum fruit — currently green — won’t be ripen ’til fall and even then it is gawd-awful bad. But Black Gum fruit is edible but you’re hungry, desperate and have a lot of sugar.
In my native state of Maine grapes and apples were still unripe in August but blueberries were abundant. Because of wide-spread acidic soil one could easily find 120- acres blueberry fields like the one at left. They were “lined off” with string into rows for blueberry rakers. Like digging clams blueberrying was backbreaking work and they always missed a few. So after the fields were raked we’d go pick our fill. We also had high bush blueberries, wonderful 12-foot high spreading shrubs that liked to grow among ledges and rock fences. It was also a time to find Milkweed pods in the pastures. Unfortunately our various species of milkweed pods here in Florida are not edible.
Upcoming Foraging Classes:
Saturday, Aug 27th, George LeStrange Preserve, 4911 Ralls Road, Fort Pierce, FL, 34981. 9 a.m. (This class is cancelled because of a tropical rainy weather this weekend.)
Sunday, Aug. 28th, Dreher Park, 1200 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach, FL, 33405. 9 a.m. (This class is cancelled because of a tropical rainy weather this weekend.)
Saturday, Sept 10th, Red Bug Slough Preserve, 5200 Beneva Road, Sarasota, FL, 34233. 9 a.m.
Sunday, Sept. 11th, Bayshore Live Oak Park, 2200 East Lake Road, Port Charlotte, FL. 9 a.m.
For more information about the foraging 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 in 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 gift for that forager you know. 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? 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 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. You can join the forum by clicking on the button on the upper right hand side of this page.
If you are interested in edible or medicinal mushrooms there have been reports of Chanterelles (I harvested some of those myself) and quite a few edible Lactarius. Boletes are also producing but their edibility is more trial and error but fortunately there are no deadly members of the group. From the medicinal point of view I have also been seeing a lot of Ganoderma zonatum, our local Reishis that likes to kill palms. Whether are various species of Ganodermas are as good as the ones sold in herbal shops is a hot debate.
This is Newsletter 222. As next Tuesday is the fifth Tuesday of the month the newsletter will take a week off and resume in September.