*@ 10969 @ Pine - Masson @ Masson Pine is also called Chinese Red Pine. I acquired this tree thinking it was another Chinese Pine that produces large pinenuts. Masson Pine is not known for its nuts. Oops. Masson Pine has some other interesting features, so I am proud to have it in my collection. The branches are burned to flavor black tea as it ferments, the bark contains a potent mix of antioxidants, and the pollen is classified as a superfood by some.

Tea Falvoring
A black tea called Lapsang Souchong acquires a unique aroma from the smoke of buring Masson pine braches that contain longifolene and α-terpineol. Longifolene has an odor that is sweet and woody, and is a main component of clove oil. α-terpineol smells like lilacs.

Here are some facts about the use of this pine tree for flavoring tea [1]:
The real story about why these teas from Fujian province have a smoky flavour is that in the early 17th century when the Chinese tea producers began to export their teas to Europe and America, their traditional green teas did not travel well and quickly lost quality during the 15-18 month journey across land and sea. The producers developed a method of rolling, oxidising and drying their teas so that they would hold their quality for longer. Once the teas had been oxidised, they were spread on bamboo baskets which were placed on racks in the drying room. This was built over ovens that allowed the heat to rise up through vents in the ceiling and into the drying room above. To fire the ovens, the tea manufacturers used the local pine wood from the forests that surrounded (and still surround) the factories, and as the wood slowly burned, it gave off a certain amount of smoke that was absorbed by the drying tea and gave it a lightly smoked, sappy, pine character.

In 1604, the Dutch began to import Lapsang Souchong to the West. At that time,it was regarded as a precious medicine and sold at pharmacies. The Dutch dominated the trade in Lapsang Souchong until 1669 when the English imported it on a commercial scale. By the time the English East India Company began trading in tea, lapsang Souchong was well established at the English courts, where it was no longer valued for its medicinal benefits, but was drunk as an invigorating beverage.

According to historical records,It was Princess Catherine who in 1662 brought Lapsang Souchong tea to England. She was a Portuguese and was married to Prince Charles. Her passion for Lapsang Souchong helped to promote the tea in England. Lapsang Souchong was treated as a luxury drink in England,France, Dutch and The Netherlands. In England itself,Lapsang Souchong tea is recognized as the representative of Chinese Tea and used to serve England’s Royal Family so it was known as the Royal Black Tea in England.

After plucking,the leaves are withered over pine wood fires. In the Wuyi mountainous area,the withering has to be carried out with additional heat from burning pine firewood because of the shortage of sunny days. It is a common practice in the production of tea of Wuyi Mountain including Lapsang Souchong, The firewood is burned with a strong fire,generating heat to help water evaporate but which only does not contribute to the smoky flavor of end product. Tea leaves is placed on bamboo mat, piled at 3-7 cm thick,and the mat is placed on the wooden rack. At the bottom of rack, pine wood is collected and burned. In the withering room,the atmospheric temperature is controlled at 30˚C,and the tea leaves are turned over and mixed well every 20 minutes. When the leaves become soft and are not shiny anymore,they are removed from the wooden rack and placed on the floor to cool down. The leaves are then to be rolled into taut strips (called Rou-nian,which means maceration).

After the rolling process,tea leaves are placed into wooden barrels and covered with cloth to allow enzymatic oxidation to take place. At high altitudes of the mountainous area,the tea leaves are gathered together and kept in the barrels in order to maintain the optimum temperature for enzymatic reaction. When it gets cooler,the barrels will be placed near the cook-stove to keep tea leaves warm. When 80% of the tea leaves have turned into a copper color and begun to emit their own pleasant fragrance,the oxidation is sufficient.

Unlike any other black tea which is dried immediately after the oxidation process,Lapsang Souchong tea is instead pan fried before drying. During the pan-frying session,the high temperature in a short time will inactive the enzyme instantly,prevent prolonged oxidation and stabilize the quality and characteristic of fermented tea leaves prior to long hour drying (8-10 hours). When the pan temperature reaches 200˚C,oxidized tea leaves is placed into the pan and fried. It takes 2-3 min to give off the greenish and grassy smell of tea leaves,further improving the aromatic fragrance of tea leaves.

While the fried tea leaves remain hot,it is quickly macerated for the second time. The tea leaves are rolled and tightened, more tea fluid is squeezed out and remains on the leaves’ surface. The expression of the juice over the leaf particles increases the strength (i.e. the soluble matter in the liquor when brew). In addition, it helps to absorb the smoke during the later stage.

