Notes

*@ 2981 @ Salal - Common @ Purchased at the Edmonds Farmer's Market from Ian Bush of Bush's Nursery in Arlington, Washington.

Native to the woods around Edmonds. Salal berries were an important food resource for coastal native peoples, who typically ate them as preserves in oolichan (bear fat), or pounded & dried to make salal-berry cakes storable in woven baskets. The coastal Native Americans used to dry them in large cakes weighing 10 to 15 pounds to store for winter use. Later when they wanted to eat them the cakes were soaked and then dipped in whale or seal oil. The Haida mixed them with salmon eggs for a sweetish casserole.

The usual procedure for preparing the berries for winter storage was to mash them and either boil them in boxes using red hot rocks or allow them to stand for a day or two. The thickened "jam" was then poured into rectangular cedar frames set on Skunk Cabbage leaves and dried for a few hours on a rack over an alder-wood fire. The cakes were about 3 cm thick and could be as large as 30 cm wide by 90 cm long. The cooks folded or rolled the cakes and stored them in cedar boxes in a warm area of the house.

Leaves were chewed as a hunger suppressant and to relieve heartburn. Small branches and leaves were used to flavor fish soup. Leafy branches were used to support meats in cooking. Today the berries are still prepared as jam or preserves and eaten fresh. The plant explorer David Douglas, who introduced salal to the west, lived on nothing but fresh salal berries for three days.

In the 1800's, Hudson's Bay employees used to make an excellent wine from salal berries. I think I once read that salal created some excitement in Europe when it was first introduced since the chemistry of the juice (sugars and tannins) were similar to wine grapes. Unfortunately I have not found the reference that states this, so maybe I am thinking of another fruit.

Like the related wintergreen, a pleasant tea can be made from the leaves that contain an oil. A simple recipe is 1 cup of leaves per quart, then boil. This drink has been known as Mountain tea.

One blogger noted this: "the berries have a kind of sticky coating on them. After a while, this gunk builds up on your fingertips. After our first year picking salal, I had to scrub my fingers with pumice until they were raw to get the tacky residue off." What is that stuff? The same author described salal jam as having "a tannic earthiness that grounds the finish of what might otherwise be described as a blueberry-and-mint flavour." [1] @ end

*@ 2871 @ Herb - California Bay @ California Bay is also known as Oregon Myrtle. The scent of the leaves is wonderful, reminding me of the fruity, spicey scent of Dr. Pepper. The leaves are used in place of true bay leaves in all kinds of recipes, but by comparison California Bay leaves add a stronger flavor to dishes. Note that the oil in the leaves is toxic for some people.

It is not well known that the fruit and nut of this tree are also edible. I learned of this secret through foraging friends and from a USDA publication [1]:

"Both the flesh and the inner kernel of the olive-like fruit were used as food. The fruits were sun dried until the fleshy outer part had split and loosened from the pit (Goodrich et al. 1980). The dried flesh was removed from the seeds ready to eat. Only the bottom third of the outer dried fruit was eaten as the upper, thinner part contains a higher concentration of the acrid oil that is a component of all parts of the tree (Chestnut 1902). The seeds were roasted until they were crisp and brown (Goodrich et al. 1980). The roasting removes much of the pungency and leaves just a hint of acridity and gives the roasted nuts a spicy or coffee-like flavor. The parched nuts are then shelled and either eaten whole or pounded into a meal. The oily meal is easily pressed into small cakes that are then sun-dried and stored for use in the winter. Both the nuts and the cakes were served with clover, seaweed, buckeye meal, or acorn meal and mush. The roasted seeds were eaten as an accompaniment with clover in order to prevent bloating (Murphey 1959). The seed meal was also made into a beverage that tasted “like chocolate” (Kelly 1978)."

