Monthly Archives: September 2014

Lemon scent in the Wild West! Limoncillo Tea!

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Pectis Angustifolia
Plant Family: Asteraceae

Common name: Limoncillo, lemonscent, lemonscented cinchweed

(Always check latin binomial name above as different plants can have the same nickname or common name!)

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Identification characteristics:
See book source end of post. Author: Delena Tull

Bright yellow flower heads are small
1/2 ” (1 cm) across
Leaves are 1/2-1.5″ (1-4cm) long and less than 1/8 ” long (1-2 mm) broad
Other aromatic species of Pectis may be used in a similar way.

*Harvest from larger colonies of the plant only.

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Note: Please see additional sources in identifying this or other plants. Bring an expert with you and/or someone who knows!

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I really wish I had taken more pictures of this lovely plant.
(I’ve added more from the following summer!)

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I learned about this plant when I went on a Nature Hike and in the link of the post I tell all about the Clammy Ground cherry!

But, I didn’t want to slow down anyone else around me or miss the upcoming, nearby plants of interest and discussion. So this year, I got one picture of the Limoncillo plant in full bloom. So glad I got a vibrant picture of all the flowers in bloom!

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Turns out it makes a lovely lemony tea! Terri and I really enjoyed it.

No-one on the hike really knew the name of the plant. Just that it made a really refreshing lemony flavored tea.

I have been taking a Clinical Herbalism class. Learning about the medical aspects of Herbs.
I am all ears during the class and just love it!
I am taking the class in Albuquerque, New Mexico and quite enjoy being in a different place and city for a few hours every week!

I have been adding to my personal library of plant books.
After buying my textbook for class… I purchased this book!

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Written by Delena, Tull.

I wasn’t sure if I was getting too extravagant but really felt a book, as the title describes, would be very useful.

Imagine my delight when I found color plate 15!
Yes, got to admit after a couple of weeks research, I was very happy to find out more about the mystery plant.

It became a mystery to me, because just a little nibble of the flower, captivated me by its very pleasant, lemony-fruity flavor. I really hoped I could find this plant just 5 or so miles away where I lived.

And turns out I did!

I thought it was a member of the asteraceae family and looked a bit like the ray petals of a dandelion…although a different shaped flower.

Here is plate 15 from this book I have been talking about!

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This plant is commonly called Limoncillo.

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This is a nickname that other plants that grow in the region have due to its lemony scent.
Other plants that have this nickname and grow nearby are called False Pennyroyal.

Pectis angustifolia is the Limoncello plant I made the tea out of.

When I found it just a few weeks or so later it was starting to dry out.
Coming to the end of its season as an annual plant.

Funny, as is often the case with me…
I had walked by this low lying plant and thought…
Well, maybe.

When dry, the surrounding leaves appear bract like. Its appearance was somewhat reminiscent of the plant in full bloom but different enough to make me not sure. So, the first walk I took… I noticed it in the back of my mind but wasn’t sure.

You can see the difference.

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Or maybe better here…

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Another aspect to foraging or wildcrafting.
Plants change according to the season! And in late summer, early fall this plant changes a lot!

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The leaves sticking out of the now drying plant, gave it a bract like appearance that made me question the plants the first time.

Some of the flowers smelled lemony but were pretty far gone in the patch I had discovered that first day…

The second time I went not just meandering but looking for Limoncillo!… the memory of those few week older and drying, annual plants were still in the back of my mind.

Terri came with me. Our friends from where the nature hike was… was a bit lower in elevation, so we decided to take a path leading down to lower elevations.

And that is where we found our Limoncillo plants!

Here is the hill we wandered down.

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And here are the flowers and some leaves and short stems we foraged for our tea!

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We added a loose amount in a 4 oz jar shown here. A small jar…
To a small pot of water.

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Brought it to a boil for 5 minutes and then turned off the heat, covered the pot, and steeped the tea for 10 minutes.

