Honey Locust Tree Information – Permaculture Function Stacking

Honey Locust Tree Information – Permaculture Function Stacking

Honey Locust Tree Information

This post provides Honey Locust Tree Information.  Honey Locust, Gleditsia triacanthos, also known as the thorny locust, is a deciduous tree native to central North America. It is used for lumber, as a pioneer plant to disrupted or damaged ecosystems, can be used as fodder for animals, provides nectar to beneficial insects, and is use extensively in permaculture.

Honey Locust Tree Information - Honey Locust Tree

Honey Locust Tree Information – Honey Locust Tree

The Honey Locust tree grows quickly to a height up to 100 feet tall, but is short-lived, living “only” around 120 years. Due to its quick growth it is prone to losing large branches in wind storms.

The leaves are pinnately compound on older trees but bipinnately compound on vigorous young trees. They commonly have thorns coming out of the trunk and branches, with thorns growing up to 12″ long. In the past, the thorns were used as nails!  There are thorn-less varieties available at nurseries. They have flowers that are strongly scented that from seed pods later in the year. Honey locust seed pods ripen in late spring and germinate rapidly when temperatures are warm enough.

Edible

Honey locust produces a leguminous pod, of which the pulp is edible.  The name Honey Locust is derived from the sweet pulp of the legume, not the honey that bees produce from it. The pods can be eaten raw or cooked. A sugar can be made from the pulp. The pulp can be fermented into a beer.  The very young seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. Reportedly taste like peas. Can even be roasted, ground, and used as a coffee substitute. “The pods have a gooey pulp between the exterior casing and the seeds that tastes like the sugary insides of a Fig Newton type cookie. You can only squeeze out a wee bit from each pod, so it’s not a meal or anything, but it’s quite a nice sidewalk score when you get it.” Reference: firstways.com

Honey Locust Tree Information - Honey Locust Thorns

Honey Locust Tree Information – Honey Locust Thorns

The bean pods are a favorite food of the white-tailed deer, squirrels, rabbits, hogs, opossums, and raccoons. Domestic animals such as sheep, goats, and cattle will also forage on the honey locust bean pods.

Nitrogen Fixation

It is argued if the honey locust actually fixes nitrogen in soils.  One argument goes that it does not fix nitrogen because there are no nodules on the roots that are the primary source of nitrogen fixation in legume plants.  The argument to the other side is that leaf litter and pod pulp produce more nitrogen than root nodules.

Honey locust are used in a lot of permaculture projects at the Canopy layer.  This is because they are hardy, fast growing, fix nitrogen, attract beneficial insects, are hardy from zones 3-9, and like full sun.

Propagation

Propagation can be done by seed or by cuttings.  Seed germination needs scarification, which is soaking in very hot, but not boiling water until the seeds swell.  Propagation can also be by hardwood and softwood cuttings.

Medicinal

Honey Locust Tree Information - Honey Locust Leaf

Honey Locust Tree Information – Honey Locust Leaf

“The pods have been made into a tea for the treatment of indigestion, measles, catarrh etc. The juice of the pods is antiseptic. The pods have been seen as a good antidote for children’s complaints. The alcoholic extract of the fruits of the honey locust, after elimination of tannin, considerably retarded the growth, up to 63% of Ehrlich mouse carcinoma. However, the cytotoxicity of the extract was quite high and the animals, besides losing weight, showed dystrophic changes in their liver and spleen. The alcoholic extract of the fruit exerted moderate oncostatic activity against sarcoma 180 and Ehrlich carcinoma at the total dose 350 mg/kg/body weight/mouse. Weight loss was considerable. An infusion of the bark has been drunk and used as a wash in the treatment of dyspepsia. It has also been used in the treatment of whooping cough, measles, smallpox etc. The twigs and the leaves contain the alkaloids gleditschine and stenocarpine. Stenocarpine has been used as a local anaesthetic whilst gleditschine causes stupor and loss of reflex activity. Current research is examining the leaves as a potential source of anticancer compounds.” * Reference: naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/g/gleditsia-triacanthos=honey-locust.php

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible

This post covers Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible. Three weeks ago I wrote an article called cornus-kousa-benthamidia-kousa-kousa-dogwood.  Since then I have received feedback from two people about that article.  The first was Kyle a person I Wwopfed with.  He told me that he spotted these at his apartment complex and identified them based on the article.  I’m not sure if he is going to do anything with them or not.

The second person is my mother’s neighbor, Debbie.  Debbie went over to my mother’s house and filled a pail with the fruit from the Kousa dogwood tree.  Then she went home and made Kousa Dogwood Jam.  I have the recipe and pictures that she shared with me below.

