Monthly Archives: August 2014

Amaranth the Immortal Green and Grain!

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Story of a plant and how it helped me find its name.

Amaranth. I found you. You let me find you.
I remember. Looking intently at plants growing near a field of corn in the plains area just west of Denver, Colorado.

You were in the ditches near the field.
Alongside the road that tractors drive on.
Where we walked our dog.

Pigweed is the name that threw me off from you. Hard to latch onto, although pigs have good taste!

I thought the green, spikey cluster of flowers at the top could tip me off that it was, indeed, you.

But the leaves, the stem… the overall characteristics of you, Amaranth.
Wild, green leaved Amaranth.
Was something.
I still was not sure.
Like mistaken identity.
Or a case of amnesia where all I have is a picture to go by
with no name.

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It took me over a year of meanderings.
And leavetakings. Learning other plants which made my acquaintance before…

I found you on the upper banks along the foot and bicycle path of the Santa Fe river where I was walking.
A frequent walk which helped me notice you enough to wake up my sleeping vision and actually see you!

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(Patch of Amaranth in foreground on bank of river)

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(Just a week ago water was rushing through this riverbed. It was bone dry when I took the photo only to rush with water, just a few hours later. Rain from the mountain top making its way down. Perhaps over a course of days…)

The fertile banks of the river.
That is where you greeted me and lead me to understand your introduction. Where I finally learned to meet you. To see you for what you are. Amaranth the immortal green and grain.

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(In this location grows near the yellow flowered plant. Looks similar but only one is the edible, healing Amaranth!)

Grateful Harvest
near the riverbed

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(Can you see the top Amaranth leaf pointing to a patch of Mullein across the Riverbed?)

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This green, (as it is called in Nigeria. Green!)…
made its patient and hearty introduction to me again.

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As silly as this may sound?… plants have a way of helping me find them.

To understand, admire and observe them.
In essence, teaching me by name.

Thankyou Amaranth!

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Amaranthus retroflexus
Green Amaranth
Nicknames: Red root pigweed, red-root amaranth, common amaranth, pigweed amaranth, and common tumbleweed.

plant info

Amaranth word origins are from the Greek Amarantos which means unfading.
It is believed to have derived from Sanskrit. The Sanskrit word Amar means eternal…unfading.

More word origin here:
“”Amaranth” derives from Greek μάραντος [3] (amarantos), “unfading,” with the Greek word for “flower,” νθος (anthos), factoring into the word’s development as “amaranth.” The more accurate “amarant” is an archaic variant. Also, it has to be mentioned the Greek word amarantos is in fact derived from ancient Indian language Sanskrit and the meaning of the word is immortal immortal.”

word origin source

Amaranth, given its Sanskrit roots, in India today; Amaranth greens and grain are still a popular food source.

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Red root

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Stems can be green, tannish green, red, pinkish green

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Aztec Use of Amaranth

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Aztec art and sculpture

Image source and Aztec Culture

“In ancient Mesoamerica, amaranth seeds were commonly used. The Aztec/Mexica cultivated large quantities of amaranth and it was also used as form of tribute payment.

Amaranth’s name in Nahuatl was huauhtli.

Among the Aztecs, amaranth flour was used to make baked images of their patron deity, Huitzilopochtli, especially during the festival called Panquetzaliztli, which means “raising banners”. During these ceremonies, amaranth dough figurines of Huitzilopochtli were carried around in processions and then divided up among the population…

Cultivation of amaranth decreased and almost disappeared in Colonial times, under the Spanish rule. The Spanish banished the crop because of its religious importance and use in ceremonies.”

Aztec use of Amaranth and quoted source.

But Amaranth survived on the outskirts of Aztec civilization. Thanks to the Aztec people who, perhaps at great risk, saved Amaranth seeds!

Manataka American Indian Council Articles on Amaranth

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AMARANTH Some characteristics of identification:

For Amaranthus retroflexus

*Be certain for each type of Amaranth plant as there are 60 – 70 species out there! Although some(not all) characteristics for plant species are consistent.