We loved it. It tasted a bit earthy like chamomile but with the overall fruity-lemony taste! By far one of my favorite foraged plants. It makes a lovely tea!

And I am grateful!

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A tea for one, or two or many!

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Early fall flowers above

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And late summer blooms

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Wild lemony tea! Limoncillo!

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Delena Tull in her book: Edible and Useful Plants of the Southwest… highlights use of the Pectis angustifolia/papposa plant.

P. 157
“The leaves and flowers of the low-growing annual herbs provide a pleasant lemony tea. Limoncillo blooms in summer and fall. The young, ediible leaves may be added as flavoring to stews. The volatile oil can be used to scent perfume, and the herb furnishes a yellow dye for wool. The pollen can cause hay fever in sensitive individuals. Found growing on calcium-rich soils throughout the Southwest, these fragrant wildflowers provide one of the best wild teas in the West…”

Wild Limoncillo…

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Pectis angustifolia

Pectis papposa

Asteraceae: Many healing plants!

Pectis angustifolia also has specific medicinal use. Please see source link below as well as bibliogaphy in link.

plant info source and medical use

Text Source:

Edible and Useful Plants of the Southwest. Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. by Delena Tull, University of Texas Press. Revised ed., 2013.

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In the shade of a prickly pear cactus!

And near a favorite arroyo at a lower elevation… still in bloom at the end of September.

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limoncillo in the arroyo

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The Pear of the Prickly Pear Cactus. Healing Fruit!

Opuntia… Species
Prickly pear cactus and fruit

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betalain lessons arthritis symptoms!

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helps with diabetes, lowers cholesterol & is anti-inflammmatory!

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Be careful when harvesting! Even the fruit has little spines which hurt and can irritate! They are difficult to remove.
And as you can see, on this variety of opuntia cactus, the spines on the nopales pads are very sharp and long.

I did pull this out of my thumb!

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Here is Terri, taking her turn foraging with tongs!

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Where there is smoke there is fire! Something I am realizing is a powerful metaphor for learning, personally, especially now.

But hey, where there is smoke there is fire! And fires were breaking out in the mountain ranges around us.

We wanted to prepare the fruit for use by burning off the glochids… over hot coals. We were thinking of putting the fruit in a metal mesh strainer with a metal base and handle. Stirring the prickly pears, semi immersed/hovering over hot coals… and turning them over to burn off the glochids… the little cactus spines on the fruit.

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We were going to use our outdoor firepit. We call our hearth. But with smoke in neighboring mountains all around we did not want to make our neighbors and others who could see our smoke plume… have cause for fear. So, we lit the coleman stove and used that flame to burn off the glochids on our fruit instead.

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These fruit are related to more popular prickly pears, often called tunas. Those appear to have more fruit and less seeds. These have a skin layer of fruit around a bunch of seeds. It is filled with moist seeds that honestly reminded me of frog eggs!. The pulp and skin (minus glochids) are all edible when blended in a vitamix for a juice. Then strain the juice to avoid bits of the rock hard seeds! Or remove seeds to begin with.

Also, remove the seeds from the fruit if you are making a jam or pie with the fruit because they are very hard and NOT chewable at all!

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Here are some of the moist seeds with part of the fruit pulp.

I made an empanada using the de-seeded fruit, coconut sugar, and water (heated and syrupy) for the fruit filling and amaranth flour for the dough. Honestly, it wasn’t my favorite recipe but the fruit was quite good. We ended up straining off the prickly pear fruit sugar syrup and that was delicious!

This sugar syrup is rich in betalains and nutrition. In fact, coconut sugar does not spike blood sugar levels and it is yummy!

Betalains, that are in the fruit are a great source of anti-inflammatory agents. Betalains also exist in smaller amount in beets and swiss chard. But, prickly pear fruit, its rich red pulp, has the highest amount of Betalains. Here is to your health! People suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions are said to benefit from these betalains.

Prickly Pear Coconut Sugar Syrup

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Enjoy this Prickly Pear and Rose Cachaรงa cocktail!

