Wild Foods

Woodland Edge Plant Identification

A few days ago, I was walking through our pastures getting things ready to move our ewes to a new paddock. We have a clump of Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) trees on the edge of this paddock, and I noticed a swath of bright green growing under the trees and spilling over into the pasture. I went over to investigate and noticed a number of plants that I could not identify. I took a few photos and did my best to identify them, but was only partially successful. So I posted them on Facebook and had an almost immediate response from a number of online friends. Within a few hours I was able to confirm all the species in the photos. This is when I love social media!

Here was my initial post:

Plant Identification Photo 1

Plant Identification Photo 2

Plant Identification Photo 3

Looking for some plant identification help.

These plants are all growing on the edge of one of my pastures, on the western border of a clump of Eastern Red Cedar trees. They are in a low point, so they have plenty of moisture, but not sitting water.

1. Pretty positive this is Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum).
2. ? The wispy plant with tiny white flowers
3. Pretty sure this is a type of burdock
4. ?
5. ?
6. ? These plants have gotten quite tall in a few spots in the pasture… maybe up to 6 feet?

Anyone know these plants?
Thanks!

 

As I said, I was quickly able to identify all the plants. And as I was confirming the plant identification, I was able to learn some useful information about these species. I’ll show the photos again with the species and information:

Purple Dead Nettle

The characteristic “square stem” of Purple Dead Nettle

1. Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum) – Native to Europe but introduced to North America. Considered a weed. Does not sting like its relative Stinging Nettle. It is considered edible and nutritious, but most people blend them into smoothies (I am guessing to mask the flavor?)

 

Hairy Bittercrest

2. Hairy Bittercrest (Cardamine hirsuta) – Native to Eurasia but introduced to North America. Considered a weed. In the Cabbage and Mustard family. The leaves and tiny flowers are edible and have a spicy-hot cress flavor which can be used in small amounts in salads or cooked as a potherb.

 

Burdock

The “burrs” of Burdock. Note the small hooks on the ends of the tips.

3. Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa) – Native to Eurasia. Considered a weed in North America. Used a root vegetable and is reportedly very good (has a neutral flavor that picks up the flavor of whatever is cooked with it)… I’m going to have to try some! Also used in folk and traditional medicine for many purposes.

 

Chickweed

Chickweed

Chickweed’s diagnostic single row of hairs on one edge of the stem.

Chickweed for breakfast! Sauté with butter in a cast iron skillet with over easy duck eggs… delicious!

4. Chickweed (Stellaria media) – Native to Europe but introduced to North America. Often considered a weed. Highly nutritious wild edible; some say when cooked they taste just like spinach. I tried some just this morning for breakfast, and it was excellent. I really mean that. Often time, “wild” foods are bland or very strongly flavored, and you have to force yourself to eat it. But not so with Chickweed. I will be harvesting this for food on a regular basis!

 

Cleavers

5. Cleavers (Galium aparine) – Probably native to North America. Often considered a weed. Tender young shoots, leaves, and stem are edible (before fruits appear). Geese like to eat it (also known as Goosegrass) – I have geese! In the same family as coffee; the fruit can be dried, roasted, ground, and used like coffee!

 

 

Giant Cane/River Cane

6. Giant Cane/River Cane (Arundinaria gigantea) – This is one of our native North American bamboo species in the genus Arundinaria. We only have three native species of bamboo in North America: Giant Cane (Arundinaria gigantea), Hill Cane (Arundinaria appalachiana), and Switch Cane (Arundinaria tecta). Base on the size of the plants on our property, this is Giant Cane (Arundinaria gigantea), also known as River Cane. It has grown well over 6 feet on our property, but can reach heights of over 33 feet (10 meters)!. It has all the uses of other bamboos around the world. I am especially interested in the shoots for cooking! Giant Cane is also an “important habitat for the Swainson’s, hooded, and Kentucky warblers, as well as the white-eyed vireo. The disappearance of the canebrake ecosystem may have contributed to the rarity and possible extinction of the Bachman’s warbler, which was dependent upon it for nesting sites.” (quote from Wikipedia)

 

All photos in this article are ours. If you would like to use one, please let me know!

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Spring Forest Plants!

Spring may be my favorite season.

I love walking in our woods and seeing the Earth wake up from its Winter slumber.

Here are some photos I took this morning…

Cercis canadensis, the Eastern Redbud, is much more pink and magenta than red.
Redbuds are “nitrogen fixers”… that means they pull nitrogen from the air to be used for its growth. It also provides some excess nitrogen to surrounding plants.
The flowers are also edible!

 

Asimina triloba is the Common Paw Paw, the largest native North American fruit!

 

Another photo of Asimina triloba, the Common Paw Paw.
Its scientific species name, “triloba” refers to the flower’s three-lobed calices and doubly three-lobed corollas.

 

Silene virginica is known as Fire Pink.
It attracts and is pollinated by the Ruby Throated Hummingbird.

 

Prunus americana is the American Wild Plum.
Their fruits are edible, and while sweet they are also very tart.

 

Carya ovata, the Shagbark Hickory.
Bud in the foreground and trunk in the background. The trunk is what gives this tree its name!

 

Carya ovata, the Shagbark Hickory.
Now with the bud in focus.

 

Viola sororia, the Common Blue Violet… but considering its purple color, I prefer its other name, the Common Meadow Violet.
Edible flowers and leaves!

 

Oxalis violacea is the Violet Wood-Sorrel.
The flowers, leaves, stems, and bulb are all edible and taste sour (in a good way), similar to a lemon.
Also known as the “Wild Shamrock”.

 

All photos in this article are ours. If you would like to use one, please let me know!

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Wild Onions!

We’ve got a lot of Wild Onions (Allium canadense) popping up in our pastures right now.

According to one source, there are over 100 Allium species in North America. Allium being the genus of species containing onion and garlic species. These are a number of similar appearing plants, but fortunately, any of these plants that smell like onions or garlic are edible. Some species are more tasty than others.  Note that there are many plants that resemble onions or garlic, but if they do not smell like onions or garlic then these may be toxic. Wild Garlic (Allium vineale) and Wild Onion (Allium canadense) are closely related and can be difficult to differentiate. The best way to tell them apart is to examine their leaves. Wild Onion has solid, flat leaves, while Wild Garlic has hollow leaves.download full film Ex Machina

It’s easiest to use just the green tops of Wild Onion or Wild Garlic as scallions/green onions. We can also use the bulbs if we want to dig them up. They are usually pretty small, but they still have a good flavor, somewhere between a mild onion and garlic clove or shallot.