As always, be certain of what plant you are foraging! Bring an expert. Seek expert advice!

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This is a general guide for identifying
Amaranthus retroflexus
* (see above)

.Red root
.Alternating leaves
.Long petiole (leaf stem)
.Leaves can be diamond shaped, lanceolate, oval and often pointed,
.Leaves may be notched when young
.Smaller leaves, higher up on stem
.Leaves can have a slightly wavy edge
.Leaf like growth at stem joints
.Shiny underside of leaf also is white veined.
.These veins are prominent
.Green bristly flower spikes
.Stems can be red, green or pinkish green
.Flower spikes can also form at joints of stems as well
and can surround central, top flower spike.
.Can be branched plant
.Grows in roadsides, disturbed areas, fields, gardens… .Even in arroyos… see end of post 🙂
.Grows to 3 feet on average

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illustration credit. Info about plant

amaranth memory course

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photo credit

Amaranth Traditional Day of the Dead Skulls

comprehensive plant info

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Nutrition of Amaranth Leaves per 1 Cup Serving.

Vitamin K 267%, Vitamin C 21%, Manganese 13%, Calcium 7%, Magnesium 5%, Folate 6%… and other nutrients.

wow that’s a lot of Vitamin K!

nutrition chart

Medicinal Uses:

“Astringent.

A tea made from the leaves is astringent[222]. It is used in the treatment of profuse menstruation, intestinal bleeding, diarrhoea etc[222, 238, 257]. An infusion has been used to treat hoarseness[257].”

Source

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Prominent veins on underside of leaf appear white.

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http://extension.psu.edu/pests/weeds/weed-id/redroot-pigweed

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How to make Cheera Thoran.

I foraged a nice bunch of Amaranth leaves and made a simple dish of greens with them along with some community garden greens. (Amaranth was also growing in the garden!)

I was inspired by the cheera Thoran recipes but the process was more of a whimsical concoction.

The recipes I saw said to use oil and heat up mustard seeds until they pop.
I used 3 tbsp sunflower oil
3 tbsp black mustard seed
Then added one half chopped red onion
2tbsp ground coriander, stir
Sauteé
Then add chopped amaranth leaves
Chopped swiss chard
And a little chopped kale
Also quite nice is a couple of sprigs mint chopped and sauteéd.
Sautee all for a few minutes
All recipes suggest… Do not add water

We loved our vegetable dish and ate it as an antipasta first course.

Veggies including Amaranth leaves and black mustard seed.

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Chopped Amaranth leaves

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Our yummy antipasta dish! Similar to Cheera Thoran.

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Terri holds in sunlight for view!

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I just found a wonderful site about Amaranth!

Amaranth grows in Nigeria. In the site link below, I am sure you can recognize an Amaranth leaf in a yummy pan of greens!

I learned from this site that… “It is known in Yoruba as efo tete or arowo jeja… (meaning ‘we have money left over for fish.’ “)

These yummy greens certainly compliment fish and can be foraged or available in markets in Nigeria!

efo tete or arowo jeja greens recipe!

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Amaranth Seed

I am very excited by this product by Bob’s Red Mill.
Amaranth seed! Can’t wait to pop it and make popped Amaranth and honey Day of the Dead skulls!

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Also on the back is a recipe for Alegría that I will share with you here! Alegría mean Happiness in Spanish! And, is a celebration food during the Day of the Dead.

Alegría

pop it!

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Also I made Chocolate Atolé from the following recipe and I will show you how!

Chocolate Amaranth Atole!

Inspired and basic recipe from Versagrain
Chocolate Atolé recipe posted above!

Option: dry roast flour in pan for a few minutes on low to medium heat. Careful not to burn.
Amaranth flour has a green almost grassy taste but tones down a bit when dry roasted. Also the cacao/chocolate adds to the overall blend of flavors!
…note… I did not dry roast the Amaranth flour and really enjoyed the Chocolate Atolé flavor!

