Plant Talk 6 Botany in a Day Online Class Pages 106-125






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Plant Talk #6

September 21, 2010

Hello there plant enthusiasts! Happy Fall!!!…Another shift of the seasons is upon us.

Next year i think the family descriptions will be much more succinct and the bulk of this year’s information will move over to the plant family tab where people can go more in depth with family characteristics at their leisure.

A photo album of plants related to this class can also be found by clicking the link below.

What’s Blooming

Not too much has changed since the last couple of mailings in the blooming department around Appalachia. i have taken note of one neat showy flowering plant known as Patridge Pea (Chamaecrista sp.) Remember that you can almost always click on the genus name in parentheses for more information from the USDA.

Hopefully if you fall garden then you already planted some Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) Asteraceae Kale/Collards/Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) Brassicaceae, Mustard/Turnips (Brassica rapa) and  Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) Chenopodiaceae. The next month is a good window to plant Garlic (Allium sativum) Alliaceae as well.

What’s fruiting continues to unfold.

Persimmons (Diospyros spp.) Ebenaceae,

Paw Paws (Asimina triloba) Annonaceae,

Autumn/Russian Olive (Elaeagnus spp.) Elaeagnaceae

Chestnuts (Castanea spp.) Fagaceae are in full effect.

 The Apples (Malus spp.) Pears (Pyrus communis) and Wild Black Cherries (Prunus serotina) from the Rosaceae continue to provide a bounty as well.

The following sections cover plants that live in Southeastern Coastal Plain. This is a rather different environment than Appalachia where i spend most of my time. i was honored recently to work for a second occasion at the Hostel in the Forest with my good friend of 15 years or more Mycol Stevens. We both have been visiting the Hostel regularly for most of the time we have known each other. However, we just recently started offering classes there. The Hostel has requested that we have a class each spring and fall focusing on Ethnobotany. Go to the Hostel website or for more on what the class entails.

We added 21 new species to a list that Mycol has been working on for a couple of years bringing our new total up to 188 different types of plants observed on the land there.

Below are some highlights including use, common name, scientific name and scientific/common family name

Fruiting Elderberries (Sambucus nigra L. ssp. canadensis) Adoxaceae/Mochatel family,

Leaves of Red Bays (Persea borbonia) Lauraceae/Bay tree family

Leaves of Gotu Cola (Centella asiatica) Apiaceae/Araliaceae Spikenard family

Leaves and fruits of Southern Bayberry (Morella cerifera) Myricaceae/Sweet Gale family

Leaves of the caffeinated Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) Aquifoliaceae/Holly family

Root Beer plant (Polygala sp.) Polygalaceae/Milkwort family (Rootbeer smell, use too?)

Mulch/Tea from needles of Long Leaf Pine (Pinus palustris) Pinaceae/Pine family

Tea/Mead from leaves of Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum sp.) Lamiaceae/Mint family

Fruits/Leaf Tea Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) Ericaceae/Heath family

Fruits from Citrus (Citrus spp.) Rutaceae/Rue family

Fruits from Figs (Ficus carica) Moraceae/Mulberry family

Flowers and maybe leaves from Confederate Rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) Malvaceae/Mallow family

Special wild flowers included a white Meadow beauty (Rhexia sp.) Melastomataceae, a white Rose Gentian (Sabatia sp.) Gentianaceae and a neat plant from the Onagraceae call Seedbox (Ludwigia sp.).

At the beach we found a host of other plants including Glasswort (Salicornia sp.) Chenopodiaceae, Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) Fagaceae, Chicken of the Woods mushroom (Laetiporus sulfurous), and Goldenrod (Solidago sp.).

Major families in general included the Grass Family (Poaceae), Sunflower family (Asteraceae) and Mallow family (Malvaceae)

Prominent invasives included Boston Fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia), Privet (Ligustrum sp.) Oleaceae, and Hen’s eyes (Ardisia crenata) Rubiaceae.  One the beach we saw a type of Russian Thistle (Salsola sp.) that has wicked spines and is considered noxious by the USDA.

One of the highlights of the Hostel experience was the Mead making/Fermentation/Power Food overview. We started a mead with items harvested in the previous afternoon’s plant walk. Scientific names can be found in paragraphs above if not here. Plants included were Mountain Mint, Redbay leaf, Southern Wax Myrtle leaf, Violet (Viola sp.) leaf, Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) (From around the PA National Rainbow Gathering), Gotu Kola, D 47 culture and Appalachian wildflower honey. We poured more of the same mix adding some Georgia wildflower honey onto the preexisting culture from the last batch we made at the Hostel in April. There was not much trub from the last batch. When fermentation did not ignite by the next day some D47 culture was added to that batch as well.  

We also drank some special meads. Chelsea Gomes and i visited Mycol Stevens at his land in Gainesville and his parents place in Sarasota during the 2008/2009 holiday season. There we picked some Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) and later mixed that in two different gallon batches. One batch had a special Orange Blossom Honey and one had Saw Palmetto Honey. Both meads ended up tasting amazing! We also tried an Apple wine made with Earth Fare apple juice, and a mead made in our April class at the Hostel which contained Mtn Mint, Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata) leaf , Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), Sassafrass (Sassafras albidum) (From the Asheville Green Path Gathering), Gallberry (Ilex coriacea) honey, and D 47 culture.

