St. Andrew's Cross

Scientific Name(s): Hypericum hypericoides
Abundance: common
What: roots, leaves
How: root tea, poultice; leaf tea, poultice
Where: disturbed areas, fields
When: summer, fall
Nutritional Value: medicinal
Dangers:

St. Andrew's Cross

St. Andrew's Cross

St. Andrew's Cross – Version 2

St. Andrew's Cross

St. Andrew's Cross (Hypericum hypericoides)

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
Hypericum hypericoides USDA TX

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Hypericum hypericoides USDA NA

By mid-summer the four-petaled, yellow flowers of St. Andrew's Cross can be found all across the disturbed, partially shaded areas of Texas. This plant is tough but doesn't like full sun, preferring the shade of a wood's edge. It grows from a tiny seedling to over waist-high in just a few months. Its 1" long, dark green leaves alternate along the stems and branches. There's often a short branch growing up off the stem from the base of a leaf. The long stems droop and end up hanging downwards by late summer.

Although St. Andrew's Cross is a close relative of St. John's Wort, it doesn't have the scientifically proven medicinal benefits of its more famous cousin. Traditionally, assorted Native American tribes used the plant medicinally to sooth certain inflammations. Tea from the root has some painkiller properties as well as soothing colicky babies. Its astringent nature was also used to treat diarrhea and issues with the kidneys and bladder. As a poultice, it was used to treat chapped skin. The leaves of St. Andrew's Cross are also astringent and used to make skin soothing poultices and tea with the same urinary tract treatment as the root.


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Stinging Nettle

Scientific name: Urtica chamaedryoides, U. dioica, U. urens
Abundance: common
What: leaves and young stems
How: cooked greens, tea
Where: woods, borders, abandoned areas, woods, sunny and shady areas
When: spring, early summer
Nutritional Value: Rich in vitamins A,C,D,K, many minerals, and high in protein.
Dangers: can cause skin irritations, handle while wearing leather gloves. Cook to remove stingers before consuming.

Close-up of stinging nettles (Urtica chamaedryoides).
StingingNettle1

Patch of stinging nettles (Urtica chamaedryoides).
StingingNettle2

Young stinging nettles (Urtica chamaedryoides). They are tender and tasty while still this small.
stingingnettle

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
StingingNettle

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
StingingNettle

Stinging nettles are known throughout the world as a very nutritious and highly medicinal plant though you must be careful when harvesting them. The stem and leaves are covered with tiny hollow needles filled with formic acid. Touching any of these needles will inject you with the formic acid which causes an extremely painful burning sensation.

These plants are easy to identify by their hairy, square stems and the burning sensation they cause when grabbed with the bare hand. Sidenote: don't grab them with your bare hand, it really hurts! If you do grab them with your bare hand the sting can be soothed by rubbing curled dock, plantain, or other astringent leaves on the area.

The young stems and leaves should be boiled approximately ten minutes to remove the formic acid before eating young nettle plants. Alternatively, seeping the leaves in hot water creates a very healthy tea loaded with vitamins and minerals.


Buy my book! Idiots Guide Foraging covers 70 of North America's tastiest and easy to find wild edibles shown with the same big pictures as here on the Foraging Texas website.

Sumac

Scientific name: Rhus lanceolata, Rhus glabra, Rhus copallinum
Abundance: uncommon
What: red berries
How: lemonade, tea, seasoning
Where: fields
When: early summer
Nutritional Value: minor traces of vitamins and antioxidants
Dangers: white sumac berries are very toxic

Sumac shrubs.SumacGrove

Closer look at sumac shrubs.
Sumac

Sumac2

Ripe sumac (Rhus glabra) berries.
SumacBerries

Close-up of sumac berries.
SumacCloseup

SumacBerries

Another view of sumac berries. The white/gray coating is responsible for the tangy flavor.
Sumac

Topside of Winged Sumac (Rhus copallinum) leaf.
SumacLeaf1

Underside of Winged Sumac (Rhus copallinum) leaf.
SumacLeaf2

Close-up of winged sumac leaf. Note the "wings" along either side of the main leaf stem.
SumacLeaf3

Young sumac flowers which will eventually turn into berries.
Sumac1

Sumac in the fall (Rhus glabra or Rhus lanceolata).
SumacFall

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
SumacTX

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Sumac

Often forming beautiful stands along roads, in fields, and at the edges of woods, these small trees rarely grow more than 7-8 feet tall. They are a very "open" tree with single, narrow trunks that don't branch out until close to the top, giving them an elegant appearance in my opinion. The trunks are gray and pockmarked while the branches become reddish and fuzzy near the leaves. The crushed leaves have a very distinctive odor...of sumac.

The dried berries are a traditional Middle Eastern seasoning used primarily on chicken and fish. Place the dried berries in a peppermill and then grind them over the food either before or after cooking, giving it a tangy, desert flair.

A pleasing "pink sumacade" is made by soaking the berries in cold water for at least ten minutes though overnight in the fridge maximizes the flavor, then filtering the liquid to remove berries and fine sumac hairs before drinking.

