Category Archives: Survival Guide

White Baneberry Facts and Information

White Baneberry Facts and Information

General Information

White baneberry (Actaea pachypoda), also known as dolls eyes white cohosh, white-beads, white beads and toadroot is a native wildflower to the western hemisphere. It is a perennial member of white baneberry is sometimes called Dolls Eyes because the shiny white fruits resemble the china eyes once used in dollsthe buttercup family growing in eastern North America. The plant flowers from May to June with white berries following that ripen over the summer. The berries will stay on the plant until frost. Many people use white baneberry in landscaping taking the plant from woodlands. In many cases this is illegal and in several states such as New York and Florida, the actions have led to the plant being listed as exploitably vulnerable and endangered respectively. Taking seeds and planting them in domestic landscape may take two years to germinate and adversely affect the natural environment. If you find white baneberry interesting and wish to include it in your landscaping, please contact a stocking nursery – if they do not have in stock, they can special order.

Description

White baneberry grows to about 18 inches to 2 feet tall and can spread from 2 feet to 3 feet wide. Its leThe roots and berries of white baneberry are the most poisonous parts of baneberryaves are toothed at the edges and are also compound. They are roughly 16 inches long and 12 inches wide. The leaves grow alternately on the stem – this means one leaf comes out at a time on the stem.

The flowers are small – maybe ¼ to ½ inch and are colored white and grow on the end of a stalk. As referenced earlier, the flowers bloom from May to June. The picture of the white baneberry flower comes from USDA plant database.

What is so interesting about this plant are the berries and the way they sit on the plant. They look almost alien. One of its nicknames, dolls eyes is spot on. The berries are not really that big, ½ inch or so in diameter, all white with a black stigma scar.

Habitat

White baneberry thrive in moist, fertile soil with lots of organic white baneberry range mapmatter in partial to full shade. White baneberry is an upland plant and almost never occurs in wetlands. The picture of the plant with berries was taken in the Southern Adirondacks in a deciduous forest border facing south above a small lake.

Range A range map indicates, white baneberry grows North into Ontario Canada and east to Nova Scotia. It grows as far south as Florida and west out to Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Edible

Although I have read that certain birds dowhite baneberry leaves are toothed at the edges and are also compound eat the berries, the entire plant, just like Climbing Nightshade, is poisonous including the leaves, stalk, and especially the berries. If eaten, symptoms include nausea, vomiting, cramps, mouth blisters, confusion, and headache. The plant’s poison also has cardiogenic properties and can cause cardiac arrest (heart attack) in in children and immune compromised adults. This is a plant best admired for its beauty and left alone.

Partridgeberry

Partridgeberry Facts and Information

Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) also known as twinberry is a low growing perennial woodland plant of the eastern United States. It is in fact an evergreen non-climbing vine, no taller than 6 ½ inches with Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) also known as twinberrycreeping stems 16 inches long. It blooms from late spring to mid-summer and sets berries that typically turn red when mature. Partridgeberry is highly ornamental and is used in gardens and landscaping. It is easy to find on online nursery shops. It grows typically by its spreading vines setting roots. The seeds will sprout, but only after a period of dormancy, called stratification.

The berries are a food source for many native animals – deer, birds, small mammals, etc. Native Americans made partridgeberry leaf tea as well as using the berries medicinally and for food.

Description

As noted above, Partridgeberry is a low trailing evergreen vining plant. Its flowers are fuzzy white, each having four petals, and as the picture indicates, grow in pairs. What is interesting is that the flower pairs generally create one red berry. Partridgeberry is a low trailing evergreen vining plant.

The stems are mostly light green to light brown and either glabrous or hairy; old stems become brown, smooth, and woody.

As the first picture indicates, pairs of opposite leaves occur along the stems and are ½ inch to 2 inches long and similarly across; they are oval in shape and smooth to slightly undulate along their margins. The upper leaf surface is shiny, and usually dark green. The glossy green leaves are small and broad with a conspicuous white midvein.

Habitat

Partridgeberry grows in both dry and moist wooded areas. The upper most picture was taken streamside in a mature deciduous Adirondack forest. Habitats include rocky woodlands, sandy savannas, slopes of wooded sand dunes, sandstone ledges along ravines, mossy boulders in wooded ravines as well as edges of swamps and bogs.

Range

This plant has a territory somewhat similar to mayapple and is found across a wide area of eastern North America. Partridgeberry is found from south Eastern Canada south to Florida and Texas all the way to Central America into to Guatemala.

Edible

Both leaves and berries are edible. Leaves are typically made into a tea.

