Showing posts with label Orange Fruit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Orange Fruit. Show all posts

Desert Hackberry

Scientific Name: Celtis pallida
Abundance: common
What: fruit
How: raw, cooked
Where: dry, desert areas
When: late summer, fall
Nutritional Value: calories
Dangers: spines are sharp!

Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are alternate along the stem.

Leaf Shape: Simple, ovate leaves with serrated margins, typically measuring 1 to 2 inches in length.

Leaf Color: Foliage is typically pale green to gray-green.

Flower Structure: Inconspicuous, small, greenish flowers are arranged in clusters.

Flower Size: Individual flowers are very small, around 1/8 inch in size.

Fruit (Drupe): The fruit is a small, rounded drupe, about 1/4 inch in diameter, typically reddish-brown when ripe.

Bark: Bark is mottled grayish-brown, with thorns. Some thorns may have smaller thorns.

Height: Desert hackberry can grow to be a medium-sized tree, reaching heights of 20 to 30 feet.

Hairs: Leaves may have microscopic hairs, giving a slightly rough texture.

Branching Pattern: The branching pattern is irregular, and the tree may have a somewhat open form.

Desert Hackberry fruit when ripe.
Desert Hackberry

Close-up of ripe fruit.
Desert Hackberry

Thicket of Desert Hackberry trees. They grow with interlaced trunks and branches.
Desert Hackberry

Close-up of leaves.
Desert Hackberry

Note how the young branch "zig-zags" betweens leaf nodes and spines.
Desert Hackberry

Close-up of spines on young twig.
Desert Hackberry

Close-up of spine on mature branch.
Desert Hackberry

Desert Hackberry trunk.
Desert Hackberry

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.
DesertHackberry TX Map

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

As much as I love Desert Hackberries, birds love them even more. The spiny thickets that these small tree form are are a safe, food-filled haven for all manner of small birds. Look for these thickets in arid, hot areas of south and west Texas, though in these environments they will likely cluster near water sources including dry gullies. The trees rarely get much over 15 feet tall. The small, oval leaves stay on the tree most of the year but can fall in extremely dry conditions.

The ripe fruit is quite sweet, orange in color, and its single seed is much softer than the hard stone found in Sugar Hackberry fruit. I eat the whole thing raw, seed and nut combined. It can be eaten raw, mashed then baked into a calorie-laden snack bar, or boiled in some water to make a syrup. A truly industrious person could gather enough of the ripe fruit to make a bottle of wine or two if they were willing to fight through the plant's thorns...and deal with the resulting angry birds.

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): Hosta species
Abundance: common
What: flowers, leaves, young shoots
How: cooked, pickled
Where: landscaping, shade
When: fall, winter, spring
Nutritional Value:
Dangers: none

Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are basal, emerging directly from the crown of the plant in a rosette formation.

Leaf Shape: Leaves vary from heart-shaped to nearly circular, commonly measuring 6 to 18 inches long and wide, depending on the variety.

Leaf Venation: Venation is pinnate, with a prominent central vein and secondary veins branching off.

Leaf Margin: Margins can be smooth, wavy, or slightly serrated, varying among cultivars.

Leaf Color: Leaf color ranges from green to blue-green, with many varieties displaying variegation in white, cream, or yellow.

Flower Structure: Flowers are tubular, 1"-1.5" long, arranged on tall, erect scapes (stem/stalk) above the foliage.

Flower Color: Flower colors vary from white to lavender and purple.

Fruit: Small, about pea-sized berries, in a line along the end of the scape.

Seed: Seeds are small and black, contained within the capsules.

Stem: The flowering stems, or scapes, are long and leafless, extending above the leafy rosette.

Hairs: Leaves are generally smooth, without significant hairs.

Height: Foliage height varies by variety, generally 1 to 2 feet, with flower scapes extending higher.

Varieties of Hostas.


Close-up of Hosta flowers.

Hosta berries. The short stems coming off the thicker stem have already dropped their berries.

Crushed Hosta berry to show seed and pulp.

Across North America hostas are a very pretty, trouble-free landscaping plant, sometimes call "Plantain Lily". However, here in Texas they do take some care to keep alive. According to Texas A&M, the six best hostas for Texas are: Royal Standard, Blue Cadet, So Sweet, Albo-Marginata, Sugar & Cream, and Blue Angel. Of these only Blue Cadet looked great even in the summer. As summer progresses the local Walmart garden centers have these on clearance for as little as $0.50 and since they do okay indoors as a potted plant you can grow food on your windowsill.