Ingredients:

1/2 C Amaranth Flour
5 C milk or water. (I used 4 C almond milk and 1 C water
3 ounces chopped Unsweetened Cacao
(or unsweetened chocolate)
1/4 C coconut sugar
1 stick cinnamon
2 tsp Vanilla extract

Heat milk until warm/hot not simmering yet.
Add Amaranth flour teaspoon by teaspoon
Whisk constantly to incorporate
When flour all whisked in…
Let thicken a bit
Add sugar…whisk to blend completely
Add one stick cinammon
2 tsp vanilla

For cacao or chocolate chop 3 oz add to mixture when pulled off the heat. Stir until dissolved

We added some raspberries to garnish. A sprig of mint would be nice and I think mint herb water would be nice for the liquid!

Here are some pictures of our Amaranth Atolé fun!

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Chop the cacao or chocolate (unsweetened)

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Heat milk until warm/hot

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Add flour bit by bit whisk whole time. It helped to have someone else to whisk!

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Add cinnamon stick

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Add sugar whisk to incorporate fully

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Add 2 tsp vanilla and whisk in

***Take mixture off heat before adding chocolate!***

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Add chocolate bit by bit

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Whisk

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Keep melting by whisking…

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Enjoy!

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Atolé maker!

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and me too!

Atolé what a treat and everyday a celebration!

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Amaranth can be difficult to distinguish exactly what species of Amaranth it is… even for more seasoned plant observers… Factors such as hybridization, juvenile plant, cotyledon (beginning growth from seedling,) male/female plant all factor in. Also, what stage of growth you are acquainted with identifying can make other factors stand out with an opportunity for learning or doubt.

Accurate foraging takes time and I did not forage from this last group of observed plants.

I am not exactly sure what type of Amaranth plants these set of pictures are (including the one just above) although these plants closely resemble the Amaranthus retroflexus…

Hmmm more studying to do!

🙂

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Nonetheless, I want to show you these beautiful plants which match the criteria for Amaranth species as a whole. In this case… alternating leaves, growth at joints, white veins underneath, bristly green flower spike, long petiole…

Left side of picture… Amaranth from a view in the arroyo

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A small grouping of Amaranth in a 100 foot area

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In the beautiful arroyo

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botany glossary

Lambs quarters, Lammas, the Hummingbird and the Coral Reef

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Lambs Quarters
Chenopodium Album
Nicknames:
Fat Hen, Goose foot, Pig weed
(Pig weed can be a nickname for other plants such as for amaranth species.)
So look for botanical name to clear up regional nickname differences.
…Even Euell Gibbons said that was a good idea. And all the nicknames for Lambs quarters helped him turn the leaf, so to speak, in using botanical names to be clear!

more about Euell Gibbons

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Lambs quarters during Lammas

Lammas occurs on August 1st. This time of year in the Northern hemisphere is an abundant time for harvesting. (Imbolc takes place at this time of year in the Southern hemisphere.)

Lammas is a many centuries old tradition. Which is still celebrated today. Lambs quarters is said to be a rendition of Lammas quarters and is said to have been one of the first greens served during Lammas. A relative, Orache, is said to have been served during Lammas as well.

Bread is also the celebrated food of Lammas and the successful harvest of grains.

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photo credit, Learn more about Lammas

recipe for lammas bread

(Harvest lambsquarter seed in fall, grind in coffee grinder or hand grist mill. Substitute half amount of wheat flour with lambsquarter seed flour.)

Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh, counts of a time where the God Lugh, a sun god, reigned the world as a: warrior, a many skilled and talented being. Who also yields the glory of the sun and the harvest.

A celebration of the harvest with the Lammas loaf of bread!

August is a significant time for the coral in the sea. Shortly after Lammas, every August, 7-10 days after the full moon… Coral all over the world spawn and reproduce.

