Tag Archives: cattails

Swamp things and Cattails

4 Jul

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In a large cattail swamp today, primarily to gather a few cattail male flower heads and of course to take in the surprises along the way.

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Here we see the dark green top section of the cattail which I will be gathering today. I have put of gathering foods from swamps for decades due to possible toxins in the stagnant waters from a variety of causes, it is wise to know the sources of the water your dealing with and also the area’s history as this type of wetland were popular places for folks to dump all kinds of stuff especially in the previous century. Many of the edible plants from these environments also tend to bioaccumulate heavy metals and other not so goodies usually to the highest degree in their roots but also in the leaves and stems less so. I do occasionally eat the tasty cattail shoots lightly cooked and there were many still today which were in excellent shape for that though I am only slightly comfortable with this collection site and will stick with the edible part of the plant least likely to accumulate toxins.

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This cattail area has almost entirely narrow leaf cattail Tyha angustifolia which is less common and usually grows in deeper water, key identifier for narrow leaf cattail is the visible space between the male and female flower heads (click on the side view ha photo) as the common cattail has no space between the 2. The male flowers heads are a very nutrient rich food and taste very good steamed, the green and yellow parts are scrapped off the thin woody core, so this is a top quality food if you can get over our common view of swamps and also take the extra step in doing our homework on the site we choose. I’m somewhat surprised cattail and some of the other swamp plants have not been altered into common crops here in North America.

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Here we see the early growth of another swamp plant known as bur-reed, not sure which member of the Sparganium this is but what a beauty. This plant will grow several feet high and its seedheads when mature become solid and resemble a medieval weapon head.

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Another look at the early developing plant, these plants have small edible spread out tubers. This may make an interesting edible potted plant for those with creative green thumbs.

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The red winged blackbirds who accompanied me all the time during my swamp visit didn’t want to be photographed but my also constant friends the darter dragonfly was more than agreeable to pose for a pic.

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update – This is now the following day with a photo of the dried male flower in the bowl and the small central glass has dried powdered flowers. I did need to sift the green and yellow flower material from a fair amount of woolly fluff so it took some time to come up with 40 oz jar of dried flowers. I was hoping for a higher volume of pollen in the flowers so when I gather the larger common cattail in coming weeks I’ll wait for the male flower heads to lighten in color slightly and become puffy in spots which should mean the pollen is a few days from maturity and probably will make up a larger part of the product. Interestingly the scent of these dried flowers is somewhere between corn and dried stinging nettle, quite pleasant. ciao

These oldies are new to me

8 Jul

I haven’t posted in quite awhile so here are a few photos to show what has caught my attention recently. This year I am learning a bit about the ancient edible grasses and sedges which were commonly eaten before time was even created by man (he he), along also with other wild foods all new to me, so I can’t recommend anything I show here today as I am still in the process of growing comfortable with these foods. I am also having some fun with fermenting, especially with sour tonic beverages and should do some post on these in coming months.

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Here in my hand is a very common small bulrush in my area known as Scirpus microcarpus which will be easy gathering if its taste is to my liking, I’m interested in the interior stem bases cooked and seeds and possibly the sprouted seeds and flowers.

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Scirpus microcarpus flowers in June.

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Notice the red sections on the stems which makes this small bulrush S. microcarpus easy to identify from the many others in wet areas, this one will venture up on to drier areas like the edges of roads which is not a good gathering location, but it may make it a good plant to grow in marginal soils or in a soggy garden?

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Another fresh water marsh plant which is considered invasive in some parts on NA , Phragmites australis aka the Common Reed which is the largest grass in my area towering many feet above my head, here we see some young green shoots. This is a very useful plant with a 5 (which is the highest) edible rating at the PFAF website, check it out.

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The section at the top of the stem where the slight gold coloring is showing is what I’m after here, this is the male flowering section of the Cattail which is a good source of vitamin C and possibly antioxidants so I will tinker with drying some to use later on. It is a little tricky to harvest these and also select the right time as I’m a little late to start collecting for most of the Catttails in my area, I’ll be better prepared next year. Here is a link to a great video on harvesting this plant by Arthur Haines  —   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0XBlPROtz8

 chow for now

 

True nature is always in season

4 Apr

I set out this evening to visit an area which I suspected may have the first spring flowers in my area, interestingly enough another plant I forgot about was flowering. I love it when true nature proves me of the path again, anyway I have a few things to show you tonight.

Coltsfoot –Tussilago farfara —- This is a very common plant in Atlantic Canada and has medicinal uses, usually for cough relief. These are the first local spring flowers other than Skunk cabbage flowers

Teaberry–Gaultheria procumbens— Now I  think most folks in the north would be surprised to learn that the first ripe berry of the year is the Teaberry which actually over winters and then continues to increase in size and ripen fully in May to June, at least this is so in my neck of the woods. Teaberry fruit and leaves taste of wintergreen and have medicinal properties, don’t try this plant if you are allergic to aspirin.

Japanese knotweed–Polygonum cuspidatum— These grow into large plants often over 8 ft high, here is a photo of young buds, the early growth up to 1 ft can be used similar to rhubarb in desserts or like asparagus as a vegetable.

Trailing Arbutus–Epigaea repens—- This is the one I suspected may be in bloom in dry sandy jack pine areas, nope maybe in 7 to 10 days by the look of this photo.

Wild blueberry–Vaccinium angustifolium—Here are the spring blueberry stems which in the photo resembles a wild blueberry plant forest.

Cattails–In this photo both Typha latifolia & Typha angustifolia are growing together you will need to click the photo once or twice to enlarge enough to notice the different head sizes.

Lastly, I’m going to enter a page at some point concerning interesting rocks I encounter, here are a few from tonight’s adventure. Also there are plenty of info on the net for uses of the above plants so check them out if they grow in your area, cheers for true nature.