PLANT SPOTLIGHT: Persimmon (Diospyros)

Posted on Categories Blog, Canning, Cooking & Preservation, Harvesting, Home, Orchard Care, Plant Profiles, Plants, POPharvests, Propagation, Recipes, Tree Care, Wild EdiblesTags , , , , , , ,

Asian persimmons ripening at Bartram’s Garden in West Philadelphia. Non-astringent varieties can be harvested while still firm.

 PERSIMMON TREE FACTS

Asian Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) is native to China, where it has been cultivated for centuries.  Korea and Japan have also been centers of its cultivation, and it was introduced to California in the mid 1800’s. Asian Persimmons usually grow between 13-20 ft tall and wide and are self-fertile.  At our community orchards, POP usually favors planting non-astringent cultivars such as ‘Fuyu’ and ‘Jiro’.

The native American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is a much larger tree, growing 30-50 ft tall, but with smaller fruit. It is also more cold hardy.  Except for a few self-fertile varieties, American Persimmons require a separate male and female tree for pollination (only female trees bear fruit).  Due to limitations of space required, POP generally only plants native persimmons in larger park settings and favors self-fertile cultivars like ‘Meader’ and ‘Early Golden’.  There are also a few hybrid Asian/American persimmons varieties, including ‘Nikita’s Gift’.

Persimmons belong to the Ebenaceae botanical family, valued for its wood and fruits. Persimmons are usually propagated by grafting scionwood or buds to selected rootstock; seed stratification is also possible. Pollinators of this tree include wild bees, bumblebees, and honeybees.

Persimmons have proved one of the easiest fruits to grow in Philadelphia, with consistent harvests and few pest and disease challenges.

SEASONAL CARE

Persimmons are easy to grow with few ongoing care requirements. Asian Persimmons grow in hardiness zones 7-10 and do best in areas that have moderate winters and relatively mild summers. American Persimmons are hardier, adaptable to zones 5-9.

WINTER/SPRING: Late-winter pruning is helpful for shape and rejuvenation, with modified central leader being the most common form. In the spring, non-blooming persimmons may require an application of bonemeal to boost phosphorous.

SUMMER: Water young trees thoroughly once a week during their first year. Persimmons have few pest or disease problems in our region, thus requiring little other attention.

FALL: Persimmons are one of the latest ripening fruits in our orchard spaces. Harvest and process the fruit from October to December depending on the variety. Harvest non-astringent Asian varieties when they are hard, but fully colored (ranging from light yellow-orange to dark orange-red). American and astringent Asian varieties should not be harvested until soft, as fruit picked too early will cause your mouth to feel dry and pucker from the astringency! Sweetness is often improved after the first frost.

Volunteers harvesting American persimmons at The Woodlands in West Philadelphia. Most effective technique was to shake branches and capture fruit on a tarp below.

NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS

Before consuming persimmons, please read POP’s edible plant disclaimer below.

Persimmon fruit is a very good source of dietary fiber with 100 g containing about 9.5% of recommended daily intake of soluble and insoluble fiber. Fresh and dried Persimmon fruit also contain healthy amounts of minerals like potassium, manganese (15% of DRI), copper (12% of DRI), and phosphorus. It is moderately high in calories (provides 70 calories/100 g) but very low in fats. Persimmons can be eaten fresh, dried, and cooked. Dried persimmon fruits are popular in Japan and often used in cookies, cakes, muffins, puddings, salads and as a topping in breakfast cereal.

Disclaimer

The Philadelphia Orchard Project stresses that you should not consume parts of any wild edible plants, herbs, weeds, trees,​ or bushes until you have verified with your health professional that they are safe for you. As with any new foods that you wish to try, it is best to introduce them slowly into your diet in small amounts.

The information presented on this website is for informational, reference, and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a health care professional. Always consult a health care professional or medical doctor when suffering from any health ailment,

disease, illness, or injury, or before attempting any traditional or folk remedies. Keep all plants away from children. As with any natural product, they can be toxic if misused. 

To the best of our knowledge,​ the information contained herein is accurate and we have endeavored to provide sources for any borrowed​ material. Any testimonials on this web site are based on individual results and do not constitute a warranty of safety or guarantee that you will achieve the same results.

Neither the Philadelphia Orchard Project nor its employees, volunteers, or website contributors may be held liable or responsible for any allergy, illness,​ or injurious effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of reliance on the information contained on this website nor as a result of the ingestion or use of any of the plants mentioned ​herein.

A food mill or strainer can be used to separate persimmon pulp from seeds and skin for use in baked goods, fruit leather, etc.

PERSIMMON BREAD

INGREDIENTS
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup persimmon pulp
1 teaspoon baking soda
Optional: 1/2 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup raisins

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Oil a 9×4 inch pan.
2. In a small bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt, nuts, and raisins.
3. In a large bowl, blend eggs, sugar, and oil. Mix baking soda into pulp, and add to bowl. Fold in flour mixture.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake for 75 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

OTHER RECIPES

Hoshigaki Japanese Dried Persimmons:
https://www.phillyorchards.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Hoshigaki-PERSIMMON-LESSON.pdfHoshigaki- Japanese Dried Persimmons

Persimmon Fruit Leather:
https://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/persimmons-zmaz70sozgoe

Harvesting and Processing Pulp for Persimmon Bread, etc:
https://www.instructables.com/id/Harvesting-Processing-Cooking-Native-Persimmon-Bre/


This POP Blog was written by 2018 Repair the World Fellow Megan Brookens with assistance from Executive Director Phil Forsyth and Admin Assistant Natalie Agoos. 

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards.org/donate.


More Info:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persimmon

PLANT SPOTLIGHT: Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Posted on Categories Blog, Cooking & Preservation, Harvesting, Home, Orchard Care, Plant Profiles, Plants, POPharvests, Propagation, Recipes, Tree Care, Wild EdiblesTags , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Tree Facts

Black Walnut  (Juglans Nigra) is a perennial, stone fruit tree native to Eastern North America, commonly found in riparian zones (area between water and land).  Technically the walnut produces a fruit called a “drupe” and is not a true nut! The drupes are harvested in the fall, dehulled and dried to allow the nut meat to cure for consumption.  This tree can grow very large, eventually reaching over 100’ in height and 6’ in diameter. The black walnut is a member of the Juglandaceae family. Careful consideration should be made before planting or growing around this tree as it is allelopathic, suppressing growth of many other plant species by releasing a chemical called juglone. The black walnut contains the highest concentration of juglone in the nut hulls, roots, and leaves and is commonly used as an herbicide.  This tree has numerous uses, such as: nutritional, medicinal, dye, structural/decorative, antibacterial, and herbicidal.


Seasonal Care-

The black walnut tree grows well between zones 5a-9a.  Commonly found natively near water, these trees prefer deep rich soil, moist yet well drained. Black Walnut is self fertile, but puts on a better fruit set with two trees. It is generally easy to grow with little attention needed.  

Winter/ Spring: Pruning is generally not necessary. Compost or organic fertilizer can be added in the Spring to maximize nut production.

Summer: The first year, a Black Walnut tree should be irrigated every week with 3-5 gallons of water. Once established, the tree generally only needs watering during severe drought.