Hostas have a long history of use as food, with the tender, new shoots being the favored part. These are eaten raw or cooked by sautéing or steaming. I want to try grilling them like asparagus or greenbriar tips. The flowers can be picked and added raw to salads. Supposedly some people use the raw flowers as cake decoration but I still have to try that. The sound leaves are also eaten raw but I bet they would ferment well.

My research hasn't turned up any edible uses of the berries.

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): Eriobotrya japonica
Abundance: plentiful
What: fruit, leaves
How: fruit raw, dried, jam/jelly, wine; leaves made into tea
Where: landscaping
When: spring
Nutritional Value: calories, vitamin A, trace minerals

Medicinal Summary:
Leaves - anti-cancer; anti-inflammatory; cough suppressant; congestion relief; anti-viral for lung-specific infections (tisane, tincture)
Seeds - anti-inflammatory; reduces chemotherapy damages; reduces allergic dermatitis; anti-diabetic types I & II (tisane, tincture)

Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are alternately arranged along the branches.

Leaf Shape: Leaves are oblong to elliptical, commonly measuring 5 to 12 inches long and 3 to 4 inches wide.

Leaf Venation: The venation is pinnate, with prominent midribs and noticeable lateral veins.

Leaf Margin: Margins are serrated or toothed, especially towards the leaf tip.

Leaf Color: Dark green on the upper surface, often with a rusty or grayish-brown underside due to dense pubescence.

Flower Structure: The 1" diameter flowers have 5 petals and are arranged in dense terminal panicles 6 to 10 inches long.

Flower Color: Typically white or cream-colored.

Fruit: Produces a pome fruit, similar in appearance to an apple, usually 1 to 2 inches in diameter.

Seed: Each fruit contains one to five large, brown seeds.

Stem: Branches are woody and can become quite thick in older plants.

Hairs: Leaves have a dense, woolly pubescence, particularly on the underside.

Height: The tree can grow to 10 to 30 feet in height.

Loquat tree

Closeup of loquat flower on New Year's Day.

Young loquat fruit


Ripe loquat fruit on tree.

Ripe loquat fruit artistically displayed in a bowl.

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

Loquat trees have a tropical appearance yet are evergreen and can handle cold weather down to 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit. They are a common landscaping tree in Houston and thrive here. Their golden fruit ripens in late spring with the best crops coming after a cool winter. They are self fertile which is convenient for homeowners. The fruit has an elongated shape but is smaller than a golf ball and contain 1-3 fairly large, inedible seeds. They have a sweet, tangy taste and can be eaten in many ways including raw, candied, stewed, made into jams, jelly, or wine or dried. Some people prefer to peel off the tart, fuzzy skin. A tree over seven years old can produce up to 110 pounds of fruit each year!

Tea made from loquat leaves is considered a strong medicine in Asia. Besides containing large concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they also contain amygdalin which is believed to help repair liver damage/increase liver functioning. For diabetics, loquats leaves contain triterpens (tormentic acid) and assorted polysaccharides, both of which may stimulate insulin production which is beneficial for diabetics. Leaves and creams made from the leaves were placed on skin cancers and loquat leaf tea was used to fight internal cancers.

The seeds of loquats can be used to create an amaretto-flavored liquor. Add 5-7 chopped loquat seeds to 1 liter of 90-proof or greater alcohol lad let soak with shaking for six months. After six months strain out the seeds and add up to 250 mL of sugar water (1 cup water + 1 cup sugar) to sweeten. Base the amount of sugar water on taste...but don't drink all your liquor while trying to get the proportions right!

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.

Palm - Canary Island Date

Scientific Name(s): Phoenix canariensis
Abundance: uncommon
What: fruit, flowers, sap
How: fruit raw, dried, cooked; flowers raw; sap straight, fermented, or evaporated to syrup or sugar
Where: landscaping
When: fall
Nutritional Value: calories

Canary Island date palm.

Canary Island Date Palm

Canary Island date palm base.

Canary Island date palm trunk.

Trunk with almost-mature fruit.
Canary Island Date Palm

Canary Island date palm crown.

Canary Island date palm needle-type leaf. Note the alternating pattern.

Almost ripe fruit.
Canary Island Date Palm

Canary Island Date Palm

These palms usually remain short and squat for ten years or more before growing taller to their final height of thirty to sixty feet. The leaves are long like those of the Queen palm rather than fan-shaped.

