Wild Arkansas

September 29, 2010

Wild Wednesday at Murphy Park

Filed under: allium, dandelion, Edible plants, foraging, fruit, nuts, Pinus, taraxacum — Tags: , , , , , — WildArkansas @ 7:20 pm

Unfortunately, my camera broke so I don’t have photos of the edibles at the local park. Fortunately however, one of the groundskeepers aided our quest by pointing out several edibles we probably would not have known about.

At Murphy Park today:

Allium or Crow Garlic. It never gets above the ankle because of the weekly mowing so we’ll never get to see the flowers, but it still tastes and smells like onion. The groundskeeper said he would be quite happy if someone were to come along and dig it all up.

Plantagos- Both, the narrow and broad-leaf varieties.

Dandelion- ah the old standby.

Lepidium or pepper grass. It’s spread out in the grassy areas and around trees.

Black Walnut, crabapples, pine, oak, clover, wild strawberry (for some odd reason they are fruiting in shady spots) and yellow wood sorrel.

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September 25, 2010

Veteran’s Memorial Park/Lake Fayetteville

Filed under: allium, dandelion, Edible plants, Pinus, sumac — Tags: , , , , , , — WildArkansas @ 11:33 pm

common mullein

If you’re a wild food enthusiast, this is a good time to visit Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Here are a  few finds from spending just a little more than an hour.

Chinkapin/Ozark Chestnut

Hickory

Black Walnut

Persimmon (fruit)

Acorn (Red & White)

Dandelion (leaf & flower)

Allium (aerial parts/leaf)

Dwarf Sumac (berries)

Evening Primrose (flower)

Pine (and juniper berries)

Plantago (leaf and root)

Mullein (flower and leaf)

November 14, 2008

Wild Arkansas: Pine Needle Tea

Filed under: herbs, nutrition, Pinus — Tags: , , , — WildArkansas @ 6:21 pm

T. occidentalis. The leaf used by Cartier.

T. occidentalis. The leaf used by Cartier.

During the winter of 1536, Jacque Cartier and his men were stranded in a make-shift fort at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in Canada. All were sick with scurvy and twenty-five had already perished from the illness when Domagaya, a friendly Iroquois man told the explorer about Anneda, a local cure for the disease.

The Cypress or Northern White Cedar tree (Thuja occidentalis) leaf was used as a tea and provided enough vitamin C to knock out the illness.

Though the Cypress is not endemic or native to Arkansas, it does grow here, as do several variety of conifer. The conifers that are dominant in this area of the country are of the Pinus genus.

The Loblolly and Long leaf pine are found more often than their bretheren, the Slash pine and the Pinyon trees.

The difference between the Thuja and Pinus conifers is obvious once you start looking at the morphology, but prior to study, I think one just lumps them all together as pine trees of some sort.

The cypress (Thuja) do not have needles as the Pinus do. The pine needle tea that is predominant on the web is most likely not the pine needle tea that Cartier and his men used.

I made some pine needle tea recently, but wasn’t sure the tea was safe to drink. After washing and brewing the needles clipped from one of the P. taeda (Loblolly) there was a light colored film along the inside of the pan and floating atop the brew.

P. taeda needle and cone

P. taeda needle and cone

I skimmed the film off the top, tasted a bit of the clear liquid and felt no ill effects afterward, but didn’t feel secure enough with the brew to drink a full cup. I did have a few tablespoons full and the tea is bland to my taste.

There is so much written about pine needle tea with not much background information available. I didn’t find much anecdotal evidence in which authors actually drank the tea, however, Euell Gibbons experimented with the white pine (P. strobus) extensively and documents the experience in his book, Stalking the Healthful Herbs (1974).

Here’s an excerpt from the book that includes a recipe for Pine Needle Tea.

So though I may not find the pine needle all that palatable, it seems it is safe for consumption and quite healthy.

There is evidence that pine does contain constituents that boosts immunity. In one article written by Marsha Walton for CNN in 2006 shikimic acid, a main ingredient in Tamiflu was found in high concentrations in pine, spruce and fir needles.

If you do want to try the pine needle tea, be sure to collect from trees that have not been sprayed and are not in a high traffic area.

There are many variety of pine available in Arkansas, make sure you have identified your specimen correctly.

The Thuja genus of conifer is contraindicated as containing thujone and may be harmful to some people.

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