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

Bottlebrush Tree

Scientific Name(s): Callistemon spp.
Abundance: common
What: leaves, flowers
How: tea, seasoning
Where: dry sunny yards, landscaping
When: all year
Nutritional Value: flavanoids

Medicinal Summary:
Leaves/Flowers - antifungal; antibacterial; antioxidant; cough suppressant (tisane)

Leaf Arrangement: The leaves are typically arranged alternately along the branches.

Leaf Shape: Leaves are lance-shaped, measuring around 2 to 6 inches in length.

Leaf Venation: The leaves have a prominent midrib with lateral veins.

Leaf Margin: Leaf margins are generally smooth, without serrations.

Flower Structure: The distinctive feature of the bottlebrush tree is its cylindrical flower spikes resembling a bottlebrush. The spikes can range from 2 to 12 inches in length.

Flower Color: Flowers come in various colors, including red, pink, purple, yellow, or white, depending on the species or cultivar.

Seed: The seeds are small and enclosed in woody capsules within the spent flower spikes.

Bark: The bark is typically smooth and ranges in color from gray to brown.

Height: Bottlebrush trees can vary in height, with some species growing up to 10 to 15 feet, while others can reach up to 30 feet.

Hairs: Leaves and stems may have fine hairs, particularly when young.

Fruit: The fruit is a small, woody capsule containing the seeds. Colors can range from brown to gray.

Bottlebrush tree


Close-up of opened flowers.

Close-up of closed flowers.

Close-up of leaves.

Close-up of branch with woody fruit.

Bottlebrush branch.

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

Used often as a decorative landscaping tree, the striking red blossoms of the bottlebrush tree offer more than visual beauty. Their aroma is invigorating, somewhat minty or menthol in nature. The trees are small, rarely more than 15' tall and equally as wide. The leaves are evergreen and the blossoms also last can be found on the tree almost all year round. These flowers really explode vigorously in mid-spring and are often swarmed with bees who know a good thing when they smell it!

Both the flowers and leaves can be used to make an aromatic tea. The fresh blossoms do give a sweeter flavor than leaves. Aging the harvested leaves for two weeks helps as this breaks down the cell walls, allowing more of the flavorful compounds to escape into the tea. Flowers, being more delicate, do not benefit any from being aged and ideally are used fresh off the tree.

You can also use the leaves and flowers of the bottlebrush tree similar in manner to bay or rosemary leaves. Add several to a sauce, stew, or roasting meat to add an exotic flavor.

Mashed bottlebrush leaves rubbed on the skin is reported to keep away insects. This property may also be used to keep clothes, bedding, and houses bug free by laying sprigs of the leaves around whatever you want protected.

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: Arctium minus, Arctium lappa
Abundance: rare
What: young leaves, flower stalks, 1st year root
How: young leaves raw, as tea, stir-fried, or boiled in 2-3 changes of water; peel green skin of plant stalks to reveal inner white core which is eaten raw or cooked; root of 1st-year plants less than 1" in diameter and must be peeled then boiled in two changes of water until tender; roasted roots for coffee
Where: open fields, sunny areas, woods
When: leaves in spring, flower stalks in summer, roots summer and fall
Nutritional Value: Roots contain some minerals, vitamins C & B6, and some calories. Leaves contain many vitamins and phytochemicals
Other uses: you can stick a bunch of the burrs together to make a crown, but that usually ends badly
Dangers: burrs are clingy, do not confuse with toxic Cocklebur (Xanthium pennsylvanicum)

Medicinal Summary:
Root - liver protective and accelerator; anti-inflammatory (tisane, tincture)

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

Leaf Shape: The basal leaves are large, broad, and heart-shaped.

Leaf Venation: They exhibit pinnate venation, with a prominent central vein from which smaller veins branch out.

Leaf Margin: The margins of the leaves are wavy and slightly toothed.

