Palm - Queen

Scientific Name(s): Syagrus romanzoffiana
What: fruit
How: raw, jelly
Where: landscaping, Gulf Coast region
When:


Queen palm.
Palm - Queen

QueenPalm1

Queen palm base.
QueenPalmBase

Queen palm trunk.
QueenPalmTrunk

Palm - Queen

Queen palm crown. Needle-type leaves.
QueenPalmCrown

The orange fruit appear in late summer/early fall.
Palm - Queen

Close-up of the fruit. You can see the fibers nature in the older, brown/gray fruit.
Palm - Queen

Standing majestically, Queen palms live up to their names and so are often used as a landscaping palms. Their trunk is rather smooth and gray. Its leaves can be up to fifteen feet in length. The individual fronds are somewhat stiff. If you want to add one to your yard they prefer acidic, moist soil and are somewhat salt-tolerant if you are near the coast.

In the late summer/fall appear large clusters up to six feet long of orange, one inch fruit. The flesh of this fruit is sweet but fiberous. Just chew/suck the sweetness from the fruit and then spit out the fibers. Like the Pindo palm, these sweet fruit can also be used to make jelly or wine. A good quality palm nut oil can be extracted from the seeds though some sort of oil press is recommended for this.

The fruit is often 20' or more feet off the ground which makes harvesting tricky. Laying a tarp down beneath the tree and then either shake the tree (difficult) or toss a Nerf ball the clusters to dislodge the fruit. A Nerf ball is hard enough to dislodge the fruit but soft enough to not damage them.

Palm - Texas Sabal

Scientific Name(s): Sabal mexicana
Abundance: common
What: fruit, palm heart
How: fruit raw; palm heart roasted, pickled
Where: landscaping, wild from southern to central Texas
When: summer, fall, spring
Nutritional Value:
Dangers: none

Texas sabal palm.
TexasSabalPalm2

TexasSabalPalm1

Texas sabal palm base.
TexasSabalPalmBase

Texas sabal palm trunk and crown.
TexasSabalPalmTrunk

Texas sabal palm fan-type leaves.
TexasSabalPalmLeaves

Fruit dark purple, .5” in diameter, thinly fleshed over a large seed, ripens in summer.

The palm heart is also eaten, but harvesting it kills the palm. Palm hearts (terminal buds) are the "root" the center-most, youngest leaf at the very top of the tree. It is harvested by cutting off the top of the tree and carving out the palm heart which kills the tree.

Leaf fibers make great cordage.

Palm - Windmill

Scientific Name(s): Trachycarpus fortunei
Abundance: common
What: flower buds and flowers (inflorescences)
How: raw or cooked
Where: landscaping
When: spring
Nutritional Value:
Dangers:

Windmill palm.
WindmillPalm1

Windmill palm base.
WindmillPalmBase

Windmill palm trunk.
WindmillPalmTrunk

Windmill palm fan-type leaf.
WindmillPalmLeaf

Native to China, this palm actually prefers cold climates and doesn't do well in hot, humid areas such as the Gulf Coast region. The leaf fibers make an excellent cordage.

The flower buds and flower bodies are eaten raw though I bet they could be candied, too.

Fruit ranges in color from yellow to black.

Parsley Hawthorn

Scientific Name: Crataegus marshallii
Abundance: uncommon
What: flowers, leaves, fruit
How: flowers & leaves as tea; fruit raw, tea, or preserves
Where: landscaping, woods, moist
When: spring, summer, fall
Nutritional Value: vitamin C
Dangers: may trigger asthma attacks

Parsley hawthorn leaves and thorns.
ParsleyHawthLeaves-Thorns

Parsley hawthorn leaves and young fruit.
ParsleyHawthBerriesMay

ParsleyHawthLeaf_2

Parsley hawthorn flowers (March in Houston).
ParsleyHawthFlowerMar_1

ParsleyHawthFlowerMar_2

Parsley hawthorn fruit (November in Houston).
ParsleyHawthBerryNov_1

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.
ParsleyHawthornTX

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

Look for Parsley Hawthorns along suburban streets as well as in the woods. Being hawthorns, they like moisture and somewhat acidic soil. Most of the landscaping trees will be relatively small (under 15' tall) but in the wild under good conditions they will grow to 20' tall.

The unique beauty of Parsley Hawthorn trees have lead to it being taken out of the wild and added to many landscapes. The mottled, flakey gray-brown bark makes it an interesting specimen during its leafless winter months. Come early spring it covers itself in a thick blanket of white flowers...which have a rather unpleasant smell to many people. At the same time the tree's parsley-shaped leaves appear. Soon after the flowers disappear numerous small, green fruit show up. By November these fruit will have turned bright red and most of the leaves will be dropping. Still small, these fruit a rarely bigger than peas but have a wonderful, sweet flavor.

The ripe fruit can be eaten raw, dried, or made into jelly. The raw and dried fruit can be made into a very beneficial tea. The flowers and leaves can also be used to make tea.

Western science has found a number of medicinal properties with Parsley Hawthorn (and also many of the other hawthorns). Extracts of the flower, leaves, and fruit have found to help strengthen the heart and lower high blood pressure. The blood pressure reduction comes from some beta-blocking effects of compounds in this plant. That being said, I recommend following your M.D.'s orders and prescriptions in reducing blood pressure. The concentration of active beta-blocking agents in Parsley Hawthorn can vary quite a bit from plant to plant so getting the correct dosage is very difficult. Also, beta-blockers are known to trigger asthma attacks in those who suffer from asthma.

