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Wild harvesting guide for Central Texas  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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I was hoping that with participation we could create a "go to" source for wild harvesting and other important plants for our area. An example of other important plants may be milkweed that is necessary for monarch butterflies.

If you'd like to join in, post a pic of the plant, when it is generally harvested, and the uses for it. I think this could be a valuable resource, but geography based is needed to make it really effective. This could drive more people to the forums also. Mushrooms is a good example. If i could identify them i could use them.
 
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Great idea!  I will try to take some pics and get them up in the next couple of days.  It's a good time to be looking for seeds and ripening fruits of some plants.  Big fruiting year for Texas Persimmon, and it looks like it will be a good year for Pecans.

 
wayne fajkus
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wild blackberries.

When: early May. Usually coincides with Mothers day. There are many stories about acouting a good patch then returning 2 days later to find out someone beat you to it. Birds will be competition also.

Where: Edge of treelines, ditches, fencelines

Uses: pie/cobbler/crumble.  jelly/jam. Juice. Eat as is.

Harvest tips: brush is thorny. Soak berries in water. Any bugs should escape out of the berry.

Link to more info; (add)

(Add pic)
 
Tyler Ludens
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Unfortunately there are no longer Blackberries in my neighborhood.  Someone must have sprayed them with herbicide.  :(
 
wayne fajkus
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Agarita berry

When::

Where: under oak trees and along fencelines.  They need sun to fruit. If heavily shaded under tree, dont expect much. If thinning oak thickets, leave them alone.

Uses: as is, jam, jelly, syrup, roast beans for coffee

Harvesting tips: can pull individually but is tedious.  Place tarp underneath and bang on branches. The fruit will fall.

Link for more info: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.foragingtexas.com/2006/05/agarita.html&ved=2ahUKEwie4tSnyv7cAhU1Nn0KHUMzCjsQFjABegQIBRAB&usg=AOvVaw0SMSTWSxQ9HIbBQ81DZShx

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wayne fajkus
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Mustang grapes (muscadine)

When: coincides with 4th of July but start looking a couple of weeks earlier.

Where: rural fencle lines, swallowing oak trees.

Uses: juice, jelly, wine. Eat as is by squeezing skin, popping interior into mouth, spit out seeds.

Harvesting tips: may need a ladder or stand in bed of truck if collecting from trees. If cows are present,  they will eat the vines as high as they can reach. Hands will get itchy from acid on skins, so gloves may be appropriate if gathering large quantities. Can pull individual grapes, or expedite by pulling whole cluster.

How to make wine from mustang grapes:
https://permies.com/t/88530/kitchen/Waynes-mustang-grape-wine
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Tyler Ludens
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Texas Persimmon

When:: August

Where: Open woods, field edges

Uses: Bland intensely sweet fruit can be added to other fruits

Harvesting tips:  It's a challenge to beat the critters, who love these fruits.  Harvest at the point of ripeness and allow to ripen more on the counter.

Link for more info: http://www.foragingtexas.com/2012/01/persimmon-texas.html
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wayne fajkus
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Ive never found native persimmons. Is there truth to it being bitter until a frost?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Prickly Pear

When:: Pads: Spring- early Summer.  Fruits:  August - Fall

Where: Dry fields and open woods

Uses: Pads can be used as an okra or green-bean substitute.  Fruit can be added to more intensely-flavored fruits, made into jellies, jams, syrups, or used to flavor and color alcohol for beautiful mixed drinks.

Harvesting tips:  Use tongs to harvest the spiny products.  Remove spines by blanching in boiling water.

Link for more info: http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/09/prickly-pear.html

This is our most fruitful Prickly Pear plant:
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Tyler Ludens
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wayne fajkus wrote:Ive never found native persimmons. Is there truth to it being bitter until a frost?



That may be true of the Eastern Persimmon, but not of the Texas Persimmon, which ripens in the Summer (right now!)
 
Tyler Ludens
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Turk's Cap

When:: Young leaves: Spring- early Summer.  Flowers: All year in warm areas  Fruits:  August - Fall

Where: Moist woods, riparian areas

Uses: Leaves and flowers in salad, fruit as a snack

Harvesting tips: Ripe fruits are bright to dark red and pull easily from the calyx.

