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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wild edibles, a walk around my yard

David Goodman recently posted the edibles that he spotted in a 2 block walk.

Fun reading... got me feeling inspired to post something similar...
What food could I spot (growing wild) in a walk around my yard?

First a disclaimer:
Trying to survive on wild food is hard. It's a neat fantasy to think about heading off into the unknown with nothing, but finding enough to eat will be problematic. On Survivor, they get rice and beans to eat...
Plan on losing a lot of weight if you go on the wild edibles diet... matter of fact, consider reading up on the Donner party

How about the cat?
No... In a survival situation, you might consider accepting those gifts from the cat... My last cat used to bring rabbits to me... In fact... this cat and me were recently sitting back in my outdoor dining area, when I noticed her paying very close attention to something...

I'm used to having watch cats, I know what their signals mean... I went over to the cat to observe the thing she saw... There was a herd of deer in my front yard... If Ida had a gun in hand, I coulda had dinner.
So... don't eat the cat...

In spite of popular belief... cats know how to hunt in cooperation and... my cats know that deer is prey... In my previous garden, I'd drag in a nice fresh road kill and while I hunted up a sharp knife, and a bucket of cold water, the cats would get started on the carcass... I don't have pictures of that... wish I did... it was funny.

Well lookie here!
If you reach in with a stick, knock the nest loose, the wasp will go away... and then you can eat those morsels wrapped in paper.

Found a grasshopper!
If it was good enough for John the Baptist,  oughta be good enough for any good Christian... Should make us feel positively spiritual eating a nice meal of honey roasted grasshoppers...

* I've heard that the black n red ones may not be safe... In a survival situation, it's better to err on the side of caution, rather than get sick.

 This is sorrel (rumex sp)
You eat the leaves. They have kind of a sour taste... some people call them sour weed... as they graze .

Wood sorrel (Oxalis corniculata) another plant with sour tasting leaves... Maybe not as sour as sorrel...

Signs of deer... They browsed this sassafrass sapling.
You can dig sassafrass for the roots, and make home-made root beer... But the part I use is the leaves.
I like to grill with them, placing a few leaves over the critter I'm grilling... Or I'll add a coupla leaves to a pot of stew.
Down in New Orleans, they dry the leaves, and then run them through a blender... And use the resulting powder in their gumbo... They call it file'.


More deer sign... Boy, I could totally go for some fresh Bambi...

Gopher tortoise hole... Nope... can't eat the turtle either... they're rare and endangered... gotta protect our turtles...
Gopher tortoise is considered a "key stone" species... Remove them from the environment, and lose a lot of other animals that depend on the turtles...

Hmmm... What about those little berries?
Naw... They're poison oak.

Now these red ones... They may look like poison ivy... but they're not!
These are from fragrant sumac. The berries can be used  to make a kind of lemonade beverage.

Here's last years berries on smooth sumac, I trust most people are familiar with this type.

This beautiful wildflower is not something you should get too close to without proper gear.
Cnidoscolus stimulosus or 7 minute itch. Accidentally brush up against this pest, and you will be scratching... for longer than 7 minutes, unless you restrain yourself... It may take 5 or ten minutes of stinging, but eventually the sensation leaves... unless you scratch...

Turn the tables on this pest by digging it's root...


Dewberry... berries aren't quite ripe... need to come back in a few days...
 Smilax... Eat the tips fresh, or cook like asparagus
Smilax tuber. I've read that you could pulverize this tater, and soak it in water... and then after a day, pour the water off... and use the little bit of starch accumulated in the bottom of the bowl... Lotta work for not much product...
Last winter, I was rinsing my hash-browned taters before frying them. I accumulated a good bit of starch in the bottom of the bowl... It dried after pouring the water off, and looked just like the corn starch that you purchase commercially... tasted the same too... so... this might be worth attempting... next time I wanna make gravy or a sauce...

Passionflower vines... no blooms, no fruit... not even caterpillars... gonna have to come back later.

Hmmm... Buckeyes.
The Native Americans used to pulverize the nuts, and scatter them over the stream, and it made the fish easy to catch.
The confederate doctors used to use buckeye as an opium substitute during the blockade...
Better not eat these...
Spiderwort... a bunch of it...
There wasn't any spiderwort on the property when I got here, but it's certainly taken to the place... I even saw it across the property line... Spiderwort is a native, and belongs here, I'm  not sorry to see increasing... When it stops raining, I suspect that there will be a lot less of it... the deer eat it, it prefers a wetter location...

I haven't tried eating spiderwort, I'm creeped out by the mucilaginous qualities.

Green Deane offers these suggestions for prep
Leaves raw in salads —green tasting — leaves cooked in soups, stews, omelets, Spiderwort stalks cook well like asparagus.  Flowers in salads, or candied.  Doesn’t grow rank as season progresses.