Leaf Color: They are dark green on the upper surface and lighter, often gray-green, and woolly underneath.

Flower Structure: Burdock has globular flower heads, clustered at the ends of branches.

Flower Color: The flowers are primarily purple or pinkish.

Fruits: The fruits are burrs, which are prickly and hook-like, aiding in seed dispersal by clinging to animals and clothing.

Seeds: Seeds are small, enclosed within the burrs.

Stems: Stems are stout, ridged, and can reach significant heights.

Roots: Long, slender taproot approximately 1.5" in diameter at the upper, thickest part and growing over 3 feet in length. Outer skin of roots is brown and inner flesh is white to off-white in color.

Hairs: The undersides of leaves and the stems may have fine hairs.

Plant Height: It typically grows about 3 to 4 feet in the first year and can reach over 6 feet in the second year.

Burdock plant. Note the large, wavey-edged leaves.



Mature Burdock plant with flowers and immature seed bur. Leaves towards top of plant are much smaller than those at base.

Close-up of Burdock flower and seed bur.

Burdock stem.

Burdock root (partial).

More burdock roots. These are up to 32 inches long.

Close-up of dried Burdock bur. Not the roundish shape and long, thin hooks.

Close-up of cluster of Burdock burs.

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

Burdocks prefer moist areas such as along stream banks and shady, wooded areas that stay wet. These biennial (live two years) plants produces large leaves the first year followed by flower stalks, flowers, smaller leaves, and clingy burs the second year. Both the Common Burdock (Arctium minus) and the Great Burdock (Arctium lappa) are edible. The outer rind of both the roots and plant stalks is very bitter and must be removed. If the root still has some bitterness boiling with changes of water will remove it. I find the peeled roots have a delicious sweet/savory flavor and a texture similar to bamboo shoots.

The peeled roots can also be used to make a caffeine-free coffee substitute. Dice the roots then roast them to your preferred level of darkness in an oven at 400F. Grind these roasted roots in a coffee grinder than either use as-is or mix with regular coffee grounds.

The roots are also excellent when pickled using the Ball Book of Canning recipe for pickling okra.

Cocklebur (Xanthium pennsylvanicum), which are toxic, also produce clingy burs. However, the burs of Cocklebur are much more oblong/cigar shaped than Burdock burs. Also, Cocklebur leaves are sharply toothed whereas the Burdock leaves have a wavy edge.

Cocklebur plant. Toxic, do not eat!

Close-up of the toxic Cocklebur leaf.

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.

Canna Lily

Scientific name: Canna indica
Abundance: common
What: Tubers, young shoots
How: Pulp to remove starch, cook shoots
Where: Sunny areas, often in landscapes
When: summer, fall
Nutritional Value: Calories
Other uses: They will absorb pollutants/contaminants from wetlands.

Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are alternately arranged along the stem, forming a spiral pattern.

Leaf Shape: Leaves are broad, lanceolate to ovate, often measuring 1.5 to 2 feet long and 6 to 10 inches wide.

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

Leaf Margin: Margins are entire, smooth along the edges.

Leaf Color: Typically a lush green, but some cultivars may have variegated or purplish leaves.

Flower Structure: Flowers are large and showy, with three petals and three sepals, resembling petals.

Flower Color: Varies widely among cultivars, commonly red, orange, yellow, or pink.

Fruit: Produces a capsule-like fruit approximately 1" in diameter.  

Seed: Seeds are round and black, about the size of small peas.

Stem: Stems are fleshy, erect, and can be either green or pigmented, depending on the variety.

Hairs: Leaves and stems are generally smooth, without significant hairs.

Height: Typically grows 3 to 6 feet tall, though some varieties may reach up to 10 feet.

Mature canna lilies in the wild.
The leaves look like banana plants and can be used to wrap foods for cooking just like banana leaves.

Mature canna lilies in my backyard.

Edible tuber. Use it just like a potato.

