Showing posts with label Invasive. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Invasive. Show all posts

Balloon Vine

Scientific Name(s): Cardiospermum corindum
Abundance: invasive
What: young leaves; vine tips
How: cooked
Where: fields, borders, dry, moist
When: spring, summer, fall, winter
Nutritional Value: minor
Dangers: none

Ballon vine plant in the fall.
BalloonVine2

Balloon Vine flower. They can keep producing flowers while the temperatures are still warm.
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Balloon vine leaf.
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Balloon vine leaf and green seed pod "balloon". Seed pod/seeds are NOT edible.
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Dried balloon vines seed pods.
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Balloon vine seeds.
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North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
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Balloon Vine on the left, Ground Cherry on the right.
BalloonVine-GroundCherry

Across fields and disturbed areas of Texas and the South, Balloon Vines are taking hold. Keep an eye out in sunny fields, especially along ditches and other areas where water may collect. Balloon vines are easily spotted by their small, puffy, pointed seed pods. These pods are mostly air with the fruit located in the center. If the weather stays warm these vines can produce these balloon-like seed pods all year long so you may see white flowers, young, green pods, and dried, brown pods all on the same vine.

Balloon vines are an invasive species from Asia and can quickly cover and kill native plants. This makes a good argument for eating them! The edible parts are its young leaves and vine tips. These are cooked before eating, though to be honest I don't know why. That's how they do it in Asian countries, which is a good enough reason for me.

The puffy seed pods are not eaten, nor are the seeds contained in these "balloons". However, both the leaves and seeds were used medically in India and Asia, along with the roots. Leaf poultices were used on skin wounds and infections as well as minor muscle and joint problems like strains, sprains and arthritis. Tea made from the leaves was traditionally used against stress and bronchitis. Tea from the root was applied topically to treat hemorrhoids. The seeds were crushed for a tea given to relieve fevers and joint pain.


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.

Bastard Cabbage

Scientific Name(s): Rapistrum rugosum
Abundance: invasive
What: young leaves, flower buds, flowers, young seedpods
How: raw, cooked
Where: sunny ditches, fields, disturbed areas
When: late fall, winter, spring, early summer
Nutritional Value: minerals, vitamin C, antioxidants
Dangers:

Full plants seen along a roadside.
Bastard Cabbage

Bastard Cabbage

Bastard Cabbage

A single stalk of Bastard Cabbage. Note the alternating leaf pattern.
Bastard Cabbage

Close-up of flowers and flower buds.
Bastard Cabbage

Close-up of seedpods. Note the "beaks" extending from the tips of the pods away from the stem.
Bastard Cabbage

Close-up of the stem and unopened flower buds. Note the hairs.
Bastard Cabbage

Mature leaf of Bastard Cabbage.
Bastard Cabbage

A seedling of Bastard Cabbage.
Bastard Cabbage


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.
BastardCabbageTX

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

There's a yellow-flowered invader lining the roadsides and taking over fields of Texas and the rest of North America and it's name is Bastard Cabbage! Wow, that was a lot of "and"s in that previous sentence. Oh well. These plants prefer cool weather, fall through spring, during which time they're unfortunately everywhere. On the plus side, being a member of the brassica (mustard) family, pretty much all parts of this invader from southern Europe are edible.

Starting at the top and working our way down the plant, it's flowers have the standard mustard-family structure of four petals (yellow in this case) in an "X" arrangement surrounding six stamens, four of which are long and two stamens are short. The flowers grow in bunches off the stem and before they blow the highly-packed clusters look like tiny heads of broccoli, which is also a member of the mustard family. Below the flowers are seedpods arranged in a spiral up the stem. Note the "beak" jutting out from the top of the seedpod away from the stem.

The stem itself is somewhat hairy branched. The leaves at its base are large, broad, deeply lobed, and form a rosette whereas the leaves closer to the tops of the stems will be elongated, narrow, and unloved or very shallowly lobed. Underground, bastard cabbage forms a heavy taproot, similar to that of horseradish.

How do I eat this invasive species? The flowers and green seedpods I like raw straight off the plant or added to salads. The broccoli-like flower buds are also eaten raw or cooked like broccoli florets (drizzled with cheese!) The younger, tender leaves are cooked like turnip/collard greens, sautéing them with some garlic and bacon. The younger, tender parts of the stem do well when cooked/steamed like asparagus. I have yet to experiment with the roots but suspect a low-grade "horseradish" sauce could be made from them.


