Newsletter 7 Aug 2012

Eastern Gamagrass in blossom

Now’s the time to have your eye out for Eastern Gamagrass because it is blossoming and easy to spot. Look for clumps of large grass to six feet tall with what looks like little bits of golden rice hanging from three erect branches. Those are actually staminate flowers. Related to corn, Eastern Gamagrass is a nutritional powerhouse for a grass. It is some 27% protein and nearly twice as high in amino acids than corn. You can even pop the grain like pop corn though it pops more like Strawberry Popcorn. To read more about Eastern Gamagrass click here.

The invasive “Asian Clam”

IT MAKES ONE WONDER: One of the most common invasive species of freshwater mussel in North America is the “Asian Clam” which is really a freshwater mussel.  From its introduction in Washington State around 1930 — give or take a few years — it has spread across much of the United States. Here in Florida it is THE invasive bivalve. The good news is that it’s quite edible — why it was brought here in the first place — and the best tasting of all the fresh water mussels. One would think an invasive would not be regulated but no, the state restricts harvesting to those 1.5 inches or larger, which is past reproductive time and a size that is large for them. The state wants to get rid of it yet restricts its collection of it. That is two departments not knowing what the other is doing, I think. Or perhaps the fate of native mussels is so poor the invasive is needed to feed wildlife. To read about the Asian Clam and other fresh water mussels click here.

NEW ARTICLES POSTED: Musseling In; Peperomia; Eastern Gamagrass.

The light green fruit are edible, the dark green or black are not.

NOW IS DEFINITELY the time to be looking for Creeping Cucumbers. The most common  place to find them is growing on trimmed hedges, the kind you find around parking lots. Usually this time of year the two plants you will find on those hedges are either the Bitter Gourd, which is fruit heavily, or the Creeping Cucumber. Don’t mistake them. One is edible raw and is tasty, the other is usually bitter and must be cooked. By now many of the plants will not only have fat green cukelettes to harvest but black ones as well. Don’t eat the drank green or black ones. They are a powerful laxative. Take those home and plant the seeds. You want to eat medium to light green ones. To read more about the Creeping Cucumber click here.

We meet by the pool parking lot at the Jervey Gantt Recreation Complex

UPCOMING CLASSES: I’m out of town three days in a row this week then might take a couple of weeks off. Depending upon the fates there might be a couple of week’s break in the newsletter as well.

Friday, August 10th, Jervey Gantt Recreation Complex, 2390 SE 36th Ave., Ocala, FL, 34471, 9 a.m.

Saturday, August 11th, Boulware Springs Park, 7902 S. E. 15th St.,  Gainesville, FL, 32601. 9 a.m.

Sunday, August 12th, Florida State College,  11901 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville, FL, 32246 9 a.m.

Popcorn Trees are getting ready to pop

THE ANSWER IS I DON’T KNOW: The question is can you eat the white part of the Chinese Tallow Tree fruit, which is setting now. My good friend Maribou and I have looked into it. The fruit has two oils. The seed oil (from inside the seed) is toxic but has industrial uses. It’s the white saturated fat on the outside of the seed that is in question and gives rise to the tree’s common name Popcorn Tree. References say the white coating on the seeds should be edible. That would be quite a boon because an easy-to-get source of saturated vegetable fat is very desirable. The problem is I can’t get that fat to melt. I have heated bits of the white fat in a pan to only burn it. I have boiled resulting in no melting at all. We do know the Chinese of yesteryear did melt it. I wonder if steam would work? And how does one keep the external fat separate from the internal oil? Perhaps a chemist can drop me an email about some methods. To read more about the Chinese Tallow Tree click here.

THE GREEN DEANE FORUM is doing well. Please visit. The subsite of has been up for six months. To date it has 8234 posts in 1262 topics by 687 members. Most popular are the board to identify plants and building a permaculture house. Members range from downtown Bejinn China to London to Sydney Australia as well as local and North America. Good time had by all, an informative, clean site with a growing reference section. Here’s a link: GreenDeaneForum.

Bees under jet wing in Pittsburgh

WHAT’S THE BUZZ:  Once in Lake Woodruff  national wildlife refuge we heard a loud hum and looked up. A colony of bees were on the move about a yard above our heads, flying in a straight line. It took about a half-minute for the buzz-by. When a successful colony get too big part of them swarm off to find and make a new home. If we were ancient man we would have followed them to see where their new location was so we could raid it for future honey. Some bees in Pittsburgh found a new home this week under the wing of a passenger jet at the international airport. Workers came to fuel the plane for take off and found the bees had taken up residence. Bee keeper Stephen Repasky was called in and removed the swarm to his apiary. He took the above picture before collecting the little buzz-ards.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Mary Meyer August 7, 2012, 8:09 pm

    RE: your popcorn tree. Have you tried putting the fat in water and then simmering the brew in order to melt the fat? Just a thought.

    • Green Deane August 8, 2012, 10:02 pm

      Yes in the full article on my website I recount several ways to get it to melt.

  • Carol August 8, 2012, 12:17 am

    Enjoyed the article on the Creeping cucumber , being a Florida native i have sampled many plants in my life time and the creeping cucumber is just one of them, i wasn’t sure if it was eatable and usually haven’t eaten too many of the riper ones as they dont taste too good, like you say, overripe. One of my favorite wild plants is the Ground Cherry, i look for them along the road as i ride my bike and eat them when the fruit turns yellow, they are pretty good . Ok thanks again for this interesting site, I love it.

  • Chaz Mikell August 10, 2012, 2:45 pm

    Hi Deane,
    Just a curiosity I thought you might be interested in. I was watching TV when a Bell and Howell Solar Charger ad came on. A young woman was standing right in front of a Beauty Berrie bush in full ripe berrie regalia. I wonder if the actress or camera crew even knew what the plant was!

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