Showing posts with label Green Flower. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Green Flower. Show all posts

Acorn - Oak

Scientific Name: Quercus spp.
Abundance: common
What: nuts
How: leach out tannins with lots of water then grind to flour, roast nuts then grind for coffee
Where: oaks (white, red, live, burr, post, pin, etc)
When: fall
Nutritional Value: protein, minerals, fats and carbohydrates
Other uses: tanning leather
Dangers: very bitter if not tannic acid isn't leached

Medicinal Summary:
Galls - astringent, hemostatic; antibacterial; antifungal, may reduce symptoms of Parkinson's disease (tisane)
Acorns - astringent (tisane)
Bark - astringent (tisane)

Leaf Arrangement: Simple, alternate leaves along the stems.

Leaf Shape: Highly variable, ranging from lobed to unlobed, depending on the oak species.

Leaf Color: Green foliage, with variations in shades.

Leaf Margin: Leaf margins can be entire or serrated, depending on the species.

Flower Structure: Inconspicuous , small, green flowers in the form of catkins.

Flower Size: Individual flowers are typically very small, less than 0.25 inches.

Fruit (Acorns): Acorns are the distinctive fruit of oaks, varying in size from 0.5 to 2 inches.

Seed Size: Seeds within acorns vary in size, usually less than 1 inch.

Bark: Bark color and texture vary among oak species, often becoming rougher and deeply furrowed with age.

Height: Oak trees can range widely in height, from 40 to 100 feet or more.


Bur oak acorns are the biggest at over 1" across.

Shelled acorns.

These are the oak flowers (on catkins) that eventually become acorns.

Assorted oak leaves.

Bur oak leaf.

An oak gall, created by chemical warfare between a type of wasp and the oak tree.

Stately oak trees can grow over 100’ tall and hundreds of feet in diameter under ideal conditions. Their bark ranges from smooth to deeply fissured. Branches tend to give oak trees a round or oblong shape. They usually prefer full sun and loose, well drain soils but with fifteen different species to choose from in Texas along, there’s a good chance you’ll find an oak somewhere nearby.

The calorie-laden acorns of oaks have supplied fats, oils, and protein to mankind for thousands of years. A one ounce (28.3g) serving of shelled acorn meat contains about 110 calories in the form of 6.8g of fats and 1.7g of protein, plus a small amount of calcium. Acorns can be ground into a gluten-free, high-protein flour good for making flat breads and batter-style baked goods as well as to thicken stews and to make gravy. Roasted acorns have been used as a substitute for coffee grounds, but all that can be said about that is the resulting liquid is brown and bitter, any similarity to it and coffee is strictly due to the desperation of the brewer.

Acorn must have their tannic acid leached out before consumption. Luckily tannic acid is very water-soluble and easy leach out by placing the shelled, crushed nuts in a mesh bag then submersing them in running water for several days. An easier method is to coarsely chop them in a blender or food processor then repeatedly running them through a coffee maker until they no longer taste bitter. The hot water will extract the tannins but do not allow the acorns to cool between flushes or the tannic acid will bind more tightly to the acorn meat. Also, do not grind the acorns finely before leach them as a flour-sized particles will clog the filter.

Unfortunately, the fats and oils in acorns turn rancid fairly quickly. Fresh ground acorn flour will go bad in as little as four weeks if exposed to air and warm temperatures. Freezing the flour, especially if vacuum-packed (a messy process) can stretch its usable life to six months. You are better off freezing the un-shelled acorn and just leaching and grinding as you need it. Frozen, vacuum-packed acorns still in their shell can last up to a year.

White oaks (Quercus alba) produce the least bitter nuts, followed by Red oaks (Quercus rubra) but even both of these need the tannins leached from their acorns. White oak acorns mature in one year while Red oak acorns take two years to complete their growth. Pin oaks (Quercus palustris) are related to Red oaks while Bur oaks (Quercus macrocarpa) are related to White oaks. Live Oaks (Quercus fusiformis) produce the least desirable acorns as they are hard to remove from their shells and are very bitter.