Link for more info: http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/turks-cap.html
 
Tyler Ludens
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Buffalo Gourd

When:: Late Summer through Winter

Where: Field edges, fencerows

Uses: Roasted seeds are a delicious snack

Harvesting tips: Ripe fruits are yellow to tan colored, about the size of a tennis ball.

Link for more info: http://www.foragingtexas.com/2012/09/buffalo-gourd.html

https://permies.com/t/16571/Buffalo-Gourd



 
Tyler Ludens
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Sotol

When:: All year

Where: Hillsides, dry fields

Uses: Stem contains lots of carbohydrates but takes a long time to cook.  Can be fermented for booze.

Harvesting tips:  A sturdy long-handled shovel or similar tool is needed to pry the heavy stem from hard earth.  Trimming the long spiny leaves away first might make it easier to handle.  Definitely wear long pants, sleeves, and gloves.

Link for more info: https://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/ethnobot/images/sotol.html

https://permies.com/t/54547/kitchen/Cooking-Sotol

 
Tyler Ludens
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Devil's Claw

When:: Summer

Where: Fields, roadsides

Uses: Immature seed pods cooked as an okra or squash substitute.  Plants can serve as a trap plant for Hornworms.

Harvesting tips:  Only harvest little pods for cooking, about an inch or two long.  Any larger will be too bitter to eat.  Mature pods contain edible seeds, but they are tedious to prepare.

Link for more info: http://www.foragingtexas.com/2012/07/devils-claw.html

https://permies.com/t/16473/Devil-Claw





 
wayne fajkus
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Wow. Thanks tyler. We may have something here.
 
Tyler Ludens
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You've very welcome.  This is one of my favorite subjects!  
 
Tyler Ludens
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Redbud

When:: Spring

Where: Edges of fields, roadsides, open woods

Uses: Flowers edible, young seed pods can be cooked like green beans

Harvesting tips:  If you harvest the flowers, you won't get the pods!

Link for more info: http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/redbud.html

https://permies.com/t/16902/Redbud
 
Tyler Ludens
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Cedar Elm

When: Fall

Where: Fields, roadsides, woods

Uses: Young seed pods can be eaten raw or cooked like green beans, mature seeds cooked or ground for flour

Harvesting tips:  Pick the seed pods very young for a green vegetable, otherwise they get tough.

Link for more info:  https://wildfoodgirl.com/2016/elm-samaras-edible-gourmet/

http://www.eattheweeds.com/chinese-elm-a-tree-that-doesnt-go-dutch-2/
 
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Great thread, Wayne and Tyler!

For folks living near I10, the prickly pears are ripe and waiting to be picked. Do find a safe place to park, though, they are all along the shoulders of I10 in abundance.
 
wayne fajkus
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Is this buffalo gourd?

I'm committed to find what i can from my 16 acres. Nature providing is sooooo much easier than us overseeing and manipulating the land for our needs.

Some say im a little goofy, but i implement then dont step back from it. After i first made mustang grape wine, the goal is to never buy alcohol from the store again. After i slaughtered my first sheep, i bought no more meat from the store. I canned squash and carrots no more canned foods from the store at that point.. Little baby steps of commitment and less gas, less plastics, less impact. One item at a time. keep moving forward.

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Tyler Ludens
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Yes, that is a buffalo gourd!
 
wayne fajkus
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This is iike a scavenger hunt. I found this thinking it was devils claw. It was on a trail so it was just a stem and this pod. The rest of plant was gone. Its not pointed like your pics.
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Tyler Ludens
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I think that's a milkweed pod, not edible.  https://npsot.org/wp/story/2012/2235/
 
wayne fajkus
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I'll be collecting prickly pears this week. Was unsure how to process but i found a video that:

Use torch to burn off spikes.
Place all (whole) in a pot.
Cover with water.
Boil.
Collect the juice.

He then took the juice and made jelly, but im thinking of taking this juice and tweek it with water and/or sugar to get something tasty.

Any thoughts? Better idea?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Prickly Ash, Tickle-tongue, Tooth-ache Tree

When: Fall

Where: Fields, roadsides, woods

Uses: Fruits can be used as a Sichuan pepper substitute; leaves and bark chewed as a toothache or mouth pain remedy.