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.

Beefsteak Weed

Scientific Name(s): Perilla frutescens
Abundance: invasive
What: leaves, flowers, seeds
How: raw, cooked, tea
Where: shade, woods, borders
When: summer
Nutritional Value: leaves have fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, vitamins A, C, riboflavin; seeds have omega-3 fatty acids
Dangers: dried plants can become toxic to cattle

Medicinal Summary:
Leaves - antiasthmatic, antibacterial, general antiseptic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, emollient, expectorant, antioxidant; anti-inflammatory; antidepressant, and general tonic

Young Beefsteak Weed. The leave's flavor is excellent right now.
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Mature Beefsteak plant.
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Mature Beefsteak plant...note the purplish color on the underside of the leaf.
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A stand of Beefsteak plants.
BeefsteakStand

Close-up of leaf. Note the sharp teeth along the edge and how the veins run along the bottom of these teeth.
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Close-ups of the reddish, hairy stem. Note the square shape, opposite leaves and how the flower stalks join the stems at the leaf joints.
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Close-up of flower stalk after losing flowers. Note the alternating, opposite arrangement.
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Close-up of flower.
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North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
BeefsteakNA

Originally a popular seasoning herb and medicine in Asia, Beefsteak Weed has become an invasive plant across central and eastern United States. In Texas these plants are usually found near urban and suburban areas where they've gone feral from landscaping beds and gardens. Beefsteak plants seem to prefer disturbed areas, especially shady areas with moist but well-drained soil. Being in the mint family, Beefsteak Weeds have a strong minty scent, show the characteristic square hollow stem, have alternating-opposite leaves, and reproduce vigorously.

The sweetish-flavored young leaves have a long history of both being used in salads or cooked as a seasoning for rice and other dishes. The flower stalks (inflorescence) are used as garnishes. The seeds are roasted and mixed in with other dishes, dried and then ground as a seasoning, and were pressed for their oil. This oil is comparable to rapeseed oil.

An oil distilled from the leaves was used as a flavoring agent in both toothpastes and candy though these have been replaced by synthetic version nowadays.

The entire plant is dried then reconstituted in tea for medicinal uses. Traditional Asian herbal medicine states it is an antiasthmatic, antibacterial, general antiseptic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, emollient, expectorant, and general tonic. It supposedly has strong anti-cancer properties.

Being invasive, it should be destroyed on sight but at least it can be used after harvesting. Maybe someday if enough people start eating it we can stop it from damaging native ecosystems.



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.

Nanadina

Scientific Name(s): Nandina domestica
Abundance: invasive
What: berries, young leaves
How: boil leaves twice, berries made into jelly
Where: landscaping, woods
When: spring, summer, fall, winter
Nutritional Value: wood/roots contain berberine and
Dangers: seeds of berries are mildly toxic, leaves must be boiled twice before eating


Nanadina aka "Heavenly Bamboo" is often used in landscaping but it has escaped into the wild.
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Nandina8

Leaves are edible after boiling twice. Younger leaves are better than older ones.
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Close-up of Nanadina leaf.
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Younger portions of the plant stems have a reddish-purple color.
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The pulp of Nanadina berries is edible but not overly flavorful. The seeds contain cyanide compounds and must be removed.
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Nandian2

The woody trunks and older stems are peeled and whittled into flavorful toothpicks.
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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.
NanadinaUSDATX

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

First arriving to the United States in 1804 AD, Nanadina has become a very common landscaping plant in warmer areas due to its evergreen leaves, attractive red berries, ability to thrive in sunny and shady areas as well as not being susceptible to pests or infections. Birds eat the berries...which has led to this plant showing up in many places it hadn't been planted. Nanadina is equally home in a suburban yard or deep Texas woods, both of which are far from its native Asian homeland.

Like Pokeweed, the leaves of Nanadina must be boiled twice before eating. This removes its toxic compounds as well as tenderizes the leaves. However, the end flavor isn't as pleasing as Pokeweed.

There's some debate on the edibility of the berry pulp but the berry seeds are known to be mildly poisonous due to containing cyanide compounds. The pulp has been used to make jelly but other fruits are usually included for improved flavor.

For those of you who like flavored toothpicks, the woody portions of this plant can be whittled into aromatic toothpicks and "chewing sticks".

The yellow roots contain berberine which is a powerful, broad spectrum antibiotic and also used to dye wool. It also contains higenamine which displays a number of medicinal effects.


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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