I started my tree from nuts collected in the playground area just outside the north entrance to Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. The mother tree is at least 20 feet tall. My seedling is planted in the shade and is slow growing. After 10 seasons of growth, it is only 2 feet tall. It has survived a short stretch of freezing weather down to 5'F. It is growing in poor soil in the shade. I think it would do better in a warmer location of my garden. I will leave it where it is because I can harvest a few leaves a year from it as a small bush, and that's fine with me. @ end

*@ 2795 @ Salmonberry - seedling @ Native to Edmonds. This seedling appeared in the garden as a volunteer. Perhaps the seed was deposited by a bird that came to eat other berries that grow in my landscape. Unlike raspberry, and other Rubus species, the Salmonberry is a perennial. The leaves drop in the fall.

Salmon berries were an important food for indigenous peoples in the Edmonds area. Traditionally, the berries were eaten with salmon or mixed with oolichan grease or salmon roe. They were not dried because of their high moisture content, although a post on OregonLive says a nice trail snack can be made from berries dried like raisins or mashed and dried like leather.

Many parts of this plant are edible. The flavor of the berries are often called "insipid". They do have a sublte flavor that improves over its ripening season with exposure to higher temperatures. The berries have a range of colors from yellow, to orange, to red. Plants for a Future cites other edible uses for the Salmonberry plant. Young shoots - peeled and eaten raw or cooked like asparagus. This is true for other Rubus, including blackberry, raspberry and thimbleberry. The shoots are harvested in the spring as they grow above the soil and while they are still tender. Native people cooked the shoots over coals in a firepit. Flowers are eaten raw, such as in a salad. The leaves are used as a tea substitute, either fresh or dried. Be sure to dry completely because wilted leaves amy contain toxins. OregonLive says Salmonberry leaves make delicious tea, especially when mixed with fresh strawberry leaves.

How about Salmonberry Wine? At $23 per bottle online, it must be good. Here is a description, "A semi-dry wine made from wild salmonberries, handpicked on Kodiak Island. This wine's tantalizing bouquet offers spicy tones of cinnamon, clove and vanilla. Fruity and medium-bodied, this wine balances the rich sweetness of the salmonberry with a pomegranate, butter and vanilla finish." Really? guess I will have to try making that myself. One of the most creative uses of Salmonberries is to turn the juice into mead (http://mysticwicks.com/archive/index.php/t-159744.html). @ end

*@ 2649 @ Plum - Yellow Egg @ The scionwood I obtained was labeled Tlor-Tsiran Black Apricot. To my surprise, the fruit was solid yellow. It also wasn't an apricot. This fruit turned out to be a yellow plum. My best guess is that it is the variety called Yellow Egg Plum. Here are some notes by Paghat [1].
"Also called 'Pelshore Yellow Egg,' this variety is very widely cultivated in the Northwest. 'Pelshore' began as a single tree discovered as a seedling in the Tiddesley Woods, Vale of Evesham, dug up to moved to a Worcestershire orchard circa 1827. It proved so productive that over time it became the most commonly grown yellow plum, with other varieties mostly descended from 'Pelshore.'

Yellow Egg is frequently regarded only a cooking plum, but this is a serious error. It is true that when they are picked not-fully-ripened so that they will be tough enough to ship to markets without mushing & bruising, the unripe plum is tart.

Though it will soften as it ages, it won't be any sweeter, so store-bought Yellow Eggs are mostly good only for cooking. But left on the tree to ripen, it is very sweet, & the skin no longer tough. It cannot be shipped to market as a tree-ripened fruit because by then it is very soft & will not keep fresh for any length of time, so the only chance to taste this perfectly lucious fruit is to have access to a tree.

The blue Italian Plum by comparison is sweeter sooner, so when picked early (to be tough enough to ship) it still tastes pretty good, though nothing like when it too is harvested ripe from the tree. When both plums are tasted fresh & fully ripe, I find the yellow to be moister with better flavor, but certainly not all trees produce fruits of the exact same flavor, so it can vary from tree to tree."

