Wednesday, August 19, 2015



It’s been a hot week on Roundtop Mtn., and I’ve had a busy week with a variety of evening activities, so my times of being out and about in the forest were more limited than usual for me.  As a result, my observations have been more subdued or unsuccessful than usual.

I’ve been looking for nighthawks in the evenings—no luck so far.  I’ve been looking for swallows that are not the ubiquitous barn swallows—ditto, no luck.  Anything that moves is hiding, it seems to me.  Or perhaps, the forest creatures have simply found that ultimate cool spot and aren’t about to leave it and let something else take it away from them.

Pokeweed flowers with green berries in background
About the only thing I have noticed are things that do not move.  Today the thing that is not moving is the pokeweed. I found a huge bush of it, and what I found most interesting that the same bush contained pokeweed berries in a variety of stages—flowering, fully budded but green and fully ripe.  In case you didn’t know, I’m going to remind you that pokeweed is toxic and poisonous to humans.  Birds love it and are unaffected, as are some smaller animals. I’m told the plant becomes more toxic the more mature it becomes, and death can occur by eating only a few raw berries.  Animals often avoid the berries because they are bitter, but farm animals have been poisoned by leaves that end up in their fodder.  Humans can eat the leaves, provided they are boiled several times, with the water discarded after each boiling.  Thanks, but I think I’ll pass on this one.

Anyway, I just enjoy looking at the berries and the birds that come to the bushes for them.


Scott said...

I think that only the first tender leaves of spring are edible, and then only after they have been boiled several times. Why bother? And, is there anything of nutritive value left in the leaves after they've been boiled like that? By the way, the greens made edible are called "poke salad," and if you were tempted to try them, I've been told to mark the location of the plant the preceding fall so that you know where to look for the earliest leaves. Generally, I'm fine with allowing the birds to have their fill--until they defecate purple poop in my car!

Not much moving around here further east, either, but a birder did spot a Golden-winged Warbler on Sunday--a rare find around here.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: There's even poke salit (salad) festivals in the south. Thanks, but I think I'll pass on this one.

Pablo said...

I have a couple of monster stands of poke in my sunny spots at Roundrock. One was on the dam, so it had to go.

I wonder how much nutrition is left in the leaves after you boil them three times.