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Also research suggests a lowering of cholesterol and an aid for symptoms of diabetes. Other benefits also include some antiviral activity and other benefits!

To think this fruit is surrounding me in the New Mexico desert. Of course, I won’t forage them all. I just foraged a few. Respect for how hard the desert plants work to survive and the other creatures who enjoy the fruit too.

I am grateful to learn more about the Prickly pear cactus and its fruit.

Prickly pear is a natural refrigerant… it cools your body down. Especially the fruit. But don’t over consume! It can in some cases lead to cactus fever. A condition that results from over consumption.

A 4 oz glass of Prickly pear juice in this case would be a good serving. And cooling and refreshing too.

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And, thankyou for joining me on this foraging journey!

cactus facts

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My homepage on harvesting Nopales…cactus pads!

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And the following spring….one of the first blooms

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And, still enjoying the prickly pear. This one in the escarpment area of New Mexico. Always happy to see my plant friends.

Not harvesting, just enjoying the view. 

Spicey not Dicey. Spice it Up with Pepper Grass! And Snakeweed Salve Soothes!

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Lepidium virginicum
Family: Brassicaceae

Brassicaceae Family

identifying the mustard family (Brassicaceae) by its flowers

According to the top link above,
Nutrition of the Brassicaceae
plant family is rich in these vitamins and minerals:

“This family is crucial in any diet for vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, K, and the minerals calcium, iron, and magnesium”

Quite a boon of nutrition!

*avoid areas with heavy metals or nitrates since pepper grass absorbs these from the soil if the soil has high amounts. As many plants will do.

Therefore, avoid areas with ferilizer run off.
Good to get soil tested if any doubt.

Habitat:
Fields, vacant lots, grazing land, disturbed areas, roadsides, waste sites.

And Pepper grass grows all around me in the high desert of New Mexico. It was formerly a ranch where I now live.

Common name/Nickname: Pepper grass, Poor Man’s pepper, Pepper weed, Milk Bottle

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In amidst the old branches of a dying tree

Turns out I had seen pepper grass quite a bit! I had walked past, stopped to admire it, commented on it, and grown friendly to its presence everywhere.

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Little did I know this bouncy, bountiful plant was a yummy, mustard-y, radish like green.
I bet it would taste great in a salt preserved sauerkraut!

Why not toss a few juniper berries in too?

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Juniper berries are traditional in Sauerkraut.
Come to find out the bluish/white cast on them is a type of yeast.
Many people these days are making breads and other fermented foods using natural yeast like on the juniper berries! I love these adventurous and accomplishing souls!

make your own sourdough starter the old fashioned way!

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Here is my story of Pepper grass. I walked a quarter mile or less around the horseshoe shaped land above a basin of land to where my friend stays. From my place to hers.
I hadn’t seen her in a while. I was missing her. And, she offers such a lovely flurry of blessings my way. She is often to annoint me with a cascade of treats such as: essential oils, gifts and yummy food. Her friendship and our laughter.

We often read tarot for each other and she is a passionate, creative and generous friend.

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I told her I was foraging wild foods… albeit thoroughly, blush… and a bit slowly.

She glanced quickly around. She said well there is plenty around us in the desert of New Mexico… and she picked a bunch of bottlebrush like white flowers, leaves and stems, just like that! To my happy surprise! ๐Ÿ™‚

She said, taste this!… And, I am so glad I did! Yum! What a surprise! I like mustard-y tastes and it had a taste like horse radish too. Now it is one of my favorite nibbles and it is super good for you too! I just eat the whole thing… excluding the roots. Flowers and all and I have just one thing to say…
Thankyou friend!

Here are some more pictures of Pepper Grass to help you identify it!

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Pepper Grass Basal set of leaves

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Pepper Grass Basal leaves with stem

These Pepper grass plants are going to seed. It is a couple weeks away from autumn.

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Excluding the yellow flowered plant, the Snakeweed plant, this is pepper grass!