Fall is when the fruit appear on clusters of long strands. They are yellow-orange oval, 3/4" long, flesh is sweet but very thin over a large seed making it undesirable as snacking date. The preferred utilization of these dates is conversion to jelly...or wine! Woohoo!

A good palm oil can be pressed from its seeds using a nut press.

The sap is very sweet and can be drank as is, fermented into palm wine, or evaporated down to palm syrup or sugar. Traditionally it is collected by carefully carving a bowl-shaped depression in the tree's crown in the late afternoon or evening. The sap collects in this depression overnight and is gathered in the morning. If left exposed to sun and air it will quickly spoil. Please note, carving out the crown of the tree in this manner will likely result in the palm dying. There has been some luck/non-tree death with cutting the young fruit stalks (inflorescence spadix) in early summer and collecting the sap from them.

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.

Palm - Queen

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

Queen palm.
Palm - Queen


Queen palm base.

Queen palm trunk.

Palm - Queen

Queen palm crown. Needle-type leaves.

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.

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.

Persimmon - Virginian

Scientific Name(s): Diospyros virginiana
Abundance: plentiful
What: fruit, leaves
How: fruit - raw, jams, jelly, candied, tarts; leaves - tea
Where: fields, sunny edges of woods
When: late summer, fall
Nutritional Value: fiber, Vit C, B, minerals, anti-oxidants, flavonoids.

Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are arranged alternately along the stems.

Leaf Shape: Leaves are generally oval to elliptical, ranging from 2 to 6 inches in length.

Leaf Venation: The venation pattern is pinnate, with a central midrib and smaller veins branching out.

Leaf Margin: The leaf margins are generally smooth and entire.

Leaf Color: Green on top, grayish underneath.

Flower Structure: Small, inconspicuous, bell-shaped flowers. The flowers are typically less than 0.5 inches in diameter and may have four petals.

Flower Color: Flowers typically have a cream-colored hue.

Fruit: Immature fruit is green-gray in color, turning orange-pink when mature. They will be approximately 1.5” in diameter, with a 5-pointed “crown” on their top.

Seed: Seeds within the fruit are usually less than 0.5 inches. They are typically oblong, flattish, brown, and shiny when ripe.

Bark: The bark is gray to blackish, developing deep furrows in a square, block-like 
pattern with age.

Hairs: All parts of the tree are hairless.

Height: Persimmon trees can reach heights of up to 80 feet and 30 feet wide.

Ripe persimmons on tree.

Virginia persimmon fruit is best/sweetest when it is orange in color and the "crown" separates easily from the fruit. In general, only female persimmon trees produce fruit but there are rare occasion when male trees have suddenly produced a few fruit now and then.

Unripe persimmon.

Young persimmon tree. Mature trees can grow 40 to 60 feet tall. The bark is gray to black in color.

Persimmon leaves are oval, smooth-edged, dark green on top and light green/gray on the bottom.

Unripe fruit. Persimmons contain six flatish seeds.

Virginia persimmon in the fall after losing its leaves but still retaining fruit.

Ripe fruit. Note the "crown" where it was attached to the tree.

If the crown separates easily from the fruit it's ready to eat. No frost needed!

Scaly/craggy bark of a mature Virginia persimmon tree.

Raccoons, coyotes, possums, and wild hogs love ripe Virginia persimmons. Finding the seeds in animal poop is a good indication to check your fruit for ripeness. These seeds are approximately 1/2" long.

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.

The Virginian Persimmon tree is mainly found in the northern areas of East Texas. The trees usually appear together in great numbers due to the many animals that eat the fruit and spread the seeds...along with a nice dollop of fertilizer. The trees are deciduous, losing their leaves in the fall. Only the females produce the edible fruit and the natural ratio for these trees is one female for every ten males. This means you need to plant a lot of seedlings to insure fruit. No one has yet figured out how to tell if a persimmon tree is male or female until it's started producing flowers...about seven years old. Luckily the seeds are very easy to sprout, resulting in numerous persimmon trees in the same area. Persimmon wood is very dense and hard, much like its relative ebony. It's a bit heavy as a walking stick but dang near indestructible so that's what I use.

Persimmons aren't sweet enough to eat until they are dark orange in color and their crown is easily plucked from the fruit.  An unripe persimmon is extremely astringent and will suck all the moisture from your mouth...which is kind of a funny joke to do to someone.

The ripe fruit has a wonderful, sweet flavor. The skins are edible but the body has a hard time digesting them. This can lead to an obstructed bowel if too many fruit are eaten at once.

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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