Tag Archives: survival food

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.

Bracken Fern Information

BRACKEN FERN

Bracken Fern: Pteridium aquilinum / POLYPODIACEAE Fern family

Other Common Names: Western Brake-fern, Eagle Fern, Pasture-brake, Fiddlehead (in early stage).bracken fern  are found on all continents except Antarctica and in all environments except deserts

Description:

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.

Location:

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.

 Bracken fern are noted for their large, highly divided leavesSeason:

Appears in early spring as fiddlehead shaped shoots. Edible: Young shoots in spring, roots in autumn.

Preparation:

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

Back to edible plants

1. Evans IA, Widdop B, Jones RS, et al. (September 1971). “The possible human hazard of the naturally occurring bracken carcinogen”