Tendrils: Pink samaras on an Acer

Hello! Welcome to Tendrils. Yesterday I learned that the winged fruit of Acer species are called samaras. These lovely pink ones adorn a tree close to my house. I’m not sure of the species; it’s an odd area that used to be housing and now is semi-wild, but I think these trees were planted along the road. I’ve since discovered that any Acer species can be tapped to make syrup (although sugar levels vary considerably) and that the American sycamore Acer occidentalis can grow large enough to live in. If you’re not currently in need of shelter, it does have other uses as well.

I need to get better at identifying trees, they offer a wealth of foraging opportunities, and I’m lucky to live in an area with quite a few trees. I’d like to be able to properly identify the conifers; I’d like to make spruce tip ice cream one day, among other things.

I’m pretty sure we don’t have fiddleheads growing in the vicinity, although perhaps one day I will grow my own (there’s not a lot of shade in my garden).

Since this is International Compost Awareness Week, I’ve got two compost-related linked for you. The first is a little video from the BBC on the eco-friendly pants you can grow vegetables in. (Probably easiest to take them off first!) The second is from Garden Organic, debunking common composting myths.

Following on from last week’s revelation that tomatoes are carnivorous plants, we have a partial list of carnivorous plants.

Japanese researchers have discovered a way to make plants transparent so that they can study their internal processes. This is one innovation that won’t make it into your garden, though. It’s done by reducing chlorophyll, so the plant won’t survive.

We’ve also learned that a biomass crop, Miscanthus – elephant grass, grown as fuel for UK power stations, can act as a refuge for brown hares, as long as it’s not the only thing growing in the area.

Vegetable plants special offer

A few weeks ago I was at Edulis, chatting about honeyberries (Lonicera spp.) with Paul Barney. He was of the opinion that the latest varieties to reach our shores are a great improvement on the early ones (which sucks if you were an early adopter!). So perhaps it’s time to learn a bit more about the fruit that came in from the cold. Another fruit that regularly comes in from the cold is rhubarb (and let’s not get into a botanical argument about whether it’s a fruit or a vegetable, m’kay?). If you’re in the midst of a rhubarb oversupply at the moment, you may appreciate this recipe for rhubarb ketchup.

Apparently New Zealand wants the world to fall in love with feijoas. The first step might be coming up with a pronouceable name 😉 I have an Acca sellowiana (formerly Feijoa sellowiana) in the front garden. It hasn’t fruited yet, but that’s probably due to years of systematic abuse. Confined in a container, neglected to the point of near death more than once, it has none-the-less survived to take up a permanent spot in the front garden. We’ll have to see how it gets on now.

And walnuts seem to be falling out of favour, so let’s all make walnut cake with chocolate sauce, and keep a walnut farmer in business. It’s a tough job (eating cake), but someone has to do it!

This week I have written up the show notes for the second Lubera UK live Facebook show. Tuesday’s episode included ‘root fruits’ – oca and sweet potatoes – as well as more traditional fruits and flowers. The next show is at 6pm BST this coming Tuesday. I’ve also started a weekly series of posts for the Lubera UK Facebook page. This week I posted a snippet about salmonberries; next week I’m planning on tackling yuzu.

That’s it for Tendrils this week. Come back next week for another batch of exciting plant revelations!