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photo credit, more about coral

Reef Relief

Nitrate pollution affects Coral (and Lambs quarters)

Lugh belonged to the Tuatha de Danaan people. His mother Ethniu belonged to (the enemy) or the Fomorii people. The Fomorii people worshipped the goddess Domnu. Goddess of the deep abyss. The Sea. Sea creatures like the dolphin, the salmon. The coral reefs are all sacred to Domnu.

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photo credit, Formorians and Domnu

More about Domnu see description for Donn (Domnu)

Celtic Deities

More about Celtic Deities

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Story of Lugh, Photo credit.

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As with the story of Domnu predating Lugh. Some research also suggests that the festival of Lugh once involved a commemoration of mourning. Due to his foster mother, Tailtiu dying in her efforts to supply the earth with grain. Also, the layers of myth and story all point to earlier peoples and times…still encoded in the myths.

harvest myth

lugh legends

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Lugh, God of the Sun which gives life to all. Domnu, goddess of his Mother’s people. Gives birth to the amniotic like fluid of the sea. All creatures on earth came originally from the sea.

Why did Lugh, once empowered, go to war with his Mother’s people?
Was it the dawning of the patriarchy?
Some existential angst of the sun?
A trepidation due to the unknown depths and creations of the sea where light ceases to be seen?

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photo credit, 10minuteastronomy.wordpress.com

Whereas, The full moon, in August, enacts the spawning of coral all over the world. The reflected light of the moon of the Sun. Some would say, is the reflected light of Lugh. The time of Lammas, Lugh’s time of Harvest. The light of the moon shining into the depth’s of the sea. What the Fomorii people would say was Domnu’s sea. The depth of new creation. Sometimes the terrifying but awe inspiring depths. And the hope of coral in the sea.

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Here is to the Happy Hearth! My hearth in my abode.

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The Hearth… is an extension of who and where you are.
Whether at an outdoor kitchen, a simple campsite, cooking with a solar oven, in your home or at a gourmet restaurant…

Making meals with foraged plants are a simple blessing that, not only can nourish, but can heal.
And make your hearth your home.

Here is lamb’s quarters. A foraged plant which has held a huge importance and food source in many parts of the world, such as Europe, Asia and North America. Including for Celtic peoples from which these gods and goddesses have been briefly described.

Historical use

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The story and place of Lambs quarters. How and where to find this plant.

August, time and place.

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Habitat:

Common and widespread
Introduced from Europe
Grows in yards, disturbed sites, vacant lots

Identification and Description:

Small to medium size annual plant
2 feet on average up to 5 feet plus…

Stems erect, usually branched
With a pale green and/or whitish cast

***Caution: Lambs quarters will easily absorb nitrates from fertilizer run off. Harvest only in non-polluted areas.***

fertilizer run off and nitrates health risk

Dietary Note: Lambs quarters contain oxalates which, for those with certain health problems, such as kidney stones, it may be advised to avoid oxalate laden foods.

However, oxalates are in many foods including: berries, spinach, beets, swiss chard, legumes, etc.

And, oxalates play an important role in cell function. “For example, vitamin C is one of the substances that our cells routinely convert into oxalates.”

source, more about oxalates

concise info/includes mild healing effects

It is a highly nutritious plant related to spinach. In fact, lambs quarters, can be an excellent substitute for spinach in recipes!! Give it a try 🙂

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Nutritional Benefits of Lambs Quarters:

According to the following site, Lambs Quarters gives well over a full days supply of Vitamins C and A along with being a good supply of Calcium, Manganese and some B vitamins, along with other nutritional benefits!

Great Chart!

lambs quarter, avocado and olive spread!

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My August birthday and the hummingbird that came to visit!

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird
Selasphorus platycerus

size: 4″

Male: Tiny, iridescent green bird with black throat patch (gorget) that reflects rosy red in sunlight.
Wings and part of the back are green

Female: same as male but lacking the throat patch, much more green on back, tan on flanks

This female, Broad-Tailed hummingbird visited me twice on my birthday.