Wild Onion and Wild Garlic will form spherical-shaped flower clusters, and often the flowers are replaced with bulblets  (as seen in the photo above).

 

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Making an Herbal Tea with Local Ingredients

All people have a specific set of taste preferences. This is a combination of genetic predispositions, culture, food and taste exposures, and likely many other factors. My oldest daughter (currently age 4) has a set of taste preferences closest to mine; we will pretty much eat anything. This will range from “common” American food to those foods that are more “acquired tastes” such as sushi to olives to sauerkraut to organ meat. She is the only one of my four children that will drink tea with me. Most mornings she will ask if we can have a “cuppa”.

I thought it would be fun to teach her how to make an herbal tea from ingredients we collected from our farm.

We went for a walk through our pastures, and we collected Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) flower buds, Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) flowers, Pasture Rose (Rosa carolina) flower petals, petals from another species of wild rose with deep pink, double flowers but less fragrance than the Pasture Rose, and new leaves from Blackberry (Rubus species) plants.

BK_Herbal_Tea_02

All the ingredients mixed together.

All the green parts from the Red Clover and Honeysuckle flowers were removed. We saved all the petals from the Roses. Then we dropped it all into a glass bowl. Everything smelled wonderful and very fragrant.

We poured almost-boiling water over the whole mix and let it steep for somewhere between 12-15 minutes. I’ll be honest, this smelled rather vegetal, and not so good.

We then strained the tea into mugs. I tasted it, and it had a mild, pleasant flavor. We added some local honey and a little bit of cream, and this made a huge difference. The sweetness of the honey really highlighted to floral essence of this tea. My daughter and I both finished our mugs and decided we need to do this again soon!

 

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Why I Love Hunting Mushrooms

The art above is Mushroom Picking, painted in 1860 by Polish painter Franciszek Kostrzewski.

 

Cooking some Shaggy Mane mushrooms I collected when living in the Azores, Portugal.

Cooking some Shaggy Mane mushrooms (Coprinus comatus) I collected when living in the Azores, Portugal. One of my favorites!

1. I love to eat mushrooms!

This is a pretty common reason why people get started hunting mushrooms, and I am no different. I had little love for mushrooms as I was growing up in suburbia. The choice was Button Mushrooms or Button Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), and I thought they were bland and slimy. However, after many years of traveling around the world, and being exposed to a wide variety of traditional, cultural foods, I not only grew to appreciate the mushroom as a food, but I became intrigued with the heritage and culture of foraging for this sometimes elusive prey. There are so many mushrooms with amazing flavors and textures that cannot be cultivated; they can only be foraged from the wild and only in the right season when all the conditions are perfect for a particular species to form the fruiting body (aka the “mushroom”). This has taken me on an exciting culinary journey: Chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius) in the Pacific Northwest; Boletes/Porcini/Steinpilz (Boletus edulis) in Spain (with wild harvested snails) and Germany (with wild boar in a cream sauce); Morels (Morchella) in Minnesota; Shaggy Manes (Coprinus comatus) in the Azores; and most recently, Giant Puffballs (Calvatia gigantea), Crown-Tipped Coral Fungus (Artomyces pyxidatus or Clavicorona pyxidata), and a Bauernhof Bolete** (Xanthoconium purpureum) on our farm in East Tennessee. 

 

Puffball_Hunter_03

Two photos of one of my sons with a Purple-Spored Puffball (Calvatia cyathiformis) taken 36 hours apart. This mushroom grows fast! This one was insect-ridden, so unfortunately it could not be eaten.

2. I love to be outside!

Any reason to keep me outside is a good thing. It is healthier for humans to be outside than to be indoors, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well. I hope to write more about this in the future, but there is a lot of modern research that supports what many people have been saying for centuries.

 

The Gem-Studed Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum)

The Gem-Studded Puffball (Lycoperdon perlatum), another edible mushroom in our forest!

My son and I found these Old Man of the Woods Mushrooms (Strobilomyces strobilaceus, also called Strobilomyces floccopus )

My son and I found these Old Man of the Woods Mushrooms (Strobilomyces strobilaceus or Strobilomyces floccopus), and these are yet another edible species of bolete on our farm!

3. I love to be in the forest!

This is a bit of an extension of “I love to be outside!”, but is is different. There is a drastic difference when I am working with my animals in the pasture versus when I am meandering through the forest. Both are outside, but there is an almost magical feeling for me when I am walking under the canopy of large trees. There is shade. The temperature is cooler. The air is moister. The noises are different. The colors are simultaneously muted but more intense. There is a rich scent that can only be found in the woods. This is where most mushrooms reside and hide.

 

A stunning Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)

A stunning Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) – not my photo

An Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) - also not my photo

An Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) – also not my photo

4. I love to observe nature!

Hunting for mushrooms is not a fast chase. It is a slow, thoughtful stroll in the woods. Walk too fast, and I will miss the mushrooms. When I slow down to a mushroom-hunting pace, I notice more things. I come across new plants and insects. I see a tree I didn’t know was here. Birds settle down more and care less about my presence. Only a week ago, on the day I found the Bauernhof Bolete** on my farm, a Red Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) flew into the hollow I was traversing. It landed in a tree just a few dozen yards from me and began to cry its classic kee-eeeee-arr!  About ten minutes later, I noticed a flash of reddish-brown and white and saw an Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) hunting for food amongst the shrubs on the forest edge. Only two minutes after than, a vivid blue Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyane) landed on the branch of a pawpaw tree (Asimina triloba) I was excited to see was fruiting. These experiences are not what I get when I am hustling through from one point to another with only the destination in mind.

Identifying mushrooms also requires identifying the plants surrounding the mushroom. Was the mushroom fruiting on a conifer or hardwood tree? What species produced these dead logs and branches? Was the mushroom growing in the soil or on a log or on a log buried in the soil? These observations may make a big difference on whether I can identify a mushroom or not.

 

The first edible bolete I found in our forest!

The first edible bolete I found in our forest!

Classic bolete mushroom showing pores instead of gills.

Classic bolete mushroom showing pores instead of gills.

Another photo of the same species.

Another photo of the same species right before I cooked them!

5. I love to learn new things!

Thankfully, there is a never ending wealth of information and observations in the natural world. Mycology, while not a young science, is a rapidly growing field. I will not run out of new material when it comes to mushrooms!