The berries can be eaten raw, dried and cooked. They are basically bland tasting. The berries can be mixed with other forest berries. They are reported to be high in vitamin C, tannin, anthocyanins and antioxidants

Pickerelweed Facts

Pickerelweed Facts Basic Information

classic picture of pickerelweed in habitat
classic picture of pickerelweed in habitat

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) also called pickerel weed, tuckahoe, black potato, wampee or wampi is an aquaticplant native to the Americas (both North and South). It is perennial plant that can grow from either seeds or rhizomes. Pickerelweed forms large colonies along shallow shorelines, usually growing from its spreading rhizomes. The seed of the plant needs a period of cold dormancy, called stratification, for about 2 months before it will sprout a seedling. In temperate zones the growth dies back in late fall only to emerge again in Spring when weather is favorable.

Pickerelweed is important for wildlife. Deer are fond of it, as are muskrats and ducks. It also has its own bee for pollination!!

Description

As named, pickerel weed is an aquatic plant. It is a rather large plant,
reaching up to 4 feet tall. The leaves and stems of the plant are green and somewhat waxy in appearance. They develop at the ends pickerelweed is an aquatic plantof stems and are highly variable in shape and size. Leaf shape ranges from an oval to almost lance shaped. Leaf sizes are also variable, ranging from as small as 2 inches to as much as 10 inches long and from less than an inch up-to 6 inches wide. Leaf veins run parallel in the leaf and are never “net-like”.

The small flowers are violet-blue in color and bloom in summer. They are small and cluster around a stalk-like stem (see picture). The flowers are the key to really identifying the plant.

Habitat

Just like water lily, pickerelweed grows in a variety of wetlands including pond and lake margins and the edge of a slow moving streams. It prefers shallow water, a foot or so deep. Pickerelweed does not do well in salt water, so you will never find pickerelweed growing in salt marshes.

Range

Pickerelweed has an extremely large range, its northern most
reach is eastern Canada as far north as Nova Scotia, west to Minnesota and south to Florida and Texas. It is found as far south as Argentina in South America.

Edible

The seeds are edible, when dried, roasted and ground they make a good flour for bread. They can also be eaten raw, cooked even boiled like rice or roasted like nuts. Young unfurled leaves can be eaten raw or boiled and eaten. Stalks are edible as well and are prepared just like leaves. Please make sure the water you take the plant from is clean and unpolluted.

Mayapple – Podophyllum peltatum

Mayapple – Podophyllum peltatum

Common names:Mayapple. (Podophyllum peltatum). Other common names: Mandrake, May Apple, May-apple

hogapple, Indian apple, mayflower, umbrella plant, wild lemon (flavor of the fruit), wild mandrake, American mandrake, devil’s apple

Mayapples are unique looking plants that I always consider fun to come across when out hiking. Typically you will not find just one. They usually are found in groupings. All plant somehow attached, even identical, as they can all be grown from a rhizome.

Description:

In spring the main stems of mayapple grow upright. These stems can grow 10” – 24” tall. Reproductive plants have 2 or occasionally 3 umbrella like leaves 8” – 12” in diameter with 5 – 9 deeply cut lobes Plants that will not reproduce, sterile, have one umbrella-like leaf. The single flower comes out in spring and is white 1” – 3” diameter with six, sometimes up to nine, petals and is produced at the axil of the two main leaves. The flower is quite showy The flower matures into a yellow-greenish fruit 1” – 2” long. Typically, when you find mayapple you will find a small “colony” since they can grow via rhizomes.

Mayapple, is also called American mandrake. Mandrake - the stuff of magic and legend and dark, stormy nights.Habitat:

Mayapples can be found in moist meadows and open / damp woodlands

Location:

Mayapple territory is from Quebec and Ontario in the north, south through New England down into Florida. They are as far west as Texas and Minnesota.

Edible:

The ripe fruit is the only edible on the plant. The fruit can be eaten raw or even made into jam. The leaves, stem, roots/rhizome and unripe fruit are poisonous – do not eat.

Notes of Interest:

They are a members of the barberry family.
Native Americans ate the berries and used the roots to make a tea.

Yellow Water Lily – Nymphaeaceae

Yellow Water Lily – Nymphaeaceae

Yellow Water Lily

Common Names:The phrase "water lily" is used to describe aquatic plants

Water Lily, Brandy-bottle, pond lily, bullhead lily, spatterdock, yellow cowlily, water lily

My son built a small pond in the backyard several years ago. Along with the necessary koi we bought the flora we added included a plant native to the entire USA – a yellow pond lily. In researching this plant I found out its history and the many ways this wild food is used and useful.

