invasives...if you can't beat em, eat em?

dirtgirl(So. Illinois)May 28, 2005

Been sooooooooo long since I actually had the time to get on here and check in with all the ongoing threads, but I have been thinking of this for a while so I'll take a second:

there has been discussion on and off about how certain invasives are wild edibles, and of course garlic mustard comes immediately to mind. It seemed like I recall someone on here or perhaps something I read elsewhere about Chinese yam being an edible tuber, even comparing it to water chestnut or jicama.

I was reminded of this some time back while I was jerking up young chinese yam vines, and getting a shock when I discovered that plants that had to be less than a year or two old (because they had gotten this same violent treatment last year as well) often had a huge tuber beneath the surface, some longer than my finger and as thick as a hotdog. I was depressed to realize that even the youngest plants already have stored enough energy to survive my onslaught of picking...I would have to remove the whole plant, root and all, to get rid of it.

Maybe my desperation in keeping up with this scourge would be tempered a bit if all this jerking and pulling could be rewarded not only with a healthier forest but also a bowl of goodies in the fridge.

Jicama and water chestnuts....drool on the keyboard!

Have to try a chinese yam stir fry!

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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi Dirtgirl!

I've wondered the same thing.........garlic mustard sounds yummy........but would it be?? Where does one find out what's toxic and might make you die? (or at the very least, grow a few extra fingers?) :) It would be so cool, to find out that these banes of our existences could please our palates!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 6:56PM
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WiValerie(z4 WI)

Garlic mustard is part of the mint family it has a square stem and yes it it edible if you want a salad with a garlic flavor. If you are pulling it up, make sure that you bag the plants and send them out with the trash - do not compost. I've learned that garlic mustard will go to seed even after pulled being from the soil baking in the sun and dying of dehydration. Garlic mustard is a true survior and that's one of the reasons this plant is taking over everywhere. Val

    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 8:46PM
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ericwi

We seem to get dandelions in our yard every year, and my spring and early summer pastime is to dig them out and put them in the compost. I suppose we could eat them, but they do make great compost. My compost pile is a slow one, and the dandelions will spend two years in there before the compost is considered to be ready. I am not having problems with dandelions and other weeds spreading via compost.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 11:00AM
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John_D(USDA 8b WA)

Apparently even the notorious kudzu has a use: eating it stops kids from drinking too much.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 3:57PM
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dirtgirl(So. Illinois)

Ok, John, I admit you lost me there with the kudzu thing.

Whatever the case, I only hope that kudzu remains difficult to locate in my neck of the woods.
Got more than enough stuff to burn, jerk, rake, kill, and spray without that junk being added to the list.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 3:56PM
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moonwolf23(8)

ummm kudzu has a use against alcholism.

many herbalists and farmers almanacks and gourmet food eateries can help with the safe edibles.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 2:53PM
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Kristy_SC(coastal SC)

Kudzu can also be fried like a chip and made into very hardy paper.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 2:06PM
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Cabbage_King

Hi-
There's lots of edible weeds out there. Some were already mentioned in this thread, others include Amaranth, Portulaca (Purslane), Goosefoot (Chenopodium), etc. Wildcrafted stuff is usually better cooked than raw, as it is generally stronger tasting (e.g. more bitter) than cultivated stuff. Seeds of many weeds are now being offered in seed catalogs and commercial growers are branching out into weed species. The Handbook of Edible Weeds by James Duke (ISBN 0849329469) may be of interest. Positive identification of wild plants is critical to avoid poisoning.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 10:52PM
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dgower82(6 SE MI)

Adding to what Cabbage King said, lots of "weeds" were brought here for eating and medicinal values. The colonists brought over dandelion and garlic mustard as herbs, kudzu fruit and the root can both be eaten. Sucks that english ivy isn't edible, I would actually have then found a use for it. The brooklin botanical garden has a article on garlic mustard.