In China, regardless of what is green tea,black tea or yellow tea,the common final step is drying in the bamboo basket called Hong Long that is heated over burning firewood. However,for Lapsang Souchong tea,there are two critical differences which contribute to the Dried Longan aroma and smoky flavor:
1.Unlike any other kind of tea, pine tree was used as the firewood for Lapsang Souchong. Pine tree contains amber (Hu-po), i.e. pine tree resin.
2.For the other teas,they are dried with strong flame (Ming-huo) throughout. However, Lapsang Souchong is dried with strong flame during the first drying stage to reduce the moisture content to 20%. Late, when the burning of pine wood is suppressed, the additional drying with smoldering fire (“Wen-huo”) is carried out until the tea leaf is dried to moisture under 5%.

Due to the incomplete combustion,the smoldering pine fire generates smoke containing vaporized amber essence, which absorbed by tea leaves gives Lapsang souchong typical pine smoke flavor. The drying process takes 8-10 hours in order to ensure complete drying and develop the distinctive flavor of Lapsang Souchong. In addition,this crucial step also gives rise to the luster dark reddish color (Wu-run) of tea leaf because of amber essence absorbed by dried tea leaves.

In the past,it is widely believed that Lapsang Souchong tea has the typical dried longan flavor as the result of unique tea leaf used – it is proven to be wrong. Another tea cultivar, Zheng-he Xiao-zhong (tea cultivar named after the Zheng-he County in Fujian Province), was used to produce both Keemun black tea and Lapsang Souchong. The result is that only Lapsang Souchong tea gave the dried longan flavor not the Keemun black tea. Apparently, the crucial drying process using smoldering pine fire is the decisive step in making Lapsang Souchong tea with unique dried longan aroma and smoky flavor.

Bark Extract
Pine bark extract, rich in proanthocyanidin, is a bioflavanoid complex extracted from the bark of the Pinus massoniana Lamb pine tree. It is a powerful antioxidant. Pine bark extract has been shown to help strengthen and repair tissues made of collagen, a protein that builds blood vessels, skin and connective tissue. Pine bark extract has been shown to be a more effective antioxidant than either vitamin C or vitamin E, because absorption in the bloodstream only takes 20 minutes and works for up to 72 hours. Pine bark extract also works synergistically with vitamin C to assist the body in recycling vitamin E, and is one of the select antioxidants that can penetrate the blood-brain barrier to help protect brain tissue. Pine bark extract is valued for its high levels of oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), antioxidants that can scavenge free radicals from the human body. Pine bark extract also appears to recycle ascorbyl and tocopheryl radicals, thus helping to preserve healthy vitamin C and E levels. Preliminary evidence suggests that pine bark extract might stimulate the immune system. It seems to stimulate and bolster natural killer cell activity and enhances T- and B-cell function in animal subjects.

Pollen Superfood
Pinus massoniana produces a very potent and powerful superfood. Pine Pollen is one of the ultimate superfoods in the world, which should be a staple in ones daily diet. Pine Pollen has over 200 bioacitve natural nutrients, minerals and vitamins source in one single serving, that is completely absorbed by the human body.

Over 20 Amino Acids and 8 Essential Amino Acids Making Pine Pollen A Complete Protein:
Alanine • Arginine • Aspartic • Cysteine • Glutamic • Acid • Glycin • Histidine • Isoleucine • Leucine • Lysine • Methionine • Phenylalanie • Proline • Serine • Threonine • Tryptophan • Tyrosine • Valine

Pine Pollen also contains these important compounds:
Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) • Androstenedione • Androsterone • Antioxidants • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) • Fiber • Flavonoids • Lignin • Living Coenzymes • Living Enzymes • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) • Monosaccharides • Nucleic Acids • Oleic acid • Polysaccharides • Superoxide dismutase (SOD) • Testosterone • Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Vitamin A B-Carotene • Vitamin B1 • Vitamin B2 • Vitamin B3 • Vitamin B6 • Folic Acid • Vitamin D • Vitamin E

Calcium • Copper • Iron • Manganese • Magnesium • Molybdenum • Phosphor • Potassium • Selenium • Silicon • Sodium • Zinc

Pine pollen is also a goof source of fiber, comparable to wheat bran. It has been used traditionally in China as a laxative.