Why do I think this is Yellow Egg? Two facts point to that conclusion. The first is that Yellow Egg is commonly grown in the Northwest. The second is that Yellow Egg is not freestone according to the heirloom fruit website Orange Pippin [2]. The pit of my plums clings to the fruit. Another possibility is Coe's Golden Drop, but my fruit does not have the characteristic red mottling that a ripe Coe's has. @ end

*@ 2584 @ Madrona - seedling @ I grew up climbing in Madrona trees in the woods of my neighborhood. This tree is native to land that is under influence of the marine climate. I can see Puget Sound from my neighborhood. Travel away from the water and you aren't likely to see this tree. One thing I thought was cool about Madrona, and I still do, is the flaky bark that can roll off in big, brittle sheets. The wood underneath is dense and polished.

There is not much reliable advice on how to prepare Madrona berries for eating. The berries are edible, I know that for sure. Madrona is closely related to Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo, which has some pleasant tasty fruit. I have nibbled the red berries of Madrona, and fresh off the tree they are pretty bland.

I searched for guidance, and found a book called California Indians and Their Environment by Lightfoot and Parrish [1]. Here is what they say:

"Pacific madrone berries, harvested in the fall by vigorously shaking the tree's branches, used to be steamed in an acorn-cooking basket with a little water and hot rocks. The cooks dried the steamed berries on a basket platter and then placed them in storage baskets in the living house. Once prepared for storage, the berries could be soaked in warm water before eating. Pacific madrone berries also are edible after roasting over an open fire.

As with leaves of other plants, Pacific madrone leaves were used in earth ovens to separate layers of food. Pacific madrone leaves were also used in puberty ceremonies, where young girls picked and tossed leaves over their shoulders for good luck as they prepared to take a cold water bath.

Northwest Coast Province people harvested Pacific madrone wood specifically to cook salmon in the First Salmon Ceremony. In the past and today, the wood in recognized as excellent material for carving objects. The inner bark of this plant was also used in the past to make an "every-day dress" (Baker 1981:17; Schenck and Gifford 1952:387-388)"

So like a potato, a Madrona berry improves after cooking. @ end

*@ 2581 @ English Walnut - Edmonds seedling @ Started by squirrels in 1979. The seedling was transplanted to its current location about 5 years later. The plant went through a juvenile period where the male and female blossoms were out of sync. After about 20 years, the blossoms occured at the same time and nuts were produced. The tree and nuts are small. Squirrels get the whole nut production each year. I guess it is only fair since the tree was started by them. The mother tree is a huge ancient specimen in the neighbor's yard. Nobody knows for sure, but we estimate the mother tree was started at least in the 1940's. It could be left over from the plant nursery that pre-dates my house on the property.

Dave Battey from Snoqualmie is a Western Cascade Fruit Society member. He shared this tip for removing the green husks from fresh walnuts:
"My uncle taught me as he had a summer place on Lake Chelan with dozens of huge black walnut trees. The key is a small portable concrete mixer. Seriously. You should be able to rent a unit. Using gloves, of course, throw the green husked black walnuts in to the mixer, add a LITTLE water and a shovel or two of sharp gravel. So - instead of a rock tumbler you have a walnut tumbler. Very soon you will have black icky water and gravel - and beautiful clean walnuts. The challenge, of course, in Wallingford (where I grew up) is to find a reasonable place to dump the dirty water and gravel! Grandpa had made up screens to dry his English walnuts and we used them for the black walnuts."

Another suggestion for processing walnuts. This is from Al Watts: "I cut down my last black walnut tree on Vashon and now have switched to English Walnuts which are easier to process! The crop is always good but you need to harvest them just as the crows find they are ready or you get none. Place them on the ground and cover them with metal netting to keep the crows, rats, etc., from eating them. Most of the husks fall off or are easy to remove after a month or so. I put them in an electric dryer I made using a couple of light bulbs that does a good job drying. We crack them and eat them until the next crop! If you are concerned about the dark shell you can bleach them with a little clorox in water. What a treat they are!" @ end

*@ 2546 @ Asian Pear - Yaguang Li @ Developed in: Hebei, China (Comment: old cultivar originated in Beijing, Hebei Province.)