Terri and I have been birdwatching.

Often by the time we get the binoculars in focus, the bird has either jumped to the back of a tree or likely flown off.

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We get pieces of information each time and often predominantly get different pieces or “noticings.”
For instance, on one birdwatching adventure, I noticed a black cap…on the bird’s head and Terri noticed yellow on the wings, etc.

We review each sighting with “what did you see? Did you see that?” Some of it is the same but often different details emerge. This can be humorous and fumbling at best. But can, we hope, add together for a bigger picture.

The fun thing is humingbirds can hover. As the female did who visited us twice, first thing this morning.

Of all the birds we have been trying to identify and observe, this one let us observe her the closest for the longest.

Twice in a matter of a few minutes! The hovering, inquisitive nature of the hummingbird, made it possible for us to identify what kind of humingbird she, indeed was.

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A female, Broadtailed Hummingbird

Information about Broad-Tailed Hummingbirds

Broad-Tailed Hummingbirds

and more info here

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My birthday cake for two! 🙂

My birthday celebration continued as we also sautéed lambs quarters for a birthday meal.
So delicious we felt happy and nourished to share this celebration meal together!

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Rinsing

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Sautéeing on my Hearth! 🙂

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mmmm!

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Undersides of Lambsquarter leaves

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Mature plants have purple notches at stem joints

And one more look at the plant

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*** There are look alikes out there and different species of chenopodium which may be toxic! Please forage with someone who knows and be careful with new growth as it can resemble inedible species of other plants!

Bring an expert forager with you and get to know the plants in your area. Bring a good text source with you too!

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This post was a creative endeavor. Thankyou for joining me in the journey! August, time and place. Mythology, nutritious greens at time of harvest. The coral reefs after the full moon in August. Watching, bird watching. Learning, lovingly and discernedly the correct plant for foraging. Harvesting and gleaning knowledge about my Celtic background and for the foraged plants our ancestors held dear. Looking to the past. To the future. What surrounds us in the oceans heralded by the protective forces some have described as Domnu. The fragile balance of nature and the awe of the coral reefs. So much to learn when a hummingbird comes nearby to hover. Beating its wings 50 or more times per second.
Learning.
Appreciating!

And happy foraging to You!

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Sources includes links and posted URL’s

Text Sources:

Birds of New Mexico: Field Guide.
by, Stan Tekiela. Adventure Publications, inc. Cambridge, Minnesota, 2003.

Edible Wild Plants. A North American Field Guide to over 200 Natural Foods. By, Thomas S. Elias and Peter A. Dykeman, Sterling Publishing.com, 1982.

Stalking The Wild Asparagus. by Euell Gibbons. Hood, Alan C. & Company, Inc., Publisher. Newer edition 2005.
Originally published 1962.

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Happy Harvest of the Sun!

Desert Tales: Piñon Pinetree Tea and The Western Spadefoot Toads sing to the Rain.

This post is about Piñon pine. How to make pine needle tea from this tree. And a whimsical weaving in of my story of place. Living in the High Desert of New Mexico in the foothills of the Ortiz Mountains. It is in long view of the Jemez and Santa fe Mountains. Dotted in the middle by the Cerrillos Hills. And visited by Spadefoot toads during the monsoons!

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now some science…

Pinus edulis
Piñon pine
Family: Pinaceae

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Habitat: foothills and outer reaches of the Rocky Mountains, USA
Also: arid mesas in stands and/or with junipers
Mesas, plateaus, lower mountain slopes

Description:
Small, spreading, bushy tree
Thin with irregularly furrowed bark
Bark is scaly, and gray to reddish brown

Cones are 1.5″ to 2″
Covered in yellow-brown scales
Each scale holds 2 seeds which are about a half inch long

Pine trees bearing cones with pinon seeds, pine nuts, the following year!