Description:

As its name implies, the yellow pond lily is an aquatic plant. It is a long lived plant, a perennial, which grows from spongy rhizomes anchored into the bottom of a body of water. The floating leaves are thick, somewhat heart-shaped and have up to an 18” spread. The stalks connecting leaves and flowers to rhizomes can grow six feet long.

Flowers of the water lily emerge on separate stem stalks. They are cup-shaped, yellow-green, with small scale-like petals. Flowers bloom from May to October. Spent flowers give way to seed heads that burst upon ripening, broadcasting their seeds over the water surface.

Habitat:

Yellow pond-lily occurs in slow-moving streams, ponds, and lakes. The plant pictured here was in Pine Lake, NY, a shallow Adirondack lake. The plant grows in wet, poor sandy soils and grows best in 1’ to 5’ of water in full sun to part shade. It is however tolerant of shade and deep water. There is a boggy area fed by the Normans Kill in Albany, NY that gets choked up with these wild plants by mid-summer every year. This is where the lilies I have come from.

Location:

The yellow pond lily can basically be found from Alaska south to California East to Labrador and south to Florida.

Edible:

The roots (rhizomes) are rich in starch and can be harvested any time of the year and either roasted or boiled. I understand that the root can be dried and ground into a flour substitute. The seeds can also be gathered in late summer into the fall and roasted and shelled. They can be eaten as is, boiled like you would rice or ground into a flour/meal.

Yellow Pond Lilies provides great cover for wildlife, especially fish, aquatic insects, snakes, turtles, frogs, crayfish, salamanders, and other water creatures.Notes of Interest:

Yellow Pond Lilies provides great cover for wildlife, including all types of fish, insects (aquatic, terrestrial and flying), amphibians and reptiles. It is also a food source for beaver, muskrats and waterfowl.

The plant’s use dates back to pre-colonial times. Native Americans used the starchy rootstocks as a boiled or roasted vegetable. Additionally, they harvested the seed for grinding into flour.

Although water lily seeds are produced and deposited on the water surface, the yellow pond-lily reproduces more readily by spreading rhizomes – I can attest to this. The lily in the koi pond has a root system around 4’ long with several spots that stems and flowers grow from. This native aquatic plant can readily take over a body of water – please do not help it spread. It is very difficult to eradicate

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Wild onion – genus Allium

Wild onion (Allium canadense), also known as Canada onion, wild garlic, meadow garlic, and Canadian garlic, is a perennial plant native to North America.Wild onion – genus Allium

Wild onion

The wild onion is a perennial herb that is comprised of a large genus. The one feature all wild onions share is their very distinctive odor and flavor – they all have a mild to strong onion to garlic odor and flavor. The very poisonous death camas can physically look like a wild onion BUT DOES NOT smell or taste like an onion. If you encounter one of these stay away!!

Common names:

Canada onion, wild garlic, meadow garlic, and Canadian garlic, nodding onion

Description:

The leaves are slender and can be flat to cylindrical. The flowers are specific to the species you encounter but generally are on central leafless stalks and are globe to umbrella shaped.  The bulbs are generally small.

Location:

One variety or another can be located somewhere in North America. Just remember that ONLY IF IT SMELLS LIKE ONION you can try it. Wild onions can be found in woodlots, forest clearings, along roads/train tracks and grasslands

Wild onion (A. validum or A. canadense) is a bulbous herb of the Amaryllis family and is a close relative of cultivated onionSeason:

The plants bloom from April through June, however, there is no real season to wild onions. Leaves may taste fresher and be tender early in the season. Bulbs will grow larger into the autumn.

Edible:

Leaves and bulbs which mean all parts of the plant are edible. Green leaves can be added to soups or cooked dishes to add some onion/garlic flavor. Bulbs, although small can be used as you would use grocery store onions.

Harvesting:

It is best to use a tool to loosen the soil around the plants prior to pulling. Just trying to pull on the leaves usually leads to the plants breaking at ground level. Frankly, any tool will work – everything from a stick to a shovel.

Just like their domestic relatives, wild onions can be kept in a refrigerator for several days. Both leaves and bulbs can be eaten fresh or they can be dried and if kept in a dry place will keep for months. They can also be chopped and frozen

Notes of interest:

Native Americans and early settlers used wild onions for food and medicinal purposes. Onions are said to be high in Vitamin C, phosphorus and iron. Herbalists use onion and garlic for immune system boosters and are reported to lower blood pressure and cholesterol

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