**I came across the above bolete mushroom in our forest, and I was excited. Okay, I was pretty ecstatic! I absolutely love mushrooms, and a decent argument could be made for calling boletes the king of culinary mushrooms. But I had a heck of a time identifying this species. I am 99% sure that this is Xanthoconium purpureum. Also known as Boletus purpureofuscus, this summer bolete is common in the oak-hickory forests of the eastern United States, which is exactly where my farm is located. The cap (pileus) is velvety when young and can come in a range of colors from purplish-red to maroon to brown. I was surprised that this mushroom has no common name.

This species can contain a fair amount of bitterness, especially in the cap, but the stalk is quite good.

In celebration of finding this delicious mushroom growing in our forest, and the fact that this mushroom has no common name, I decided to call it the Bauernhof Bolete (after our farm, the Bauernhof Kitsteiner). Scientific names are a lot more difficult to create, but not a common name. That’s as easy as, well, just proposing it… like I just did!

(For full disclosure, there is a chance this mushroom is Xanthoconium affine, but I don’t think so. I will verify it with some chemical testing when I find some more samples!)

 

The Crown-Tipped Coral Fungus (Artomyces pyxidatus or Clavicorona pyxidata) is a delicious and very uncommon edible mushroom!

The Crown-Tipped Coral Fungus (Artomyces pyxidatus or Clavicorona pyxidata) is a delicious and very uncommon edible mushroom! They have a great, almost crunchy texture

A Common Earthball mushroom (Scleroderma citrinum), a non-deadly, but poisonous mushroom found in our forest.

A young Common Earthball mushroom (Scleroderma citrinum), a non-deadly, but poisonous mushroom found in our forest. It can cause significant gastrointestinal upset!

My 6 year old son is able to identify this Destroying Angel Mushroom (Amanita bisporigera)

My 6 year old son is able to identify this Destroying Angel Mushroom (Amanita bisporigera). It is a deadly mushroom, which is why he is giving a “mean face”.

6. I love to be adventurous!

There is a bit of adventure and a bit of daring when it comes to finding a new mushroom, identifying it, determining its edibility, then preparing it, cooking it, and eating it. It is not the same as hunting a wild animal, but it is not entirely unlike it either. Proper identification can make the difference between a fantastic meal or a night spent with intestinal misery (rarely death, but that is also possible if an egregious error is made). There are many, many people who think I am a bit, well, unconventional to eat mushrooms I collect from the wild. As mycologist David Arora, writes…

Bring home what looks like a wild onion for dinner, and no one gives it a second thought – despite the fact it might be a Death Camas you have, especially if you didn’t bother to smell it. But bring home a wild mushroom for dinner, and watch the faces of your friends crawl with various combinations of fear, anxiety, loathing, and distrust!

 

It was quite fun to show kids why this Dog Stinkorn ( Mutinus caninus) has an appropriate name!

It was quite fun to show my kids why this Dog Stinkorn (Mutinus caninus) has an appropriate name!

A montage of items collected with my 4 year old daughter during a walk in the woods.

A montage of items collected with my 4 year old daughter during a walk in the woods.  Clockwise from the turtle: Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina), Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea), Bolete (I believe it is Boletus harrisonii), Meadow Violet (Viola sororia), Crown-Tipped Coral Fungus (Artomyces pyxidatus or Clavicorona pyxidata), Unripe Mayapple, also known as the Wild American Mandrake (Podophyllum peltatum).

7. I love to teach!

Taking my kids into the woods and showing them the science, art, and craft of foraging wild foods is one of my favorite things to do. This activity combines most of my favorite things in life: nature, forests, science, foraging, food, and family. Life just doesn’t get much better!

 

If you liked this article, you may like…

Seventy Distintive Mushrooms
Wild Mushroom Identification (and a project for kids!)

 

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Photo References:

  • All photos of mushrooms are mine. Please ask if you would like to use them.
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mushroom_hunting#/media/File:KostrzewskiFranciszek.Grzybobranie.1860.jpg
  • https://www.audubon.org/sites/default/files/styles/hero_cover_bird_page/public/Indigo%20Bunting%20c22-37-204_V.jpg?itok=RL9WiOBS
  • https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/21/Pipilo_erythrophthalmus_-Quabbin_Reservoir,_Massachusetts,_USA_-male-8.jpg

Eggless Elderberry Flower Fritters

So I was a little giddy when I found a number of Elderberry bushes growing on our new farm. I saw the large, white, disks of flowers from a distance. I wasn’t positive until I got closer, but sure enough. We have Elderberry growing on the farm!

I did a quick search for Elderberry Flower Fritter recipes, and they all include eggs. That is not an issue for me, but one of my sons is allergic to eggs. So I set out to create a recipe for a Eggless Elderberry Flower Fritters! It was a huge success, so I wanted to share it. This recipe is great for anyone trying to avoid eggs, no matter the reason. I should also note that I really don’t like to use wheat flour, but I did so for a few reasons. First, when I am developing a variant recipe, I try to start with a more traditional recipe and make small changes. This allows me to catch mistakes/errors with more ease (Permaculture Principle Nine: Use Small and Slow Solutions). Second, once in a while, I do eat foods that are not healthy for me, because they just taste good! I will share results as I continue to experiment.

On a side note, we know my son is allergic to chicken eggs. He may not be allergic to duck eggs. Many people who are allergic to one species’ egg are not allergic to another species’ egg. Just something to keep in mind if you deal with chicken egg allergies.

When harvesting any “wild” plant, proper identification is vital. Following are some images of our Elderberry shrubs to help aid identification:

One of our Elderberry shrubs.

One of our Elderberry shrubs.

The flat flower heads are numerous.

The flat flower heads are numerous.

The tiny, individual flowers make a large flower head. The flowers have a soft, delicate fragrance.

The tiny, individual flowers make a large flower head. The flowers have a soft, delicate fragrance.

Elderberry leaves.

Elderberry leaves.

Note the tight, serrated edge.

Note the tight, serrated edge.

My daughter and nephew with our harvest!

My daughter and nephew with our harvest!

Collection

We harvested about 12-15 heads of Elderberry flowers.

There is always a balance to strike when harvesting flowers from a plant that also produces such amazing berries, but our harvest represented less than 1% of the total flowers from our collection of Elderberries. We harvested 12-15 heads.

drying

The flowers were rinsed in clean water and allowed to dry.

It is also important to wash the flowers before use. I knocked off numerous, little insects. I wish I could have gotten a photo, but there was a small spider that looked as if it was designed just to grow on Elderberry flowers. It was beautiful!

While the flowers were drying, I put together the batter recipe.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Coconut oil for frying – I heated the oil in a medium pan until hot. Don’t let the oil get too hot, or the batter will burn.
  • Honey and powdered sugar (confectioners sugar) for drizzling and sprinkling.