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A large crop of pine nuts/seeds occurs every 3-4 years

Gather ripe almost open cones in autumn…. the above cones are all burst open in early fall

Pinus edulis the Piñon pine is an evergreen and classified by its characteristic of having 2 leaves (needles) per bunch

Harvest new growth pine needles in spring and summer to make tea.
Piñon pine is a slow growing tree.
I harvest just 3 or 4 needles per tree until I have a tablespoon per serving.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/300039-the-health-benefits-of-pine-needle-tea/#page=1

The above article states the importance of pine tea as a remedy for scurvy. Native Americans introduced this beverage to non-Natives and helped them survive during pioneer and settler periods.

Pine tea is high in vitamins C and A and is still a popular traditional beverage.

This blog is a post about Pinus edulis or Piñon pine.

Please research the pine in your area for safety and edible use.

And always refer to a professional when foraging and using wild plants or trees for food or tea or medicnal use.

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I have recently been living in a camper in the high desert about 30 miles away from Santa Fé, surrounded by juniper trees and the two leaf (needle) type of pine or piñon tree. Here is a picture where you can see the pairing of needles, two per bunch. Look in the upper left corner of the picture for the 2 needle groups.

image I affectionately call this pine tree by its scientific name:
Pinus edulis.
It rolls off the tongue doesn’t it? 🙂

Here is a good site about pinus edulis including habitat location in the U.S.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinus_edulis

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What is it like to live in the high desert of New Mexico?

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I was intimidated by the impending heat of summer in a camper but we have found it is surprisingly seasonable.

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Terri, the rainbow and the camper 🙂

Coyotes howl at night and we have to keep our older dog with failing eyesight from chasing down the pack.

image Terri and Fella in the Santa Fe Mountains… about an hour’s drive away.

There are hummingbirds and roadrunners. Mice and packrats need constant attention to keep them at bay.

During the heat of summer, comes the rainy season in the high desert. We call it the monsoon season.

Endearingly, in pools of water near the piñon and junipers, amphibians lie in the depths of mud and rainwater…the Western Spadefoot toads!

According to the site below, these amphibians metamorphose from tadpole to toad sometimes as fast as 12-19 days. Also dependent on the mud puddle not drying up.

http://www.reptilesofaz.org/Turtle-Amphibs-Subpages/h-s-multiplicata.html

Whereas eggs hatch in 2-3 days sometimes within 15 hours… our local State Park guide told us.

Check it out if you are ever in New Mexico!

http://www.cerrillosnewmexico.com/cerrillos-state-park

Summer time of year, we are surrounded by the Western Spadefoot toads because of all the monsoon puddles.

Terri and I affectionately refer to this closeby, ever growing, monsoon lake puddle as Lake Spadefoot!

Here is “Lake Spadefoot!” And our visit was made more fun when the dogs went splashing in. The toads are nocturnal and I hope they were safely away!

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Here is an interesting site about the Western Spadefoot Toad!

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Mexico_spadefoot_toad

The Spadefoot toad’s name is:
Spea multiplicata

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Photo credit of this site:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Mexico_spadefoot_toad

According to the above wikipedia site, here are some interesting quoted facts about the Western Spadefoot Toad.

“The New Mexico Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata) is a species of American spadefoot toad found in the southwestern United States and Mexico. Like other species of spadefoot toad, they get their name from a distinctive spade-like projections on their hind legs which enable them to dig in sandy soils. Some sources also refer to the species as the Mexican Spadefoot Toad, Desert Spadefoot Toad or Southern Spadefoot Toad.

The New Mexico Spadefoot Toad grows from 1.5 to 2.5 inches in length, and has a round body, with relatively short legs. They are green, to grey, to brown, usually reflecting the soil color of their native habitat,often with black and orange colored speckling on their back, and a white underside. They have large eyes,with vertical pupils.