Pine Needle Tea
You can use any variety of pine needles to make a green herb tea. Here are some facts [3]. You may not realize that Pine Needle Tea contains 4-5 times the Vitamin C of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and is high in Vitamin A. It is also an expectorant (thins mucus secretions), decongestant, and can be used as an antiseptic wash when cooled. So not only does it taste good, but it's good for you! Each varietal of pine has it's own flavor to impart, so experiment and see which needles you like best. @ end

*@ 6818 @ Plum - Klamath @ A clingstone, species plum, the only native plum to the west coast of the US. Plums of New York says the following about Klamath Plum:

Prunus subcordata, the Pacific or Western plum, is an inhabitant of the region east of the Coast Range from southern Oregon to central California. It is so rarely found on the seacoast as to have escaped the attention of the early botanists and remained unknown until the middle of the Nineteenth Century, when Hartweg, working in the interior of California, brought the plant to notice. This wild plum is not common except in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas in northern California and southern Oregon, where it often forms thickets of small trees along streams, thriving in fresh, fertile, sandy soils, in canons, on hillsides or in the forests of yellow pine which are found in this region. Hammond writes of it growing here as usually a small tree but often seen as a shrub from four to five feet high. Of the frequency of the occurrence he says: " It often sets the whole countryside ablaze in the autumn, with the abundance of its scarlet and crimson colors, mingled, of course, with red and yellow, and garnished with a sprinkling of green." The tree and the fruit vary greatly according to the locality.

This Subcordata plum is one of the standard food products of the aborigines in the region in which it grows, being eaten either raw or cooked; and it is sometimes dried in considerable quantities at the harvesting places and carried considerable distances to the Indian villages.' The trappers, the first men to enter the habitat of this plum, followed by the gold-seekers and ranchers, all knew and esteemed the fruit. The early settlers regarded it as the most useful of all the wild fruits of the Coast and attempts were made at an early date to domesticate it. Of these Wickson says:'

"In 1856 there was, on the Middle Yuba River, not far from Forest
City, in Sierra County, a wayside establishment known as 'Plum Valley
Ranch,' so-called from the great quantity of wild plums growing on and
about the place. The plum by cultivation gave a more vigorous growth
and larger fruit. Transplanted from the mountains into the valley they
are found to ripen earlier. Transplanted from the mountains to a farm
near the coast, in Del Norte County, they did not thrive. One variety,
moved from the hills near Petaluma in 1858, was grown as an orchard
tree for fifteen years, and improved both in growth and quality of fruit
by cultivation. Recently excellent results have been reported
from the domestication of the native plum in Nevada County, and fruit
shown at the State Fair of 1888 gave assurance that by cultivation and
by selecting seedlings valuable varieties can be obtained. It is stated that
in Sierra County the wild plum is the only plum which finds a market at
good prices, and that cultivated gages, blue and egg plums scarcely pay
for gathering. The wild plum makes delicious preserves."

In its typical form Prunus subcordata is a shrub and is often only a low bush but under the most favorable conditions it attains the dimension and shape of a small tree. In its roundish, roughish leaves it so closely resembles the Old World types of plums that it becomes the nearest approach to them to be found among our American species. But in the globular, red or purple subacid fruit it betrays its affinity to the American plums, as it does also in the fiat, sometimes turgid, smooth stone to which the flesh tenaciously clings. The flowers are white, fading to rose and borne abundantly, making the plant an attractive ornamental in blooming time as it is also in the autumn when the foliage turns to brilliant red, scarlet or crimson with touches of yellow. The fruit is sometimes so poor in quality as to be inedible but on the other hand is sometimes quite equal to some of the cultivated plums, especially in its botanical variety, Kelloggii.

That the fruit is capable of improvement by the selection of seedling varieties and useful in hybridizing with other species can hardly be doubted. Luther Burbank, under date of December 6, 1909, writes in this regard as follows:

"The Prunus subcordata, as it grows wild, bears very heavily even
on bushes two and three feet in height, bending the bushes flat on the
ground when the fruit is ripe. This is a very beautiful sight. The wild
ones, although almost invariably bright red and spherical, are sometimes,
though rarely found, yellow. When the seed of the yellow fruit is planted
a certain portion of red ones are produced, but all, practically, of the same
size and quality as the original. The trees of Subcordata in the wild state
are greatly variable in growth, generally much more so than in the fruit.
The fruit, however, varies much in quality, but it is promiscuously gathered
by those living in the vicinity of the plum grounds and considered most
excellent for cooking. I commenced working on this species about twentytwo
years ago and have not carried it on as extensively as with the Maritima,
as I found it subject to plum-pockets, but by very careful selection
I have produced most magnificent plums, oval in form or round, sweet
as honey or sweet as the French Prune, greatly enlarged in size, tree
improved in growth and enormously productive, the different varieties ripening
through a long season. Most of these are light and dark red. Some of
them, when cooked, are far superior to cranberries, having the exact delicious
flavor so much liked in this fruit, and the same color.

