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

Buffalo Gourd

Scientific Name(s): Cucurbita foetidissima
Abundance: common
What: flower, seeds, root
How: flowers raw or fried; seeds roasted or boiled; root as tea
Where: dry fields
When: summer, fall, winter
Nutritional Value: calories and protein in the seeds
Dangers: flesh of the gourd is extremely bitter and can be poisonous in large doses due to saponins.

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

Leaf Shape: Leaves are broadly ovate to heart-shaped, measuring up to 14" long and 7" wide near the base. 

Leaf Venation: Pinnate venation, with veins running from the base to the tip of each leaf lobe.

Leaf Margin: The leaf margin is typically serrated or toothed.

Leaf Color: The leaves are usually gray-green.

Flower Structure: The flowers are large and showy, with five petals reaching 4" across and a prominent central column of stamens and pistils.

Flower Color: Flowers are typically bright yellow.

Fruit: The fruit is a small, mottled/striped skin, and spherical gourd 4" across. They start out green and turn a stripped yellow as the mature. Inside is mostly stringy white flesh with many seeds.

Seed: Inside the gourd are large, flat, off-white seeds.

Stem: The stem is typically creeping along the ground rather than climbing.

Root: Produces a giant taproot, may be human-shaped, multiple feet in size.

Hairs: Rough hairs may be present on some parts of the plant, including the stem.

Height: Cucurbita foetidissima can trail along the ground or climb on other vegetation and can reach varying heights.

Buffalo Gourd plant when young.

Mature Buffalo Gourd vine.

Buffalo Gourd fruit.

Small buffalo gourd root.


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.

Nose and eye find this plant at nearly the same time. The large, heart-shaped leaves and yellow, 5-petaled flowers of Buffalo Gourd give off an unpleasant smell which reminds me of nasty gym socks. Starting in mid-summer the fruit appear. Looking first like small, round watermelons these fruit eventually turn more yellow as they mature but never grow bigger than a baseball. Buffalo Gourd vines can stretch many yards from a central taproot and the beings perennials, show up in the same spot year after year. It's large taproot makes the plant very drought resistant and it grows best in the drier areas of Texas, especially in the Hill country and westward.

The flowers, similar to squash blossom, can be eaten both raw and fried. They do have a bad odor and are somewhat bitter when raw.

Buffalo gourd seeds were a staple food of early Texas Native Americans. The seeds must be completely cleaned of any gourd flesh or else they will be extremely bitter. Once completely cleaned they can be boiled and mashed into a porridge or roasted like pumpkin seeds and have a similar flavor. These seeds do contain a large amount of calories in the form of oil (25-42%) as well as a significant concentration of protein (22-35%).

The large taproot of Buffalo Gourds were to be strong medicine by Native Americans. These roots were used internally as a tea and also externally in poultices. Due to the high concentration of saponins and other potent chemicals healing with this root should only be tried under the direction of a trained herbalist!

Saponins are found in both the plant's root and in the skin of the gourds and are capable of producing a lather when vigorously combined with water. Because of this they were used as a soap substitute.

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.

Tree Cholla Cactus

Scientific Name(s): Opuntia imbricata
Abundance: common
What: flower buds, fruit
How: dry, boil, or roast flower buds then use like okra; fruit eaten raw or used like other berries
Where: West Texas desert areas, sunny, hillsides
When: flower buds in spring, fruit in fall & winter
Nutritional Value: unknown
Dangers: spines and glochids must be removed before eating. Large amounts of flower buds can cause diarrhea

Medicinal Summary:

Fruit - diuretic, soothes urinary tract pain/irritation (raw, tisane)
Sap - soothes gastrointestinal inflammations; anti-diarrheal, soothes skin irritations (poultice)
Flower Buds - laxative
Root - prevents kidney stones (tisane)

Leaf Arrangement: The leaves are small, ephemeral, and quickly turn into spines, with the primary structure being the stem segments.

