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!!
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 of 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.
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.
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.
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.
Bracken Fern: Pteridium aquilinum / POLYPODIACEAE Fern family
Other Common Names: Western Brake-fern, Eagle Fern, Pasture-brake, Fiddlehead (in early stage).
Bracken fern have large, coarse, triangular shaped, light green fronds (Ieaflike organ of a fern) are 3-forked and up to 1 meter in length; mature plant stalk is straw-colored and polished; spreads from creeping root-stalks; hair shoots uncurl in spring resembling fiddleheads; mature plant can exceed 1.5 meters tall; mature spores on the frond undersurface have a velvety brown appearance. Each frond appears singly, and the growth of the plant is the reverse of being tufted. The underground stems or rhizomes are deep, giving it the ability to survive intense fires.
Common west of the Rocky Mountains, less so east – found in medium to low altitudes in fields, burns, moist coniferous forests, and rocky canyons. Southern bracken is found in most of the eastern United States between Florida and Oklahoma in the south, to Missouri, Illinois, and Massachusetts in the north. Eastern bracken is found between Oklahoma and North Carolina in the south, to Minnesota, Quebec, and Newfoundland in the north. Each winter, Bracken’s fronds die with the frost and fall to the ground. New fronds will grow the following Spring.
Bracken Ferns can reproduce two ways. One is by rhizomes spreading, and the other is by spores. Ferns do not have flowers like most plants. Instead, on the underside of the fronds, there are small objects, called sori. The sori produce spores, which are a lot like seeds from a flowering plant.
Spores travel by wind and grow new ferns in new places.
Appears in early spring as fiddlehead shaped shoots. Edible: Young shoots in spring, roots in autumn.
Snap off young shoots about 7 ” from the curled fiddlehead, discarding the head itself. Peel the remaining shoot and eat raw, cooked (boiled in salted water), or steamed. Autumn rootstalks are edible after removing outer covering and roasting.
Notes of Interest:
Consuming quantities of raw shoots can create a vitamin B1 deficiency, causing a reduction in body thiamine. Cooking eliminates this potential. Bracken fern leaves are known to be poisonous to livestock when eaten in large amounts. The toxic ingredient is an enzyme that destroys the animals’ thiamin reserves.Acute poisoning from these ferns is unlikely; their effect is cumulative, and eventually produces a variety of internal cancers.
Repeated ingestions significantly increase the likelihood of developing disease; in Japan, where BRACKEN FERN FIDDLEHEADS are traditionally consumed as food, scientists attribute the high incidence of stomach cancer to the popularity of this risky vegetable.1
Northern highbush blueberry, southeastern highbush blueberry, Maryland highbush blueberry, black highbush blueberry, American blueberry, New Jersey blueberry, rabbiteye blueberry, swamp blueberry, tall huckleberry, mayberry, whortleberry
Other than eating blueberry muffins and pancakes, I never thought much of the plant. My guess was that blueberries were farm plants and that was it. Then in my early twenties I was trout fishing in Quebec just north of Alma. We were fishing small lakes loaded with native brook trout. I walked down to the first lake and was met with about 2 acres of blueberry plants with ripe fruit. I asked my brother-in-law how they “got there”. Right then I learned a lesson – blueberry plants, in this case high bush blueberry are native plants to North America. That week I dined on brook trout and blueberries each evening and blueberry pancakes with bacon each morning – a great way to live.
Blueberry bushes can be small to large shrub like plants. Highbush blueberry plants can grow over 6′ tall with a similar spread. Twigs are yellow-green (reddish in winter) and covered with small wart-like dots. Leaves are deciduous, alternate, simple, elliptic or ovate, 1 to 3½ inches long and slightly waxy above. As the pictures indicate, the leaves are usually a good healthy green. In fall the leaves can turn a vibrant red.
