Newsletter 29 July 2014

Couscous is keeping a Bunya Bunya cone company. Photo by Green Deane

Ever vigilant, Couscous is keeping a small Bunya Bunya cone company company. Photo by Green Deane

Have you ever considered adding a hardhat to your foraging equipment? You would if you’ve seen the cones of a Bunya Bunya. Weighing from ten to 40 pounds they can kill if dropped from more than a few feet… and they are starting to drop.

Wars were stopped for the Bunya harvest. Photo by Green Deane

Wars were stopped for the Bunya Bunya harvest. Photo by Green Deane

Many authorities say the Bunya Bunya fruits only every three years but I know of one that definitely produced cones last year and has already dropped one this year. I think some botanical revision is called for. I am personally going to visit my Bunya Bunya hot spots to look for more cones. The payoff is a starchy kind-of-pine nut that is about the size of a chestnut. Last year I collected about 40 pounds of shelled nuts from two trees. They can be eaten raw or boiled but I like them roasted the best. To read more about the Bunya Bunya so you can find one near you go here.

Ganoderma, a medicinal mushroom.

Ganoderma, a medicinal mushroom.

Mushrooms are not the mainstay of EatTheWeeds which is why Green Deane has been taking classes in them these last three years — isn’t that called continuing education? Or glutton for punishment? Studying mushrooms is humbling. My goal is to not understand the entire fugal phantasm but rather a dozen or so that are reasonably easy to identify. One medicinal mushroom you might be interested in is the Ganoderma. I would add a species name but that is unsettled and fluctuating.  But locally it’s fairly easy to find the time of year. Found on or near oaks and pines it grows from the edge and can enclose grass, pine needles or small branches. As for its medicinal use that is beyond my herbalism pay grade but it’s the famous Reishi Mushroom which is touted to stimulate the immune system.

There is a second “Reishi” mushroom found locally, Ganoderma zonatum and is found palms, which it kills. But as it only grows on palms it is fairly easy to identify. These are “shelf” mushrooms usually growing on trees or roots of said. Note the shiny surface. For specific use consult your local herbalist. You can read about them in this past newsletter. 

Melbourne Village Community Hall.

Melbourne Village Community Hall.

The newsletter will disappear for a couple of weeks as Green Deane goes hiking and teaching in North Carolina for a fortnight. Perhaps a meet up can be arranged. That said four local classes are already scheduled for August: One in Winter Park on August 16th and one at a new location in Melbourne Village, August 17th. The good folks at Melbourne Village have tried to get me to hold a class there for quite a while. We will be walking around the small village and visiting some residential yards as well. It was only after a preview this weekend did I realize it is also where I have attended several folk dance events. I have danced away many weekends at their community center. My feet know the area now my weed-finding eyes will.  Whether we will meet at town hall or the community center has not been decided yet. August 23rd there will be a class at John Chestnut Park near Tampa and Sunday the 24th in Port Charlotte. For details go here.

Saturday, August 16th, Mead Garden,1500 S. Denning Dr., Winter Park, FL 32789, 9 a.m.

Sunday, August 17th, Melbourne Village, Melbourne FL, exact location to be announced, either the town hall or the community center. 9 a.m.

Saturday, August 23rd, John Chestnut State Park: 2200 East Lake Road, Palm Harbor, FL 34685, 9 a.m.

Sunday, August 24th, Bayshore Live Oak Park, 23000 Bayshore Rd., Port Charlotte, FL 33980, 9 a.m.

The tasty vegetable of the Latex Strangler Vine. Photo by Compagnia del Giardinaggio.

The tasty vegetable of the Latex Strangler Vine. Photo by Compagnia del Giardinaggio.

One way to increase the chances of finding wild edibles is knowing where to look. One plant that likes a particular spot also has a rather unfortunate name, Latex Strangler Vine. It’s a prime source of food locally and tastes like a zucchini-potato cross. It is also very high in vitamin C. When people ask me where to find it I say abandoned orange groves. This is because it threatened the citrus industry and the state of Florida spent a lot of money trying to control it. A long vine — technically a liana — it would cover citrus tress blocking their light, killing them. It can be found elsewhere but unattended groves and around them is a good place to look.

An old grove where you might find Laxtex Stranger Vine.

An old grove where you might find Laxtex Strangler Vine.

To that end I was riding my motorcycle home Sunday on Interstate 4 after teaching a class in Sarasota. I was just east of Plant City when I went crested an overpass. Off to my right I could see next to the highway a stand of dead trees planted with the precision of a grave yard. As I got closer and back down to ground level I noticed the tops of many trees were green. That of course is odd, to have the top of the trees green and the rest dead gray. Then I thought Latex Stranger Vine. As I passed at some 70 mph I glanced over and thought I saw some of last year’s fruit still on the vine. And that probably means new fruit this year. You want it when it is about the size of a tennis ball. I did not stop… no exit… and I am not 100% positive it is the strangler vine. But if anyone lives in the area it should be worth a visit. To the above right is an aerial picture of the grove. It is south of Frontage Road, west of exit 25. If you find some send a picture so it can be published here. To read more about the Latex Stranger Vine go here.