Leaf Shape: Leaves are initially small and cylindrical but soon shrink and dry into sharp, long spines.

Leaf Venation: Not applicable, as the leaves are modified into spines and do not have typical venation.

Leaf Margin: The margins are not defined in the modified spiny leaves.

Leaf Color: The leaves are initially green but are not a significant feature as they are quickly replaced by spines.

Flower Structure: Flowers are solitary, growing from the edges of the stem segments.

Flower Color: The blooms are typically bright pink to magenta, occasionally red or yellow.

Fruit: Produces a fleshy, elongated fruit, often purple or red when ripe.

Seed: The seeds are small and encased within the fruit.

Stem: Characterized by thick, cylindrical, woody stem segments, often referred to as cladodes or pads.

Hairs: There are no true hairs, but spines and glochids (tiny barbed bristles) are present on the stem segments.

Height: The plant can grow into a large shrub or small tree, typically reaching 4 to 8 feet in height.

Tree cholla cactus, also known as cane cholla in Big Bend Ranch State Park, April 2018
Cactus Cholla

Tree cholla flower buds.
Cactus Cholla

Cactus Cholla

Opened flowers of tree cholla.
Cactus Cholla

Cactus Cholla

Unripe tree cholla fruit (they need to be more yellow).

Overly ripe fruit (found in the spring rather than fall/winter).
Cactus Cholla

Dead tree chollas look kind of cool and are surprisingly strong.
Cactus Cholla

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.
Tree Cholla TX USDA

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Tree Cholla NA USDA

The many-trunked limbs, each about 1.5" in diameter and covered in many ~0.5" spines, of tree cholla dot the hillsides of the southwestern Texas Chihuahuan desert. These common cacti can grow to eight feet tall and in the spring there purple flowers stand out strongly from the reddish-brown desert. In the fall the branch tips will be covered in fleshy, yellow fruit, again about 1.5" in diameter and approximately 1.5" long. Dead tree chollas lose their skin and soft tissue to reveal an odd skeleton of wood perforated with a pattern of oblong, narrow holes. These dead branches are surprisingly tough and are used to make walking sticks.

In the spring the flower buds can be harvested for food but beware the many spines, both large and small, that protect these buds. Tongs and a sharp, long-bladed knife are the best tools for collecting them. Burn off the spines with a propane torch or rub them gently but thoroughly with gravel to break the spines of the buds. Once these spines are removed the flower buds can be dried/dehydrated for later use. Natives of the desert would grind the dried flower buds into a flour-like powder. If you want to use the buds right away I'm told they should be boiled first for a bit to tenderize them some, then use them like okra or Brussel sprouts.

Come fall, the ripe fruit can be collected with the same tongs and knife, followed by removal of the spines. These juicy, yellow fruit have a sour flavor with a salty side. Once the spines are removed they can be eaten raw. Another favorite way to prepare them is in a fruit smoothie. Their salt content can help people in the early stages of dehydration (assuming water is available) by replenishing salts lost to sweating. I'm think slices of the fruit would work as a pickle-substitute on a hamburger but I haven't had a chance to try that yet.

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): Ginkgo biloba
Abundance: rare
What: leaves, nuts
How: leaves raw, tea; seed/nut roasted
Where: woods, landscaping
When: leaves in spring, summer, fall; nut in summer
Nutritional Value: leaves are medicinal, nuts have calories
Dangers: the fruit STINKS and contains assorted, somewhat dangerous chemicals. Do not let the raw fruit pulp come in contact with bare flesh, mouth, or eyes.

Medicinal Summary
Leaves - improves blood circulation; improves memory; may reduce dementia (eaten, tisane)

Leaf Arrangement: Leaves are unique, fan-shaped, and arranged alternately along the stem.

Leaf Shape: Ginkgo leaves have a distinctive fan shape, typically measuring 2 to 3 inches in length. Often displaying a cleft in the middle.