Recent/Upcoming Activities

Many cool events are coming up later in September and into October.

9/25 -26 The True Nature Country Faire,

10/5-10/10 Falling Leaves Gathering

10/9     North Carolina Natural Products Association meeting

10/2 A United Plant Savers Meeting in Ohio

10/14-10/17 Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF)

Recently at my winter CSA food preserving job for Blue Ridge Food Ventures we switched back to processing Edamame (Glycine max), Green beans (Phaseolus sp.) and Sweet peppers (Capsicum annuum). There is still time to sign up for the winter CSA for those around Asheville

Don’t think i’m going to try and make mead out of any scraps from those recent crops! i will let you know in the next mailing how the Butternut (Cucurbita moschata) Wine/Mead and Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) wine/mead are tasting. However, i am going to have to cut myself off from the squirrel mentality store away food processing movie for awhile…Still pending projects include a memorial Pear mead from a tree Frank Cook showed me and a Crab Apple mead from a windfall that occurred at a recent class to go. A mead dedicated to my good friend Turtle Turtlington riffing of his famous blend of Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) and Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is on the way as well. Apple Lime Jelly and maybe a Pear chutney will round out the offerings for this year’s ensemble.

Now i will dive into the families covered by last time’s suggested reading. Some sections are covered in brief but i would be happy to expound to anyone looking for more specific information. This time’s reading included a lot of more obscure families that it took a while to research.

Pages 105 - 128

i have taken to including the current orders that families are ascribed to as defined by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group 2 (APG2) and presented in three sources  ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"sort":true,"citationItems":[{"uri":[""]},{"uri":[""]},{"uri":[""]}]} (Heywood, Brummitt, Culham, & Seberg, 2007; Judd, Campbell, Kellog, Stevens, & Donahue, 2008; Spears, 2006). This relationship is sometimes at odds with how Elpel’s text goes. In theory every family he features would be lined up within their respective orders in an evolutionary progression. Some families are changing orders due to genetic analysis. Some physical characteristics that had previously aligned families have been shown to have evolved in parallel and not be evidence of direct relationship.

However, i can already start to see patterns in floral characteristics, phytochemistry and even utility for fiber and certain food stuffs along modern order level classification lines.

Fabaceae / Bean Family / Fabales

The Bean family is very important in that most members aid in fixing nitrogen in the soil with the partnership of special bacteria that live in their roots. Nitrogen is an essential plant nutrient. Therefore, many members of this family are often used as cover crops to aid soil fertility  ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"sort":true,"citationItems":[{"uri":[""]}]} (Clark, 2007). This ability is missing in several early diverging representatives  ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"sort":true,"citationItems":[{"position":1,"uri":[""]}]} (Judd et al., 2008).

The Fabaceae is the third biggest family in the world. It is one of the few families where it is still technically accurate to use its old scientific name (Leguminosae). The family is so big and diverse that it is often split into three sub-familes or families in their own right including Mimosoideae/Mimosaceae, Caesalpinioideae/Caesalpiniaceae, Papilionoideae/Papilionaceae  ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"sort":true,"citationItems":[{"position":1,"uri":[""]},{"position":1,"uri":[""]}]} (Heywood et al., 2007; Judd et al., 2008).. However most of the literature seems to favor the sub-family scheme  ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"sort":true,"citationItems":[{"position":1,"uri":[""]},{"position":1,"uri":[""]},{"position":1,"uri":[""]}]} (Heywood et al., 2007; Judd et al., 2008; Spears, 2006). Many tribes have historically been delineated as demonstrated by Elpel  ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"sort":true,"citationItems":[{"locator":"108-111","suppressAuthor":true,"uri":[""]}]} (2004, pp. 108-111). However even more tribes including 4 in the Mimosa subfamily (Mimosoideae) and 4 in the Bird-of-Paradise Tree subfamily (Caesalpiniodeae) and up to 28 tribes in the Pea subfamily (Papilinideae) are now accepted  ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"sort":true,"citationItems":[{"position":1,"uri":[""]}]} (Heywood et al., 2007). Frank Cook’s common names for the Caesalpinioideae included Senna and Flamboyant according to his copy of Botany in a Day.

The Bean family is also one of the chief sources of protein for vegetarians and people in the developing world. Beans (Phaseolus spp.) are native to Latin America  ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"sort":true,"citationItems":[{"uri":[""]}]} (Smith, 1998). Peas (Pisum sativum), Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) and Lentils (Lens culinaris) are all plants from Eurasia that have been sources of protein for people and animal forage since ancient times. Red bud (Cercis canadensis) Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and Wisteria (Wisteria spp.) flowers are choice edibles from the Southeast U.S.  ADDIN ZOTERO_ITEM {"sort":true,"citationItems":[{"uri":[""]},{"uri":[""]}]} (Brill, 2010; Couplan, 1998)

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