"From the crosses of Subcordata with the Americana, Nigra, Triflora
and other species, some of the most beautiful and highest flavored fruits
which I have even seen have been produced. These vary in color from
almost pure white to light yellow, transparent flesh color, pink, light crimson,
scarlet, dark crimson and purple ; in form round, egg-shaped or elongated-oval;
trees both upright and weeping, enormously productive, and
in one or two cases the fruit, by hundreds of experts, has been pronounced
the best plum in flavor of any in existence. Most of these selections are
extremely productive."

Wickson reports that the roots of Subcordata have been used more or less as stocks for other plums but show no marked advantages over the species commonly used for this purpose. Most of those who have experimented with it condemn it as a stock because it dwarfs the scion and suckers badly. @ end

*@ 4104 @ Capulin Cherry - Seedling @ Bloomed for the first time in 2012, but it did not set fruit.

Capulins have a dormancy period that is triggered by day length rather than by cold temperatures and therefore do not need cold winter weather to regulate their yearly flowering and fruiting cycle. My tree bloomed in June in Edmonds.

Like any fruit tree, the quality of fruit from a seedling is unrealiable. Select varieties of Capulin have excellent, sweet tasting cherries. Now that I have established a couple trees, I may seek scionwood of some of these better varieties.

Some facts from Wikipedia:
The Capulin has been cultivated for the areas now including Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, and is extensively and abundantly naturalized. The Capulin was an important food for the Indians, inhabitants, and the Spanish conquistadors who conquered the new lands of the Americas. At times, the Capulin served as the main food group for the Spanish. In native markets, the Capulin appears in great quantities, especially in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Ecuador. In Guatemala, the seedlings of the Capulin are used as rootstock from which commercial cultivars of the northern cherry are grafted. The fruit has a heavy aroma and is round, but very small(ranging from 3/8 to 3/4 of an inch (1–2 cm)wide.

Not much information on Capulin varieties. Those that have grown selections often comment that getting a better tasting seedling from seed are pretty good, so that is what I am recommending. Anyway, here are some notes from the Fruit and Orchard forum on GardenWeb:
"Emerich #1" produces the largest cherry, a nicely flavored fruit, but with fairly strong "wild" black cherry flavor notes.
"La Roca Grande" is a selection by Ben Poirier. The fruits have a slightly milder taste than "Emerich #1". They are a little smaller than "E. #1" fruits, and ripen to a dull reddish color. ("E. #1" fruits ripen to a deep, blackish-purple color.)
"Late Lomeli" is a seedling from the capulin grove in Conejo Park (established by the local CRFG chapter). This one comes into prime ripeness about a week or two after the other cultivars. It tastes the closest to a European P. avium sweet cherry. The main drawback to this selection is that the cherries are small, nanking cherry-sized.

The selections by George Emerich were given the above designations by one of our local CRFG members who originally brought the scions up from San Diego county, not George. So those names are really only used by Bay Area local hobbyists who have exchanged scionwood. Similarly, "Late Lomeli" was also just randomly given that name by the gentleman I mentioned above -- someone sent him wood from the Conejo Park planting, and he or she labelled the scions as the somewhat well-known variety "Lomeli". Well, the clone definitely wasn't "Lomeli", but it was somewhat late-bearing, so our local member just decided to call it "Late Lomeli". It is *not* actually a seedling of "Lomeli", so the name may not be the best!

Capulin cherries are fun to play around with, but they are certainly something of a "not ready for prime time" fruit -- they could be sweeter, the flesh/pit ratio could be better, and those resinous flavor notes could be less prominent. (Although some of the above selections are significantly less resinous than random seedlings.) This fruit has never been the subject of a formal breeding program, to the best of my knowledge, so there is the potential for great improvement.