Like all species of spadefoot toad, the New Mexico Spadefoot Toad is nocturnal and secretive. If handled, these frogs might emit a peanutlike odor, which can cause tearing and nasal discharge if in close contact with the face. Spending most of its time buried in the ground, the spadefoot emerges during periods of summer rainfall to feed on insects and to breed. Breeding takes place in temporary pools left by the rain. Eggs laid in large masses, often hatch in as little as 48 hours. The tadpoles are forced to metamorphose quickly, before the water dries up.”

Scientific Site about the Western Spadefoot Toad

http://amphibiaweb.org/cgi/amphib_query?where-genus=spea&where-species=multiplicata

So when I think about my day and any foraged foods I have enjoyed. While I wonder if my pictures of the Pinus edulis are in focus enough… while I sift through my own texts and what information I can glean via the internet… (and there is a lot to sift through, in regard to pine tea!)…

I am comforted and humored at night, by the calls of the neighboring, puddle dwelling toads!

Did you ever use a musical instrument… where one piece of the wood is ridged and you rub a stick against the ridges? Well, that is as close as I can come to explaining what they sound like.

And, I always hear what must be hundreds in a chorus together.

This musical instrument reminds me of what they
sound like!

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You can check out this great musical instrument website that sells these sweet creations and also the
above photo courtesy of:

http://povera.myartsonline.com/music/instruments.html

The Western spadefoot toad, it turns out, is the official amphibian for the State of New Mexico!

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photo credit

More about the
Zia people and the Zia symbol here.

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Life in the High Desert is diverse and this diversity can change with the season. Like when the toads come out in the rains.

The piñon tree is a steady companion of the high desert of New Mexico. I have noticed it often grows at the base of an older or even dying/dead Juniper tree.

The pine pitch resin also makes an all purpose healing balm called trementina salve. check it out!

It is so interesting to notice patterns.

Seasonal ones but also more cyclical ones and patterns over larger periods of time such as with the growth of these beautiful Piñon trees.

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Living back in New Mexico has been fun to see what foraged plants I found while on the road also thrive here.

This is a welcome pattern I am glad to see here. This includes purslane, common mallow, wild lettuce and others. There is so much to learn and it has taken me several months to come back to write about Piñon pine.

What lessons are there for me about pine?
Pine tea is aromatic and lemony. It has an expansive opening feeling for the lungs and has a healing lemony feel to it when drinking it.

Piñon pine are hearty. Slow growing. Evergreen. They provide some of the only shade in the High desert. They grow nuts and their needles can be made into tea.

But, also because they are slow growing I want to respect their bounty. I do not want to harvest more than what the tree can tolerate for needles.

The tree is also home and food to birds and other wildlife.

What have I pined for? What took me so long to write about pine? Did I need to come home again to regain that grounding? I think so.

Pinus edulis has been a teacher to me. I have spent 3/4 of a year thinking and researching…abandoning the post I was trying to write. Only to begin again. I had to forget the stockpile of sites and conflicting information I had found about pine tea. I needed to return to a space. A place where I could admire the tree on my return to New Mexico. Identifying it from a distance by its dark bark when mature. Enjoying seeing its beginning growth underneath a juniper. Becoming visually more aware. Beginning again from less of a burdened perspective of research. And coming more from a place of neighbor. The trees in my vicinity.

Appreciating the 5 or 6 trees I visited today to make 2 cups of tea… It slows me down and helps me fill with intention. Not a neediness or greed… how much can I harvest or get… (or even a horde of information) but, what is needed. What is enough. What is timely. What did today ask me to do?

An appreciation that a shared cup of pine needle tea can fortify. That I have what I need. A teacher.
An ally. A Piñon tree. And a friend to share the tea.

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How to Make Pine Needle Tea from Piñon pine.

1.Harvest enough needles from the bright green new growth equal to one tablespoon per cup. Do not over-harvest from one tree

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2. Chop or cut with scissors… the needles into smaller bits.