To use acorns as a caffeine-free coffee substitute coarse-grind them then roast them at 400F in an oven to a dark brown color. At this point you can use them just like ground coffee.

The oak gall wasp likes to lay its eggs under the tender bark of new oak twigs. Doing so somehow triggers the formation of a round oak gall. The oak tree doesn't like this much and starts pumping assorted chemicals into the gall to try and kill the wasp larva. The end result is a small, hard ball loaded with medicinal properties. These galls were crushed and then used to make ointments, tinctures, medicated oils, and teas to fight infections inside and outside of the body. The crushed oak galls were also combined with iron salts in vinegar to create a very dark, non-fading ink.

Buy my book! Outdoor Adventure Guides 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.


Scientific name: Amaranthus spp.
Abundance: common
What: young leaves, seeds
How: Young leaves raw or cooked, seeds eaten raw, roasted or ground into flour
Where: sunny fields, disturbed areas
When: summer
Nutritional Value: Grains supply protein, calories, and minerals. Leaves vitamins A & C along with minerals calcium, iron, and phosphorous, and also fiber.

Leaf Arrangement: The leaves are alternately arranged along the stem.

Leaf Shape: Leaves are generally broad, lanceolate, or ovate, with lengths ranging from 2 to 6 inches and widths of 1 to 3 inches.

Leaf Venation: Pinnate venation exhibits well-defined veins extending from the midrib to the leaf margins.

Leaf Margin: The leaf margin is entire, displaying a smooth and continuous edge.

Leaf Color: The upper surface of the leaves is a vibrant green, while the underside may have a slightly lighter shade.

Flower Structure: Flowers are arranged in dense, elongated clusters called inflorescences, with each flower having a diameter of approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Each flower has three to five petals and is located at the tips of the stems.

Flower Color: Flowers may be green, red, or purple, depending on the species, matching the foliage color.

Fruit: The fruit is a small, dry capsule containing numerous seeds, measuring around 1/8 inch in diameter.

Seed: Tiny, spherical seeds vary in color from light tan to dark brown and measure around 1/16 inch in diameter.

Stem: Sturdy and erect stem with a height ranging from 2 to 4 feet. Some species may have thorns, such as Amaranthus spinosus.

Hairs: Some amaranth species may have fine hairs on the leaves, stem, or both. Check for pubescence or trichomes, especially on the undersides of leaves.

Height: The amaranth plant typically reaches a height between 2 and 4 feet, forming a distinctive upright growth habit in the wild.

Amaranth (Amaranthus powellii)

Another type of amaranth.

Another variation of amaranth.

Red amaranth (often used as decorative plant).

Another amaranth.


Still more amaranths.

Amaranth Prostrate Pigweed IGFB4

And yet more amaranths.
Amaranth Flowers IGFB2

Amaranth Leaves IGFB15

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.

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

A variety of amaranth species can be found across Texas and the South. Shapes range from prostrate, creeping vine-like weeds to striking, tall, cultivated forms. The most distinctive feature of all amaranths is their spikes of tiny, clustered flowers which are the same color as the rest of the plant. Amaranths are most commonly found in sunny, disturbed areas and wastelands such as abandoned lots and roadsides. Bright red versions are often included in landscaping.

Amaranth leaves can be eaten raw or used as a spinach substitute in any dish. The leaves are high in vitamin A & C, assorted necessary minerals and also fiber. The youngest leaves have the best flavor and texture, but even the large, old leaves can be chopped up and included in any food needing a vegetable.

Amaranth seeds are very rich in carbohydrates and up to 16% protein by weight. Better still, the seeds contain the amino acid lysine which is very rare for plants but vital for human health. A single plant can produce as many as 100,000 of these wonderful, slightly nutty-tasting seeds. They can be eaten raw but toasting and then grinding into flour releases the most nutrition. The ornamental varieties are just as productive as the wild one but are more attractive. Amaranth seeds have even been used to make a gluten-free beer.