Although the California rare-fruit community refers to this fruit as Prunus salicifolia, many authorities (including the USDA, I think) classify it as Prunus serotina var. salicifolia; in other words as a Mexican/Central American subspecies of the North American black cherry. @ end

*@ 4040 @ Pear - Dabney @ Very early bearer. Very good dessert quality. A heavily productive mid-sized russetted pear with tender juicy melting flesh. It ripens in August and is resistant to fireblight. Bred in Knoxville, Tennessee and released in 1954. It is naturally a smaller spreading tree.

This pear ripened for the first time in 2012. It was good picked fresh from the tree in mid-September. Everything is late this year by about 3 weeks, so in a normal year, this pear should probably be picked mid-August. The flavor and texture reminds me of Seckel.

Here is the entry in -- Brooks and Olmo Register of Fruit and Nut Varieties:
Dabney.- Originated in Knoxville, Tennessee, by Brooks D. Drain, Tennessee Agriculture Experiment Station. Introduced in 1954. Seckel x Garber; crossed in 1935; tested as Tennessee 35583. Fruit: size medium; oblong obovate, pyriform, sides unequal; skin thick, medium in toughness, smooth, waxen and dull, greenish; dots many, medium in size, russeted and conspicuous; core large; flesh yellowish-white, melting, tender, juicy, quality very good; flavor sprightly, sweet-subacid and very good dessert quality; picked late July and early August, ripening rapidly in summer temperatures; scored low for canning. Tree: small; spreading, becoming drooping with loads of fruit; comes into bearing at five years; productive; moderately resistant to fire blight.

Here are the Release Notes from 1954:
The sweet-subacid flavor and very good quality attracted attention as a dessert fruit. The appearance is medium to good, resembling Bartlett in coloring and shape, but the flesh is more melting. Trees of this variety in out-replicated plots came into bearing at five years and have produced good crops. Tree: small, medium in vigor, spreading, becoming drooping with loads of fruit. Top open; trunk medium thick, branches medium slender and gray brown in color; branches slender and reddish-gray, dull with medium sized, raised lenticels. Leaf buds small, short, pointed, brown-gray; leaf scars obscure. Leaves; petiole 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches long, thick, color pinkish green; Surface glabrous; blade 3 to 3 1/4 inches 2 to 2 1/4 inches wide slightly folded; mid-rib straight to slightly reflex; sides waved, outline oblong; base medium narrow, apex narrow, point long and acute; general color dark green, vein color green tinged pink; position spreading; serrations crenate, direction forward, size small somewhat irregular; Surface shiny, texture medium fine, pubescence short, fine and wooly. Flower- buds large, long, plump, pointed, and reddish-brown; flowers open medium late, 3/4 open March 18, 1953 at Knob Orchard, Blount County, Tennessee; large--1 1/4 inches across; color white with maroon stigmas; blossoms appear with leaves: Clusters 8-9 blossoms and umbel-like in form; pedicel slender, 1 inch long somewhat pubescent; pollen fertile: distribution good. Fruit: Picked in late July and early August at Knoxville, Tennessee: Size medium-2 1/2 by 2 1/4 inches wide, uniform, oblong obovate, pyriform, sides unequal: Stem 1 1/4 inches long and slender; cavity acute, shallow, medium wide and furrowed; calyx open and large; lobes separated at the base, long, narrow and acute; basin deep, wide, abrupt and deeply furrowed; skin thick, medium in toughness, smooth, waxen and dull; color greenish, dots many, medium in size, russeted and conspicuous; core large 1 by 1 1/2 inches, closed, abaxile; core-lines clasping; calyx tube long, wide and conical; carpels ovate; seeds 3/16 inches long, narrow and plump; flesh yellowish white, melting, tender an juicy; flavor sprightly, sweet-subacid and very good in dessert quality. The fruit ripens rapidly in summer temperature and has been scored low for canning. @ end

*@ 3590 @ Herb - Lemon Balm @ An herb that grow vigorously in my edible landscpae. Like other members of the mint family, lemon balm has white flowers full of nectar. Bees love it. The genus name Melissa is Greek for 'honey bee'. Its lemon flavor comes from citronellal (24%), geranial (16%), linalyl acetate (12%) and caryophyllene (12%).

What is it good for. I found many recipes for lemon balm pesto, but most used lemon juice and lemon zest. The one recipe I found using only lemon balm, garlic, olive oil and cheese said the medicinal taste was hard to give over. Stick to herb tea, it said. So a simple herb tea recipe is two parts lemon balm leaves to 2 parts hot water in a french press.