Fall: Fruit is generally harvested from the ground, dehulled and allowed to dry for a few weeks before cracking the nut and consuming/storing the nut meat.


Nutritional Benefit:

Black Walnuts are packed with nutrients and are considered a superfood.  They contain one of the highest protein contents of any nut (7 grams per serving), as well as high levels of Manganese, Omega-3, antioxidants and other nutrients.  The nutritional content supports metabolism and bone structure, and can help protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain neurodegenerative conditions.


Propagating Black Walnut Trees:

As previously noted, Black Walnuts are toxic to a variety of plants and research should be done prior to planting to understand the effects that Black Walnut will have in that area.  Black Walnuts are best propagated by seed, collecting the fruit in the fall dehulling and immediately placing 5-6 whole nuts, 5-6” in the ground. Protect the nuts from animals, by placing chicken wire or cloth over the nuts and securing to the ground.  Cover with leaves/mulch and be sure to properly label location. In the spring remove the protective cover and water the sapling every week with 3-5 gallons of water.


Processing Black Walnuts for Nutmeat

  • Pick nuts up off the ground as soon as possible by hand or nut wizard. It is best to process nuts while the hull is mostly green to avoid mold and astringent nutmeat.
  • Use gloves to handle and de-hull the nuts. They will stain your fingers. They will also stain concrete for a period of time, clothing, and other surfaces.
  • Remember that walnut hulls halve a chemical called “juglone” that suppresses the growth of certain plants, so be mindful of where you take your hulls and wash water
  • Remove green hulls with hammer, knife, or strong hands (some people step on them or even drive over them covered in a tarp!). If hulls are too tough to work, let soften for a few days or buy a de-huller!
  • If you encounter worms when removing hulls, do not be alarmed as they do not affect the nut meat inside the inner shell
  • Rinse de-hulled walnuts to remove debris however you wish. A simple method is to fill a 5-gallon bucket with water and agitate a batch of nuts with a hoe, cement mixer, or by hand three times. Discard nuts that float, a legendary sign of likely spoilage.
  • Spread cleaned nuts out in a single layer to dry for 2-4 weeks. Make sure you do this in an area that squirrels absolutely cannot get to, as they will find a way to steal your nuts. Squirrels broke into Michael’s outdoor solar dehydrator this year because the openings didn’t have thick enough wire mesh! Some people swear that forced heat drying black walnuts at 95-100 deg F for 3-4 days is best for flavor and storage. Turn the shells every so often throughout the drying process.
  • Dried nuts can be stored in shell in a cool, dry location. They can be also be frozen until ready for use. Shelled nuts can be stored in a fridge or freezer for longer shelf life, and salt brining with further dehydration is a way to store walnuts longer at room temperature.
  • To crack black walnuts, do not use a regular nut cracker. It will break. Use a nut cracker that is made for black walnuts, or use a vice grip, or hammer with good hand eye coordination. You’ll want a nut pick or small scraping device to remove the nut meat from the cracked shell.
Volunteers de-husking black walnuts at a POPharvest gleaning workshop at The Woodlands in West Philadelphia.

Black Walnut Recipes!

  1. Basic Black Walnut Pie 
  2. Black Walnut Hummingbird Cake (Cream Cheese Frosting)
  3. Black Walnut Cinnamon Ice Cream
  4. Black Walnut Fudge 
  5. Black Walnut Chicken Quiche 

**Click HERE for more delicious black walnut recipes!!**


Processing Black Walnuts for Dye, Wood Stain, and Ink

  • Add green hulls to a stainless steel pot of water (We used the first rinse water from the above process).
  • Simmer for at least 30 minutes. For darker colors simmer longer, add more hulls, and even boil down the liquid.
  • Cool the liquid and strain through muslin bag or other cloth.
  • Test the strength of the dye/stain/ink. If darker color desired, return to step 2. Be careful not to scorch the liquid if boiling it down.
  • Store liquid in a glass jar or bottle, and add 100 proof vodka or rubbing alcohol (up to 1:4 ratio) to prevent mold and preserve for later use. The liquid will mold after a while if untreated.
  • Experiment with tie-dye or other fabric dying methods, black walnut as a wood stain, and as ink! Fabrics dye a cocoa brown and do not require a pre-mordant for dye to set as with other dyes. Wood stain is a light brown that can me made darker by concentrating the liquid.
Black Walnut tie-dye and wood-staining demos at POPharvest workshop.


Black Walnuts as Medicine

Black walnut hulls contain very powerful medicine that has been used for a variety of conditions including intestinal worms in humans and animals, while it must also be approached with caution. It is also a natural source of iodine. Do not attempt to use black walnut medicine without first consulting professional medical practitioners and clinical herbalists.


This POP Blog was written by 2018 POP Intern Greg Hample and Orchard Director Michael Muehlbauer with assistance from Admin Assistant Natalie Agoos. 

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards.org/donate.


Links for more info:

https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_juni.pdf

https://www.instructables.com/id/Forage-and-process-your-own-black-walnuts/

https://www.instructables.com/id/Black-Walnut-Harvesting-Processing/

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You Can Make Homemade Stain Using Walnuts!

Plant Spotlight: The Plucky Mulberry (Morus)

Posted on Categories Blog, Harvesting, Home, Plant Profiles, Plants, POPharvests, Propagation, Recipes, Wild EdiblesTags , , , , , , , , ,

Written by 2016 POP Intern, Lucia Kearney. 

Despite their reputation as a weed tree, many people in both urban and rural environments have very fond childhood memories of mulberries!  My own past is filled deliciously with mulberries. When I was a kid, my parents worked in Manayunk. On days when there was no school, I’d go to work with them, and in the summertime I was always happy to see the mulberry tree growing by the parking lot. At their office picnic in Chestnut Hill, there was mulberry tree in the front yard where my brother and scores of other office kids and I would stuff ourselves full of fruit. There was a mulberry tree in our neighbor’s yard when we moved to the suburbs, and mulberry trees by Henderson Field. Needless to say, mulberries are something that I look forward to and thoroughly enjoy every year.

Behold, the wonderful mulberry!
Behold, the wonderful mulberry!

Description

Mulberries are a temperate and subtropical group of trees and shrubs – just walking around Philadelphia, you’re sure to encounter several different species. White or Common Mulberries (Morus alba) originate from China, Black Mulberries (Morus nigra) from Western Asia, Russian Mulberries (Morus alba ‘Tatarica’) from Northern China, and Red Mulberries (Morus rubra) come from the Eastern United States.  Many of the mulberry trees found in the city are wild seedlings that are a cross between White and Red Mulberry species.

Mulberries and people have been pals for a long long time; they actually figure prominently in a Babylonian myth about the tragic lovers Pyramus and Thisbe. In a story of forbidden love very similar to that of Romeo and Juliet, Pyramus and Thisbe, forbidden by their families to marry, agree to meet beneath a mulberry tree. Thisbe arrives first, but flees after seeing a lioness, mouth bloody from a recent kill, accidentally leaving her veil behind. Pyramus, arriving later, sees veil and bloody-mouthed lion and, assuming that Thisbe has been eaten, kills himself. Thisbe returns to the scene to find the body of Pyramus, and kills herself out of grief. Their blood is said to have stained the previously white fruit red.