Pedigree: Reimer suspected P. ussuriensis x P. phaeocarpa

When judged by American tastes and standards, the Ya Kuang Li is unquestionably the finest variety of China. It resembles the better American or European pears in tenderness, juiciness, flavor, and quality more closely than any other pear in China. In quality, it is equaled by only one other Oriental pear -- the famous Peking Pai Li. It is equal in this respect to our better American varieties, and certainly as good if not better than our Bartlett. It is large, somewhat variable in shape, although usually somewhat quince-shaped. The color is an attractive cinnamon yellow. The calyx is always persistent. The skin is rather thick and slightly rough. The flesh is tender, melting, juicy, creamy white in color, and grit cells not noticeable in eating. excepting around the core. It is aromatic, sweet with slight acidity, sprightly, very agreeable. This variety is grown only in northern China. The fruit is found on the peking market from early October until the first of January, and is one of the three most popular varieties on that market.

Narrative from NCGR-Corvallis Pyrus Catalog "I regard this as the most promising Oriental variety ever introduced into this country. While the variety is good enough to introduce and grow just as it is, it may prove of even greater value for breeding purposes. This variety certainly contains considerable P. ussuriensis blood. It may have derived solely from that species, although it appears to be a hybrid between this and some other species. Judging from this, we should expect it to shoe a high degree of resistance to pear blight, and should prove valuable in breeding new blight resistant varieties. Inoculation experiments have shown that it blights in the young shoots but appears to be very resistant in the older wood. Judging from its parentage, it should also prove valuable in breeding hardy varieties for cold regions. The tree is a vigorous, rather spreading grower." -- F.C. Reimer. 1919. Report of a trip to the Orient to collect and study Oriental pears.

Accession was imported 16-Feb-1918. Oregon, United States by Reimer. @ end

*@ 2536 @ Juneberry - Timm & Success Seedling @ Cutting from Lucky Pittman in Kentucky, a fellow NAFEX member. He says " The top A.alnifolia/stolonifera types for me here, just north of the TN/KY line have been some row-run seedlings of Timm & Success, from the now-defunct Bear Creek Nursery." In Edmonds, these are big and sweet, and produce every year. They also suffer a little from rust.

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‘Timm’– Amelanchier alnifolia. Introduced by the Plant Material Center, Bismark, North Dakota (47°N). Medium-sized tree. Leaves yellow, red and maroon in fall. Flowers white; clusters large and showy. Fruit large; blueberry-shaped; ripen early; flavour full and very sweet. Produces fruit in the second year(Facciola, 1990).

‘Success’–Species uncertain, recent genetic fingerprinting studies suggest a hybrid of A.stolonifera with A. alnifolia. Originated in Pennsylvania in the Appalachian mountains (ca. 41°N); selected before 1868 as seedlings of wild plants; acquired 1873 by H.E. Van Deman, Kansas; introduced by him in 1878. Van Deman sold more than 10,000 plants by 1888. Shrub; height to 1.8-2.4 m; habit initially upright to uprightspreading; spread to 1.2-2 m; low to moderate suckering near crown. Leaves orange to red in fall. Fruit 10.8 mm in diameter; obovate to nearly spherical; purple-black with bloom; 7-11 per cluster, clusters loose; ripens slowly; fruit held firmly; flavour good but mild, somewhat apple-like, quite sweet; pH 4.1; soluble solids 14.8°Brix; seeds large, 4.7% seeds by weight. Poor productivity at Saskatoon, SK. Hardy to zone 3. Superior resistance to Entomosporium leaf and berry spot; susceptible to powdery mildew. In one study it made the best fruit leather of 9 cultivars. Also attractive as an ornamental, having glossy, green foliage, turning an attractive red in the fall. The oldest surviving cultivar. Currently being evaluated in a comprehensive cultivar trial (Cubberley and Hasselkus, 1987; Darrow, 1975; Facciola, 1990; Harris, 1976; Hilton, 1982; McConkey, 1979; St-Pierre, 1997a,b; Weir 1996).