I thought of lemon balm as just another culinary herb. Recent scientific studies are finding extracts of lemon balm to have positive effects on the body. Lemon balm can be used as an anxiolytic, mild sedative or calming agent. At least one study has found it to be effective at reducing stress, although the study's authors call for further research (see the links). Lemon balm extract was identified as a potent inhibitor of GABA transaminase, which explains anxiolytic effects. The major compound responsible for GABA transaminase inhibition activity in lemon balm is rosmarinic acid. Lemon balm was also found to be effective in the amelioration of laboratory-induced stress in human subjects, producing "significantly increased self-ratings of calmness and reduced self-ratings of alertness" (see the links). The authors further report a "significant increase in the speed of mathematical processing, with no reduction in accuracy" following the administration of a 300 mg dose.

Here is a more thorough breakdown of the components of lemon balm tea (see the links). The qualitative and quantitative composition of the main aromatic and polyphenolic constituents of the lemon balm infusion were examined and compared with those of the leaves before and after infusion. The dried lemon balm leaves originally contained 0.32% essential oil of which citral (neral + geranial) 0.13%, total polyphenol compounds 11.8% comprising total hydroxycinnamic compounds 11.3% (rosmarinic acid 4.1%) and total flavonoid compounds 0.5%. The tea contained 10 mg/l of essential oil (extraction yield 31%) with much more citral (74% of the essential oil). It also contained large amounts of polyphenol compounds (about 1.07 g/l) corresponding to a 93% extraction yield. @ end

*@ 3487 @ Plum - Kuban Burgandy @ Raintree Nursery imported this variety from Abkhazia where it was developed near the Kuban River valley. It was imported to the US with the help of Gennady Eremin at the Krymsk Research Station in southern Russia. This variety was tested for years at the Mt. Vernon fruit research station north of Seattle, and it performed well. The red plums have blood-red flesh with hints of bing cherry taste. The fruit is hard to spot in the tree because it is almost the same color as the leaves. It is pollinated by Japanese-type plums. Raintree no longer sells this variety. Kuban Burgandy was developed from the cross Satsuma x Myrobalan (Prunus cerasifera). Satsuma is a Japanese plum Introduced in 1889 by Luther Burbank. The story of Satsuma Plum is found below.

Luther Burbank's own words on Satsuma Plum as recalled in 1914:
"Browsing among the books of the Mercantile Library in San Francisco, I had chanced to come upon an account of the wanderings in Japan of an American sailor, and what particularly held my attention was his mention of a red-fleshed plum of exceptional quality that he had seen and eaten in the Province of Satsuma in southern Japan. That red-fleshed plum appealed to me, and I determined to secure a specimen of it for my own orchards.

The sailor reported in his book that he had seen a single plum tree bearing this "blood-plum of Satsuma." But of course the rarity of the fruit made it the more alluring. So in due course when I came to make importations of native seeds, plants, and bulbs from Japan, I urged Mr. Isaac Bunting, an

English bulb dealer in Yokohama who collected these for me, to visit the southern part ol that country and make a par- ticular effort to procure with others some of the red-fleshed plums.

Mr. Bunting complied with my request, but, vastly to my disappointment, the first lot of young trees he shipped to me arrived (Nov. 5, 1884) in such condition that I despaired of doing anything with them. I immediately sent a request for another shipment, and gave definite instructions as to packing.

A little over a year later, on Dec. 20, 1885, there arrived the twelve seedlings to which I have already referred. And this time, to my great satisfaction, the tiny trees w r ere found in good condition.

Among the twelve seedlings was a representative of the race about which the sailor had written and about which I had read with such interest years before in the San Francisco Library. This was, in short, a plum with red flesh, something hitherto unknown among the plums of Europe or America.

Red flesh in a plum is a character so conspicuous that it is not likely to escape attention even of the least observing. And my red plum had other qualities that made it well worthy of introduction. It first came into bearing in 1887, and two years later it was introduced under the name of Satsuma the name being suggested, as was that of its companion the Burbank, by Professor H. E. Van Deman." @ end

*@ 3355 @ Sichuan Pepper - Female @ Originating from the Sichuan province of China, Sichuan pepper is associated with dishes from that region which feature hotter and spicier cooking than the rest of China. Duck and chicken dishes in particular work well with the spice. Hua jiao yen is a mixture of salt and Sichuan pepper, roasted and browned in a wok and served as a condiment to accompany chicken, duck and pork dishes. Star anise and ginger are often used with it and figures prominently in Sichuan cuisine. Sichuan pepper is one of the few spices important for Tibetan and Bhutani cookery of the Himalayas, because few spices can be grown there. The national dish of Tibet are momos, a pasta stuffed with yak and flavored with Sichuan pepper, garlic, ginger and onion. The noodles are steemed and served dry, together with a fiery chile sauce. Sichuan pepper is an ingredient in Chinese five-spice powder and shichimi togarashi, a Japanese seven-flavour seasoning