The fritter batter should resemble a pancake batter. It cannot be too thick, or you will have a hard time getting the batter to stick to the individual flowers. If it is too thick, then you can add some more milk to the batter. I didn’t take any photos of the battering process, but it is pretty simple. Hold the flower head by the stem. Drip it into the batter. Dunk it up and down a few times, then drag it clockwise and then counter-clockwise a few times. This distributes the batter over the whole flower head. What you end up with looks like a ball of batter with a stem coming out the top – the weight of the batter collapses the flower head. Gently shake the battered flower head over the batter bowl. The excess batter will drip off. I then blotted the battered flower head on a plate to get even more excess batter off the flower head. I also think that this maneuver distributed the batter more evenly over the individual flowers.

Next, gently lower the battered flower head into the hot oil. You can do this with tongs if you are not used to cooking/frying with hot oil. Make sure you use a pan with high walls. The batter causes the oil to bubble up, and you can cause a fire if the oil bubbles over.

Once the battered flower head hits the oil, the flower head opens back up to its original size. If the batter is too thick, this is less likely to happen. Fry until the batter is golden.

Frying

Elderberry Flower Fritters frying!

Drying

Elderberry Flower Fritters drying! (I starting to sound like Dr. Seuss)

Finished

Finished fritters drizzled with local honey and sprinkled with powdered sugar!

Devoured

This plate of fritters only lasted a few minutes before the kids devoured them!

 

 

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Photo References: All photos in this article are mine. Please ask if you would like to use them!

Permaculture Plants: Wineberry

Common Name: Wineberry, Japanese Wineberry, Wine Raspberry
Scientific Name: Rubus phoenicolasius
Family: Rosacaceae (the Rose family)

Wineberry_07

The Wineberry (great photos from World Turn’d Upside Down Blog)

Description:
Many people living in the eastern U.S. have seen this plant without knowing it, because it is often mistaken for the wild blackberry or raspberry plant. To be honest, people who know of Wineberry either love it or hate it. It is used as an ornamental and is grown for its delicious berries, but, this plant is viewed as a weed and invasive in many parts of the eastern U.S. and Europe. If you are not a fan of Wineberry, it doesn’t much matter as it is not going anywhere soon. Instead of trying to eradicate it with toxic chemicals, we can use it as a supplemental feed for browsing animals, and we can use its sweet fruits for ourselves.

Wineberry

Wineberry Rubus phoenicolasius

History:
Native and widespread in Asia (China, Korea, and Japan). It was introduced into the U.S. in 1890 (at least) to be used for breeding programs with raspberries/blackberries and as an ornamental. It “escaped” and has spread through eastern North America becoming so well established that it is often considered invasive. Wineberry is still used today in berry breeding programs.

Trivia:

  • Wineberry berries are not technically a berry, they are considered an aggregate fruit, just like raspberries and blackberries.
  • Wineberry’s stems are covered in reddish hairs (rather thorny) that make the stems appear red from a distance. This was a main contributor to its ornamental appeal. The Latin name phoenicolasius is derived from phoenicus which is Latin for red.
  • It was once thought that the Wineberry was a partially carnivorous plant. The developing berries are covered in a bristly calyx that produce a sticky fluid. Insects are often caught in this fluid, but research has shown that the plant does not digest the insects.
Wineberry

Wineberry Tartlets (click on the image for the recipe in German)

USING THIS PLANT

Primary Uses:

  • Fresh eating – many claim to like Wineberries better than raspberries, but others believe there are too many seeds for the size of fruit. When fully ripe, it has a flavor of mostly raspberry with a bit of strawberry.
  • Cooked – used as raspberries or blackberries. Pies, tarts, cobblers, jams, preserves, etc.
  • Alcohol – should be a great primary or adjuct juice for wines, beers, and liquors.


Secondary Uses:

  • Ornamental Plant – the red stems are rather pretty in the Autumn and Winter
  • Pioneer Plant –
  • Wildlife Shelter – birds and small mammals take shelter in the brambles.
  • Hedge Plant – large animals (4 and 2 legged) have a hard time traversing a hedge of Wineberry. Could be used/encouraged as a planted barrier/fencing.
  • Wildlife Food – birds, mammals, and some reptiles enjoy the fruits (and therefore spread the seeds!)
  • Browse Plant – while I would not plant this specifically for browse (i.e. food for goats, sheep, etc.), if you have it on your property, it can be used for this purpose. There is research from Wisconsin that shows cattle will graze, and may prefer, foraging on brambles.
  • Can be used for dye (purple/blue).

 

Yield: Variable.
Harvesting: Berries are produced in early Summer to early Autumn.
Storage: Use fresh. Can be frozen (individually on a cookie sheet is best, then stored in a freeze bag). Can be dehydrated. Use within a few days at most.

Harvesting Wineberries

Harvesting Wineberries (great photos from World Turn’d Upside Down Blog)

Wineberry

Wineberry canes in production.

DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zone 4-8, although some sources state hardiness only to Zone 5
AHS Heat Zone: 8-1
Chill Requirement: Likely considering where this plant originates, but no reliable information is available.

Plant Type: Small Shrub
Leaf Type: Deciduous
Forest Garden Use: Shub Layer
Cultivars/Varieties: While interbred with blackberries and raspberries, the Japanese Wineberry has not been improved much in the U.S. as it is often considered an invasive, although it was cultivated in Asia. There are some named varieties.

Pollination: Self-fertile. Pollinated by insects.
Flowering: Late Spring to early Summer (May-June)

Life Span:

  • Years to Begin Fruiting: 2 years
  • Years of Useful Life: No good information available, but as this plant produces on second year growth and spreads so easily via root buds and new canes, an individual’s life span is likely irrelevant.
Wineberry

Wineberry fruit ready to harvest!

Wineberry stems have numerous, small thorns.

Wineberry stems have numerous, small thorns and red, bristly hairs covering the stems.

Wineberry fruits developing.

Wineberry fruits developing within the calyces covered in bristly hairs that secrete a sticky liquid.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT

Size: 9 feet (3 meters) tall and 3 feet (1 meter) wide
Roots: Fibrous
Growth Rate: Fast

Wineberry seedlings

Wineberry seedlings

GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT

Light: Prefers light shade to full sun
Shade: Tolerates light to moderate shade, but likely produces more fruit with more sun
Moisture: Prefers moist to wet soils, but can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions
pH: Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions

Special Considerations for Growing:
Wineberry produces fruit on second year growth. Here is how it works: New growth originates from the root as a single, non-woody, non-branching stem called a primocane. That primocane will grow to full height, but it does not put out any side shoots, and it doesn’t produce any flowers. Come the second year, the stem becomes woody and is now called a floricane. The floricane does not grow taller, but it will now produce side stems or shoots. These side shoots will produce clusters of flowers on a structure called a racime. These flowers will then yield the Wineberry’s berries.