Thisbe & Pyramus
Thisbe & Pyramus

Mulberries are generally irregularly shaped, bushy-headed trees, with trunks that often lean. Size depends largely on the species – White Mulberries are usually 30 to 50 feet in height and Red Mulberries can reach as high as 70 feet. Black Mulberries tend to be much smaller, occasionally reaching 30 feet in height. Longevity varies as well; while Black Mulberries can bear fruit for hundreds of years, Red Mulberries rarely make it past 75 years. Leaves are alternate, heart-shaped, or lobed, with what looks like serrated edges and pointed tips.

Different Kinds of Mulberry Leaves
Different Kinds of Mulberry Leaves

Flowers often go unnoticed unless you’re looking for them – they are small and feathery and roughly resemble the fruit that they’ll go onto produce. Some varieties are dioecious (meaning that trees are either male or female) while others are monoecious (meaning trees have both male and female parts). Trees are wind-pollinated, no cross-pollination is necessary, and some cultivars will set fruit without any pollination at all.

Flowers from a Red Mulberry Tree
Flowers from a Red Mulberry Tree

Fruits also vary in color, size, and ripening time. Confusingly, the color of the fruit does not reliably identify the species; White Mulberries (in spite of the story of Thisbe and Pyramus) can have white, lavender, or black fruit; Red Mulberries are deep red to almost black, and Black Mulberries are usually large, dark, and juicy. Berries tend to resemble raspberries and blackberries in form, though they are generally longer and narrower. The Himalayan Mulberry – which I’m dying to try – produces berries that can reach several inches in length! White and Red Mulberries ripen in late spring, while Black mulberries ripen in summer to late summer. All mulberries ripen over a period of around six weeks rather than all at once, which is good news for us mulberry lovers.

White and Lavender Mulberries
White Mulberries can bear white, lavender, or even black fruit!
Red Mulberries
Red Mulberry fruit can be red or black.
Black Mulberries
Black Mulberry fruit is usually aptly named!
Morus macroura, also known, amongst other things, as the Himalayan Mulberry
Morus macroura, also known, amongst other things, as the Himalayan Mulberry

Uses

Mulberries are actually the sweetest of all fruit!  Fruits can be eaten raw or cooked, and can also be made into wine, cordials, jams, tarts, cobblers, or tossed onto oatmeal or cooked into pancakes. Fruits can also be dried, and made into fruit leather if combined with other, more fibrous fruit. The possibilities are endless; an image search for ‘mulberry recipes’ comes up with dazzling results, I promise you. Be aware that the fruit doesn’t keep long raw – once picked, it should be eaten or cooked within a few days (this is one reason why you don’t generally see mulberries in grocery stores). Also take care while picking black mulberries as their juice will stain hands and clothing (and whatever else you get on them) purple; as such, mulberry juice can also be used as a natural dye. In China, mulberry juice is produced commercially on a large scale and is quite popular; the juice stays fresh for several months without preservatives.

A Black and White Mulberry Ricotta Tart
A Black and White Mulberry Ricotta Tart
Almond and Mulberry Tart
Almond and Mulberry Tart
Mulberry Ice Cream
Mulberry Ice Cream

The leaves – when prepared properly – can also be eaten (please read disclaimer at the bottom of this article before consuming any mulberry leaves). In the Middle East, mulberry leaves are stuffed with ground chicken or lamb. Check out a recipe for chicken stuffed mulberry leaves here. Take note that raw, white mulberry leaves contain toxins that can irritate the stomach and skin, and are said to be slightly hallucinogenic. However, once steamed, the leaves can be safely eaten and used in pies, lasagnas, and salads. Dried mulberry leaf powder – which is high in protein and carbohydrates, and has a distinct, fragrant smell – is used as an additive in buns, bread, cakes, and biscuits in China. A tea can also be made from the dried leaves.

Chicken Stuffed Mulberry Leaves
Chicken Stuffed Mulberry Leaves

Famously, mulberries (usually White Mulberries) are cultivated as food for silkworms; silkworms exclusively eat the leaves of certain species of mulberry (they don’t, for example, eat black mulberries), and in China and Japan, many mulberries are grown solely for this purpose. One of the reasons that White Mulberries and their hybrids are so common in the United States is that they were originally imported to try to start a silk industry in the 1830’s. It takes around 33-40lbs of fresh mulberries to produce just 2.2lbs of fresh cocoon.uses,

 Silkworm Feeding on a Mulberry Leaf + Cocoons

Silkworm Feeding on a Mulberry Leaf + Cocoons

The stems and stem powder are also a good medium for mushroom production; wood ear mushrooms and the medicinal fungus Ganoderma lucidum are produced on mulberry logs or powder.

All parts of the mulberry contain a milky sap that can be used to make a type of rubber, and several species have fibrous bast fibers beneath the bark that can be used to make rope or paper. The wood is a deep yellow, hard, strong, durable, flexible, and coarse grained and is valued for carving, inlays in cabinet work, and for the crafting of musical instruments.

A Bowl Made from Mulberry Wood
A Bowl Made from Mulberry Wood

Birds adore mulberries, so some orchardists plant mulberries as a trap crop to tempt birds away from whatever fruit they’re producing.  In particular, mulberry fruit season overlaps with that of cherries and blueberries, which are the crops most often lost to birds.  Russian mulberries – which are hardier and whose blossoms are not as easily damaged by high winds – are often used as windbreaks.

Nutritional Information/Medicinal Uses

NOTE: The following information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Please read our full edible/medicinal use disclaimer at the end of this article and seek medical advice from a qualified professional before using a new plant in your diet. 

Mulberries are rich in carotene, and in vitamins B1, B2, and C. In fact, one cup of raw mulberries contains 85% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C! They are also high in iron, vitamin K1, potassium, and vitamin E. Mulberries also contain anthocyanins, a family of antioxidants that may help to lower cholesterol prevent hard disease, and rutin, a powerful antioxidant that may help to protect against cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Traditionally, mulberries have been used as a mild laxative. The USDA reports that leaves from the white mulberry tree have been used to treat sore throats, eye infections, and colds. Mulberry leaves are rich in gamma-aminobutylic acid, which is effective in reducing high blood pressure, as well as in alanine, which is useful in easing hangovers. The American Diabetes Association has also noted that mulberry leaves may help to reduce blood sugar levels in people suffering from type-2 diabetes.

Propagation/Cultivation

Considered by some to be a weed tree, it’s not surprising that mulberries are often disease-free and tend to thrive in challenging conditions and poor soils. All species prefer full sun in cooler climates, but will tolerate partial shade. While mulberries prefer moist soil, they are drought resistant once established, and require little to no fertilization. They are also tolerant of groundcover and can grow well with grass beneath.

There are named varieties of all species of mulberry selected for their fruit quality.  The Philadelphia Orchard Project has primarily planted the variety ‘Illinois Everbearing’, which is known for its large, tasty, seedless fruit and long season of harvest. Although Black Mulberries are the species most commonly grown for their fruit around the world, they are only marginally hardy in Philadelphia (zone 7).  POP is now experimenting with planting some dwarf varieties of Black Mulberry in more protected locations.