Harvesting tips:  Leaves and bark slightly toxic, don't swallow.

Link for more info: http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/prickly-ashtoothache-tree.html

We have the shrub form of Prickly Ash, Zanthoxylum hirsutum, on our place.  I have not tried it as a toothache remedy or as a seasoning.
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Anne Miller
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wayne fajkus wrote:I'll be collecting prickly pears this week. Was unsure how to process ...
Any thoughts? Better idea?



Wayne, here is a tip I found.  Mine are still in the freezer so I can't say how well it worked.

https://permies.com/t/120/49834/Prickly-Pear-perfect-permaculture-plant#597475

Here is a tip I found:   Pick the pears, put them in the freezer, thorns and all. when they thaw all the fruit is juice. just strain through several layers of cheese cloth and you are good to go. very easy.

 
Anne Miller
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Pequin Pepper - Capsicum annuum

Where:  In the wild, Pequins grow in the understory of trees as perennials; under cultivation, they are grown as annuals as disease susceptibilities limits their growth.

Uses:  Common uses include pickling, salsas, sauces, soups, and vinegars.

Pequin has a compact habit, growing typically 0.3–0.6 meters tall, with bright green, ovate leaves and small berries that rarely exceed 2 cm in length. Like most chilies, the berries start out green, ripening to brilliant red at maturity. Pequin peppers are very hot, often 5-8 times hotter than jalapeños on the Scoville scale (30,000 to 60,000 Units). Flavor is described as citrusy, smoky (if dried with wood smoke), and nutty.

The name Pequin is thought to come from the Spanish pequeño, meaning small.






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

 
wayne fajkus
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Nice thread anne. Would love to hear final results. In that link is another interesting technique i may try. Slice the fruit in half, remove pulp, then dry the outer skin. Crunchy like a potato chip. Sounds neat!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Prickly Pear seeds can be used as a cooked grain or dried or roasted and ground for flour.

http://rfcarchives.org.au/Next/Fruits/Pitaya/Cactus7-96.htm
 
Tyler Ludens
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Pokeweed

When: Spring

Where: Moist shaded areas

Uses: Early shoots are a traditional wild Spring vegetable.

Harvesting tips: Toxic without proper cooking.

Link for more info:  http://www.foragingtexas.com/2006/04/pokeweedpoke-salat.html

This is our one Poke plant that appeared on the North side of our house.  We have found no others.  In wet seasons it can look quite lovely but we're in a drought and it is sad.  I haven't eaten it and have no intention of doing so.  
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wayne fajkus
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I can tell you that the fencing is not needed tyler. I have them in a few spots. Nothing eats them. Deer, cows, horses.....

I consider it my comfrey. Being so tall i just assume the roots go down a good amount,  mining minerals. If cut to ground they come back up quickly. Chop and drop. One plant turned into about 100 within a couple of years

 
Tyler Ludens
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The deer kept eating ours.

 
wayne fajkus
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Amazing. Mine are untouched. One is in a horse stall with no vegetation except the one pokeweed. They won't touch it
 
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Chili petin was always one of my favorites. They will be ripening about this time of year (fall). Can provide info to easily access them in the San Marcos area if anyone is interested. Or if you prefer, via a long tough hike. Proceed with caution. They are HOT. Very nice & unusual flavor too. Brought many with me to TN but haven't been able to get them to survive winter yet. Maybe someday. I'll just keep planting them & saving seeds every year if necessary.

Lady Bird Wildflower Center
 
wayne fajkus
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Soapberry. I'll have to edit with more information . I did a test. I squeezed 3 berries in some water and agitated it. Sure enough, it foamed up.
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Tyler Ludens
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Wayne, those are actually Eve's Necklace.  https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=staf4

Here's Soapberry:  https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=SASAD

 
wayne fajkus
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I was researching to fill in the comments and realized the same. Interesting that it lathered up. Seeds are said to be poisonous.

The hunt continues for the real thing....
 
Tyler Ludens
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If you can't find any I can send you a lot - we have tons in my area.  They might not be quite ripe yet.

 
wayne fajkus
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Ill keep looking. What color are the berries right now?
 
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