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3. Crush the needles between 2 spoons to help release aromatic oils

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4. Add to water for tea

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5. Bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Then strain into cups.

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6. Enjoy

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This is a picture from last November. The color is a reddish brown. It is from the Pinus edulis tree also.

Today’s brew was less red. Just slightly tinged with color. But it was good and aromatic and vitalizing. I boiled it less long today so recommend 2-3 minutes as stated above. But remember, it can be nice to have a more gentle tea like I made today!

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Here are some fun and interesting sites I have found and wanted to share! Check it out!

Wild Blessings site by Holly Drake! Pine Needle Popsicles!

pine pollen as food

how to harvest pine nuts

The following site is delightful. It shows a Chippewa/Ojibway tradition of making dolls out of tufts of pine needle bunches. Each pine needle bunch forms a doll and the skill and fun is to make the dolls dance, jiggle, jump and perform against a small flat board.

Native American Pine Needle Dancing Dolls


Native peoples introduced tea to New Englanders and Canadians

pine needle syrup

pine soup

Yep, Pine needle cake!

Edible inner bark and Pine needle flour…from the Wild Blessings site by Holly Drake!

Euell Gibbons…eat a pine tree!

shortbread pine needle recipe

the acoustic world inside a piñon tree

debunks some internet myths about using pine

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And for those of you looking for more specific medicinal and edible use of pine, here is some quoted material from this site just below.

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Pinus+edulis

The above site has a good synopsis of useful information directly quoted below:

Edibile Uses of Piñon Pine:

“Edible Uses Edible Parts: Inner bark; Seed; Seedpod. Edible Uses: Condiment; Gum; Tea.

Seed – raw or cooked[82, 177]. Seeds…delicious raw or cooked[2, K]. The seed can be ground into a meal and used in stews, making bread, cakes etc and in making nut butter[183]. The seed is up to 25mm long[160]. Rich in oil, protein[183] and thiamine[160]. The seed contains about 15% protein[213]. An important item of food for the local Indians, it is also sold in local markets of Colorado and New Mexico[61, 82]. About 450,000 kilos of the seeds are sold in American markets each year[229]. The leaves can be brewed into a tea[183, 257]. Immature female cones – roasted. The soft centre forms a sweet syrupy food[183]. Inner bark – cooked. A sweet flavour, it is cut into strips and cooked like spaghetti[183]. Inner bark can also be dried, ground into a powder and used as a thickening in soups or can be mixed with cereal flours when making bread etc[257]. The pitch from the trunk can be hardened and used as a chewing gum[257]. A vanillin flavouring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood[200].”

I have underlined and highlighted some of this text for emphasis.

Also according to the PFAF site:

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Pinus+edulis

Medicinal Uses are numerous and include:

“Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future
(and wildlettucegal.wordpress.com) can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiseptic; Depurative; Diuretic; Emetic; Expectorant; Pectoral; Plaster; Rubefacient; VD; Vermifuge.

The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge[4]. It is a valuable remedy in the treatment of kidney, bladder and rheumatic affections, and also in diseases of the mucous membranes and the treatment of respiratory complaints[4]. Externally it is used in the form of liniment plasters and poultices on cuts, boils, burns and various skin problems[4, 257]. The heated pitch has been applied to the face to remove facial hair[257]. The gum is used as a plaster on cuts and sores[216]. An infusion of the leaves has been used as an emetic to cleanse the stomach[257]. The leaves have been chewed in the treatment of venereal diseases[257]. The leaves have been burnt and the smoke inhaled as a treatment for colds[257]. The inner bark is expectorant[257].”

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Additional Source for this blog post, in addition to posted URL sites includes the text:

Edible Wild Plants. A North American Field Guide to over 200 Natural Foods.
By, Thomas S. Elias and Peter A. Dykeman, Sterling Publishing.com, 1982.

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Thankyou for joining me on this foraging adventure!

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Amidst the Pines…Nearby cactus with fruit!

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