Mulberries can also be propagated via seed – which requires 16 weeks of stratification – or by hardwood cuttings made in the winter, grafting/chip budding, layering, or air layering. Some species can also be propagated from softwood cuttings in the summer. Using mycorrhizal fungi spores as a cuttings dip reportedly increases the success rate of propagation.

Young trees should be planted between 25-35ft apart in the spring or fall. Some formative pruning can be done in the first few years to establish a strong 4-5 branch framework; otherwise, pruning should only be done to remove dead or crossing branches. Pruning should be done in the wintertime while trees are dormant. If trees are being used as a windbreak, they should be planted 8-20ft apart, and can withstand clipping if needed. White mulberry leaves can also be grown as a vegetable crop. To do this, trees are planted densely in rows and coppiced annually at a height of 2-3 feet. Fresh leaves can then be picked throughout the growing season.

Coppiced White Mulberries Interplanted with Nitrogen-Fixing Acacias in Las Canadas, Mexico
Coppiced White Mulberries Interplanted with Nitrogen-Fixing Acacias in Las Canadas, Mexico

And so this year let’s give thanks for the hardy and abundant mulberry! I’m looking forward to making many more mulberry memories, and I hope you all are too.

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards.org/donate.

Disclaimer

The Philadelphia Orchard Project stresses that you should not consume parts of any wild edible plants, herbs, weeds, trees,​ or bushes until you have verified with your health professional that they are safe for you. As with any new foods that you wish to try, it is best to introduce them slowly into your diet in small amounts.

The information presented on this website is for informational, reference, and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a health care professional. Always consult a health care professional or medical doctor when suffering from any health ailment, disease, illness, or injury, or before attempting any traditional or folk remedies. Keep all plants away from children. As with any natural product, they can be toxic if misused.

To the best of our knowledge,​ the information contained herein is accurate and we have endeavored to provide sources for any borrowed​ material. Any testimonials on this web site are based on individual results and do not constitute a warranty of safety or guarantee that you will achieve the same results.

Neither the Philadelphia Orchard Project nor its employees, volunteers, or website contributors may be held liable or responsible for any allergy, illness,​ or injurious effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of reliance on the information contained on this website nor as a result of the ingestion or use of any of the plants mentioned ​herein.

SOURCES

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/black-mulberry-bushes-need-two-plants-pollinate-64863.html

http://www.mofga.org/Publications/MaineOrganicFarmerGardener/Summer2003/Mulberries/tabid/1487/Default.aspx

http://www.gardenguides.com/104541-tell-mulberry-tree-male-female.html

https://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/mulberry.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/479240-how-to-eat-mulberry-leaves-in-a-salad/ 

https://immortalitea.com/blogs/immortal-musings/139108423-are-white-mulberry-leaves-safe-to-eat

http://sharonglasgow.com/2013/06/mulberry-harvesting-10-ideas-of-what-to-do-with-them/

https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/mulberries/

http://www.greenprophet.com/2013/05/stuffed-mulberry-leaves-recipe/

http://www.coldstreamfarm.net/russian-mulberry-morus-alba.html

http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/content/himalayan-mulberry.htm

http://tcpermaculture.com/site/2015/06/02/permaculture-plants-mulberries/

PICTURES

  1. http://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/mulberry-trees.html
  2. https://prezi.com/s4abuj_nq8s_/pyramus-and-thisbe/
  3. http://tcpermaculture.com/site/2015/06/02/permaculture-plants-mulberries/
  4. http://www.rnr.lsu.edu/plantid/species/redmulberry/redmulberry.htm
  5. http://www.familylearningadventure.com/2015/07/breaking-my-own-rules-and-discovering.html
  6. http://www.tellmeallaboutyourday.com/2011/05/10/red-mulberries/
  7. http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/White_Mulberries_8902.php
  8. https://typicalgardener.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/mulberry-red-shahtoot-or-morus-macroura/
  9. http://www.growplants.org/growing/morus-macroura
  10. http://the3foragers.blogspot.com/2011/06/mulberry-recipe-black-and-white.html
  11. http://foodformyfamily.com/recipes/mulberry-almond-frangipane-tart-contentment
  12. http://firstwefeast.com/eat/2015/04/alice-waters-chez-panisse-career-changing-dishes
  13. http://www.greenprophet.com/2012/11/iraqi-stuffed-grape-leaves-recipe/
  14. http://cityfurnitureblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/mulberry-tree-facts.html
  15. http://www.woodworking.org/InfoExchange/viewtopic.php?t=31273
  16. http://www.perennialsolutions.org/cuba-mass-planting-moringa-and-mulberry

Plant Spotlight: Meet the Pawpaw! (Asimina triloba)

Posted on Categories Blog, Cooking & Preservation, Harvesting, Home, Orchard Care, Plant Profiles, Plants, Propagation, Recipes, Tree Care, Wild EdiblesTags , , , , , , ,

By 2016 POP Intern, Lucia Kearney.

I first encountered the pawpaw one late-September day when my former elementary school art teacher came to my parents’ house for dinner. She and her husband had gone foraging for them on Swarthmore College’s campus before heading our way. I was perplexed; these fruits were native to the area, growing right down the street, and I’d never even heard of them. The fruits had yellow-green skin, and were somewhat lumpy and filled with large, dark seeds that were easy to squeeze out. The texture I found strange–it’s often been described as “custard-like”–and the flavor was very particular. Many say that pawpaws have a rich banana flavor with hints of pineapple or mango, an observation reflected in the many nicknames the pawpaw has earned in North America, including the Hoosier Banana, the Poor-Man’s Banana, and, my personal favorite, the Banango. The late-September day remains the only time I’ve ever tried a pawpaw, but after reading up on them for this blog post, I’m looking forward to trying them again when they’re ripe this September.

Paw Paw tree at the Tertulias Orchard in North Philadelphia.
Paw Paw tree at the Tertulias Orchard in North Philadelphia.

The common pawpaw has the great distinction of bearing the largest fruit native to North America. Pawpaws were first documented in the 1541 report of the Spanish de Soto expedition who encountered Native Americans who were cultivating pawpaws east of the Mississippi River. They grow in most of the eastern United States, as well as in southeastern Canada. These trees usually grow to be between 10 and 26 feet in height, though some have been known to reach up to 40 feet. As a result of their long, gracefully drooping leaves, Martin Crawford describes the pawpaw as having a “sleepy” look.

The Sleepy Pawpaw
The Sleepy Pawpaw

Their flowers are a sight to behold, unlike any other flowers on POP’s orchard trees, and seemingly less delicate. They begin bloom in mid-April, and many are just emerging right now. Flower buds form only on one-year-old wood, and each flower has six petals (three inner and three outer) that start out green, turn brown, and then finally transition to a dark red. Interestingly, pawpaws are not pollinated by bees, but rather by flies and beetles. As such, flowers have a faint but unpleasant smell. In order to increase rates of pollination, you can hand pollinate by using a small paintbrush to take pollen from the flowers on one tree and apply it to the flowers of another tree.  Some growers will even lay decomposing animal carcasses beneath pawpaws in order to attract more carrion flies! Interplanting with other smelly carrion flowers (such as the native Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense) is also a wise strategy.