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More Information and pictures about Escoba de la Vibora a.k.a. Snakeweed, snakebroom…

Escoba de la Vibora
Snakeweed
Gutierrezia sarothrae
Other Names: broom snakeweed, Matchweed, Snakebroom, broomweed, Collale, Yerba de la Vibora
Family: Asteraceae

Salves , herbal oils and tea infusions for baths made from this plant are soothing for arthritis. And it often grows near the Pepper Grass plant so I like to talk about it here!

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New growth of Snakeweed above.

Flowers below:

 

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This yellow flowered plant, the snakeweed plant, grows all around me too!

I want to make a healing salve from this plant!
It is used medicinally to aid in symptoms of arthritis. It is a medicinal plant and can be used for a healing tea and often for a bath that relieves achiness and discomfort for arthritis and sore muscles.

Michael Moore, herbalist… in his book: Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West., p.p. 110-112, describes the uses and methods of utilizing Escoba de la Vibora.

For a basic formula he suggests to boil one small bundle in a quart of water.
Then sip 2-4 ounces of the infusion of herb.
Then add the rest to bathwater while enjoying part of a book. For me, this would be this book of info!

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I just had to harvest some more Yerba de la Vibora! It is the beginning of October and I am sure we want to take, at least, one healing bath for our … mid century aches and pains! Here a bundle is drying!

According to Moore: Further specific Medicinal Use:
“Steep a cup of finely chopped herb for thirty minutes
In a quart of water, strain, and add the tea to a hot bath to alleviate the pain of arthritis and rheumatism.” It is regarded a safe herb for baths.

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And, also according to this source, a tea of it can be good for stomach ache and excessive menstruation.

And, also: “It is a respected, almost revered remedio among Hispanic New Mexico and Arizona peoples, where a tea of the herb is usually drunk while bathing in it. … it is common, safe, and may sometimes work so well for joint inflammations as
to supplant salicylate (aspirin) treatments…(snakeweed is) preferred for headache, sore legs or an aching body.”

Also, Moore describes that several of the terpenes of this plant increase skin permeability, increasing the healing properties of Escoba de la Virbona.

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Yay, this was a first for me! I wildcrafted snakeweed and verbena. I dried it in the sun for a few days and then made it into a salve! I used organic sunflower oil to infuse the herbs. And, added a few drops of vetiver essential oil. Beeswax was melted and added. It is a relaxing soothing herb salve, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial and nervine benefitting.

*Harvest from non-polluted areas or buy from organic sources if possible.*

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Verbena grows all around me in New Mexico!

What a fun herbal project. Tips… it takes 1.5 oz of beeswax per every 16 oz of oil for the salve.

Check out these helpful sites!

tips on making infused oils and salves!

A new friend I met on a nature hike also related that snakeweed will also show up in areas that have been over grazed.

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snakeweed oil and salve!

stove top method for infused oils and other tips!

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And back around the bend to Peppergrass!

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peppergrass article and recipe!

Memory course: Pepper grass

Health Benefits Pepper Grass!

“Anthelmintic; Antiasthmatic; Antiscorbutic; Antitussive; Cardiotonic; Diuretic.

The leaves of wild pepper-grass are nutritious and generally detoxifying, they have been used to treat vitamin C deficiency and diabetes, and to expel intestinal worms[254]. The herb is also diuretic and of benefit in easing rheumatic pain[254]. North American Indians used the bruised fresh plant, or a tea made from the leaves to treat poison ivy rash and scurvy[222]. A poultice of the leaves was applied to the chest in the treatment of croup[222]. The seed is antiasthmatic, antitussive, cardiotonic and diuretic[176]. It is used in the treatment of coughs and asthma with excessive phlegm, oedema, oliguria and liquid accumulation in the thoraco-abdominal cavity[176].A poultice of the bruised roots has been used to draw out blisters[257]. The root is used to treat excess catarrh within the respiratory tract[254].”

medical source

So what have I cooked with it?…

I have just eaten it as an uplifting, radish-y, nourishing and healing nibble! Lucky me! It grows all around me. If I’m smart I will dry some for colder months ahead!

