Friday, October 26, 2007

As Hoss Says, Maybe I'm Talking to Myself

Is the title an inside joke? Since no one reads this blog or has botanical expertise, I did my own research to answer the blog questions I submitted below. The tree with nuts appears to be a basswood which is related to the linden tree. The seed pod was an embarrassment as it is probably an Arrowleaf arum seed pod and I certainly should have identified that as it was on the shore of the James River. Since there are numerous versions of this the USDA site is .

In case you don't go to the link, more information here:

" The dried root was reportedly used by some American Indians as a flour for making bread, and the dried fruit were cooked like peas. The Nanticoke of Deleware prepared a mixture of grated root and milk which were given to babies for unknown purpose.

In any case, the plant part must be thoroughly dried before eaten because it contains calcium oxalate crystals which causes a burning in the mouth. Cooking does not remove this property well, only complete drying. The root should be harvested in Fall or early Spring, and the fruit in late Summer to Fall.
" and even more interesting here:

" Another name for this plant is Tuckahoe, and i've found interesting and conflicting reasons for this. Some maintain that Tuckahoe was a nickname (derived from native American word) for the lowlands of NC (then considered part of the territory of Virginia) and for the inhabitants of the area. It was also a name used for Powhatan Indians, and sometimes used to denote poor whites. Apparently, the settlers east of the Blue Ridge mountains were called Tuckahoe and the settlers west were referred to as Cowee. Early Appalachia Melungeons (mixed Indian and European) took English surnames and lived among the early Tuckahoes. Apparently in Algonquin the word meant 'round' or possibly 'tubular round dirty plant.'

Friday, October 19, 2007

Identity Crisis

While taking many long walks in the Virginia woods near Williamsburg and Jamestown we encountered many interesting botanical items. The first photo above is a wild persimmon which carpeted an area beside the road. My husband and I are grazers and just had to taste them. They were deliciously sweet even though they were small, the size of golf balls, and filled with large black seeds.

The next two photos, we could not identify. Any suggestions?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Down in the Pawpaw Patch

Fall is for walking. The smells are musty the sounds are crackling and the views are warm and ever changing.

We had completed Saturday’s chores and Sunday morning woke with reward in mind. Walking on the trail in a nearby state park was the solution to a lovely Sunday morning in late September. As we crossed over hilly terrain we came across a valley of pawpaw trees. Quite a few still held their lingering fruit. The fermented fruit smell greeted our nostrils as we passed under the large leaves of the trees just above our heads. Beneath the branches were scattered orbs in colors of pale green, yellow and some a deep maroon plum in color. A few had been sampled by wildlife but most remained untouched as they lay in their bed of fallen leaves.

We could not resist and so selected the least damaged and proceeded to sample the sweet, creamy, custard fruit cutting carefully around the large black seeds.

This gave us sustenance for our continued hike toward the little lake and then the view of the distant ocean just beyond.

As we were crossing one of the boardwalks, this little fellow was also out enjoying the warmth of the fall day.