A pawpaw flower
A pawpaw flower

A single flower can produce a cluster of several fruits. While the pawpaws that I tried were of a particular wild variety, fruits are usually oblong and sometimes banana-shaped. Wild pawpaws average about 3.6 inches in length by 1.4 inches in width, while selected cultivars can get to be up to six inches by 3 inches. The skin is usually thin and smooth and easily bruised, while the flesh varies from white to yellow-orange (it should be noted, though, that white-fleshed varieties tend to be bitter and inedible).

Pawpaw fruit
Pawpaw fruit

Uses

NOTE: The following information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Please read our full edible/medicinal use disclaimer at the end of this article and seek medical advice from a qualified professional before using a new plant in your diet. 

The best thing to do with pawpaws is, of course, to eat them! Pawpaws can be eaten raw or cooked and can be used in salads, for making preserves, pies, cookies, and cakes, amongst other things. Apparently, chilled pawpaw was George Washington’s favorite desert! To loosen the seeds, roll the fruit between your hands. You can also cut them in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon, or peel them like bananas. The internet is filled with recipes for pawpaws, including this New York Times piece on Pawpaw Pudding (that I fully intend on making this Thanksgiving). Asked if there were various other fruits or vegetables that could be used to replace pawpaw, Appalachian chefs told the author again and again, “forget it, there’s nothing like a pawpaw.” For more recipes, check out Kentucky State University’s multitude of recipes here, including pawpaw cream pie, pawpaw custard, and pawpaw ice cream.

Pawpaw pudding
Pawpaw pudding

Pawpaws are wonderfully nutritious. They are higher in unsaturated fats, proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin C, and many other minterals and amino acids than peaches or apples.

There have been some reported allergic reactions to the fruit, mainly to substances in the fruit’s skin, and especially in fruits that have not completely ripened. The seeds are inedible and, in fact, were traditionally crushed and used as an emetic, as well as to treat head lice. They also make beautiful seed beads.

The long, brown beads in this necklace are pawpaw seeds!
The long, brown beads in this necklace are pawpaw seeds!

The bark contains natural pesticides called acetogenins. Interestingly, the larvae of the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly feed exclusively on the young leaves of pawpaws (though they usually do so in numbers small enough as to be no problem for the plants). These butterflies are not only immune to the acetogenins but carry them with them once they become butterflies, rendering the butterflies unpalatable to birds and other predators.

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar Eating a Pawpaw leaf
Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar Eating a Pawpaw leaf
Zebra Swallowtail
Zebra Swallowtail

Two substances obtained from the bark – asimicin and trilobacin – are currently being tested as anticancer agents. The inner-bark of the pawpaw is stringy and fibrous; traditionally it was stripped from branches in the early spring to be used to make fishing nets and ropes.

Growing Pawpaws

While pawpaws in the wild often clonally propagate via suckers, cultivated varieties are usually started from seed. Seeds should be stratified at 35˚ to 40˚ Fahrenheit for between 60 and 100 days before sowing. Make sure that seeds don’t dry out or freeze, as this can kill the dormant embryo. After stratification, soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours, and then plant about 1 inch deep in deep containers. Heat the containers at about 80˚ from the bottom. Germination takes around 2-3 weeks, and a shoot should emerge after around 2 months. Growth is slow for the first 1-2 years.

Pawpaw seeds
Pawpaw seeds

Root cuttings are often successful as well. Plant 6inch lengths of tap root deep in the ground in the spring. New plants will emerge in the following season.

Named cultivars are often propagated via chip-budding or grafting.

Plant out baby pawpaw trees when they are between 12 and 40 inches tall. They have long and brittle taproots, so it’s important to take care while transplanting. Space trees 13 feet apart and mulch well; pawpaws do not like competition, especially from grass. Once planted, pawpaws require little attention; pruning should be limited to dead or crossing branches, though the occasional heading cut can be used to shorten limbs and encourage lateral growth. Suckers begin to emerge once the trees start bearing fruit and can pop up as far as 10 feet from the parent tree. These can be cut, mown, or left to grow. Trees grow about 16in/year, and should be about 5ft tall after 4-6 years. Cross-pollination is necessary for fruit production, so it’s best to have more than one tree. If necessary, hand pollination can increase yields. They also grow well with walnuts.

Baby pawpaw saplings
Baby pawpaw saplings

Pawpaws require a minimum of 160 frost-free days and like rich, moist, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic (ideally with a pH between 5.0 and 7.0). They need plenty of water through the summer months – at least 32 inches of rainfall per year – and will tolerate partial shade, especially in hot climates. They often form thickets in the woods beneath tall, shade canopy trees. However, more sunlight will result in more fruit.

Pawpaws are fairly free of pests and diseases, and deer and rabbits leave the leaves and bark alone. However, deer, squirrels, foxes, birds, and other critters will eat the fruit. Pawpaws do sometimes fall prey to the larva of the small Tortricid moth, which can burrow into the flowers causing them to wither, blacken, and drop, potentially lowering fruit yields significantly.

Tortricid moth larva
Tortricid moth larva
Tortricid moth adult
Tortricid moth adult

Fully-ripe fruit will fall to the ground, so it’s usually best to pick them a little bit early and allow them to ripen indoors. Take care when harvesting, as fruits are easily bruised. They can be stored for many weeks in the cold, but should be eaten within 3 days when ripe and left at room temperature. Trees produce every year, about 20-30 fruits per tree, though some varieties may produce double that.

Happy pawpawing!

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards.org/donate.

Disclaimer

The Philadelphia Orchard Project stresses that you should not consume parts of any wild edible plants, herbs, weeds, trees,​ or bushes until you have verified with your health professional that they are safe for you. As with any new foods that you wish to try, it is best to introduce them slowly into your diet in small amounts.

The information presented on this website is for informational, reference, and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a health care professional. Always consult a health care professional or medical doctor when suffering from any health ailment, disease, illness, or injury, or before attempting any traditional or folk remedies. Keep all plants away from children. As with any natural product, they can be toxic if misused.

To the best of our knowledge,​ the information contained herein is accurate and we have endeavored to provide sources for any borrowed​ material. Any testimonials on this web site are based on individual results and do not constitute a warranty of safety or guarantee that you will achieve the same results.

Neither the Philadelphia Orchard Project nor its employees, volunteers, or website contributors may be held liable or responsible for any allergy, illness,​ or injurious effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of reliance on the information contained on this website nor as a result of the ingestion or use of any of the plants mentioned ​herein.