The white or pink-tinged flowers are small and urn-shaped with 5 petals, and occur 8 to 10 per cluster. Flowering occurs February to June, sporadically in the southern portion of its range; fruiting occurs April to October, about 62 days after flowering. Fruits are ¼ – ½” blue-black berries with many seeds.
Habitat: The most common native habitat is in moist or wet peat of moderate to high acidity – in and around marshes, swamps, lakes and flood-prone areas. There are varieties that also grow in drier areas such as dunes and barrier beaches, rocky hillsides, oak woods, and pinewoods.
With the exception of deserts etc. some form of blueberry can be found somewhere in North America as long as the habitat is favorable. Additionally, because of people using the plants for home, garden or farm the various species have become transplanted wide and far. Birds eating the fruit then disperse the seeds for more plants. The gist here is that it is possible to locate blueberry plants if you look.
The berry is the edible part of this plant. Blueberries can be eaten raw, smoke-dried, sun-dried, boiled, and baked in a wide variety of culinary ways. They have one of the highest concentrations of iron of the temperate fruits. Additionally, blueberries are high in anti-oxidants.
Blueberries provide important summer and early fall food for numerous species of game birds, songbirds, and mammals – my fight with local animals is a testament to this fact!!
More than 50 blueberry varieties have been developed, primarily for commercially valuable fruit characteristics and seasonality.
Blueberry Growing Guide:
Blueberries combine delicious healthy fruit and ornamental value to the garden. This native plant is easy to grow and requires little care. If a few basic steps are followed your blueberry plants can last for years.
In order for bushes to grow properly, have fruit set and mature and have the plants flourish, you will want to provide as much sunlight as possible. My plants currently have a good 10 hours of sunlight from spring into fall.
These native plants do best in slightly acidic soil, somewhere between a pH of 5.5 and 6.5. When you plant blueberries, make sure you add plenty of peat moss. It will provide a great pH level to start as well as setting a good lose soil for the roots to spread. A periodic feeding regime with an acidic fertilizer such as Mir-Acid is good. I do not believe Mir-acid lowers soil pH but my blueberries do well. If after testing your soil pH it is still too high try sulphur, ammonium sulfate or iron sulfate.
Blueberries do best with a 2-4″ mulch over the roots to conserve moisture, prevent weeds and add organic matter. Bark mulch, acid compost, sawdust, grass clippings, etc. all work well. Repeat every other year.
Do not plant blueberry bushes in wet areas of your property or in clay based soils that will hold water and slow drainage. Blueberries need adequate water, especially when the fruit is maturing you will need to make sure there is plenty of water, if not the fruit will shrivel on the plant. This is what happened to my crop in 2012 when the U.S. experienced drought conditions
Blueberries are like many other fruiting plants, in most cases a single plant will not “self-pollinate”. Most, if not all good gardening guides will tell you to plant two different varieties for proper pollination.
For proper growth, plant blueberries 4-5 feet apart.
My big fight of the year is when the fruit begins to ripen. Maturing blueberries attract birds and squirrels from all over. The only way I know of keeping the fruit is to cover with fine-meshed deer netting. I tack the ends down to the ground to keep animals from getting under the netting to feed. I have walked out too often to find a northern cardinal or gray squirrel trying to get out of the net. When winter sets in upstate New York, rabbits will eat the young branches of blueberry plants. In my area eastern cottontail rabbits are a pain. In a few days they can chew a young plant to the ground. I surround my blueberry plants with chicken wire. This protects the plants.
In a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, blueberry supplementation in mice with high cholesterol reduced their risk factors for atherosclerosis. Those who took the extract noted a 29 percent reduction in total cholesterol, with bad cholesterol dropping by 34 percent and good cholesterol rising by up to 40 percent, despite consuming a high-fat diet. In addition, triglycerides – a fat that turns normal cells into fat cells – and homocysteine – which causes inflammation in arterial walls – were both reduced by half.
Excellent references and information in growing blueberries:
Local County agents are listed in the phone book or can be looked up online, call up and ask questions