Here is a link that might be useful: garlic mustard-a palatable pest

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 11:11PM
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maineflowergirl(z4 Maine)

We have a nice big frog pond, but starting at least last year the cattails have begun to creep further and further into the pond from three sections. I like them OK, but I don't want them to take over the whole pond. We may actually have to start pulling them up which won't be easy in this mucky bottom, deep-towards-the-center pond. Maybe we will use a kayak to get out there. But I have never pulled these up before. Do you know if I will just be able to grab one above the water line and pull it up roots and all or will I actually have to get to the base to get the roots? Keeping this on-topic, I have heard that the tubers are good to eat. I will do some more research on how to prepare them.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 6:32AM
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dgower82(6 SE MI)

I think you can just clean them and boil them like you do with potatoes.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 5:55PM
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maineflowergirl(z4 Maine)

Thanks,gower82. I looked on the net about how to remove cattails and they say it is best if the plant is about 6 inches above the water when you pull them out. Mine are way above that now! And they say to pull at the root level, so looks like I WILL have to get into this swampy pond if I really decide to do this. Ick.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2005 at 6:34AM
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lkz5ia

Wild pigweed grows in many gardens. I ate some of the leaves and they didn't have any bitterness.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2005 at 10:50AM
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vonyon

Maine flower girl, My understanding is that cattails are a good indication that your pond is healthy. I didn't know they could grow in the deep water. I also heard that your pond will stay healthier if the sides drop off quick. Maybe you should pull some more dirt out of the edges? There is a pond forum here, so you might be able to find out more.

DG: If you find a use for multiflora rose or asiatic bittersweet, I'm all ears!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2005 at 6:48PM
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dgower82(6 SE MI)

Von, I think you can eat the hips of multiflora, or it might be rugosa. Whatever one it is, they make really great jelly and taste good to. They also have lots of vitamin c. Don't know about bittersweet. I will look on the net for stuff. I think it might be toxic.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rose HipsJazz Up Your Jelly in the Fall

    Bookmark   June 30, 2005 at 9:33PM
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dgower82(6 SE MI)

Nope can't find anything. Could it be used in dried arrangements? Other than that, kill the stuff as fast as you can.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2005 at 9:49PM
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vonyon

Thanks D. I think you are right about bittersweet, they do use it in arrangements though. I don't even like to let it go to seed. There is far too much of it around here and the stuff seems to be able to reseed even after a nuclear holocaust.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 6:13AM
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maineflowergirl(z4 Maine)

Thanks, vonyon. I, too, am wondering just how deep the water will be before the cattails will say "that's too deep." If they stopped right where they are, I would be happy. I would take a photo of the pond but can't get it all in one photo and have it show details well. It may be about 40 feet long by 30 feet wide but I am not a great judge of distances. At the center, it's about 8 feet deep and yes, the pond does drop off quickly.

This area had been just a wet spot that we guessed was at water level and some folks wanted permission to cross this land to get to theirs to do some logging. In return for giving our OK, they agreed to dig us out this little pond and it has proven great for attracting wildlife. We have had 6 types of frogs/toads, one turtle, a heron stopped by, moose, deer, ducks, other birds, butterflies, bats, and more. I have planted various plants and shrubs around the perimeter. It's a challenge because one side is quite marshy and there is no good earth around any of the edges because they dug up the hole and piled what they dug out to make the bankings. So it's clay and rocks. So I have to amend any soil I plant in and hope it won't get waterlogged by the clay soil around it. So far things do well: rhododendrons, serviceberry, artic willow, some other willow, blueberries, roses, weigela, raspberries that grow wild there anyway, lilies, lupines (I know they are not native to Maine though), daisies, primroses, irises and more. From now on,though, anything else I put there will be to make berries the birds like. That serviceberry is growing so slowly though. It was small to begin with and has not put on much growth. Haven't seen berries yet.

