Raccoons love Whole Foods!

Raccoons eat insects

Guess what this raccoon had for dinner last night. Raccoons have a varied diet, similar to ours. Raccoons eat berries, other fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables. They also eat insects, eggs, poultry, rats, squirrels, small livestock, birds, fish, snakes, craw fish, worms, frogs, and mollusks. Additionally, raccoons will eat pet food, carrion, and human garbage.

Raccoon 1

You can tell it was a raccoon meal because they are so tidy. Craw fish remains from another feast are similarly displayed. Did you guess what raccoon had for dinner last night?

 

insect praying mantis 1

Oh dear…

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Blooms in August. Wait until next year… unless you know where to dig up the tubers now.

Flower Groundnut

Sorry I’m late sending photo of groundnut vine. Wonderful little bunches/balls of reddish-brown/maroon and cream, dense, pea-like blossoms grow in moist soil in August It’s still out there to be found in September but it is going to seed now. It is proof that Native Americans lived around here. It is edible and should be harvested in early November. It is considered an invasive by cranberry farmers.

Per Tamara Dean in Orion Magazine article, “Stalking the Wild Groundnut”:

Indeed, for centuries Apios americana was a staple in the diets of many Native Americans, which explains why it grows profusely where they once encamped. Almost every part of the plant is edible — shoots, flowers, the seeds that grow in pods like peas, but, most importantly, the tubers. These tubers (the groundnuts) are swellings that form along a thin rhizome, like beads on a necklace. They can be small as a fingernail or, rarely, large as a melon. And as with other root vegetables, they sweeten after a frost and overwinter well in a cool, damp place, offering sustenance in a time when the land provides little other food. Pilgrims were taught to dig and cook groundnuts by the Wampanoags, and these “Indian potatoes” probably spared the newcomers from starvation. Henry David Thoreau knew and ate the tubers. He wrote in his journal, “In case of a famine, I should soon resort to these roots.”

However, neither Thoreau nor the Native Americans nor the Pilgrims could have known how healthy groundnuts are. Like potatoes, they are high in starch. But they’re also relatively high in protein, containing up to 17 percent — about three times as much as potatoes. In addition, studies from at least two U.S. universities reveal that groundnuts contain a significant quantity of isoflavones, chemicals linked to a decreased incidence of prostate and breast cancers. Plants for a Future, a British organization that educates the public on “edible, medicinal, and useful plants for a healthier world,” ranks Apios americana as the fourth-most-important plant in its database of seven thousand.

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Wildflowers of Aug/Sept: Water Pepper

Flower Water Pepper

Water pepper, AKA marshpepper knotweed grows in southern Maryland in damp areas. It is also called smartweed, though I thought smartweed was pink. The little white blossoms and seeds were used by colonists as a spice similar to what you might use in chili. If you taste one, you will discover they are HOT! Some say they taste similar to Sichuan pepper. They are enjoyed by ducks, small birds and small mammals.

Pickerelweed (US) Pickerel Weed (UK)

Flower pickerel weed

Beautiful. Grows in clumps all summer long here along the edge of our tidal pond and even creates wonderful blue and green islands in the middle of the pond. Grown from seeds and rhizomes, they are regularly planted in water gardens here and across the pond. Young shoots, leaves and seeds are edible. Make sure you are collecting from clean water.

 

“Saddlebags” of milkweed pollen! Busy bee!

insect bee and milkweed

It was exciting for me and the busy bee to find some milkweed blossoms the deer haven’t eaten yet! The milkweed pollen our bee is collecting looks like butter! I wonder what it tastes like. We ate young green milkweed pods once over 40 years ago. As I recall, you need to boil them twice, changing the water. Warning: Please Google before you try them. They tasted like string beans.