Newsletter 28 June 2016

Yellow American Lotus can be very prolific covering an entire pond. Photo by Green Deane

Yellow American Lotus can be very prolific covering an entire pond. Photo by Green Deane

Yellow ponds, that’s how I think of it, or in some places yellow rivers. That’s because American Lotus is in blossom.

Shower-nozzel seed pod with seeds inside. Photo by Green Deane

Shower-nozzle seed pod with seeds inside. Photo by Green Deane

The first time I saw a small lake of these blossoms was when an old dry lake was deepened for a housing development. The next spring suddenly what was for decades a dry lake was full of American Lotus blossoms. This is because the seeds can stay viable some 400 years, or so the experts report. Talk about a survival food! There are multiple edible parts on the American Lotus but I prefer the seeds. I also think when collecting by hand in person they proved the most calories for the amount of work. The roots are edible but that can be a messy, laborious job. Locally they are easy to find now. Just look for a lake with large yellow blossoms on long stems. Further north and west they are a favorite sight on rivers such as the Mississippi. To read more about the American Lotus go here.

Ground cherries ripen to a rich gold color and sweet flavor with a tang of tartness.

Ground cherries ripen to a rich gold color and sweet flavor with a tang of tartness.

Another yellow edible this time of year but in a very different environment are Ground Cherries. These tomatillo relatives often have two seasons, now and later in starting around September. Some argue they fruit for several months which may be true but I tend to find them before summer and after summer. Ground Cherries have a sweet-tart flavor that is occasionally slightly bitter. Strongly bitter fruit I would not eat raw. I would cook those then try them. There are numerous species throughout most of North America and several locally. We have wide leaves ones inland and skinny leafed ones on the short. There’s a great variety and you have to fight the woodland creatures for them. They know good food when they taste it. You can read about Ground Cherries here.

Field Testing Edibles

Field Testing Edibles

One of the reasons I do not teach “field testing” is that it does not protect you from some of the most deadly plants in North America. They can pass the test nor does it protect you from less acute plants which over time can cause damage, often to the liver or kidneys. Many writers assume if one does not get sick in a few hours or days the plant is edible. That can get you sick or even dead. To that end I am often asked about various plants in the Richardia genus.

Florida Pusley is not edible.

Florida Pusley is not edible.

If a plant does not cause acute illness then judging when it might make you ill is difficult to say. It might take months of consumption (or perhaps with something like canned fiddlehead ferns, years.) One of those possible plants is Florida Purley, aka Richardia scabra. I do know of a couple people who ate a leaf and had no problem. They mistook it for chickweed. I know of someone who ate several leaves at once and had gastrointestinal distress. And the roots are reportedly an emetic. More telling is that we have little information about how if at all it was used by Native Americans. That is often a clue it is a plant to avoid, at least from a food point of view. If a plant is not in the ethnobotanical literature either the natives didn’t use it, we didn’t ask, or they didn’t tell us. It is best to stick we plants that we know for certain were used for food.

Classes are held in sunshine and rain.

Classes are held in sunshine and rain.

Upcoming Foraging Classes: 

Sunday, July 3rd, Blanchard Park, 10501 Jay Blanchard Trail, Orlando, FL 32817, 9 a.m. Meet next to the tennis courts.

Sunday, July 10th, Red Bug Slough Preserve, 5200 Beneva Road, Sarasota, FL, 34233.  9 a.m.

Sunday, July 17th, Wickham Park: 2500 Parkway Drive, Melbourne, FL 32935-2335, 9 a.m. Meet at the dog park inside the park.

Sunday, July 24th, Bayshore Live Oak Park, 2200 East Lake Road, Port Charlotte, FL. 9 a.m. We meet at the parking lot across the street from Ganyard Road.

To learn more about the foraging classes, go here. 

If you read the Green Deane Forum you'd know what these edibles were. Photo by Green Deane

If you read the Green Deane Forum you’d know what these edibles were. Photo by Green Deane

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: Apple-Like Fruit, Pink-White Flowers At The Nodes, Field Plant, Woodland Perennial, Frilly Pink Blossom, Hopefully Groundnut. Bane of my Efforts. Tiny Hypericum. Snake Boots, Unidentified Cane Plant, Small Green, Scrub Jays!,  Type of Magnolia, Water-Loving Weed, Piper auritum, the tropical sassafras. New Mystery. Aesculus pavia. Bull Thistle? What A Waste. Like a Viola. Viola Bicolor and Urban Lawn Weed.   You can join the forum by clicking on the button on the upper right hand side of this page.

The nine-DVD set has 135 videos.

The nine-DVD set has 135 videos.

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.

This is Newsletter 213. We are trying to recover from Hostgator seven missing newsletter from April and June.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • lisa lewis June 28, 2016, 3:29 pm

    Hi Dr Deane

    Oh, my! I have been using Pusley in my salads for a few months. I researched from online photos and thought for sure it was Chickweed. It grew rich and green next to my lettuce and so much easier to grow I started using it in place of the lettuce. I love it and now am sorry to hear it might be a problem…..

    Reply
    • Green Deane June 28, 2016, 4:43 pm

      Well… the point is there is no long-term information about it, so it might be fine. But it is not in the literature.

      Reply
  • Chaz Mikell June 28, 2016, 5:15 pm

    Just a word and a question about purslane. I have a good-sized vegetable garden and I pull a lot of weeds. However, I let purslane have its way and it becomes a great edible ground cover and adds to my harvest considerably. I have noticed that where the purslane is thick, other weeds are almost non-existent. I wonder if this is because the purslane shades out other weeds, or if their is a chemical release from the plant that inhibits other plant growth in its area. Vegetable plants @ tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, etc., Do not seem to be affected in any way. Do you have any clues?

    Reply
    • Green Deane June 29, 2016, 8:26 am

      I have not heard of it chemically discouraging other plants but it might be a water/nutriment hog.

      Reply
  • Michael McMillon June 29, 2016, 7:56 am

    In the late 50s and early 60s we use to pull it and feed it to pigs and chickens. These animals were not long lived though. Five years max for the pigs.

    Reply
  • farouk June 30, 2016, 4:10 am

    As soon as I watched the image of the squirrel, and bearing in mind what you’ve mentioned about the woodland creatures, there came to my mind the analogy of experimenting new medicines on guinea pigs before applying to humans. This analogy of testing may not be completely true specially on considering the fact that suitable animals competing with man may not be present in the field of the concerned plant species. However, it is left to others to think over it. Thank you for the great work.

    Reply

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