Young edible shoot.

Flowers (not edible).




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

Canna lilies were a vital food source for Northwestern Native Americans and contain the highest percentage of starch of any known tuber. They can be cooked like potatoes though the natives would also make flour from them. To obtain canna lily flour slice the tubers into 1/4" disks and allow them to dry for a day or two. Then crumble these disks up in a large bowl of water. The starch (flour) will sink to the bottom of the bowl and any fiber will float to the top where it can be collected and discarded. Allow the starch to dry completely then grind/pound it into flour.

The tubers can be eaten raw but cooking them makes their starch more digestible. Traditionally they are boiled but baking in medium heat (300F) a long time gives great results. Native cultures would bury them under a fire for up to 12 hours. Cook them with their skin to keep them from drying out during cooking but then discard the skin before eating.

The starchy tubers can also be used to make alcohol, just like potatoes. A amylase enzyme of some sort needs to be added to break its starch down into sugars which can be converted into alcohol by yeast. Yeast can't change starch into alcohol.

The young shoots can be cooked and eaten like asparagus and the leaves can be used like banana leaves to wrap food for baking.

These plants are hardy and grow very well in most conditions though they prefer sun and moisture. Leaf-roller caterpillars will "stitch" the top growing leaves together resulting in stunted, ugly growth but they don't kill the plant. Just open up the leaves and remove the caterpillar. You can also cut the rolled leaves off and the plant will resume normal growth.

These plants will thrive in the southern areas of the United States but north of the Mason-Dixon line it is best if you dig up the tubers and store them in a dark, cool (but not freezing!) place then replanting them 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.

Carolina Bristle Mallow

Scientific Name(s): Modiola caroliniana
Abundance: plentiful
What: leaves
How: tea
Where: yards, fields, wastelands
When: spring, summer, fall, winter
Nutritional Value: minor
Dangers: beware poisonous mimic Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)

Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are arranged alternately along the stem.

Leaf Shape: The leaves of Modiola caroliniana are ovate to heart-shaped, often with a slightly lobed or undulating margin. Lobes become less pronounced as the plant matures.

Leaf Venation: Venation is palmate, with each lobe having a central vein.

Leaf Margin: The leaf margins are crenate or serrate, meaning they have rounded or sharp teeth respectively.

Leaf Color: Leaves are generally a medium to dark green.

Flower Structure: The 5-petaled flowers are solitary, 1/4" in diameter, and borne on long pedicels.

Flower Color: Carolina bristle mallow is notable for their bright orange to red color, with a yellow center.

Fruits: The fruit is a small, flat capsule containing several seeds. Young capsules are green, but turn dark as the mature.

Seeds: Seeds are tiny and numerous.

Stems: Stems are slender and can be either erect or sprawling but generally creep along the ground

Hairs: The plant has coarse hairs along the stems, leaves, and seed capsules.

Roots: Roots often grow wherever the stem's leaf junction touches soil.

Plant Height: Carolina bristle mallow typically grows to a height of 6 to 12 inches.

Carolina Bristle Mallow.



Close-up of flower and seedpod.

Surface portion of Carolina Bristle Mallow plus long runner.

Younger Carolina Bristle Mallow leaves are more deeply cleft/lobed than mature leaves.

The leaves feel coarse and the stem is hairy.

Close-up of the leaves.

The stem/runners of Carolina Bristle Mallow put down roots where it touches soil.

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.

Creeping through the grass of unkempt yards and just about anywhere else where other plant life doesn't tower over it, Carolina Bristle Mallow is found all over Texas...or at least anywhere there's enough rainfall to support grass. The plant looks and feels unappealing, with its coarse, scratchy leaves and stiff, hairy stem. While this plant looks a bit like the highly nutritious Malva neglecta, Carolina Bristle Mallow is unrelated and doesn't have a similar high vitamin, mineral, and protein content. In fact, it's not even in the Malvaceae family but rather the lone member of its own unique genus, Modiola.