Propagation:
Seed – easily. Requires cold stratification for 4-16 weeks. Layering with tips is commonly used – new plants grow from the tips of canes that touch the ground. Can be divided in Spring.

Maintenance:
It is important to cut out and remove the old, fruiting stems (floricanes) after fruiting. This is typically done when the plant goes dormant in late Autmn or Winter. This allows the plant to move nutrients from the leaves and stems into the roots. However, it can be done right ater harvest if the plants are showing a lot of disease.

Concerns:

  • Listed as a “noxious weed” in many locations. Connecticut and Massachusettes have banned Wineberry.
  • Spreads easily through seed (birds are a major factor) and vegetative growth.

 

 

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Photo References:

  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/Rubus_phoenicolasius_D.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5f/Japanse_wijnbes_rijpe_vruchten.jpg
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/85/Rubus_phoenicolasius_stem_001.JPG
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/78/Botanischer_Garten_Uni_Bonn_-_Rubus_phoenicolasius.jpg
  • http://www.permacultuurnederland.org/planten.php?zoek=braam&laag=&functieSER=YjowOw==&page=0&pid=27&sort=naz
  • http://chocolat-bleu.blogspot.com/2010_07_01_archive.html
  • http://worldturndupsidedown.blogspot.com/2011/07/wild-berry-picking.html
  • http://donwiss.com/pictures/F-2011-07-04/0017.jpg
  • http://www.plantillustrations.org/illustration.php?id_illustration=3995&height=3621
  • http://thefruitnut.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/imgp9587.jpg

 

Wild Mushroom Identification (and a project for kids!)

I want to take a few minutes to explain why identifying your local mushrooms is important. Even if you have no desire to ever eat a wild mushroom, which I think is a travesty, there is still a few good reasons to go beyond simple avoidance.

And for all you sticklers out there, I know a “mushroom” is really called a “fruiting body”, but for sake of simplicity for the average reader, I will stick with the layman’s vernacular. 

These mushrooms popped up all over my neighborhood... but what were they?

These mushrooms popped up all over my neighborhood… but what were they?

Before I get into the reasons, let me give you some background:
We’ve been in our new neighborhood for a few weeks now, and last week it rained quite a bit. Within a few days, there were mushrooms popping up in many of our neighbors lawns. Now I never really dismiss mushrooms. I am kind of addicted to them. I like to try and identify mushrooms, and I absolutely love to find edible mushrooms. However, I am not a highly skilled mycologist. Yes, when comparing myself to the average man-on-the-street, I am smarter than your average bear pertaining to the topic of mycology. But I am not a Paul Stamets or David Arora (these are two famous and noted mycologists… two of my favorite mycologists, in fact… and I know it makes me a geek when I actually have “favorite” mycologists!).

Well, the ones I saw were large, mostly white, and gilled. While a number of mushrooms can make a person sick, very few mushrooms in North America are actually deadly; however, there are a few mushrooms fitting this description that are, indeed, deadly. This includes the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) and the Destroying Angels (species including Amanita ocreata, A. verna, A. virosa, A. bisporigera). If a person is a beginning mushroom hunter, you should avoid eating any mushrooms that comes close to this description. If you are a mid-level, amateur mycologist (like me), then it is fun to identify them, but I would probably never eat this type of mushroom, just in case I am wrong. A seasoned mushroom hunter or a professional mycologist may feel comfortable eating a mushroom of this type, but even some of these people avoid eating them. There is not room for error with these mushrooms. This nice thing is that these mushrooms are easily avoided. And there are so many other edible mushrooms that are easily identified, that we are not missing out on much by avoiding mushrooms that may look like deadly species.

Well, I saw a few of these mushrooms, and I quickly realized they were not going to be easily identified without a little bit of work. I had a few guesses for species, but I wasn’t sure. But we had just moved here, and we had a lot of other things going on, and frankly, I just didn’t have the time to try and identify these mushrooms. But then I saw more of them, and then some more, and then even my wife was telling me about them popping up in the neighbors’ lawns. I started to reevaluate  the need to identify these mushrooms, and I came up with a few reasons why it could actually be more than just a personally interesting project.

First – I really just like to know the biology that is surrounding me. It was kind of bothering me to have this many mushrooms popping up around me when I didn’t know what they were.

Second – In a worst-case scenario, one of my children, one of my neighbors’ children, or even my dog, could end up taking a bite of one of these mushrooms. It would be very helpful to know how concerned I needed to be about these mushrooms surrounding me, my family, and my community.

Third – I will be working in a local ER in a few weeks. It is not uncommon for parents or babysitters to show up with a child who ate some mushrooms from the front yard. They often come in with the remnants of the mushroom cap. Since this is my local area, it would be good to have this information on hand to make a faster clinical decision.

Fourth – I had a great kids science project right in front of me. Every time we walked past these mushrooms, my two boys (age 5 and 6 years old) would ask if these were poisonous mushrooms or not. I kept telling them that since we didn’t know what they were, we have to assume they are poisonous for now.

A partial Fairy Ring.

A partial Fairy Ring.

Once I decided to try and identify these mushrooms, I had to gather some information. I grabbed my boys, and we went for some collections of data and specimens. We found this partial ring of mushrooms growing a few houses away. This ringed pattern is sometimes a full circle, and it is called a Fairy or Elf Ring/Circle. After reading The Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit with my kids at bedtime, by boys loved that name!

I took photos of mushrooms at various ages of development, from just popping through the soil to very mature. (see the photos that follow)

Young unidentified mushrooms.

Young unidentified mushrooms.

False Parasol Chlorophyllum molybdites

Prime Unidentified Mushroom

False Parasol Chlorophyllum molybdites

Another photo of the same specimen from above, showing the gills and the firmly attached ring (annulus).

False Parasol Chlorophyllum molybdites

A mature specimen of our unidentified mushroom. 

We returned to the house with a number of photos and a few specimens. After really examining these mushrooms, I had already narrowed down the list in my head, but I was still not certain. I took about 10 minutes, and gave my boys a little science lesson on the parts and life cycle of mushrooms. They really got into it, and they can still name all the parts to a mushroom (fruiting body) – they were looking over my shoulder as I wrote this and pointed them out to me!