Leaf Margin: Leaves have a lobed or bilobed margin.

Leaf Color: Foliage is bright green in the summer, turning golden yellow in the fall.

Flower Structure: Ginkgo trees are dioecious, meaning there are separate male and female trees. Male flowers are small, catkin-like structures.

Flower Color: Flowers are small (1/8") cones growing on 1"-2" spikes, being either green or yellow.

Fruit (Seed): The fruit is a large, fleshy seed surrounded by a foul-smelling outer layer. The seed is about 1 inch in diameter. They onlt form on female trees and ripen in the fall.

Bark: Bark is typically light gray and smooth on young trees, becoming rougher and more deeply furrowed with age.

Height: Ginkgo trees can grow to be 50 to 80 feet tall.

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

Branching Pattern: Ginkgo trees have an open, spreading growth form with distinct branches.

Ginkgo leaves.

Close-up of Ginkgo leaf.

Ginkgo trunk.

Young Ginkgo tree.

Unripe Ginkgo fruit (female trees, only).

Close-up of Ginkgo fruit. When yellow/orange, soft, wrinkly, and falling from the tree it's ripe.

Ginkgo fruit (ripening in the fall).
2014-11-02 12 13 29 Ginkgo foliage and fruit during autumn at the Ewing Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Ewing, New Jersey
By Famartin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Ginko nuts after removing outer fruit (female trees only).

Ginko trees, native to Asia, are now common landscaping plants. Due to the mess and smell of the ripe nut outer coating, usually only male forms of the tree are used. Ginkgo are ancient trees dating back 270 million years and is considered a "living fossil" and a single tree can live 1,000 years. Individual ginkgo trees are either male or female, with only the female producing fruit. The fruit ripens in the summer as approximately grape-sized yellow fruit. This fruit pulp smells really bad, something like a cross between dog poop and vomit. This pulp is discard because the real treasure is the large seed it contains. Wear rubber gloves when digging the seed out of the ginkgo fruit or else your hands will stink for days. Scrub any pulp off the seeds with plenty of running water. The seeds/nuts are then roasted as the unroasted seeds are still somewhat toxic.

Ginkgo leaves have a long history of being used to treat issues with blood circulation, memory, and dementia. The easiest way to use them is to chew a leaf into a pulp and then suck on this pulp for 10-20 minutes. Tea can also be made from the leaves.

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.

Ground Cherry

Scientific Name(s): Physalis species
Abundance: uncommon
What: fruit
How: raw, cooked
Where: fields, borders, woods
When: summer, fall
Nutritional Value: Vitamin A, B3, C
Dangers: unripe berries can cause stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea

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

Leaf Shape: The leaves are variable, but they are often ovate to heart-shaped, with lengths ranging from 2 to 5 inches and widths from 1 to 3 inches.

Leaf Venation: The venation is usually pinnate, with prominent lateral veins.

Leaf Margin: The leaf margins are typically toothed or lobed, adding a serrated appearance.

Leaf Color: The leaves are green, and there may be variations in color on the top and underside.

Flower Structure: The flowers are solitary or clustered in the leaf axils. Each 5-petaled flower has a bell-shaped structure with a diameter of about 1 inch and features five distinct petals.

Flower Color: The flower color is usually yellow with a brownish core, but breeding has created other colors such as red and orange.

Fruit: The fruit is a papery husk or "physalis," which encases a small berry-like fruit.

Seed: Seeds are small, round, and numerous within the berry, with colors ranging from yellow to orange.

Stem: The stems are usually green, herbaceous, and slightly hairy.

Hairs: Hairs may be present on the stems and leaves.

Height: Ground cherry plants vary in height but typically range from 1 to 3 feet, depending on the species and growing conditions.

Top view of ground cherry (Physalis pubescens) plant.


Side/under-leaf view of ground cherry plant with unripe fruit pods.

Close-up of ground cherry flower.

Close-up of unripe ground cherries still on the plant.

