Backyard Bites – Florida Betony (Stachys floridana)

Betony

Well, I said I would write blogs about things inside the city limits, and out. I don’t spend a lot of weekend days at home, but since I am here and I started out with Osceola National Forest and a few Florida black bears yesterday, I’ll bring it back to the city today and check out some wild forage in my own back yard. Odds are you can find this plant in yours as well.  Of course, don’t eat anything from an area that has been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides!

Florida betony (bet·o·ny) is a bit of a hidden gem. Sometimes called Rattlesnake weed, or hedge nettle, it’s plentiful, tasty, easy to get, and stores itself until you’re ready to use it. Up north, when fall comes, the need to cut the grass ends. Not so here in North Florida. I suppose technically our need to cut the grass ends in the fall, but we may need to cut the betony if we like a well groomed lawn. Fall and winter are when betony does its thing. During the hot months, it lays dormant. In my yard, it is just starting to hit its stride. It is taller than the grass anywhere it is growing. In the case of betony, the part you are looking for as food is below the surface in the form of a tuber. They range in size, and I have seen them as large as a person’s finger, but most around here seem to be a bit smaller. They are more crisp and plump when the weather is wet and can range in color from clean white to dirtier brown. In my yard I seem to find the cleaner ones in the wetter periods, but not sure if that is the same everywhere. They can have long interconnected root systems with tubers throughout and can be hard to get rid of.

Betony With Roots
Betony with root system and small tubers.

That’s a huge problem. Too much food in the yard! I’ve had them alone, and in salads. The taste is light and mildly sweet. Texture is maybe a bit like a radish, but less dense. Other parts of the plant can be eaten like greens, but the tuber is the star of this show.

Tramatese Versicolor – Turkey Tail Mushroom

MushroomBear Cubs

 

DisclaimerPlease do not use this site to identify mushrooms for consumption. I am providing my opinions, and very basic information. You need to do your research, speak with local experts, and don’t eat anything you haven’t seen someone else eat, and live to tell about it!

This is a beautiful polypore mushroom, so-named because it has pores on its underside rather than gills. This is where the mushroom produces its spores. The spores fall out of the tubes and are spread by wind, animals, etc. to eventually produce new mushrooms elsewhere. It grows on dead or dying wood. This mushroom is said to have medicinal properties. Compounds from tramatese versicolor are in fact used in cancer treatment and have been shown to kill cancer cells. Also said to help with auto-immune disorders. Compounds in pill form are also used in combination with chemo and are reported to ease some of the sickness felt from chemo treatments. I am not aware of any scientific proof that the mushrooms in their whole natural form kill cancer, or any other illness. That being said, it is unlikely to harm you unless you have an unusual sensitivity to this mushroom, which is possible with any edible or medicinal mushroom, so I myself have made tea with turkey tail and green tea leaves and found it enjoyable. The name comes from the zoned colors, which resemble a turkey’s tail. They also sometimes grow in turkey tail like fans, such as what is pictured above. If they are fresh and the pore surface isn’t white, they aren’t turkey tail mushrooms.
Continue reading Tramatese Versicolor – Turkey Tail Mushroom