All my books are still being shipped from the Azores, including all my mushroom and mycology books, so I used the MycoKeys Online Morphing Mushroom Identifier. This is a really useful tool, and is pretty simple to use.

With the information I had gathered so far, I had narrowed down the choices to two likely species. The first was the highly edible Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) or the False Parasol (Chlorophyllum molybdites) which is not deadly, but definitely poisonous causing severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. The False Parasol is responsible for the most mushroom poisonings in the United States each year. But how do we tell them apart?

The answer is a Spore Print. This is a very simple project, and my kids were fascinated by it. The spores produced by a mushroom will drop from the gills under the cap. Each individual spore is way too small to be seen by the naked eye, but if there are enough of them in one spot, we can determine the color of the spores. The fallen spores will leave a pattern that is unique to that species and individual specimen, just like a fingerprint. A mature cap (I used the one pictured above), with the stalk (stem) removed, is placed on a piece of paper. Putting the cap on a half sheet of black and a half sheet of white paper will ensure the spores can be seen if the spores are all white or black. The cap is left for at least a few hours, but it is best to leave it overnight. I had a very mature mushroom, and my kids were impatient, so after about three hours we checked on our print.

A beautiful spore sprint!

A beautiful spore sprint!
I put half of the cap back on top to show both the cap and spore print in one photograph.

The spore print was a nice, pale green, and this clinched our identification. Our mushroom was the False Parasol (Chlorophyllum molybdites). My kids now know that these mushrooms are poisonous. I am relieved they are not deadly. I have a bit more confidence in my mushroom identification skills. My kids had a fun time without even realizing they were learning… which is how education should be! And I got to know some of my mycological neighbors.

But, if I am honest, I was a bit bummed they weren’t edible!

 

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Shaggy Mane Mushrooms: Wild Harvesting in the Azores!

Yesterday, I was driving in a vehicle and I spotted what I thought were some shelf mushrooms on a tree. I was not driving, so I could not slam on the brakes and screetch to a halt, as I normally would have done, to go investigate. I did note the location. So later that day, I had a chance to take a second look. The first problem was that now I was making a specific trip to go find mushrooms based entirely on a fraction of a second, drive-by spotting. The second problem was that once I decided to make a specific trip, I now had the interest and expectations of my wife and parents (who are currently on the island with us). There was no real pressure in being wrong, that is, other than self-induced pride. After strapping my two youngest children into their carseats, my parents climbed in the van, and the five of us went on a mushroom hunt. Twenty minutes later, I was standing in a small stand of trees looking at a pile of bright orange roof tiles stacked up against the base of a tree. To be honest, they really did resemble Sulfur Shelf (Laetiporus sulphureus) mushrooms, but I had been defeated by a case of mistaken identity and wishful thinking. This is a common ailment in mushroomers.

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How quickly can you spot the mushroom?

We decided to turn around at the local golf course. As we were driving out, since I was driving, I slammed on the brakes and (almost) screetched to a halt. I had spotted another mushroom. This time I was certain. There was one group of golfers who seemed a bit curious about the bald, six-foot-three (190 cm) man, jogging across the green with a camera, but they just kept on playing; it seems like golfers are golfers no matter the country! I approached my target, and I dropped to a knee and smiled. It was a Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus)!

On a side note: I actually think all mushroomers experience uncontrollable smiling when they find a prized mushroom. But I also do the same thing when I identify a bird I have never seen in person before or when I see a plant I have only read about… the smile truly erupts from inside. It is a combination of happiness and adventure and wonder and contentment. I see it in children a lot. Sadly, I don’t see it in adults nearly as much.

My mother seemed a bit bewildered that I could spot a single, tiny mushroom in a wide open field. My wife says the same thing when I spot a bird or a lizard or a seedling. Part of me is proud of this skill, but I also know that it is a learned skill. I really think anyone can learn to do it if they have a desire. Talk to any experienced mushroomer or birder, and they will probably agree. It is just a matter of learning how to look. I will try to expand on this a bit more in another article soon, but rest assured, if you want to develop a “good eye”, you can.

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It’s really easy to see when you know what to look for.

I have recently mentioned in a previous article how the locals have told me there are no edible mushrooms in the Azores. But I had proven them wrong with finding a Puffball. However, I had yet to collect any mushroom and actually eat it. But that was about the change!

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Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus), a prime specimen… perfect for eating!

I was a little disappointed that there was only a single Shaggy Mane. Yes, there are a lot of highs and lows in mushrooming! But I now knew two things: First, I had found another edible mushroom on this island! Second, if there was one Shaggy Mane, there had to be more. I stood up and scanned the surrounding area… nothing. I slowly walked back to the van, scanning everywhere… still nothing. I started to drive away, straining to see any glimpse of white or ink black in the bright green grass. I was about to give up when in a small area near the entrance to the golf course I saw about a dozen more white cones protruding above the grass! I had found a Shaggy Mane patch!

Many of them were too mature to be edible still, but I did find five in good condition. I snapped a few more photos, carefully harvested my prize, and drove back home feeling rather satisfied with myself. Of course, I know most people think it is rather odd or entirely suicidal to collect wild mushrooms (see my article on Fighting Fungiphobia). I know others think it is a waste of time when one can so easily go to the grocery store. But there is an amazing diversity of flavors that await those who only eat what is on the shelves. And there is a joy in collecting wild food. It is something you need to experience to appreciate, and I hope to encourage you to give it a try.

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This one is just starting to “ink”. There is some edible parts remaining in the top of the cap, but the shelf-life is really a matter of hours now. The ink is not poisonous, but it does not have a good flavor.

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No longer edible, this Shaggy Mane cap has almost entirely deliquesced (liquified), dropping its spores in an inky mess… the origin of its other common name, the Shaggy Ink Cap.

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Here is my small harvest of Azorean Shaggy Mane mushrooms!

I brought back the mushrooms. I brushed off most of the dirt and grass then wiped them clean with a damp cloth. Shaggy Mane mushrooms do not have a long shelf life. This is why they will never be sold in a grocery store. Every once in a while, you may fine some at a Farmers Market, but they would have been collected within the previous 24 hours, probably less. In general, these mushrooms need to be eaten as soon as possible after harvesting. This means on the same day or the next day at most. But you risk them going bad. I have read one mycologist who stated that, “the butter should be melted in the pan before you pick them!” Now, they are not that sensitive, but Shaggy Manes are extremely hygroscopic… this means they love water… a lot! The caps pull water from the atmosphere and slowly dissolve into an inky mess. This will happen to all Shaggy Manes when stored for too long, so the fresher they are, the better they will be for eating.