Last Thursday Debbie brought a jar of the jam over and we sampled it.  My daughter liked it.  I liked it, but it was a little on the sweet side.  Now I was tasting it straight out of the jar with a spoon, so it may not be as sweet on toast or bread.  If I made this, I’d likely dial the sugar back some as I’m not a fan of super sweet jellies and jams.  Debbie said that her neighbor’s and their kids liked the jam as well.

Thank you Debbie for sharing your experience with us, letting us taste your creation, and agreeing to be named in this article.  I grew up with this tree in the yard for 25 years and this is the first time that I’m aware of that anyone did anything with the fruit.

I love hearing from you and receiving your thoughts.  Please comment on a post or email me with any stories you have or thoughts you have on these articles.  It is nice to know that people are reading them and interested.  And now for the recipe.

Recipe

(Debbie found this on InspireWildIdeas.com)

use 4 packed cups of ripe Kousa fruit (measured after it is run through a food processor.)

1 ½ cups of water

7 cups of sugar

1 packet of powdered pectin for 2 quarts

½ tsp cinnamon

4 cloves

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp of pure vanilla extract

4 – 8oz canning jars

fine mesh strainer

Directions: Set fruit and water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat.  When fruit and water mix is at a boil, turn heat down.  Mix sugar and pectin powder together into a bowl, then pour into fruit mixture while stirring.  Stir until sugar and pectin powder are fully incorporated.   Add spices and vanilla.  Bring temperature back up and boil hard for 1 minute more – no MORE than a minute or it won’t set.

Strain fruit mixture through fine mesh strainer into a large bowl and press on the fruit solids to remove as much liquid as you can.  Ladle jelly liquid into sterilized canning jars.  To clarify the jelly further, you can use cheesecloth or a small strainer as you ladle the liquid into the canning gars at this step.  Immediately as you fill each jar, wipe each jar rim with a clean moist cloth kitchen towel and twist the lids just into place.  Wipe the jars down of any jelly liquid which as dripped on the outside.

As the jars cool, continue to gently tighten the lids.  Some of the jars may seal on their own by popping but I always give them a 15-minute water bath to seal them well.  Be sure to refrigerate and use any jars that do not seal.  Cool on the counter for 30 minutes before storing.

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible Kousa Dogwood canned and ready to go

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible Kousa Dogwood prepped for canning

Kousa Dogwood Fruit Recipe | An Unusual Edible

Kousa Dogwood berriesKousa Dogwood berries in blenderKousa Dogwood berries blendedKousa Dogwood berry sauceKousa Dogwood mixtureKousa Dogwood mixture with spicesKousa Dogwood spicesKousa Dogwood first strainLast Strain

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50% off Plants at Home Depot

50% off Plants at Home Depot

If you are in the market for some cheap plants, head on over to Home Depot.  Most of their trees, shrubs and perennials are 50% off.  Yesterday I bought a $50 nectarine tree for $25 at the Pasadena, MD Home Depot.  The Pasadena store is pretty picked over on fruit trees right now.

This morning on my way into work I stopped by the Columbia, MD home depot.  They have about a dozen 4 in 1 apple trees for around $30.00 after the discount.  A 4 in 1 apple is four different types of apple trees grafted onto one trunk.  This is a great sale for a plant like this.

If this is something you are interested in, I’d recommend going today because they will likely all go by the end of the weekend.

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Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant

This post covers Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant.  Sassafras is a deciduous tree that can be found natively as far north as southern Canada and from the east coast out west to Texas.  It is a tree you will find at forest edges and is easily identifiable with its three different shaped leaves on the tree.  While it was a unique edible plant for many years by the Native Indians and others, it is now banned from being sold as a medicinal or flavoring.

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant Sassafras Tree

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant Sassafras Tree

The plant likes rich loamy to sandy soil and prefers slightly acidic soils.  The tree grows best in full sun.  If you plant one tree it creates a colony by sending up new shoots from its roots as it spreads out.  These shoots can come up as far away as four feet from a tree.  Sassafras is a medium size deciduous tree with a max height from 45 to 60 feet.

The leaves are very unique on this plant.  There are two lobed, three lobed and no lobed leaves.  On rare occasions you can find a tree that has a leaf with more than three lobes.  I was first introduced to this plant at an outdoor and survival boot camp two years ago.

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant Sassafras Leaves

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant Sassafras Leaves

I noted the unusual leaves and swore that I had never seen this plant before.  Now as I look around I see them all over and just found two growing in one of my flower beds.  I now think I had my eyes closed because there are quite a few around.

The tree has greenish yellow flowers in the spring before the leaves appear.  It is dioecious with male trees and female trees relying on small insects to cross pollinate the trees. In late-summer there is a fruit with a seed in the center surrounded by a blue-black fruit. Fruit and seed production starts at about 10 years of age.