Here is me with a lucky nibble!

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Ha ha ha … but true… I did munch away, happily!
And, thankyou friend for showing me Pepper grass!
What a way to spice up my life and thankyou! ๐Ÿ™‚

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It does make a pretty bouquet too!

As does this drying herbal bundle of Snakebroom!

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I wonder if the origin of Bride’s bouquets was an herbal bundle of healing blooms?…

This thought encouraged me to look more into the origin of Bouquets!

Text Sources:
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.

Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. by, Michael Moore, Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, 2003.

Clammy Ground Cherry and the Wilding Way

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identify clammy or smooth ground cherries!

Physalis heterophylla
Common name/Nicknames: Clammy Ground Cherry, Ground Cherry, Husk cherry, Husk tomato, Chinese lantern, Inca berry
Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade Family)

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Ground Cherry fruit in its beautiful papery lantern husks in early fall

and this next one was an abandoned feast, lying on the arroyo floor…

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Harvest fruit in Autumn
calyx… lantern like casing not edible. Only ripe fruit is!

Nutrition may be similar to Tomatillo
And perhaps more since it has not been cultivated… consider: phytonutrients, flavanoids, etc. Which may be additional when a wild plant.

See more nutritional info at end of post.

plant info

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(I think it is indeed ripening… more yellow today!)

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I’ve read that when the fruit of this cherry is yellow it is the Clammy ground cherry!

As is the spiral through time and space that I am learning about foraged plants… so it is with Clammy ground cherry. I have been admiring them, and learning about them, along with other nightshades that look like they grow tiny yellow tomatoes without husks or calyxes… are poisonous! beautiful, but poisonous.

see toxic look alikes

belladonna poisonous nightshade

But I love plants and it is so interesting to learn about families of plants. The edible, the poisonous, the look alikes and the plants which are in the same family but appear so different!

So this is spiral like too… or labyrinthine. Like when the datura pops and bursts open like my new foraging, plant hike friend, described.

She told our plant hike gathering, how she has admired the beauty of the nightshade datura … for many years.

Then one evening she had the time alone, she admitted was a rare treat, to admire the datura…

When to her delight and surprise, she saw and heard, as the interlocking tendrils at the end of the flowers (which hook it spirally shut)… at just the right moment, popped open and unfurled, to reveal their splendor.

I am so grateful that she shared her story on our plant hike. Stories help us unfold and glean the true wisdom and joy of plants and unfurl a learning experience we can all remember!

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Here is the first Datura plant on my friends’ property and Sustainable Learning Center called Ampersand. Now, some 10 years later, there are many datura plants that have chosen to thrive there.

I love the beautiful datura and have often called it the lily of the desert. It is a nightshade like the Clammy ground cherry… but NOT edible.

Humans have to share afterall. Not all plants developed as edible plants for humans… strong alkaloids and other compounds have developed over time as a plant’s evolutionary defense.

And plants can be teachers and allies, not just through edibility. A reminder to me, to learn about plant neighbors. What plants are growing near a wild edible plant. This tells more of the story of the plant. The story of the soil and place.

…the circle unravels and travels the spiral where we begin…

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Flowering Alfalfa in the arroyo. Yummy alfalfa by the way! near nature hike…

So I got to go on a nature hike, through the happy connection of one friend telling me about the nature hike… that she was hoping to go to, at Ampersand.

Ampersand was created by Amanda and her partner Andy as a Sustainable Learning Center in Cerrillos, New Mexico.

I had been wanting to go to this particular event and because of my schedule had missed out on other nature hikes… but I had that Sunday off!
Amanda gave a hearty welcome for me to join. I couldn’t wait! ๐Ÿ™‚

On this nature excursion, Amanda and others discussed and pointed out edible and medicinal plants. I was overjoyed.

This also included stories like the one about datura and traditional Native uses of plants, i.e. the Cleome plant which was used as food (wild spinach) and a dye for pottery painting.

patterns and the fourth sister: Cleome!