I then split the mushrooms lengthwise and melted some butter with a splash of olive oil in a frying pan. The mushroom halves were cooked at a medium-high heat… enough to brown the mushrooms, but not enough to burn the butter. Shaggy Manes can give off a lot of water when they are cooked. This means they will shrink quite a bit when sauteed or fried. They can also be added to soups and other “wet” dishes, so that their water content fits with the meal. When I have a small batch of mushrooms, especially wild ones that are not common, I prefer to prepare them in a way that highlights their flavor, on their own.

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These are very good Shaggy Mane mushrooms. Note that they are all white with no gray or black on them… perfect for eating.

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Shaggy Manes are added to a pan of hot butter and olive oil.

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They are seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper and sauted until lightly browned.

The Shaggy Mane has a very good, delicate, “mushroomy” flavor. One writer states the mushroom reminds them of almonds… I don’t really agree, but there is a bit of a meaty, nutty flavor, but it is mild. If they are sauteed too long, I think the flavor starts to fade into the browned butter too much. The goal is for a light browing on the surface and too cook it long enough for the water to evaporate. Some people recommend pouring the water off, but I think you loose some of the flavor that way. The non-water components of the liquid will get pulled back into the mushrooms. Alternatively, you could pour off the water and use that in a stock for soup or a risotto.

There are a number of recipes available for Shaggy Mane mushrooms. I honestly want to try them all. My method is a simple, easy way that allows the mushrooms’ flavor to be highlighted. But if you have a bumper harvest, then experiment. Please let me know what works well for you!

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Permaculture Plants: Calendula

Common Name: Calendula, Pot Marigold
Scientific Name: Calendula officinalis
Family: Asteraceae or Compositae (the Aster, Daisy, or Sunflower family)

Calendula or Pot Marigold... a lovely little plant.

Calendula or Pot Marigold… a lovely little plant.

Description:
Calendula, or Pot Marigold, is a beautiful flower known throughout the world as an ornamental, but has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. This annual reseeds very easily and can withstand fairly cold weather, the flowers are edible, and they also attract beneficial insects and butterflies. Calendulas are an easy to grow plant, and they are a great way to add some functional beauty to your Permaculture projects.

Calendula officinales

Calendula officinales

History:
Calendula is native to the Mediterranean, Southwestern Asia, Western Europe, and the islands of Macaronesia (which includes the Azores, where I currently live!). However, they have been grow for so long as a medicinal and ornamental plant, that they can now be found around the world.

Trivia:

  • The name “Calendula” comes from the Latin, calendae, which means “little clock” or “little calendar”
  • Calendula flowers close at night.
  • Calendula flowers also close before the rain, and it can be used as a simple weather guide, which is why another possible meaning of the name “Calendula” is “little weather-glass”
  • Calendula are considered good companion plants for tomatoes.
  • Calendula flower petals have been used for centuries in soups and stews, and is likely the source of its other common name “Pot Marigold”
  • True Marigolds are in the Tagetes genus, native to North and South America, and they are in the same family (Asteraceae) as Calendula

    Primarily an ornamental nowadays, there is quite a bit more this plant offers.

    Primarily an ornamental nowadays, there is quite a bit more this plant offers.

USING THIS PLANT

Primary Uses:

  • Ornamental Plant – This is its primary use in modern times, and it is indeed a beautiful flowering plant
  • Medicinal Plant – Historically, this was one of its primary uses (see Medicinal Uses below)
  • Edible Flower Petals – has a bitter flavor, some flowers can be more tangy or spicy, but the flavor can vary. Used fresh in salads or dried in soups and baked goods. Can also be used as a yellow food dye, and has been used as a saffron substitute and to color cheeses, custards, butters, sauces, etc.
  • Edible Leaves – used raw in salads.
  • Tea Plant – made from the petals or whole flowers.
Calendula attracts beneficial insects and butterflies.

Calendula attracts beneficial insects and butterflies.

Secondary Uses:

  • General insect nectar and pollen plant – attracts beneficial insects, especially bees and hoverflies
  • Butterfly Plant – the flowers attract butterflies
  • Nematode Deterrent Plant – there are many reports of this plant repelling nematodes, similar to true French Marigolds
  • Groundcover Plant – Calendula can form rather dense clumps, although I still have had many other “weeds” pop up between plants. Calendula would likely be a good candidate for a mixed groundcover planting. I have had some success with Parsley and Calendula growing well together, but this was not exactly planned. Also, it does make harvesting the Parsely a bit tedious. I will experiement with other combinations, on purpose, in the future and will share my findings.
  • Cosmetics – with its history as a medicinal, especially for skin issues, it is no surprise Calendula is a popular cosmetic ingredient
  • Dye Plant – yellow dye from the flower petals

    A Calendula (and other herb) poultice.

    A Calendula (and other herb) poultice.

Medicinial Uses:

  • Calendula has been used from at least the 12th Centurey as a medicinal.
  • When something has been used for close to 1,000 years as a traditional medicine, there is a pretty good chance that traditional medicine works, at least for some things.
  • Calendula as a traditional herbal medicine is one of the most studied herbs by modern medical researchers.
  • Calendula has been used to treat insect stings/bites, chapped/chafed skin, minor cuts, burns, bruises, and minor infections, and there is good, modern evidence that topical Calendula preparations help wounds heal faster.
  • There is pretty good evidence that topical Calendula will help treat/prevent dermatitis, diaper rashes, and hemorrhoids.
  • There is some evidence that gargling with Calendula-infused water will help sore throat and mouth/throat infections.
  • There are a number of other medicinal uses, both topical and internal (typically in the form of teas), but there is not a lot or absolutely no modern research that has studied these uses. That does not mean these applications do not work, it just means they have not been studied in modern times.
  • There are no known modern or traditional medication interactions with Calendula, although some researchers suspect there could (theoretically) be interactions with Calendula and hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and sedation medications.
  • Most sources state that pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid Calendula, but I can find no good reasons for this, nor can I find any information if this is just for internal use or both internal and external use.

    Making Calendula Oil... quite easy to do.

    Making Calendula Oil… quite easy to do.

Calendula Oil – used for many topical skin conditions. The oil is easy to make. It can be used on its own, or it can be used to make other products.