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant Sassafras Berry

Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant Sassafras Berry

Sassafras is used as a thickener and flavoring in a Louisiana creole dish called gumbo. The leaves are dried and ground to make filé powder, a spicy herb used for making gumbo. Do you like Root Beer?  Sassafras was at one time the main ingredient in making root beer.  If you pull the roots up and give them a chew, you will have a root beer flavor in your mouth.  The leaves and stems have a citrus flavor to them.  Sassafras oil was also used as as a fragrance at one time.

Leaves and twigs are eaten by deer, rabbits, and ground hogs.  Birds love the fruit and do a great job of propagating them (like the two now growing in my flower bed).

According to the USDA[1] the Native Americans used sassafras for a variety of medicinal uses.* According to drugs.com[2] sassafras has been banned from use for medicinal purposes as well as flavoring or fragrance.

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[1] – http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_saal5.pdf

[2] – http://www.drugs.com/npp/sassafras.html

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Please provide feedback on Sassafras Plant Information | A Very Unique Plant by commenting below.

Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood

Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood

Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood

This article, titled Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood, provides information on how to grow, harvest, and propagate this beautiful plant.  The Cornus Kousa (Benthamidia kousa) also known as Kousa Dogwood, Japanese Dogwood and Chinese Dogwood, is native to Japan, Korea, and China arriving in the United States around 1875. The Kousa Dogwood is a deciduous tree that survives well in USDA zones 5-8 and is self fertile. It is one of my favorite unique edible plants. It likes full sun and will tolerate a little shade, likes acid, moist and well drained soils.

Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood - Kousa Dogwood tree

Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood

The Kousa Dogwood pictured to the left is at my mother’s house in Maryland.  It was planted when I was a growing up about 25 years ago.  When small the trees have a vase shape but will grow larger into more of a round shape.  Kousa Dogwoods are known to have multi-trunks as show by the one in this picture.

It has opposite simple leaves that are 2 to 4 inches long and about 1 inch wide. In late May to mid-June, after the leaves are fully out, it flowers and has four white petal like leaves around a yellow green flower. In my experience I have noticed that on more mature trees the flowers point up and you can walk right under a tree in full bloom and not even notice the blooms.

Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood

Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood

In the summer the trees produce fruit that is a greenish color.  As the summer progresses it almost seems like the fruit are not growing at all.  They seem to stay the same size.

Starting in late August and lasting until late October the Kousa Dogwood fruit ripens. As you can see in the picture to the right, all of the fruit does not ripen at once.  The fruit actually starts ripening in August and and you continue to have fresh fruit ripen until the end of October.  The ripening fruit is a spectacular display on the tree as they change from green to yellow to blush to a raspberry color.

Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood

Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood

The fruit is about the size of a quarter in diameter and looks like an over-sized raspberry in both shape and color. The skin of the fruit is green/yellow when unripe. It turns raspberry red as it ripens. Unripe fruit is firm when you squeeze it in your fingertips, but becomes very soft as it ripens.  The picture to the left are 3 fruit from my mother’s tree.

Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood

Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood

The outer red skin of the fruit is very mealy/gritty and is a bit astringent. Inside the red skin is an amber colored pulp with a custard consistency. The picture to the right shows the fruit cut open and placed on a paper towel. Within the center are 8 to 12 seeds the size of apple seeds.

I tried some of the fruit Thursday night so I could describe to you exactly what the culinary experience was like.  As I bit into the fruit I noticed that the skin had a kind of papery consistency. I did not care much for the outer red skin so decided that I would focus on the pulp of the fruit. I found that if you break the fruit in half and suck the pulp out it had a pleasant taste.  It was very sweet with a slight apple taste with a hint of mango to it.

Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood

Cornus Kousa Fruit is Edible | The Kousa Dogwood

I can see how a person who is creative in the kitchen could come up with a number of uses for the pulp. I don’t know if the seeds are edible or not. They seemed very hard and I did not try extremely hard to bite into them so I just spit them out during my samplings.  The picture to the left show what the seeds look like.

The fruit can be used for wine making. I also found a blog post online where they add the pulp to a smoothie and another blog where they made jelly out of whole kousa dogwood fruit. The fruit is also a favorite of squirrels and birds (and my rat terrier, Murphy).

The Cornus Kousa can be propagated by seeds or by cuttings.  You must stratify the seeds for a minimum of 12 weeks for best germination.  Stratification involves rinsing the seeds well, putting them in moist sand or peat moss in a bag and putting them in a cool environment (35-40 degrees Fahrenheit) for a period of time (12 weeks recommended).  After the 12 weeks, plant the seeds in the ground in a warmer environment and they should germinate.  I will have a blog post dedicated to stratification in the future. Propagation by cuttings does not have a high success rate.  I saw this in my propagation experiment (click link to see that blog post) this summer where I only had a 5% success rate on the cornus kousa.

So the Cornus Kousa is a hardy beautiful plant that also provides edible fruit.  What more could you ask for?  I have about 6 of these growing on my farm!