The dried fruits of Sichuan pepper have an aromatic odor that can be described as lemon-like, with more or less pronounced warm and woodsy overtones. The standard method of preparing fresh berries is to gently roast them to release aromatics before crushing with a mortar.The aroma is from pungent alkamides derived from polyunsaturated carboxylic acids, which are stored in the pericarp (fruit wall, “shell”) but not in the seeds. The essential oil (up to 4%) consists mostly of terpenes: Geraniol, linalool, cineol, citronellal; also dipentene was found. The taste is pungent and biting. It may take some time to develop, but in the end produces a strangly numbing, almost anaesthetic feeling on the tongue.

Sichuan pepper leaves have a fresh flavor somewhat in between of mint and lime. It is a distinctive flavor that not everyone likes. In Japan the dried and powdered leaves of the same species of prickly ash is known as sansho and used to make noodle dishes and soups mildly hot and fragrant. The whole leaves, kinome, are used to flavour vegetables, especially bamboo shoots, and to decorate soups. The young leaves are crushed and blended with miso using pestle and mortar (suribachi) to make a paste, a pesto sauce of sorts, and then used to make various aemono (or "tossed salad", for lack of a better word).

The immature green berries, blanched and salted, are called ao-zanshō (lit. "green sansho"). The berries are traditionally simmered into dark-brown tsukudani, but nowadays are also available as shoyu-zuke which is just steeped in soy sauce. The berries are also cooked with small fry fish and flavored with soy sauce (chirimen jako(ja)), a specialty item of Kyoto, since its Mount Kurama outskirts is a renowned growing area of this plant.

The English name prickly ash refers on one side to the numerous thorns of the plant. It is dioecious, and the flowers of the male plant can be consumed as hana-sanshō, while the female flowers yield berries or peppercorns of about 5mm. @ end

*@ 3178 @ Bamboo - Black @ Black bamboo really turns back after a few seasons. Black bamboo has some of the tastiest shoots that can be grown in my edible landscape in Seattle.

Advice from Bamboo Farming USA [2]: "Henon starts to shoot when the soil temperature reaches 60°F/15.5C. In my research plots in Georgia, henon stopped shooting at 70°F. In Seattle henon is a good choice for shoots and poles. However, henon (and maybe all bamboos) has a particular time when it shoots. If the weather is rainy and cold and therefore the soil does not warm to 60°F during shooting time, the henon does not catch up later. Delayed springtime warmth, causes reduced yields when the soil finally does warm up. Therefore in cold spring climates like Seattle's (Puget Sound - western Washington), henon must be planted facing south on a soil that will warm up by shooting season."

"We tasted the shoots in the field. Raw they were acrid. The more we tasted, the more sensitive our tongues became and the more we tasted the acridity, unpleasant burning taste. In our kitchen, we sliced the shoots lengthwise and stir fried them along with other vegetables. They were delicious. We did not blanch them before stir frying."

In general, if the fresh bamboo shoots are too acrid, precooking them in boiling water, 20-40 minutes, maybe with a change in water, may be required to tame the flavor. Black Bamboo shoots are some of the sweetest.

Advice from Bamboo Forums [1]: "Identify the shoots you want to eat as soon as they are first visible above ground, usually under an inch tall. Then put a 1 gallon nursery pot over them upside down - a coffee can would surely work. When they have grown enough to lift the cover off the ground cut 'em down and eat 'em. The cover keeps the light off/chlorophyll down and they are sweeter. If you get started late in the season and they are several inches above the ground, you can cut the shoots off at the ground (or just kick them). But if you want to get more of the shoot - you can dig down and get the whole shoot down to where it is connected to the rhizome. Use a small sharp shovel to do this."

"Slice them in half longways and then gently push from the outside toward the cut/exposed cente. As the soft center pops up, pull it out, discarding the rest."