description:
Revised International Registry
of Cultivars and Germplasm
of the Genus Amelanchier
Annette M. Zatylny
Richard G. St-Pierre @ end

*@ 2451 @ Cherry - Meteor @ Pie cherry. Montmorency x (unknown Russian variety of the Vladimir group), introduced in December 1952. Bred by William Alderman at Fruit Breeding Farm, Excelsior, Minnesota and introduced by the University of Minnesota. The original name was Minnesota 66 (MN 66). The female parent is the commonly planted Montmorency sour cherry. Seedling of Cerise Hâtive or Cerise Commune. Montmorency Valley, France, before 1600. Introduced to the U.S. about 1830. The most famous of all pie cherries. Not widely grown in Europe or Russia but long the standard of excellence in the U.S. Firm-fleshed bright red fruit makes a clear light pink juice. The male parent is from the Vladimir group of sour cherries. Vladimir is a generic name for a group of varieties grown in Russia in the province of Vladimir, east of Moscow. Professor J. L. Budd of the Iowa Agricultural College in Ames imported a number of these Vladimir cherries in 1883 from Orel in Central Russia and grew them at the Experiment Station grounds in Iowa, giving to each a seedling number as a distinguishing characteristic. One, Orel No. 25, was selected as being superior in many respects to the others and was finally named Vladimir. This variety, typical of these Russian cherries, has been considerably propagated and is generally distributed throughout the US. The trees are similar to the English Morello, but are more dwarf and not so productive, and ripen unevenly. Vladimir has the reputation of being one of the hardiest of all cherries. The trees are compact with slender, willowy-like branches and fruit matures very late. Fruit dark colored with highly colored juice. It is said to come true from seed and do better on its own roots.

Meteor has large, oblong, bright red fruit. Juicy, dense,clear bright yellow flesh and clear juice. Mildly acid flavor. Very good eating right off the tree. Also good for pies, canning and freezing. Easy to pit. Excellent dried. Natural genetic dwarf grows only 8-10 feet tall. Large leaves help shield fruit from sunscald. Requires less pruning that average. Resistant to leaf spot. Spur type. Considered superior to Montmorency. @ end

*@ 2446 @ Black Chokeberry - Nero @ Native to the eastern half of the United States. Early in the 20th century, aronia was introduced in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and Russia where high quality, large fruited cultivars were selected. Thousands of acres of aronia are now grown in Eastern Europe. ‘Nero’ were selected in Poland for commercial fruit production.

When fully ripe, aronia berries have a sugar content as high as grapes or sweet cherries. They have a high acid content but are not sour when fully ripe. Juice from these berries is astringent and high in vitamin C and antioxidants. The berries have a sharply sour and sometimes astringent taste. The unpleasantness of the raw fruit can be overcome by cooking or processing it into jams, salsas, or baked goods. Anthocyanins contribute toward chokeberry's astringent property (that would deter pests and infections) and also give Aronia melanocarpa extraordinary antioxidant strength that combats oxidative stress in the fruit during photosynthesis. The USDA gave the Aronia berry an ORAC score (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity—a measure of total antioxidants) of over 16,000, almost triple the amount of antioxidants of other powerhouses like acai, blueberries, or blackberries. The intense concentration of flavonoids and anthocyanins in the Aronia berry helps the body fight off viruses, allergies, and carcinogens. See a bar chart comparison in the image gallery on this page (Gallery tab). Analysis of anthocyanins in chokeberries has identified the following individual chemicals (among hundreds known to exist in the plant kingdom): cyanidin-3-galactoside, epicatechin, caffeic acid, quercetin, delphinidin, petunidin, pelargonidin, peonidin, and malvidin. All these except caffeic acid are members of the flavonoid category of antioxidant phenolics.

The fruit is rich in pectin and can be added to fruits that are low in this substance when making jams.

Black chokeberry is capable of crossing with Sorbus species.

Many current sources (including the USDA) list the species as Photinia melanocarpa. @ end

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