Sources

Trees for Gardens, Orchards and Permaculture by Martin Crawford

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asimina_triloba

http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016961-pawpaw-pudding

https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/ksu-pawpaw/cooking.html

http://www.veggiegardeningtips.com/foraging-for-wild-pawpaw-fruits-in-pennsylvania/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acetogenin

http://www.pawpaw.kysu.edu/pawpaw/ppg.htm

Pictures

Picture 1 – Philadelphia Orchard Project photo

Picture 2 – http://ediblelandscaping.com/products/trees/Pawpaws/

Picture 3 – http://www.carolinanature.com/trees/astr.html

Picture 4 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asimina_triloba

Picture 5 – http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016961-pawpaw-pudding

Pictures 6 & 7 – https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjcs6KdxKrMAhVIcj4KHRc4BiUQjxwIAw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bettyhallphotography.com%2Fzebra-swallowtail-butterfly%2F&psig=AFQjCNH_GzJJg6BZ001-VqEWWwqUFqD64Q&ust=1461699260821472

Picture 8 – https://www.flickr.com/photos/starmer/2916765037

Picture 9 – http://www.blossomnursery.com/pawpaw_baby_superior_seedlings.htm

Cornelian Cherry (Cornus Mas), An Early Bloomer

Posted on Categories Blog, Cooking & Preservation, Home, Plant Profiles, Plants, RecipesTags , , , , , , , ,

By 2016 POP Intern, Lucia Kearney

Cornelian Cherry Yellow Flowers

Cornelian Cherries are some of the first trees to bloom, their bright yellow flowers bursting forth at the end of winter right when everyone could use some color in their lives. A member of the dogwood family, Cornelian Cherries are small trees, usually growing to around 16 feet in height, though they can reach up to 25 feet depending on the cultivar. Trunks can reach around eight inches in diameter.

They are native to central and southern Europe, Asia Minor, Armenia, and the Caucuses, and grow best in dry, deciduous forests. The Greeks and Romans prized Cornelian Cherries for their hard wood, which they used to craft spears, javelins, and bows. In the Middle Ages, Cornelian Cherries made their way into European monasteries, and were introduced to Britain in the 16th century, where they were widely grown as an ornamental by the 18th century.

Cultivation

Cornelian Cherries can be grown in soil of moderate to good fertility, including heavy clay. They prefer moist soil and sunshine, and will tolerate shade and exposure to wind. They are also resistant to drought and suffer from very few pests and diseases. While Cornelian Cherries can be grown from seed, grafted Cornelian Cherries reach maturity more quickly; grown from seed, they can taken 3-5 years to flower, and 6-10 years to bear fruit, while grafted varieties will usually start fruiting within 1-2 years of transplanting. These trees can be very long-lived; there is a botanical garden in Kiev that includes Cornelian Cherries that are 150-200 years old and still bear fruit!

Cornelian Cherry Tree

To start Cornelian Cherries from seed, sow seeds from fresh fruits in fall, or stratify dried seed for 23 weeks, cold, or 16 weeks warm and then 4-16 weeks cold. Germination can take as long as 12-15 months, though nicking the seed coat prior to stratification can help to speed up the process. Seedlings raise two large irregular oval seed leaves when they sprout, followed by normal foliage with leaves in pairs.

Cornelian Cherries can be grafted using any method, as long as scions are grafted low on the rootstock. Plants branch close to the ground, so it is important to make sure that all branches are coming from the scion rather than the rootstock.

Trees should be planted about 20 feet apart. If weather conditions are poor and bees are not out and about while they are flowering, it may be necessary to hand-pollinate in order to get a good crop. It’s also been found that planting several cultivars of Cornelian Cherries can improve the fruit yield. Mature trees yield around 24 pounds of fruit, though different cultivars can produce as much as 48 pounds per tree. Fruits ripen over a long period of time, around August and September. The easiest way to harvest them is to wait until fruit has changed color (ripe fruits are usually bright red, though different cultivars can produce fruits in colors ranging from cream to dark reddish-purple), and then to shake the branches. The ripe fruit will fall and can then be collected from the ground. Fruit will continue to sweeten and intensify in flavor as it ripens, so it’s worth keeping it on the tree until fully ripe, or letting it sit on the counter for 1-2 days at room temperature.

Cornelian Cherry Fruit Coloration

Uses

Now on to the tasty stuff! With a long history of cultivation, there are many ways to eat and prepare Cornelian cherries. Acidic and sweet, the cherries can be eaten raw or dried, and are also commonly used in preserves and to make wine and liqueur.

In Turkey, the fruits are used to flavor sherbet, as well as to make jams and marmalades. In Ukraine, they are juiced and sold commercially as soft drinks, and are also fermented into wine and distilled into liqueur. People in the Caucuses make fruit leather from Cornelian cherries, as well as canning them or drying and grinding them into a powder that can be used in sauces or sprinkled onto grilled meat. In Russia, the fruit is used in jams, jellies, fruit candies, purees, soft drinks, and sauces. Cornelian cherry tarts were popular in 19th Century Britain, as well as a syrup called rob de cornis. For some recipes, check out this Persian cooking blog, Fig & Quince!

Cornelian Cherry Syrup

(Cornelian cherries can be used to make Sharbat – a Persian syrup that is diluted with cold water and served as a refreshing drink.)

The flowers of this tree are also edible, and in Norway are used to flavor spirits. Oil can be extracted from the seeds, which have an oil content of up to 34%. The oil is edible and can also be used for lamp fuel. Seeds can also be dried, ground, and used as a coffee substitute.

As mentioned earlier, Cornelian Cherry wood is very dense (so dense, in fact, that it will not float in water), and can therefore be used to make smaller, domestic implements such as handles, utensils, skewers, etc. (Given the small size of the tree, it is difficult to make larger implements). It has also been used to make jewelry, musical instruments, gears, and wheel-spokes. In Ancient Greece, the wood was so closely associated with weaponry that its Greek name was often used as a synonym for ‘spear’ in poetry during the fourth and third centuries BC. The leaves of the tree are high in tannins, and can be used for tanning, and a yellow dye can be made from the bark.

Uses within the Orchard

Since they bloom quite early in the season, Cornelian Cherries are a great source of nectar and pollen for bees that are just starting to wake up. They can also be used as screens and windbreaks, or trimmed and used as hedges. These trees suffer from very few pests and diseases, but you may find yourself competing with birds and squirrels for the fruit!

Cornelian Cherry Fruit

Nutritional and Medicinal Uses

After cooking, the Vitamin C content of the fruit is as high as that of raw lemons – about 30-50mg/100g. The fruit also contains substantial amounts of calcium, magnesium, provitamin A, and rutin.

In the Caucuses and Central Asia, Cornelian Cherry has been used as a part of traditional medicine systems for over 1,000 years. Products made from the leaves, flowers, and fruit are used to treat sore throats, digestion problems, measles, chickenpox, anemia, and rickets. Juice made from the fruit has been used to help with diabetes. Leaves, dried and powdered fruits, and dried ground drupes (fruit plus seed) are used to alleviate diarrhea and hemorrhoids. Products made from the bark and from evaporated juice can be used to treat skin wounds and boils. Researchers from the former USSR found that the fruit flesh and seed oil can help damaged skin to recover, and successfully used them to cure difficult-to-heal wounds, stomach ulcers, and colitis. Recent Russian research has found that the fruit contains substances that can leach radioactivity from the body. The fruit, bark, and leaves have also been found to demonstrate antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus and E. Coli bacteria

In conclusion, Cornelian Cherries are pretty awesome. With their versatility, deliciousness, and hardiness, they are definitely a great tree to have around.

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards.org/donate.