What do fresh shoots taste like? Some say they taste like baby corn. Phyllostachys bissetii is one of the best. You can nibble a raw shoot of a given species to see how they taste, usually there is an acrid/bitter aftertaste that vanishes upon stir frying, some are decent even raw. @ end

*@ 3054 @ Perennial Veggie - Alexanders @ This was acquired in an exchange with a seed saver in Sweden. This exchange was done in the 1980's, before e-mail was common. We just mailed letters back and forth. I started it from seed in 1985. It thrives in my garden, self sowing itself each year. It especially likes the ground under my Italian Stone Pine tree. Its rich green color is sign that spring has arrived. By the heat of summer, the growth will be all dried up, no sign that anything is still alive there. I like the effect over the seasons.

Alexanders were once grown in kitchen gardens as Alexandrian parsley. Like so many other naturalised edible plants, Alexanders were introduced by the Romans and enjoyed centuries of popularity before eventually falling out of fashion with the introduction of new varieties of celery in the 19th century

John Evelyn, in his Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets (1699) describes Alexanders as “moderately hot, and of a cleansing faculty”, comparing them favourably to parsley. He recommends:

The gentle fresh sprouts, buds, and tops are to be chosen, and the stalks eaten in the spring; and when blanch’d, in winter likewise, with oyl, pepper, salt, etc by themselves, or in composition: They make also an excellent vernal pottage.

Just such a pottage was described by Robert May in The Accomplish’t Cook (1660) with the beautiful concision rarely seen in modern recipes:

Ellicksander Pottage
Chop ellicksanders and oatmeal together, being picked and washed, then set on a pipkin with fair water, and when it boils, put in your herbs, oatmeal, and salt, and boil it on a soft fire, and make it not too thick, being almost boil’d put in some butter.

Roger Phillips’ Wild Food quotes a recipe of 1907, demonstrating that Alexanders’ popularity just about survived into the 20th century.

I nibble on the stalks every once in a while, but the flavor is overpowering after a while. The Cottage Smallholder offers this promising preparation,
Alexanders best use is when the spring growth produces good sized stalks. If they are not too woody, these can be cut, and peeled, then braised in a little butter in a pan for a few minutes until soft. Serve with a sprinkle of pepper. This tastes rather like asparagus and is a real delight. @ end

*@ 2983 @ Goumi - Sweet Scarlet @ Goumi is uncommon the Seattle area, and deserves to be grown more. I grow a variety of Goumi called Sweet Scarlet which was selected in Kiev, Ukraine at the Main Botanic Garden. This variety was imported and introduced by One Green World Nursery in Oregon. Jim Gilbert is the owner of this nursery, and his catalog is full of plants that he has introduced from around the world. I mail ordered one Goumi plant in 2009 from his nursery.

The latin name of Goumi is Elaeagnus multiflora. It is native to the Russian Far East, China and Japan. Other names for Goumi are Gumi, Natsugumi, or Cherry Silverberry.

The plants are actinorhizal, growing in symbiosis with the actinobacterium Frankia in the soil. These bacteria fix atmospheric nitrogen, making it available in usable form for the host plant, and indirectly for other nearby plants.

Goumi berries are great fresh, nibbled right off the bush. They also make a delicious jam. I couldn't find any data to back this up, but many online authors claim that Goumi, like many other Elaeagnus species, are extremely nutritious, containing not only vitamin C and beta carotene, but the rare (rare in plants)and the vital fatty acid, Omega 3. The claims go on to say the fruits contain ridiculously high amounts a lycopene, a proven cancer fighting agent, anywhere from 17x to 3000x the level found in tomatoes. The seed is also edible, and contains a high amount of protein. A couple of authors claim the seed tastes like a peanut. I have not had enough fruit yet to eat the seed. The precious few seed that I collect goes toward growing new seedlings.

The bees love this plant in the spring. It is loaded with pollen and nectar. It is ready for harvest in late July/early August. Look out for the squirrels. They ate my whole harvest this year except for about 10 berries that I sampled early. No diseases – just squirrels.

In my opinion, the best use of Goumi is in the making of wine. I have grown a similar Elaeagnus species called Autumn Oleaster that is ready for harvest in the fall. I once fermented my entire 2-cup harvest into a single-bottle batch of wine. It came out like a golden-colored white wine. In a blind side-by-side taste test, it was preferred over a California Chardonnay.

It takes about four years to come into production. The plant takes the form of a bush. Mine is growing in the shade and is only three feet tall. It would probably do better with more sun. I want many more bushes of Goumi, so I am experimenting with different ways of propagation including rooting cuttings in a cloning machine and air layering. I also have one seedling, with hopefully more seedlings on the way. @ end

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