It's not a plant one adds to salads nor is there any record of anyone cooking it. Its only common use is to make a refreshing cold tea by soaking the shredded leaves in water for a couple of hours, staining, then serving over ice. This tea was drank by Natives and settlers to fight overheating as there's some suggestions that it lowers the initial sweating temperature of its drinkers. The sooner one starts sweating, the more heat they can dump from their body as long as they are drinking enough water to stay well hydrated.

Don't mistake young, toxic Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens) for Carolina Bristle Mallow. Creeping Buttercup leaves have deeper clefts and a shinier, light-green color growing up from a single taproot. Remember, Carolina Bristle Mallow puts roots down anywhere its stems touch soil. If you aren't sure what you have, wait a few weeks to see how the plant grows. If it develops yellow flowers and sharply cleft leaves it's the toxic Creeping Buttercup.

Carolina Bristle Mallow on the left. Creeping Buttercup on the right.
Carolina Bristle Mallow - Creeping Buttercup

Young, toxic Creeping Buttercup.
Creeping Buttercup

Mature, toxic Creeping Buttercup.
Creeping Buttercup

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.

Clover - Crimson

Scientific Name(s): Trifolium incarnatum
Abundance: uncommon
What: seeds, flower
How: seeds ground into flour, sprouted; flower raw or dried for tea
Where: sunny fields and ditches with moist soil, landscaping
When: spring, early summer
Nutritional Value: calories

Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are arranged alternately along the stem.

Leaf Shape: The leaves are trifoliate, consisting of three leaflets. Each leaflet is ovate to elliptical in shape.

Venation: The venation is pinnate, with a central vein in each leaflet and smaller veins branching off to the sides.

Leaf Margin: The margins of the leaflets are entire, meaning they are smooth without any teeth or lobes.

Leaf Color: Leaves of crimson clover are typically a bright green color.

Flower Structure: The flowers are arranged in dense, elongated, cone-like heads up to 2" long. Each flower head is composed of numerous small, pea-like florets.

Flower Color: The flowers are a striking crimson red, which is the characteristic feature of this clover species.

Fruit: The fruit is a small pod, typically containing only a few seeds.

Seeds: Seeds are small, yellow to brown in color, and kidney-shaped.

Stem: The stem of Trifolium incarnatum is erect, branching, and somewhat hairy.

Hairs: The plant has fine hairs along the stems and on the leaves.

Height: Crimson clover can reach 20" tall in ideal growing conditions but is often half that height.

Field of crimson clover
Crimson Clover Flower IGFB9

Young flower just beginning to turn crimson.
Crimson Clover

Mature flower head. They are much more elongated than white and red clovers
Crimson Clover IGFB

Close-up of leaf. Note the fine hairs along the leaflets' edges.
Crimson Clover Leaf

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 sunny fields of east Texas turn fiery red in the springtime with thousands of Crimson Clover flowerheads. This durable, prolific wildflower can often be found growing profusely in road medians thanks to Lady Bird Johnson's Texas beautification program. Beware sticking your nose too close to inhale its sweet aroma as both butterflies and bees find its nectar quite delicious!

Though lacking the medicinal properties of Red Clover, Crimson Clover's flowerhead makes a pleasant tea and can be used either fresh or after drying. I've never smoked it but based on my experience with other clovers, it's likely it'll be just as good.

The seeds have a long history of being collected and ground into flour. The individual seeds are small but it's relatively easy to harvest many of them to add to other plant seeds you've gathered. These seeds can also be sprouted into highly nutritious microgreens using standard sprouting techniques.

Being a nitrogen fixer, Crimson Clover makes an excellent fallow crop for revitalizing depleted soils. They prefer near-neutral pH soil with good drainage for optimal growth. A thick mat of this will often choke out other weeds which is either good or bad depending on how hungry you are. :-)

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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