Might be I should try eating this bounty...

Violets
Everybody talks about the edibility of violets... Euell Gibbons is said to have called them Mother Nature's vitamin pill... 

Another plant that I haven't tried to eat, bamboo... Gotta catch this at the right time, though... edibility window closes quicker than asparagus!

 I've eaten daylily roots, taste like mild radish.

Too late with the mahonia... all those 'grapes' have disappeared. I find mahonia berries disappointing, you can only pick a couple a day... they don't ripen as a group, but they taste ok.

Nopales
The pads are said to be tasty fried with eggs... the fruit is said to be edible, but I haven't figured out a way to safely enjoy it. 
Narrow leaf plantain... (plantago aristata) Apparently you can eat the young leaves... looks too late for that...
Still can gather the seeds to eat...

Yaupon holly... coffee substitute.
Yaupon holly is said to be the only caffeine containing plant in North America... Toast the leaves, brew coffee-like beverage. Those stories about drunken Indians hallucinating on caffeine after drinking black drink? I don't believe them...  Trip on caffeine? How?

Wild sweet potato
I don't believe I want to eat this... said to be barely edible... The voles leave it alone... can't be good...

Farkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum) flowers
No fruit, need to come back in the Autumn.

The persimmons aren't ripe yet either.
Need to come back in the Autumn... if I can pick them before the possums...

No beauty berries either. The beauty berries are ripe in late summer... The leaves may be used as a mosquito repellent.
Ground cherries soon...

Smart weed
May be used as a condiment...

Soldago odora... leaves taste like licorice... sometimes you crave the taste of something sweet, especially when you aren't able to go down to the store for candy.

 Dog fennel... I used to add the tips to my salads... right up until I googled edibility...
apparently... you shouldn't eat dog fennel... But you can continue to use it for mosquito repellent.


Now... a few of the better known edibles...
 Evening primrose... I cook the greens like spinach and the root like a tater. Usually in the winter...

 Lambsquarter, cook like spinach or eat raw... the tips of the plant can be enjoyed through late summer... until blooming commences.
Wild lettuce, the growing tips are the edible part.

Elephant garlic... I found it growing in an abandoned house site... I brought it out here and planted it outside the wire... makes it wild... I don't do anything for it... except dig a clump on occasion.

I like my mulberries... 

Bradford pear is an invasive, comes up everywhere.
Some of the bradfords produce edible fruit, while small, these can be eaten when ripe... they almost get to the size of  a golfball.
Black Cherry... ripe soon.

Pokeweed... I don't think I care to eat anything that requires multiple rinses while being cooked... Ima leave this one for the mocking birds.

Black berries... not ready yet.
I value blackberry for more than just the fruit... the roots work very well to cure diarrhea.
Just make a tea out of them.

This rose bloom may produce a fruit... I eat the rose hips for a bit of vitamin C.

Dryland monarda... monarda punctata 
Monarda is the herb that gives Earl Grey it's taste... monarda may be used to make an herbal tea without the camellia sinensis...

Dwarf Paw Paw... These aren't ripe yet either...

Wild plums... Lookit the purple one! Those early ones usually aren't good, but I should be getting some good ones in a week or so...

Hope yall enjoyed the look through my wild edibles... I hope the pictures load without difficulty... Please let me know if I need to turn this into a multi section post.

 

3 Comments:

Blogger Elizabeth said...

ALL this is on your property?! Fantastic. I have to admit rather shamefully that I've been eating pizza and drinking diet coke while reading this post. Now I feel guilty. ;-)

May 25, 2013 at 8:21 PM  
Blogger NellJean said...

I hope it never comes to having to eat the above. The only one I've really eaten was the little pods on Wood Sorrel. We ate them as children.
Well, Poke Salet. Mama used to cook it. It was good back then. I would not cook it unless there was nothing else and then only when the leaves are very, very young.

Oh, and blackberries and dewberries of course. As to Bradford pears, I fail to see why anybody would plant those things when they can plant a fruiting pear.

Eat. Spiderwort? I don't think so. I am about to cut mine to the ground so it can come back later. It's nice when it's the only blue in the garden, then it gets ragged.

May 25, 2013 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger Gardens-In-The-Sand said...

Elizabeth... thanks... It's amazing how many plants we can have, if we don't poison everything and farm useless turf

NellJean The bradfords come up everywhere with no need to plant... hence their inclusion in a wild foods post.
Sure I could clear them out, but I believe that their blooms may help attract pollinators to the good pears, and provide that all-important additional cross-pollinator... Plus... Why wouldn't they make an effective rootstock for grafting the good pears to?

Re eating strange foods... Have you ever tried a strange dish at a new restaurant?
Let's not be afraid to experiment!

May 28, 2013 at 11:02 AM  

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