Buy my book! Outdoor Adventure Guides 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.


Scientific Name(s): Fagus grandifolia
Abundance: uncommon
What: nuts, inner bark, young leaves
How: nuts raw, roasted; inner bark toasted, boiled; young leaves raw
Where: woods
When: winter, spring, summer, fall
Nutritional Value: calories
Dangers: beech nuts contain small amounts of oxalic acid and a few other compounds with minor toxicity.Small amounts of the nuts can be eaten raw but larger quantities should be roasted to remove the compounds.

Leaf Arrangement: Beech tree leaves are alternate along the branches.

Leaf Shape: Leaves are elliptical with a pointed tip, measuring approximately 2 to 4 inches in length.

Leaf Venation: The leaves have prominent parallel veins.

Leaf Margin: Leaf margins are serrated, featuring small, fine teeth.

Flower Structure: Beech trees produce small, inconspicuous flowers of both sexes on the same tree. Male flowers are arranged in catkins.

Fruit: Beech nuts are contained within prickly husks, commonly known as beechnuts or mast. Each nut is about 0.5 to 0.75 inches long.

Bark: Beech tree bark is smooth and gray on younger trees, becoming rougher and developing fissures as the tree ages.

Height: Beech trees can reach heights of 50 to 80 feet.

Hairs: The leaves are generally smooth without noticeable hairs, but some varieties may have fine hairs on the undersides.

Fall Color: Beech trees display vibrant autumn foliage, ranging from golden yellow to rich coppery-brown.

Color of Beech Nuts: Beechnuts are typically brown when mature, enclosed in spiky husks.

Beech leaves and young nuts

Close-up of young nuts

Beech nuts ready to eat but still in husks (fall).

Peeled beech nuts.

Beech leaves

Beech leaves in fall

Underside of beech leaf in fall

Beech tree bark

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.

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

When walking through East Texas woods always be on the lookout for the fantastic beech tree. They are definitely uncommon to almost the point of being rare but a well-trained eye will likely find one. Beech are kind of strikingly ordinary trees. Their gray, relatively smooth bark white occasional splotch of white lacks the craggy coolness of oaks. The alternating, slightly ruffled, dark green leaves rarely call attention to themselves. During most of the summer and even fall the beech nut husks can easily be mistaken for acorn husks by novice woods roamers. The most likely time a beech tree will stand out is in early to mid winter when the surrounding deciduous trees have lost most of their leaves beech beech leaves will have turned tan/brown but will be clinging tenaciously to the tree, giving it a big ball of tan color among the winter grays.

In later winter/early spring the new beech leaves make a find salad green. Be sure to use a pruning shears to harvest the leaves so as to minimize the damage to the bark, a common entry point for tree-killing fungi. I'm told the young leaves can be soaked in a mixture of brandy and gin for a few weeks to make a liquor called Beech Noyau. Unfortunately I haven't been in the presence of a beech at the right time to gather leaves for this drink.

The nuts spend most of their time completely encased in a somewhat spiked husk which doesn't split open until fall, if ever, to reveal the single, three-sided nut inside. After removing the outer husk there's a second, inner sheath encasing the nut that should be peeled off before eating. Beech nuts are loaded with fats which make them an excellent source of calories in the woods. As mentioned at the top of this article, it's best to roast beechnuts if you plan on eating a lot of them.

Think of the inner layer of bark (cambium) of beech trees as emergency oatmeal. To eat this inner bark, peel it as thinly as possible and then let it dry. Once dried, chop it up into flakes which are usually pounded into a low-grade flour or boiled like oatmeal. The flavor is on par with that of boiled paper but it will give you calories. Remember to harvest the inner bark from strips running lengthwise on branches rather than from the stem so as to minimize "tourniqueting" the sap flow, killing the tree. The inner bark can be harvested all year long.

Buy my book! Outdoor Adventure Guides 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.