  • Take dried Calendula flowers or fresh Calendula flowers (at least 12 hours old, this allows them to wilt and lose much of their water content).
  • Place the flowers in a glass jar.
  • Fill the jar with olive oil covering the flowers by at least an inch (2.5 cm).
  • Stir the flowers to evenly distribute the oil.
  • Cover the car with an airtight lid and shake well.
  • Place the jar in a sunny window.
  • Turn and shake the jar at least once a day for 3-6 weeks.
  • Strain the oil (a cheesecloth works well) into another jar.
  • The Calendula Oil is now ready to be used.
  • A double-strength Calendula Oil can be made by adding new Calendula flowers to the strained oil for another 3-6 weeks.
  • Other oils can be used like grapeseed oil or sunflower oil.
  • Store the Calendula Oil in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

Calendula Salve -used in much the same way as the Calendula Oil, but it is more of a cream, so it can be easier to apply. This one is great for chapped hands and lips.

  • Chop up 1/2 -2 ounces (1/16 – 1/4 cup or 15-60 ml) beeswax.
  • Take 4-8 ounces (1/2 – 1 cup or 118-236 ml) of Calendula Oil from recipe above.
  • Place the oil and beeswax in a double boiler and slowly melt.
  • Remove from heat.
  • If desired, a few drops of lavender oil can be stirred in for additional scent.
  • If desired, a pinch of tumeric powder can be added for additional color.
  • Pour the salve into small jars or tins, allow it to cool, then put the lid on the container.
  • The Calendula Salve is now ready to be used.
  • Note that the ratio of beeswax to oil ranges from 1:4 to 1:8. The more beeswax will result in a thicker, firmer salve.
  • Store the Calendula Salve in a cool, dark place for up to a year

Calendula Compress – this is a more gentle, and less oily/greasy, way to apply Calendula to the skin.

  • Place dried or fresh Calendula flowers to a heat-resistant jar or bowl.
  • Just barely cover with boiling water.
  • Let the water sit until it was completely cooled.
  • Strain the Calendula-infused water into another jar or bowl.
  • Soak a clean cloth in the water, wring it out just a bit, and apply it to the skin.
  • Let the cloth rest on the skin for 30-60 minutes, one to three times per day.
  • I can find no good information on how long the Calendula-infused water will store, but it likely does not store for more than a few days.

Calendula Poultice – a poultice is a much more aggressive treatment than a cool compress. Calendula is often used to make a poultice either by itself or mixed with other herbs.

  • Grind dried or fresh Calendula flowers – some experts recommend a course grind, and others recommend a fine grind with a mortar and pestle.
  • Place the ground flowers into a heat-resistant bowl.
  • Add just enough boiling water to make a paste (most herbalists recommend using another herb or something like slippery elm powder to make the paste more mucilaginous/thick)
  • If the wound is not open (e.g. like a bug bite or sting), then the poultice can be put right on the skin.
  • If the wound is open a little (e.g. abrasions or very shallow scratches), the place some gauze on the wound first, and apply the poultice to the gauze right over the wound.
  • If the wound is open and large, then talk to your medical provider first – we don’t want to cause an infection while we are trying to treat/prevent one with a poultice!
  • Once the poultice is applied, cover the poultice with some sort of dressing (e.g. additional gauze, plastic wrap, etc.)
  • Leave the poultice in place for 30-60 minutes.
  • The poultice should remain moist for most benefit.
  • Heat will increase its penetration/effect, but is usually avoided when treating sunburn, heat burns, or when treating children.
  • Heat can be added with a hot, wet cloth or a hot water bottle applied over the poultice dressing.
  • Heat is a great adjunct when dealing with an infection like a boil (furuncle).
Click on the photo to see some of the best photos of Calendula I have ever seen.
Click on the photo to see some of the best photos of Calendula I have ever seen.

Yield: Variable.
Harvesting: The flowers can be harvested when in bloom (Summer-Autumn). The leaves can be harvested in Spring and Summer.
Storage: Use fresh. Dried flowers can last for years, but it seems that 2 years is really the maximum they should be stored if they are to retain their medicinal properties.

Calendula makes a pretty good groundcover.

Calendula makes a pretty good groundcover, but works best when in a mixed planting.

DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zone 6, but since it is an annual, Zone doesn’t matter that much
AHS Heat Zone: 6-1
Chill Requirement: None.

Plant Type: Small Herbaceous Annual, but can grow year round in some locations
Leaf Type: Annual
Forest Garden Use: Herbaceous Layer, Groundcover Layer
Cultivars/Varieties: There are a number of varieties available for this species.

Pollination: Each plant has both male and female flowers (pollinated by bees).
Flowering: Summer to Autumn, but this really depends on the growing location. Calendula is not sensitive to frost, and will often keep flowering after the first snowfall.

Life Span
This is an annual plant (lives for one growing season), but considering that the plants self-seed so easily, this is not much of an issue.

There are many varities of Calendula.

There are many varities of Calendula.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT

Size: 12-30 inches (30-75 cm) tall and 8-18 inches (20-45 cm) wide
Roots: Shallow and fibrous
Growth Rate: Fast

Calendula adds a splash of beauty anywhere it is planted.

Calendula adds a splash of beauty anywhere it is planted.

GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT

Light: Prefers full sun
Shade: Tolerates mederate shade
Moisture: Prefers moist soils, but can thrive in a wide variety of soil conditions.
pH: 4.5-8.3 (tolerates a wide range of soil conditions)

Special Considerations for Growing:
Give Calendula good conditions, and you will need to do little for it.

Propagation:
Calendula is propagated via seed. It self-seeds very easily, so once you have a patch growing, it will often continue to pop up every year.

Maintenance:
Removing the old flowers (aka “deadheading”) will stimulate more flower growth.

Concerns:
None.

Now this is real flower power!

Now this is real flower power!

 

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Photo References:

  • http://www.biabeauty.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Calendula_officinalis31.jpg
  • http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-LbZrFvH3rIo/UBHW67QfxQI/AAAAAAAAGBg/ZU0uIeV4trA/s1600/calendula.JPG
  • https://davisla2.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/calendula-officinalis.jpg
  • http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gQ0iYdiIfJM/UdmeZGf3T8I/AAAAAAAAFyI/XGyQGViuwf8/s1600/77cleaned+calendula.JPG
  • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5c/Illustration_Calendula_officinalis0.jpg
  • http://www.tandmworldwide.com/medias/sys_tmwld/8798115201054.jpg
  • http://www.onlyfoods.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Calendula-officinalis-Pot-Marigold-Pictures.jpg
  • http://rachelcorby.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/100_2458.jpg
  • http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GtvwEjfK59Y/UToxBkE8T5I/AAAAAAAAA-8/OCH4Y8FKfzo/s1600/Poultice6.jpg
  • http://macdragon.biz/gardeningwithcharlie/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/calendula.jpg
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