Green Deane Forum

Green Deane Forum

On the Green Deane Forum we post messages and pictures about foraging all year long. There’s also a UFO page, for Unidentified Flowering Objects so plants can be identified. Recent topics include: Morning Glory or Yam? Raising Quail for Eggs. Becoming Homeless. Catching Catfish Illegally. Usnea or Moss? Homemade Fire Pistons. Hay. Refined Potato Starch, and Linguistic Overdive (in the social lounge.) The link to join is on the right hand side of this page.


135 Eat The Weeds videos are available on DVDs.

My foraging videos do not include alligators but they do cover dozens of edible plants in North America. The set has nine DVD. Each DVD has 15 videos for 135 in all. Some of these videos are of better quality than my free ones on the Internet. They are the same videos but many people like to have their own copy. I burn and compile the sets myself so if you have any issues I handle it. There are no middle foragers. And I’m working on adding a tenth DVD. To learn more about the DVDs or to order them click here.

 To donate to the Green Deane Newsletter click here.


{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Audrey K July 29, 2014, 1:10 pm

    Dean, I love your kitty kitty picture picture.

    • Patty July 29, 2014, 4:24 pm

      Couscous? You’re kitty is making me hungry. Thanks for sharing and have a great trip!

  • RLM McWilliams July 30, 2014, 9:15 pm

    ‘Glutton for punishment’… lol! Yup, I’d say that must be it! Like you, our interest in mushrooms runs deep, but we stick to the easy to identify edibles, of which there are quite a few.

    Looking forward to meeting you and taking – or hosting – one of your classes one day. Speaking of which, what would it take to get you to come and teach a class at our acreage (woods, glens, overgrown meadow, pasture, marsh, and brookside areas included) in NH? How many people would need to sign up for the class, etc.

    Best regards!

  • farouk August 1, 2014, 4:48 pm

    29th July,2014 of this issue corresponds to the 2nd of three days of “Eid el Fitr” or Bayram celebration of Sudanese and Muslims in general – also 2nd “shawa’al 1435 “Higree” according to lunar Arabic calender. People breakfast “Ramadan” month of fasting. After sun rise in the first day and before saying the Eid prayers, people distribute “Zakat el Fitr – charity to the poor.Nowadays we feel happy by the advent of good rainy season. I’m also feeling happy to receive a useful guest though I may consider an intruder because of climbing the top of my 2nd door which I usually keep closed. Coming from my neighbour’s garden, and before climbing, my guest has been completely embracing a young poor date palm tree. Indeed having almost similar characteristics as what you have described for the Strangler Latex vine Morenia oderata , I’ve claimed this vine to be Cissum quadrangularis which is locally called “Sala’la”. How kind to spray us with some sort of mild jasmine fragrance activated with the humid breeze from the freshly formed greenish white blossoms. I must add that I’ve once used the latex to repair one of my leather cases. I should point to the mode of dispersal of this vine as I’ve noticed: once the fruit has become ripe and dry enough, the pod opens to allow for wind dispersal.

  • Jan Mixon August 3, 2014, 11:36 am

    I would love to have the videos, but much prefer a book, with info and pictures. Is this a possibility? I absolutely love your style, and the good you are doing all of us, your fans and admirers. I would be willing to pre-pay for a book if one is in the works. Keep up the good work, no matter the format. In my opinion you are a national treasure. Happy foraging.

    Jan Mixon, Arkansas, Texas border

  • farouk August 5, 2014, 4:44 pm

    At the beginning I should like to display my ignorance about mushrooms. Besides being fungophobic at my childhood, only a few periods have been allotted to the science syllabus during our study (1950s). Fungophobic – yes indeed because our parents used to advise on keeping away from such poisonous creatures found where litter was thrown and after heavy rainfall. Generally Sudanese do not consume mushrooms in food. It is only recently that the edible mushroom locally called “Aish el Gurab – meaning Crawl’s bread “ obtainable from special supermarkets and originally imported has been introduced due its high protenic content. Today in this early raining heavily morning, before me is a plastic pot where I’m attempting to grow a tea plant – Camellia sinensis. I can witness a tiny mushroom which has appeared suddenly and almost completely disappeared by the end of the day. I must say I’m using a mixed soil of vermiculite with granular red brick as a layer on top of Nile clay. I’m puzzled as from where I got the creature. To my poor knowledge I resorted to internet images for comparison which I know is far from the whole truth. As a brief description: beige colour, about 10mm. cap’s diameter, and about 15mm. stalk length. I assumed that to be Parasola plicatilis. By the way the vermiculite and tea seeds I’ve obtained from England. Finally I thank you for the positive and modest way of encouraging people to continue education throughout whole life. With regards to this let me refer to the holy verse which is the commencement of Koran – due to its utmost importance: “ Read in the name of your Lord who created. He created man from a clot. Read and your Lord is Most Honourable. Who taught ( to write ) with the pen. Has taught man what he knew not “ Another holy verse is worth mentioning: “Surely only the ones of his bondmen who are apprehensive of Allah are the knowledgeable(i.e. learned ones). “ Finally is it not also a good enspiring motto to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave?

  • Dave Gum August 18, 2014, 10:57 am

    I went by that grove off of I-4 near Plant City. I don’t think it was the Latex vine. The vines there were thin, brown, and had small heart shaped alternating leafs. But thanks for the heads up, plenty of other old groves around Polk County to look for the Latex.


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