Making two quarts of sumac-ade.
Sumacade1 Sumacade2


Buy my book! Idiots Guide Foraging covers 70 of North America's tastiest and easy to find wild edibles shown with the same big pictures as here on the Foraging Texas website.

Sunflower - Wild

Scientific name: Helianthus annuus
Abundance: plentiful
What: young flowers, seeds
How: seeds can be eaten raw, ground into flour, roasted, or crushed for sunflower oil, the shells can be roasted then used as a coffee substitute; young flowers are boiled
Where: Sunny areas, ditches, abandoned yards
When: Seeds ripen in late summer, early fall
Nutritional Value: carbohydrates, protein and oils

Wild sunflowers
SunBig

Close-up of flower with immature seeds.
SunFront

Back of sunflower.
SunBack

Sunflower leaves ranging from 2" to 6" in length.
SunLeaf1
SunLeaf2

Close-up of stem. Both leaves and stem have fine hairs.
SunStem

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
SunflowerTX

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Sunflower

Running rampant just about any sunny place mankind has torn up soil, the tall, gangly sunflowers seem to thrive in every wasteland. The flowers are much small flowers, only 2-3 inches across, are plentiful on each thick, tall stalk.

The young flowers, when green and before they've opened are quite good when boiled until tender then served with butter. The mature seeds are an excellent source of high-calorie oil which birds and other animals love. Humans can eat them, too but they are very small and are hard to get before animals do.


Buy my book! Idiots Guide Foraging covers 70 of North America's tastiest and easy to find wild edibles shown with the same big pictures as here on the Foraging Texas website.

Sweetgum

Scientific name: Liquidambar styraciflua
Abundance: plentiful
What: seeds; sap; leaf buds
How: Break apart large seed pods to get to the sweetgum seeds then rub the seeds to free them from their outer shell before eating or grinding into flour; sap can be dried for chewing gum substitute; the young leaf buds raw
Where: woods, urban & suburban landscapes
When: leaf buds in spring; seed pods in fall; sap in spring
Nutritional Value: seeds contain calories and protein
Other uses: leaves can be mashed into a poultice for antibiotic and sting-bite relief
Dangers: stepping on seed pods while barefoot hurts

sweetgum.jpg

Sweetgum seed pod
SweetgumPod

More sweetgum pods
Sweetgum

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
SweetgumTX

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Sweetgum

The green pods contain small, aromatic seeds which, when chewed after a meal, help with digestion. The somewhat sweet sap was allowed to dry some and then used as a chewing gum. In its fresh, liquid form it was used to flavor chewing gum up into the 1920's. The young buds are actually tasty, raw nibble.

The leaves contain natural antibiotics and were used to pack wounds. Crush or masticate (chew) the leaves some first to release these antibiotic compounds. Some of the seeds inside the green, spikey pods contain shikimic acid, which is used to make the active ingredient in the flu-fighting medicine Tamiflu. Tea and alcohol extracts of the crushed seed pods have beentraditional flu medicines in several different cultures.


Buy my book! Idiots Guide Foraging covers 70 of North America's tastiest and easy to find wild edibles shown with the same big pictures as here on the Foraging Texas website.

Texas Dandelion

Scientific Name(s): Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus
Abundance: common
What: root, young leaves
How: root as tea, coffee; leaves as bitter greens
Where: fields, disturbed areas, roadsides
When: spring
Nutritional Value: minerals, vitamins C & A
Dangers: don't mistake for Common Groundsel

Open flower and never-opened flower buds.
False Dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus)

Open flower and previously-opened flower.
False Dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus)

Close-up of flower. Note the dark stamens.
False Dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus)

False Dandelion

Backside of flowers. Note the tan sepals.
False Dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus)

Base rosette and stem. Note the base leaves lack deep serrations.
False Dandelion (Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus) – Version 2

Mature leaf.
False Dandelion

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
FalseDandelionTX

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
FalseDandelionNA

As more and more people move into Texas from lesser desirable states the fields of our yellow Texas Dandelion leads to confusion in late spring and early summer. The flower looks like a true dandelion, except for the dabs of brown on the stamens. Closer observation shows multiple flowers and leaves growing off the thick, green stem that grows up to nearly three feet tall. The leaves lack the sharp spearpoint and backwards pointing pointy lobes. These signs should indicate you don't have a true dandelion. But that's okay! You can use the Texas Dandelion the same as true dandelions.

The flowers of Texas Dandelion make an okay tea, perhaps not quite as rich in flavor as true dandelions. Remember to remove the green "collar" from the flower just as you must with true dandelions. You can also make jelly from these flowers which actually tastes pretty dang good.

The leaves of Texas Dandelion are used in the same manner as true dandelion leaves but unfortunately they aren't quite as nutritious. Texas Dandelion roots can be dried for tea or roasted for a coffee-substitute. The bitter flavor of the roots are becoming popular with high-end bartenders making their own concoctions where these roots replace traditional bitters.

Edible Dandelion Mimics:
Dandelion
Cat's Ear
Chicory
Japanese Hawkweed
Salsify
Sow Thistle
Texas Dandelion
Wild Lettuce


Buy my book! Idiots Guide Foraging covers 70 of North America's tastiest and easy to find wild edibles shown with the same big pictures as here on the Foraging Texas website.

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