Many people interested in foraging have a difficult time with the idea of picking something up off the ground and eating it. That’s what our ancestors did though admittedly it was a different time and many environments were different.
Perhaps it’s better to ask what wild edible and where? How about a ripe apple near a hiking trail along the Appalachian Trail? False Strawberries in your back yard which is also your cat’s litter box? What about a soft ripe persimmon on sand? Or dehydrated Sea Grapes or Dove Plums in grass? In foraging classes I regularly eat recently dehydrated Sea Grapes. As with where to forage — regarding road placement — what to pick up and where is best decided by common sense than mindless rules. Generally I don’t have much of a problem with tough-skinned or dried fruit on sand or dry surfaces. This is a current interest because the aforementioned Dove Plum, which really isn’t a “plum” is shedding fruit.
Dove Plum, also known as Pigeon Plum, is closely related to the Sea Grape and drops a lot of fruit that easily dehydrates naturally. However, unlike Sea Grapes, which are tasty fresh and dehydrated, the Dove Plum tastes better after he has been dehydrated (and or dehydrated and rehydrated.) Some fruit are good fresh and dried. Plums, apricots, and loquats are three good examples. Drying them changes the flavor but they are still good. Dove Plums are different. They are edible off the tree when plump and ripe but have an astringent taste. They taste better if they look like raisins (as are Smilax berries.) Dry Dove Plum fruit on the ground taste good like dried Sea Grapes. To read more abut the Dove Plum go here.
Another “plum” which is not really a plum is Tallow Plum. It’s an interesting shrub you can overlook often low-growing, if not hidden in the understory. One thing I have noticed is that virtually every Tallow Plum I have found has been along a trail or old road, which are transitions zones. All of them except in one location were low growing and never really got more than six feet high. Until recently I have only found this tasty fruit in coastal areas, that is with 20 miles or so of the coast. However I may have found one next to a bike trail mid-state (west of Orlando.) It looks like a good candidate so I will be watching for blossoms this spring. If so a 20-year quest to find this unusual thorny shrub inland will be over. Oddly it is fairly unknown in its native range but is reportedly a commercial fruit in other parts of the world. To read more about the Tallow Plum, go here.
It’s time to visit an old stand-by that encompasses a lot of confusion, the Yellow Pond Lily. The main headache is the genus of the plant, Nupha. There were obvious differences between Nupha species in North America (where they were consumed) and in Europe (where they were not.) But botanists just refused to recognize they were different species and called just about everything Nupha lutea or close variations. Fast forward 300 years or so and botanists finally began to sort out the species and I’m not sure they’re done. There is a hodgepodge of botanical names and at least eight variation. One report in the 1600’s that the root of the Yellow Pond Lilly is edible. I have never found that to be so. I have spent a lot of time raising the species, foraging the root of the species, and preparing the species’ root. It is always too bitter to eat. Why, then, do most foraging books say it is edible? Two possible answers: They are copying old information, and or they never tried to eat the root themselves. To read more about the Yellow Pond Lilly go here.
Next there is a little mustard mystery. Locally it’s the time of year for a variety of small members of the mustard family. There is one mustard I see from north central Florida to West Palm Beach (it is also scattered about the United States. I think it’s Sibara virginica aka Virginia Rock Cress. It’s a bit of a moot debate in that all members of the family are edible so if you can identify the genus the exact species is not necessary. Rock Cress reminds me of Swine Cress except their seeds are different shapes, small round seeds with the Swine Cress, long toothpick like seeds of Rock Cress. Their flavors are similar, however. To read more about many little mustards go here.
Foraging Classes: Except for hurricanes foraging classes usually are held as scheduled. We’re hungry when we are cold and wet so foraging classes are held when it is wet and when it is cold. Classes this weekend experienced mild weather. This coming weekend I am teaching at a private event. The weather for the class below is predicted to be mild.
Saturday January 28th, Red Bug Slough Preserve, 5200 Beneva Road, Sarasota, FL, 34233. 9 a.m.
To learn more about the classes, go here.
Now’s the time to make sure you have a place at the sixth Florida Herbal Conference in February. This will be my sixth year attending the festival teaching about wild edible plants. There will be many herbal teachers from around the state and nation. Featured keynote speakers are Deb Soule and Guido Mase. The conference’s numerous classes range from Clinical Herbalism to Garden Medicine. Recreational activities at the Lake Wales site include yoga, singing, drumming, and canoeing. Ms. Imani and Beautiful Chorus will provide music. A wide array of artisans and crafters will also have booths at the conference. Camping is included in registration, and indoor cabin lodging and weekend meal plans are also available. Proceeds of the conference will benefit United Plant Savers. Again, to read about and register 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 around the world 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 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.
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 slightly 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 DVDs 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. If that link is not working — there have been some site issues — you can use a donation link and email me your order and address.
This is Newsletter 241.
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