Black Walnut

Scientific name: Juglans nigra
Abundance: common
What: nuts, sap
How: nuts raw, cooked, picked, or tinctured; sap boil to syrup
Where: forests, fields
When: fall
Nutritional Value: fats, protein, some minerals
Other uses: dye, fish poison
Dangers: shell juice stains objects and poisons fish

Black Walnut trees at a roadside rest area in east Texas.
Black Walnut

Almost ripe nuts. They are a little larger than golf balls when ripe.


Green ones picked from the tree are better than brown ones from the ground.
Black Walnut Nut Harvest

The compound leaves of Black Walnut contain an even number of leaflets.
Black Walnut

Close-up of the leaves, front and back.
Black Walnut

Branch tips with new, young leaves.
Black Walnut

Craggy, grayish bark of a Black Walnut tree.
Black Walnut Trunk IGFB12

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.

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

Standing up to 125’ tall with a rounded crown, black walnut trees cut an impressive figure across the fields of Texas. They prefer open, sunny locations but can also be found in forests. Black walnut leaves are compound with an even number of leaflets and being deciduous, drop off in the fall. The bark is grayish, dark and deeply furrowed/rough. The round nuts of this tree are contained in a thick, green cover which begins to splits open when ripe. The juice of this green coat smells like iodine and will stain skin and cotton fabric brown. Black walnut tree leaves, bark, and nut husks contain a poison which kills most other non-grass plants so do not add these materials to compost piles. The wood of black walnut trees is treasured by woodworkers and commands a premium price. This has led to many incidents of “tree rustling” where huge, old trees are cut down and stolen.

The nuts become ripe in the fall. Peeling the green husk is staining so wear gloves and avoid letting the peels come in contact with anything you don’t want turned brown. The thick shell of the walnut is very hard and most standard nut crackers can’t crack them. Waiting a few weeks after removing the husk allows the nuts to dry some, making shelling them slightly easier. The usual method of shelling black walnuts is to run over the nuts with a car followed by picking apart the shell with a nutpick. If you only have a few nuts they can be broken open with a hammer. If you have a lot of nuts it may be worthwhile to invest in a manual cracker specifically designed for black walnuts. Black walnuts have a stronger flavor than English walnuts so most people reduce the amount of nut meat used by one half in recipes.

The crushed green husks were used by Native Americans as a fish poison. Several large, woven bags of these husks were placed in a still pond or weir and the chemical juglones would seep out and stun the fish, causing them to float to the surface.

When the nuts are still green and soft enough to cut in half with a knife they can be pickled and then blended not a ketchup-substitute. As they get bigger the still-unripe notes can be soaked in vodka with a bit of lemon peel, cinnamon, star anise, and sugar syrup to create the Italian liquor "Nocino". Black walnut trees grow farther south than maples and though they produce only about 1/4 as much sap as maples, the resulting syrup made by boiling the sap down is quite delicious.

Never plants a Black Walnut near a garden as the roots, twigs, and leaves all produce a toxin which kills many other plants. Native grasses seem to resist this poison better than domesticated, decorative or food plants. My mom still nags me about the black walnut seedling I planted at the edge of her garden which eventually grew tall and wiped out a quarter of her crops even though this happens 30 years ago.

Buy my book! Outdoor Adventure Guides 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.


Scientific name: Typha latifolia
Abundance: common
What: Tubers, shoots, male portion of flower, pollen
How: Tuber starch granules are removed by hand from fibers, young shoots cut from tubers, older stems can be peeled back to get soft, white edible pith, male (top) part of flower steamed before it become fluffy, pollen from male section is shaken into paper bag from flower and use as flour
Where: Shallow water
When: Tubers in winter, shoots in spring/summer, pollen and flowers in spring
Nutritional Value: Young shoots have low amounts of minerals. Pollen is high in protein. Tubers are high in calcium, iron, potassium, and carbohydrates.
Other uses: Fluff is good tinder and insulation, leaves can be woven into baskets and used to thatch huts.
Dangers: Fluff may cause skin irritation. Wash thoroughly before eating parts raw so as to avoid picking up any infectious, water-borne microbes.

