Showing posts with label Late Winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Late Winter. Show all posts

Gayfeather/Liatris

Scientific Name(s): Liatris spicata and other Liatris species
Abundance: uncommon
What: root/tuber
How: roasted
Where: open fields, landscaping
When: fall, winter
Nutritional Value: calories

Edible gayfeather tuber.
Gayfeather

Young gayfeather plant (early June in Houston).
YoungGayfeather

A stand of gayfeather plants.
LiatrisStand

Close-up of gayfeather stand.
LiatrisStandCloseup

Close-up of gayfeather flower.
LiatrisFlower2

Close-up of gayfeather flower before opening.
LiatrisFlowerCloseup1

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.
GayfeatherMap_TX

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

There are quite a few different species of Gayfeathers growing in stands across the fields, prairies, ditches, and woodland glades of Texas and North America. All are considered non-poisonous but only a few of them produce tubers big enough to be worth eating. Their tall, unbranching spikes start green, then erupt with many small, purple flowers, followed by browning as they dry. During the winter months clusters of these old stalks are easy spot, even through snow on the central plains. The drought-resistant Liatris spica are becoming popular in low-water xeriscapes and can often be found at big-box home improvement stores.

Gayfeather tubers continue to grow larger year after year but only the latest-year's portion is tender enough to eat, with the common species Liatris spica being considered the best. Memorize the location of the summer-blooming purple flower stalks for harvesting the tubers in the fall and winter. Once harvested, use these tubers as you would potatoes. They do well boiled or roasted.


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.

Rusty Blackhaw

Scientific Name(s): Viburnum rufidulum
Abundance: uncommon
What: fruit
How: raw, jelly, wine
Where: woods
When: late fall, winter
Nutritional Value: calories
Dangers: none

Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are oppositely arranged along the stems.

Leaf Shape: The leaves are elliptical to ovate with pointed tips.

Leaf Venation: The venation is pinnate and more pronounced on the underside of the leaves.

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

Leaf Color: The upper surface of the leaves is green. The underside of the leaves may be slightly paler in color, with lighter-still veins.

Flower Structure: Flowers are arranged in flat-topped clusters (corymbs) and have a diameter of approximately 3 to 5 inches.

Flower Color: The flowers are creamy white, creating a visually striking display.

Fruit: The fruit is a drupe, initially red and transitioning to dark blue-black when mature.

Seed: Seeds are relatively large, with an elliptical shape and a dark color.

Bark: The bark is grayish-brown and becomes rougher with age.

Hairs: None present.

Height: Rusty Blackhaw typically grows to a height of 10 to 15 feet, forming a well-branched shrub or small tree.

Ripe fruit of Rusty Blackhaw.
RustyBlackhaw7

Close-up of Rusty Blackhaw fruit. Note the single large, flat seed.
RustyBlackhaw5

RustyBlackhaw6

Rusty blackhaw flower buds appear in late winter/early spring before a majority of its leaves do.
Rusty Blackhaw

The flowers look like little heads of broccoli before blooming.
Rusty Blackhaw

Note the rusty color of the parts of rusty blackhaw wrapping up the flower buds.
Rusty Blackhaw

Close-up of Rusty Blackhaw flowers (picture taken in March in Houston, TX)
RustBlackHawFlowers

Unripe Rusty Blackhaw fruit (picture taken in September in Houston).
RustyBlackhaw2

Leave are arranged oppositely, have finely-toothed edges, and an oval shape.
RustyBlackhaw1

Bark of rusty blackhaw is rugged, and often described as alligator-like. When scraped it exposes it's rusty, red-brown color of its name.
Rusty Blackhaw

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.
RustyBlackhawUSDATX

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

Hidden among the woods of east Texas one will find a true treasure, the Rusty Blackhaw. This small tree lives its life in the shade of much larger majestic oaks, sweetgums, hickories, and hackberries. In the spring Rusty Blackhaws announce their presence with large clusters of small, white flowers similar to Elder. After these flowers do their job and drop away odd, football-shade drupes (fruit) appear. These fruit start out green but shift through shades of blue, red, purple through the summer until by late fall they are black and ready to eat. In the fall the leaves turn deep red and begin to drop off but many leaves remain even as new ones begin appearing. The bark of the trunk and branches of this tree have the same brick-like pattern and reddish-tan color of its close relative, the Farkleberry.

The mature fruit of Rusty Blackhaws is sweet and delicious. Even in late winter when they've dried into wrinkled raisin-like fruit they are often still quite edible. The large single seed isn't edible but as you eat the fruit save the seeds to plant in other likely spots. This wonderful tree is a native and needs to be spread.

When making jelly, these fruit usually have a large amount of natural pectin but the amount can vary quite a bit from tree to tree. It's good to have a bit of extra pectin on hand in case you fruit is low.


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.

Privacy & Amazon Paid Promotion Statement

I use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit this website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.


I participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The prices you pay for the item isn't affected, my sales commission comes out of Amazon's pocket.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.