Sources

Trees for Gardens, Orchards and Permaculture – Martin Crawford

http://www.centralparknyc.org/things-to-see-and-do/bloom-guide/blooms/cornelian-cherry-dogwood.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornus_mas

http://contemporaryfoodlab.com/hungry-world/2014/10/die-kornelkirsche/

http://www.gardenatoz.com/what’s-up!/ensemble-weekly-editions/late-spring/what’s-up-202-spring-color-finder,-rose-pests,-prune-cherry/spring-color/cornelian-cherry/

http://georgeweigel.net/favorite-past-garden-columns/fruits-you-can-actually-grow-at-home

http://figandquince.com/2013/09/02/cornelian-cherry-sharbat-moraba-jam/

EDIBLE/MEDICINAL USE DISCLAIMER:

The Philadelphia Orchard Project stresses that you should not ​consume parts of any wild edible plants, herbs, weeds, trees,​ or bushes until you have verified with your health professional that they are safe for you. As with any new foods that you wish to try, it is best to introduce them slowly into your diet in small amounts. The information presented on this website is for informational, reference, and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a health care professional. Always consult a health care professional or medical doctor when suffering from any health ailment, disease, illness, or injury, or before attempting any traditional or folk remedies. Keep all plants away from children. As with any natural product, they can be toxic if misused. To the best of our knowledge​,​ the information contained herein is accurate​ and we have endeavored to provide sources for any borrowed ​material. Any testimonials on this web site are based on individual results and do not constitute a warranty of safety or guarantee that you will achieve the same results.Neither the Philadelphia Orchard Project nor its employees, interns, volunteers, or website contributors may be held liable or responsible for any allergy, illness​,​ or injurious effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of reliance on the information contained on this website nor as a result of the ingestion or use of any of the plants mentioned ​herein.

Burdock: Blessing or Burr-den?

Posted on Categories Blog, Cooking & Preservation, Home, Plants, Recipes, Wild EdiblesTags , , , , , , , ,

By 2016 POP Intern, Bridget Downey, and POP Program Director, Robyn Mello

 

Burdock's leaves can grow to 2 feet long and mature flower stalks can reach 9 feet, completely dwarfing young fruit trees!
Burdock’s leaves can grow to 2 feet long and mature flower stalks can reach 9 feet, completely dwarfing young fruit trees!

Burdock is one of the first plants to be aware of at the start of spring when plants begin to emerge. Though it’s mostly loathed by gardeners, landscapers, and pet-owners due to its opportunistic nature and tenacious seedheads, it’s also a weed that is worthy of respect. Its strength performs essential work for both damaged ecosystems and damaged body systems. Unless you’re bagging the seed heads for deliberate seedsaving and future planting, YOU DO NOT WANT THIS PLANT TO SET SEED, but take a few minutes to learn about it before you respectfully remove it from your orchard space–in the event it may change your relationship to the plant!

Burdock is a non-native species that came across the Atlantic from Europe. Livestock shipped from Europe with seed pods stuck in their fur spread seed once they arrived on American soil. It was widespread in Pennsylvania by the 1800s, and the plant has since ended up everywhere but areas along the Mexican border and the Great Lakes.

For many, burdock is an unwanted weed that takes up much of our time, energy, and space. Just as POP and other urban agriculturists look at vacant lots in the city and see a dazzling opportunity for growing, so does burdock. Burdock’s prickly seed pods will stick to clothes, shoes, hair, fur, gloves (just about anything!) and spread everywhere you go. It’s quite literally nature’s Velcro and the inspiration which led to Velcro’s invention in 1941.

Burdock's seedheads are the original inspiration for Velcro and will follow you everywhere.
Burdock’s seedheads are the original inspiration for Velcro and will follow you everywhere.

A battle between gardener and weed is not ideal, especially since plants often have the upper hand. While humans only tend and visit their growing spaces, plants live permanently in their space, consistently photosynthesizing, growing, and reproducing. So how do we make burdock work for us as we work to rid it from our spaces?

Ecological indications

It may be surprising, but burdock actually has several positive qualities. Along with dandelion, burdock is often one of the first plants to pop up and cover disturbed sites and bare landscapes, working to prevent erosion, restore soil health, and shade the earth with its elephant-ear leaves. It can send its sturdy taproot two feet deep into the soil, making it very difficult to remove but great for breaking up compacted earth. It opens up air and drainage pathways to make way for other roots, water, and soil life, and it assists in nutrient accumulation closer to the surface. Gardeners with The University of Massachusetts Permaculture and Dining Hall Gardens intentionally plant burdock for the strength of its root! It reportedly accumulates copper, which assists in the prevention of mildew, a major problem for fruit and vegetable growers. [NOTE: Burdock leaves are also known to be afflicted by powdery mildew, so this may only be slightly useful.]

Burdock flowers provide essential nectar to pollinators from late summer to early fall. If you're a diligent gardener, let the plants flower for the good bugs and then behead them before they dry and set seed.
Burdock flowers provide essential nectar to pollinators from late summer to early fall. If you’re a diligent gardener, let the plants flower for the good bugs and then behead them before they dry and set seed.

Burdock is also a valuable forage for pollinators and a shelter for beneficial insects, providing nectar and pollen during the time just prior to goldenrod flowering in late summer and early fall. If your space doesn’t have flowering plants that fill this time period, consider leaving burdock to flower to assist pollinators, and then diligently remove its flower stalks before they’re able to set seed.

Human health benefits

NOTE: The following information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Please read our full edible/medicinal use disclaimer at the end of this article and seek medical advice from a qualified professional before using a new plant in your diet. POP and its affiliates are not replacements for your medical provider. 

Do you have a site that’s full of burdock and has had soil test results free of major contamination problems? There may be herbalists and foragers in the Philadelphia area that are interested in helping rid you of your weeds to make food and medicine! Burdock’s nutrient accumulation also makes it a nutrient dense vegetable and ancient herbal medicine, and it’s prized as a food and herb in many cultures. In Japan, burdock is called gobo.  Its roots are eaten like carrots and young shoots are consumed like artichoke and rhubarb. It is commonly added to sushi, soup, stir-fry, and cooked with other roots like ginger, garlic, and carrot. Fresh or dried, the root can also be decocted as a tea or made into a tincture. Here are 226 burdock recipes from which to experiment!

Kinpira gobo is a traditional burdock and carrot stir-fry.
Kinpira gobo is a traditional burdock and carrot stir-fry.

Medical herbalists and holistic medicine practitioners have been using burdock for generations. As such, they consider burdock a bitter. Additionally, it is believed that burdock aids in digestion, supports the liver, promotes healthy kidney function, cleanses the blood, nourishes the skin, is very high in iron, and acts as a detoxifying tonic for the whole metabolic system. The roots are nearly 40 percent inulin, a complex sugar/starch which acts as a nutritive, nourishing the body by feeding our beneficial gut microbiota and assisting in keeping insulin levels balanced. This is a very good plant for diabetics and pre-diabetics. As it aids our digestion, this plant also works from the inside out to treat skin conditions such as acne and eczema. In combination with sassafras, it may soothe the hypothalamus, aiding the pituitary gland do adjust hormones and body weight.

Living in an urban environment means exposure to plenty of pollutants and potentially heavy metal contamination. While burdock root may pick up heavy metals from contaminated soils, others agree it may also a potent detoxifier of heavy metals in human bodies.

Robyn made this tincture from macerated burdock roots harvested in POP's Teens4Good Lighthouse Orchard in 2015 and is now preparing it as a pre-spring detox tonic.
Robyn made this tincture from macerated burdock roots harvested in POP’s Teens4Good Lighthouse Orchard in 2015 and is now preparing it as a pre-spring detox tonic.