I think I am going to start a new post about a bullfrog that showed up at the pond for the first time this year. I read that bullfrogs will kill other frogs and I am wondering if we should try to remove him. And I THINK I see the female there too, though she looks a lot like a green frog. I have read about how to tell the difference though. It will be too late to prevent them from laying the eggs, but if they are capable of wiping out the other frog species, I wouldn't want them there, although I know this is nature and nature does as it wishes. But bullfrogs ARE native to Maine, so maybe he will only kill some of them and all will be well. I have read on the net about places out west where non-native bullfrogs HAVE wiped out resident frogs in areas. Sorry, I guess I put the whole post here about the bullfrogs. But I will still start another post, because I would like the answers to be delivered to my email. I wish we could put checkmarks beside "threads" that we would like delivered to our emails instead of just the threads that we start outselves.

Oh, and you are right that I should also post on the pond group. Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 7:37AM
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dgower82(6 SE MI)

Joanie, I wouldn't worry to much about the bullfrog. They only really become a problem where they are non-native. The heron should take care of them.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 12:54PM
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vonyon

MaineFlowerGirl: where are you in Maine? I'm in the tiptop corner of Massachusetts.......about 1/2 an hour from Maine! Your spot sounds beautiful. I would love a pond. I bought stuff from NH Nursery last spring and every single shrub has made it through the winter and is amazingly big already!! You might want to get some next year from them because whatever is native is probably native to Maine also. I had no idea that lupine wasn't native to Maine......shows how much I know. It is not invasive here, so I hadn't given it much thought.

Here is a link that might be useful: NH Nursery

    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 6:47PM
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maineflowergirl(z4 Maine)

Hey, vonyon, that NH Nursery place looks very interesting. Thanks for the link. I have been thinking about getting winterberry for some time and I know it's good for swampy areas and should do great at the pond.
This photo of the winterberry increases my desire to see those berries in person.
http://nh.gov/dred/nhnursery/seedlings/winterberryholly/wbholly_fruit.jpg

I live in Strong, Maine. 2 hours north of Portland. 15 minutes north of Farmington. Less than an hour to ski areas Sugarloaf and Saddleback if you are into skiing.

Joanie D.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 10:39PM
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vonyon

Joanie: We are about an hour and a quarter south of Portland. I have spent time on some of the Casco Bay Islands in the summer. I do love skiing incidentally, it makes the winter go by quicker. I have skied at Sunday River and Shawnee Peak, I've never been to Sugarloaf or Saddleback though. Boy you are up in the cold country. How low did you go this year?

I keep going on and on about NH Nursery. Ask anyone on this board! ;o) I just can't say enough about the quality for the price. I should get a commission from those folks!! I did buy the winterberries this year and they did twice as well as the ones I got from a specialty (holly) nursery last year.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2005 at 11:25PM
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maineflowergirl(z4 Maine)

Vonyon, how big were the winterberries when you bought them in NH and how big did they get in a year?

I can't remember what our lowest temp was this winter but I think the winter before was colder. I remember minus 27 from the earlier winter. Maybe it got to 20 below this winter. I put it out of my mind soon as Spring gets here!

Joanie D.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 5:42AM
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Kaeljia(6a Vancouver Is)

Hi, lkz5ia I was wondering do you know if that PigWeed is the same as HogWeed it is a member of the carrot or parsle family, does it look like large Tansy when it flowers..and grows huge like it was on steroids? Where I live we have a huge problem with Hogweed.. not only is it invasive, but if you happen to break the plant and get the sap on your skin... you will forever be photosensitive on that area and get a burn even years after you were touched by the weed's sap. Here is a site about the plant.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hogweed

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 3:38PM
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backyardgrown(7b-8 NW MS)

Nope, some pigweed is in the amaranth family.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pigweed ID and info

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 1:42AM
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maineflowergirl(z4 Maine)

Kaeljia, I read the page you referred us to to read about Hogweed. That stuff sounds TERRIBLE! It's amazing that anyone would actually intentionally plant it. They just must not have known it was so invasive and so toxic to human skin. I see that Vancouver Island where you live is having major problems with this plant. Sorry to hear that! I hear such wonderful things about your island. My brother visited there and said it has perfect weather and no bugs that bother people! I found that almost unbelievable. Fill me in about bugs. No mosquitoes? No biting black flies? My brother did say maybe there is more rain there than he would like since he likes to golf a lot.

Joanie D.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 6:27AM
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