One of the potential good side effects of beta-blockers is they can reduce the "fight-or-flight" reactions in humans. Many concert musicians and actors/actresses who suffer from stage fright (a common fight/fight situation) request beta-blockers from their M.D.s to help counter the physiological effects of stage fright. Hawthorn tea should have a similar effect but note that hawthorn tea is diuretic (makes you have to pee), so plan accordingly if you are going to drink some before heading up onto stage!

Partridgeberry/Squawberry

Scientific name: Mitchella repens
Abundance: uncommon
What: berries
How: raw
Where: woods, shade
When: late summer, fall, winter
Nutritional Value: Vitamin C
Dangers: SEE BELOW!!

Partridge berry. Note the two "eyes".
Partridgeberry3

Another closeup of the berry.
Partridgeberry2

Partridge berry creepers. The berries are found at the end of the plant.
squawberry.jpg

Partridgeberry1

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.
PartridgeberryTX

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

The lowly partridge berry plant forms a ground covering vine throughout the piney woods of Texas. This small, creeping vine-like plant creeps through the fallen leaves with a bright red berry the only really noticeable thing to differentiate it from the similar looking yaupon holly seedlings.

The bright red color of the berries suggest that the fruit itself would have an equally powerful taste but they are actually very bland. These fruit also have a grittiness to their flesh so the overall impression to me is much like very tiny pears. Not being a fan of pears, I'm not wild about partridge berries either. They are fairly nutritious, as most brightly-covered edible plants are and were used as food by native Americans. They can be eaten raw, dried, or made into jellies and jams, though for the later I recommend they be combined with other more strongly-flavored fruit.

Okay, if you've read this far you are ready to play a practical joke on your hiking buddies. Pick a few of the fruit and start eating them while exclaiming how sweet and delicious they are. Offer you friends some and when they look puzzled and say the berries aren't sweet you fake great concern and state that lack of flavor is a sign the person will have a bad allergic reaction to them! If you have a smart phone along open it to this page, scroll down to here and show them the follow warning.

WARNING!!! LACK OF FLAVOR/BLAND TASTE INDICATES THE PERSON IS ALLERGIC. SEEK MEDICAL HELP IMMEDIATELY!! READ THE PREVIOUS PARAGRAPH FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS!!

Passion Vine/Maypop

Scientific name: Passiflora incarnata
Abundance: common
What: flowers, ripe fruit, juice, leaves
How: raw, preserves, cold drink, tea
Where: sunny fields, yards, borders
When: late summer through fall until frost
Nutritional Value: Vitamin A & niacin

Passion vine flower
PassionvineFlower

Unripe passionvine fruit (maypop)
PassionVine3

Inside of a passionvine fruit (maypop).
Maypop Passionvine

Three-lobbed passion vine leaves
PassionVine1

Closeup of the passion vine leaf.
PassionvineLeaves

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.
Passionvine

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

The maypop fruit is ripe when it turns from "Kermit the Frog" green to light green to yellow-orange in color. A better indication of a ripe maypop is a somewhat wrinkly skin whereas the unripe maypop fruit will have a firm, tight feel. Upon splitting the fruit you will see numerous seeds coated in a translucent goo while the inside of the skin will have a thick layer of white pulp. Suck the goo off the seeds like you were eating a pomegranate. The white pulp inside the skin is scrapped off with a spoon and eaten. Roasted seeds of these maypops are considered to be a wonderful snack in Puerto Rico.

Wild passion vines are uncommon in Texas so refrain from harvesting many the low-nutritional value fruit unless you find a vine really covered in fruit. These vines seem to produce a lot of fruit the year after a drought.

Tea made from the dried leaves and stem of the passionvine contain alkaloids with a sedative effect on humans. This tea can be purchased over the counter as a "sleepy time" the United States. Passionvines can quickly grow to cover a large area so harvesting young leaves and stems for use in tea will help keep the vine in check. As with any medicinal tea, I don't recommend drinking it more than 2-3 cups per week. They flowers can also be used for tea but they lack the sedative effect and you also lose the fruit from that flower.

Pawpaw

Scientific Name(s): Asimina triloba (spp.)
Abundance: rare
What: fruit
How: raw, jam, jelly
Where: moist, shady woods
When: late summer
Nutritional Value: protein, calories, Vit C, A, minerals K, Mg, Ca, essintial amino acids.

Pawpaw tree.
PawPawTree

Close-up of Pawpaw flowers. They smell like spoiled met to attract flies as pollinators.
Pawpaw Flower

Almost ripe pawpaw fruit.
PawPawFruit

Small, almost ripe pawpaw.
Pawpaw

Pawpaw seeds.
Pawpaw

Pawpaw leaves are tropical-looking.
PawPawLeaves

Pawpaw seedling. Note the alternating leaves.
Pawpaw

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.
PawpawTX

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

The banana-custard-like flavor/texture of pawpaw fruits leads many to consider it to be the best tasting fruit available (George Washington was a huge fan). However, once the pawpaw fruit is picked it begins to self-ferment almost immediately, making it unsuitable for shipping or selling in stores. They must be eaten right after harvesting or quickly turned into jam or jelly.

The large pawpaw seeds contain several insecticidal compounds and some Native Americans used the powdered seeds to control lice. These seeds are still used in several over-the-counter lice treatments.

The bark makes decent cordage but stripping it may often kill the tree.

Pecan

Scientific name: Carya illinoinensis
Abundance: plentiful
What: nuts
How: raw, cooked
Where: pecan trees
When: fall
Nutritional Value: carbohydrates and protein

Pecan nut
Pecan

Ripe pecan nuts on tree.
pecans

Almost-ripe pecans (picture taken early August in East Texas).
BabyPecans

Pecan tree.
PecanTree

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.
PecanMap_TX

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


What truly needs to be said about pecans in Texas?
Best. Wild. Food. Ever!

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