Cleome, Cleome Serrulata, is also known as
Rocky Mountain Bee Plant!

Capparaceae family of plants.

The Navajo refer to this plant as Waa’

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patterns of the caper family.

I just love this plant, Cleome!

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Ampersand is located near a beautiful arroyo, meadow and desert area… (not too far from me.) It is a diverse riparian area and so many beautiful plants grow there. Here is Amanda from Ampersand our beautiful and knowledgeable nature hike guide sitting and enjoying a patch of false pennyroyal!

Ampersand! Sustainable Learning Center

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This area is resplendent with all sorts of edible and healing plants. Like this soothing, nervine benefitting herb Verbena!

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Verbena, what a Healer!

tips on making salves

And, I made my own healing salve with snakeweed and verbena! Soothing and anti-inflammatory!

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Clammy Ground Cherry…where do you live?

Habitat:

“It is found mainly in habitats such as dry or mesic prairies, gravel hills and rises, sandy or rocky soils, and waste places such as roadsides.”

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Related to the tomatillo. In fact the Tomatillo is a cultivated Ground Cherry!

Here are more pictures of the Clammy Ground Cherry!

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Plant showing the leaves and ground cherries below hanging in their papery lantern husks!

clammy ground cherry!

native american medicinal use

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My new nature hike friend showing me what lies within the “paper lantern!”

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Showing each other Ground cherries on the nature hike!

Only eat Clammy ground cherries when they ripen to yellow. They contain alkaloids which could be potentially fatal and/or harmful if not ripe!… green is unripe in this case!

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Okay so what can I make with Clammy ground cherries?… jam, pie, a fruity nibble… empanadas…

I just love this person! They made a Ground Cherry pie from a similar species… Physalis peruviana… but
Physalis heterophylla would work great too!
Wow that’s a lot of science… but so is good baking so here goes!

Ground Cherry Pie, Cupcakes and Salsa Recipes!

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Here it is a greenish yellow on the windowsill of a sweet housesit!

I read somewhere that they will fully ripen to a (full yellow) in this case… just like their cousins the tomatoes… will ripen when left to do the same!

I will keep you posted as my journey with Clammy ground cherry continues!

I can’t wait to taste my Clammy ground cherry
once it is fully ripe!

tomatillos are cultivated ground cherries!

Medical Use clammy ground cherries…

From the above Medical Use… link:

” (Peterson Field Guides, Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, 1990) report that the American Indians made a tea of the leaves and roots of Clammy Ground Cherry, P. heterophylla, for headaches, wash for burns, scalds; in herbal compounds to induce vomiting for bad stomach aches; root and leaves poulticed for wounds. Seeds of this and other species were considered useful for difficult urination, fevers, inflammation, and various urinary disorders.”

Also may have anti-tumor properties which are being researched.

more medical source

Ripe berries can also be dried and ground into a flour to add to breads and doughs.

Nutrition:

from Primaldocs.com

Clammy Ground Cherry is a powerhouse of Nutrition!

It is filled with Vitamin A
B complex vitamins
Phosphorus, potassium, and iron
Antioxidants and Anti-inflammatory agents

Including withanolides which cut off cancer cells/tumors ability to make blood vessels to itself

withanolides and physalis

Also, reportedly protects your liver from some forms of toxicity as well as aiding in illness from diabetes and hypertension.

The author, of Primaldocs.com, Arthur Haines, closes this excellent article by talking about the importance of re-wilding one’s life. That the impact of doing so changes one’s life for the better. With nutrition and sense of connectedness to nature, the world.

And that this task of re-wilding is essential to our wellbeing. That we regain ecological knowledge and wisdom and move from being told what to eat by supermarket shelves to a more closely related connection to wild foods and beings that share an ecological path with us.

Re-wilding is a path I am glad I am on!

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Clammy Ground Cherry you have guided my way!

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Keepin on Nature Hiking