 

Proper Harvest and Removal

Burdock is a biennial plant, meaning it has a two year growing cycle. In the first year, leaves and a rosette are formed. In the second year, it flowers, goes to seed, and then dies. If you’re harvesting root for food, many sources say it’s best to harvest in fall of the plant’s first year after the leaves have died back and its energy has been set as sugar in the root. However, the very beginning of spring in the plant’s second year is probably also a great time because it hasn’t yet expended that energy. To get rid of this plant, we have to focus on its main way of spreading itself, through the burrs. If you enter or maintain a site where you find burrs, find some way to easily collect and remove as many as possible prior to sprouting (perhaps an old mop head dragged along the ground after removing plant parts and picking up the largest burr clusters). Do not compost them. It’s not worth the trouble if your compost pile doesn’t get hot enough.

Burdock's long, brown taproot is highly nutritious and traditionally used in Asian cooking.
Burdock’s long, brown taproot is highly nutritious and traditionally used in Asian cooking.

It’s also very important to note that these plants may be able to resprout from their roots if large enough chunks of them are left in the ground. A very trustworthy Philly gardener said, “In my experience, if the shovel chops through the root several inches down, it does not resprout. I think Burdock has a cluster of buds near the root crown, not sure how far down, but all fairly close to the surface (maybe the top inch or so), and that it can’t resprout below those buds.” To be safe, if you enter or maintain a site where you find older first-year plants or established second-year plants, wait until after a good rain or water the area to first loosen the soil, and then use a spade shovel to dig down deeply and remove as much of the root as possible.  If you’re not going to use it for food or medicine, feel free to compost your burdock root, but do not turn/till it back into the ground before it decomposes. This way, the nutrients will reenter your soil but you won’t be in danger of plants resprouting.

The most important part of eradicating burdock comes with the second year plants.  Remove all flowering heads from the plants so they have no way of going to seed.  If you do not want to disturb the earth by turning in the soil, burdock can be managed by cutting and removing all flowering tops. This low-impact method requires much more vigilance, however, and can take a few years until the plant exhausts its energy and the seed bank has diminished.

If your site is so overrun with burdock that none of the above methods are sufficient, very thick sheetmulching with landscaping fabric, several layers of cardboard, and woodchips may suffice, but disturbing the soil after sheetmulching breaks down may bring the old seedbed to the surface.

Another method of maintenance is through improving soil health and nutrient balance. In When Weeds Talk, Jay L. McCaman says burdock grows in soils with very high levels of iron and sulfate (sulfur) and very low levels of calcium and manganese. “When you balance the soil, you may lose the weed.”

Burdock is fantastic, but it can be a great burr-den if you fail to be vigilant in your orchard space. Get rid of the flowers before they go to seed so they are unable to spread. Listen to your land.  Whether you want to grow it to break up and restore the soil, as a nourishing dinner, or you are simply trying to get rid of the weeds, we wish you the best of luck!

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards.org/donate.

Sources

http://www.skillsforwildlives.com/2010/06/burdock-root-when-should-i-harvest/

http://extension.psu.edu/pests/weeds/weed-id/common-burdock

http://www.acresusa.com/weeds-and-why-they-grow

http://horticulturecenter.illinoisstate.edu/gardens/documents/weeds_000.pdf

http://fyi.uwex.edu/weedsci/1997/11/02/common-burdock/

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Arctium

http://fyi.uwex.edu/weedsci/1997/11/02/common-burdock/

http://www.motherearthliving.com/health-and-wellness/burdock-does-it-all.aspx

https://druidgarden.wordpress.com/tag/burdock/

http://ontariowildflowers.com/mondaygarden/article.php?id=166

http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2013/02/burdock-root-benefits-what-is-burdock-root-used-for%E2%80%8F-2572682.html

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EDIBLE/MEDICINAL USE DISCLAIMER:

The Philadelphia Orchard Project stresses that you should not ​consume parts of any wild edible plants, herbs, weeds, trees,​ or bushes until you have verified with your health professional that they are safe for you. As with any new foods that you wish to try, it is best to introduce them slowly into your diet in small amounts. The information presented on this website is for informational, reference, and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a health care professional. Always consult a health care professional or medical doctor when suffering from any health ailment, disease, illness, or injury, or before attempting any traditional or folk remedies. Keep all plants away from children. As with any natural product, they can be toxic if misused. To the best of our knowledge​,​ the information contained herein is accurate​ and we have endeavored to provide sources for any borrowed ​material. Any testimonials on this web site are based on individual results and do not constitute a warranty of safety or guarantee that you will achieve the same results. Neither the Philadelphia Orchard Project nor its employees, interns, volunteers, or website contributors may be held liable or responsible for any allergy, illness​,​ or injurious effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of reliance on the information contained on this website nor as a result of the ingestion or use of any of the plants mentioned ​herein.

Orchard-themed Holiday Gift Idea: Easy Apple Pie Filling

Posted on Categories Blog, Canning, Cooking & Preservation, HomeTags , , ,

Post prepared by POP Education Committee Member, Karen Stark, GMO Free PA.

Great for gifts!

I love apple season–the sight of reddening fruit hanging heavy from trees as the leaves change; the first bite of a tart, crisp apple picked straight from a tree; apple-cider and apple cider donuts; and all of the apple-themed recipes. Extend the autumnal warmth a bit longer and make the busy holiday season a bit easier with this simple apple pie filling–great for a gift or for home food preservation!

Pick your apples from a local orchard like Linvilla, buy your apples from a local farmers market, an establishment geared towards local food like Fair Food Farmstand or Philly FoodWorks, or volunteer at a POPHarvest apple gleaning event next season! Some of the best apples for baking are Goldrush, Newtown Pippin, and Winesap.

Store them in quart jars (for gifts or pantry storage) or a freezer bag (much easier for self use).

Pam’s Easy Pie Filling

(Fills 12 quarts)

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36 medium apples (3 per quart)

4 1/2 cups organic cane sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup arrowroot powder (or quick tapioca)

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

10 cups water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, arrowroot powder, nutmeg, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer and stir until thickened.

Add 3 tablespoons lemon juice and stir.

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Pack sliced apples in jars and add 1 1/2 cups of the mixture. Make sure you have 1/2” gap at the top of the jar. Give a 20 minute water bath. Visit other POP posts about canning or The Ball Jar Website for great tips.

Alternative storage: In a 1-quart freezer bag, place three sliced apples, add cooled mixture (a too-hot mixture may melt plastic or leach chemicals into your food), seal bag, and lay in the freezer.

A selection of the many apple cultivars planted in POP’s community orchards and picked at POPHarvest events:

Liberty – Eat Fresh (winner of children’s taste-tests this summer over other store-bought conventional and organic apple varieties!)

Goldrush – Eat Fresh, Cooking, Juice, Hard Cider

Honeycrisp – Eat fresh

Newtown Pippin – Cooking, Juice, Hard Cider

Winesap – Eat fresh, Cooking, Juice

Northstar Orchard in the Philadelphia area grows an astonishing 353 varieties of apples, mostly heirloom and antique. Visit their variety page for more information.

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards.org/donate.