Plant Walk in Cassadega, Florida

This morning was almost perfect for a plant walk, a little moist still here in Florida, but the temperature is dropping to the Tolerable zone.

We walked around Colby Alderman Park in Cassadega searching for edible & medicinal plant examples.  Our venture was quite productive!  We started by visiting the Eastern Red Cedar trees (aka Juniperus virginiana).

Eastern Red Cedar

Eastern Red Cedar

The juniper berries are almost ripe now. The taste is unmistakable.

Juniper Berries

Juniper Berries

Bidens was everywhere in the park, so we chatted about the high nutrient content of wild greens v. cultivated greens & the silliness of fighting the ‘weeds’ in our yards.  Young leaves of Bidens make a terrific salad addition.  Both the young & more mature leaves can be cooked like spinach.  They taste yummy!  Even the flowers of this prolific weed can be eaten.  

Bidens "Spanish Needle"

Bidens “Spanish Needle”

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is really at a wonderful stage right now.  We tasted these berries, which are full of antioxidants & discussed making jelly.  You can see this one has some invasive potato vine wrapped around it.  The leaves of the Beautyberry plant make a nice mosquito repellant. I rubbed some on & wasn’t bothered at all for about 15 minutes.  

Beautyberry

Beautyberry

Speaking of invasives, we also visited the Kudzu vine, which is just at the end of its bloom cycle here in Central Florida.  Kudzu blossoms smell a lot like grape bubble gum & make an interesting jelly. The roots of Kudzu are used as a thickener & even the leaves are edible.  One of my favorite plant educators, Dean Jordan of EatTheWeeds.com has a terrific video & article about Kudzu:

Eat The Weeds Kudzu info & recipes

In addition to the Category 1 Invasive, Kudzu, we saw & chatted about the Category 2 Invasive, Coral Vine.  Coral Vine is grown as an ornamental & has escaped cultivation into the wild.  Every part of the vine is edible & medicinal.  The leaves & flowers are very useful during cold/flu season.

For yumminess, we tasted the Winged Sumac berries, which are almost at their height.

Winged Sumac

Winged Sumac

Once the temperature rose to about 85, things got sticky & uncomfortable.  Luckily we were about done with our walk.

Before the walk, I stumbled upon a berry that was new to me.  Thanks to the Florida Botany Facebook group, I believe we’ve identified these as Smilax:

Smilax in berry

Smilax?

I’ve eaten Smilax tips before & really enjoy them, but didn’t realize they had berries.  Dean introduces us to Smilax in this article:  Smilax: A Brier And That’s No Bull

On the way home I had to stop & take a picture of the beautiful Goldenrod that is in full glory right now.  As a seasonal allergy sufferer, I understand why people are a bit wary of this beauty.  But, the pollen is so large that it is probably not your issue if you are sneezing right now.

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

Goldenrod & Ragweed bloom at the same time & Goldenrod can actually be used to help with Ragweed allergies.  Goldenrod is a mainstay for many herbalists.  Matthew Wood introduces us to this herbal ally in this video:

And Kiva Rose has 2 wonderful articles on Goldenrod:

Goldenrod Strikes Again  &   New Uses for an Old Friend

There was so much more we saw, tasted & learned about this morning. It was truly a morning filled with Wild & Bright Blessings!

Kim