Be One With The Weeds
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
(Please click on red links & note magenta)
Our previous post about Dollarweed brought up the question “Ever consider eating Florida weeds you may find in your surrounding?” You may be surprised next time going on a walk to find much edibles in the wild that are nutritious and quite possibly with valuable medicinal function.
One of the first of these is Bidens alba (aka: Shepherd’s needles, beggarticks, Spanish needles or butterfly needles.)
Check it out in this video on Bidens alba or Shepherd’s needles, below:
Bidens means two- toothed, describing the two projections found at the top of the seeds, and alba refers to the white ray florets. This plant is found in tropical and subtropical regions of North America, Asia, South America, and Africa, situated in gardens, road sides, farm fields and disturbed sites. B. alba grows to a height of approximately five feet tall and is an annual or short-lived perennial, which is considered a weed in the United States. However, B. alba leaves are edible and can be used as medicinal remedies. Bidens alba provide a nectar source for butterflies and honey-bees. People in South Africa, Zulus and Indians consume the fresh or dried leaves by boiling them. Young leaves of B. alba may also be eaten as a salad or stirred fried with eggs or by itself. Some studies indicate that this plant can be used as a remedy for cuts, swelling, hypertension, jaundice, and diabetes. B. alba also has therapeutic value for human colorectal cancer. Other subspecies of B. alba are being studied for further medicinal uses. Consequently, this often-despised weed may prove to be of great benefit to society in the future.
Another frequently seen plant in Florida is Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry), an open-habit, native shrub of the Southern United States which is often grown as an ornamental in gardens and yards. American beautyberries
produce large clusters of purple berries, which birds and deer eat, thus distributing the seeds. The raw berries, while palatably sweet, are suitable for human consumption only in small amounts, because they are astringent; they are also used in jellies. The roots are used to make herbal tea. As a folk remedy it has been claimed that “fresh, crushed leaves of American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana . . . helped keep biting insects away from animals such as horses and mules.” An isolated plant compound,callicarpenal, has reportedly been proven effective in tests as a mosquito repellent.
A video on how to make beautyberry jelly, below:
The beautyberries ripen in September through October and are a favorite among wild bird species including cardinals, mockingbirds, finches, woodpeckers and more. Beautyberry is commonly planted in landscape designs to attract wildlife because of the food source the berries provide and the cover animals get from the shrub itself.
Since the previous video mentioned elderberry, let’s have a look at the elderberry (source:www.appropedia/elderberries,in italics):
Gather the berries like the flowers. This is quick. The real work occurs at home: Pulling small bunches of berries from their stems, and sorting the fruit from the debris on a tray, takes time. Avoid unripe, green berries—they’ll get you sick. Even raw ripe elderberries make some people nauseous Cooking or drying dispels the offending substance, and greatly improves the flavor. Baking this fruit in muffins, cakes and breads embues them with a piquant crunchiness. They become the central ingredient whenever you use them in baked goods. Elderberries aren’t sweet and contain no thickeners. Rely on other ingredients for these elements, especially if you’re making the European favorite, elderberry jam. The berries have few calories and lots of nutrition. They provide very large amounts of potassium and beta-carotene, as well as sugar and fruit acids, calcium, phosphorous and vitamin C. Looking at or even thinking about the elderberry bush evokes a flood of magical associations and images of the past—European ladies dousing their white skin with elder flower water, and crystal goblets filled with elderberry wine. In European folklore, fairies and elves would appear if you sat underneath an elder bush on midsummer night. The lovely elder possessed potent magic, with the ability to drive away witches, and kill serpents. Carrying the twigs in your pocket was a charm against certain diseases. One of these tales bears some truth: Sleeping under the elder supposedly produces a drugged, dream-filled sleep—the fragrance is actually a mildly sedative. Perhaps the visions of fairies and elves resulted from dreaming under an elder bush. My experience with the elder indicates that much of its charmed reputation among Europeans and Native Americans comes from its ability to heal. The flowers and fruit are medicinal. Hippocrates already recognized this in 400 B.C.
Check out the EatTheWeeds.com with Green Deane.
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