Ground cherries in November in Houston, TX. Notice how long and pointy the edges of the leaves have become.
Ground Cherry

Ripe ground cherry fruit.

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.

Ground cherries are members of the nightshade family, just as are their close cousins and similar tasting tomatillos. Ground cherries straddle that fine line between fruit and vegetable, and can be used both as a somewhat sour berry in tarts and other desserts as well as to make tangy sauces, salsa, and other tomato/tomatillo type foods. My mom preferred to use them as a berry in desserts, but I never really like them served that way. I think they are better in Mexican and Italian style foods.

Ground cherries easily reseed and are effortlessly grown in gardens. They do best in dappled sunlight but not full shade. If near a steady source of water such as a pond or stream they can handle full Texas sun. Loose sandy soil works best. Once the plant begins fruiting in the summer it will continue to produce up to 300 of the small, yellow berries until frost kills the plant.

The plant usually drops the fruit pod before the fruit inside is ripe. Simply pick the pod off the ground and store it in an open container on your counter until the outer pod turns from yellow to a orangish sort of color. At that point you can remove them from the husk and use them. You can leave them in their husks/fruit pods for up to three months if stored at 50F in a mesh bag.

As part of the nightshade family, these fruit have a small amount of toxicity when unripe. If eaten before they are ready they will cause very bad stomach distress.

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.


Scientific Name(s): Podophyllum peltatum
Abundance: uncommon
What: fruit
How: peel rind then eat raw
Where: woods
When: early summer
Nutritional Value:
Dangers: fruit contains a small amount of toxin but is safe to eat in moderation. Do not eat the seeds or fruit rind.

Leaf Arrangement: 1st year plants have one leaf. Plants two years or older plants will have two leaves opposite each other at the end of the stem.

Leaf Shape: The leaves are large, deeply lobed, and umbrella-like, often reaching lengths of 12 to 16 inches and widths of 8 to 12 inches.

Leaf Venation: The venation is palmate, with several prominent veins radiating outward from the base of the leaf.

Leaf Margin: The leaf margin is typically lobed and can be smooth or slightly wavy.

Leaf Color: The leaves are bright green and may have a slightly glossy appearance. The underside is paler than the upper surface.

Flower Structure: The flowers are solitary, one per plant, and appear at the leaf axils, typically measuring around 2 to 3 inches in diameter.

Flower Color: The flowers are usually white, occasionally with a tinge of pink or yellow.

Fruit: The fruit is a large, fleshy berry.

Seed: The seeds are numerous, small, and brown, contained within the berry.

Stem: The stem is round and smooth.

Hairs: The plant may have minimal to no hairs on the stem and leaves.

Height: Podophyllum peltatum can reach a height of 12 to 18 inches, with the large, distinctive leaves held above the ground on a single stem.

Mayapple seedling.

Mayapples in East Texas woods in March.

Mayapple plants in June in central Texas. They can have either one or two leaves.

Individual mayapple plant.

Mayapples stems are about nine inches long before the Y-joint and about 18 inches overall.

Mayapple leaves.

Mayapple Y-joint. A single fruit grows off the small stem at the center of the Y-joint.

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.

Mayapples are oddly named as its single, white flower appears in the spring, but the fruit doesn't ripen until early June in Texas. The fruit is yellow and somewhat wrinkly when ripe and small, about two inches along it's longest dimension. Do not eat the fruit if it is still green. Peel the fruit and just eat the inner flesh. Do not eat the skin/rind as it is a strong laxative. The seeds, root, and leaves contain powerful toxins and must NOT be consumed. After enjoying the fruit's flesh, plant the seeds so more mayapples will grow.

Mayapples prefer moist soil in dappled shade so look for it in low-laying woods along paths or where the tree canopy has openings that let a bit of sunlight reach the forest floor. Usually several of the above ground portions near each other are connected via a long, single root. The entire above-ground portion dies away in late summer/early fall.

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 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.