Leaf Arrangement: Arranged in a basal rosette, with leaves emerging from the base underwater.

Leaf Shape: Linear blades, measuring 0.6 to 0.8 inches wide and ranging from 3 to 6 feet in length. Interior is made of hollow tubes running the long length of the leaf.

Leaf Venation: Features parallel venation with multiple veins running the length from base to tip.

Leaf Margin: Margins are entire, indicating they are smooth and uninterrupted along the edges.

Leaf Color: Displays vibrant green during the growing season, transitioning to brownish in the fall.

Flower Structure: Comprises a dense, cylindrical spike with male flowers at the top and female flowers below; spikes measure 4 to 8 inches in length and about 1 inch in diameter.

Flower Color: Male flowers exhibit a yellowish-brown hue, and female flowers are greenish-brown.

Fruit: Small, dry, one-seeded fruits (achenes) attached to a fluffy mass called a pappus..

Seed: Tiny, numerous, and attached to fluffy hairs for wind dispersal, each seed measures around 0.04 inches.

Stem: Stiff, erect, cylindrical, and capable of reaching 3 to 10 feet in height but generally doesn't rise much higher than the leaves. In late summer through winter the stem ends in the cattail "corndog".

Hairs: Absent on both leaves and stems.

Height: Can achieve an overall height of 4-6 feet above the top of the water.




Close-up of cattail bases.

Cattail rhizome and new shoot at its tip.
Cattail Rhizome


Cattail tip, best cooked like asparagus.

Grilling up some cattail rhizome along with brats.

Peel off the outer, charred skin to chew up the starchy core.

A tender shoot.
Cattails Shoots Harvest IGFB25

Cattails Seedling IGFB23

Flowers (brown top is male portion, green part below male is female section)
cattail heads

Pollen coming from the male portion of the cattail flowerhead.

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.
This map is very incomplete.

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

Cattails are one of the most talked about wild foods to the point of even being called the "grocery store of the wild". Everything about them is edible at some point or another, usually when the particular part first appears.

Working through the seasons, in wintertime (as well as the rest of the year) the thick rhizomes
are roasted or baked then peeled. The white, stringy center mass is then chewed to get the cooked starch they contain. They have a Grahame cracker like flavor but spit out the stringy fibers once all the flavor is gone. The easiest way to cook these rhizomes is by tossing them on hot coals and occasionally flipping it until the outer surface begins to char and blacken.

In early spring the rhizome tips turn upwards and grow as new plants. These shoots are collected and treated like asparagus. I strongly recommend cooking the shoots to avoid getting sick due to water-borne microbes. The white, tubular shoots, before they open up into separate leaves are best. The white core is the best, peel off any green leaves to get to the yummy center.

In late spring the plants have matured enough to produce their flowers. These primitive plants produce separate male and female flowers with the male flowers lining the top portion of the stalk and the female flowers directly underneath. Clip off the male flowers and treat them like tiny ears of corn, being a good addition to food either raw or cooked.

Cattail pollen is produced in amazing quantities in late spring after the flowers mature. This pollen is a ready-to-use flour substitute and can be collected by shaking the flowers in a bag or other container to collect it.

During the summer months you are limited to cattail rhizomes as described earlier. Occasionally you may find a young, out-of-season, edible shoot. At this time the tops develop their fluffy seedbeds. This fluff, when dry, makes a good tinder for starting fires. It can be used as an insulation but it actually has tiny needles which will irritate your skin. A protective layer of fabric needs to be between you and the insulating fluff otherwise you'll develop a rash.

In the fall when all the above-water portions of the cattails turn brown the rhizomes will be at their thickest and most starch-filled growth. They'll remain this way until the stored starch is required to build new plant matter in the spring.

Buy my book! Outdoor Adventure Guides 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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