4 years ago
UsesThe following is from the book A Guide to Nature in Winter by Donald W. Stokes. I stumbled upon it in the library today, and it's so delightful that I ordered a used copy from Amazon. I'm looking forward to reading from it to Dylan.
Like the cultivated carrot, the wild carrot root is edible while young, but quickly becomes too woody to consume. A teaspoon of crushed seeds has long been used as a form of birth control; its use for this purpose was first described by Hippocrates over 2,000 years ago. Research conducted on mice has offered a degree of confirmation for this use—it was found that wild carrot disrupts the implantation process, which reinforces its reputation as a contraceptive. Chinese studies have also indicated that the seeds block progesterone synthesis, which could explain this effect.
As with all herbal remedies and wild food gathering, extra caution should be used, especially since the wild carrot bears close resemblance to a dangerous species Water Hemlock. The leaves of the wild carrot can cause phytophotodermatitis, so caution should also be used when handling the plant.
The wild carrot, when freshly cut, will draw or change color depending on the color of the water it is in. Note that this effect is only visible on the "head" or flower of the plant. Carnation also exhibits this effect. This occurrence is a popular science experiment in primary grade school.
The seeds, small and lined with four rows of spines, are dispersed by animals, whose fur picks up the seeds as they pass by. Wild Carrot seeds can be gathered and steeped in hot water to make good-tasting tea -- fun to make after a winter walk. If you bite one of the seeds in the field you will find its flavor similar to that of cooked carrots. The seeds can be used as a spice; in fact, many plants from which we get spices are related to Wild Carrot, such as Caraway, Fennel, Coriander, Anise, and Parsley.
Desert varnish forms only on physically stable rock surfaces that are no longer subject to frequent precipitation, fracturing or wind abrasion. The varnish is primarily composed of particles of clay along with iron and manganese oxides. There is also a host of trace elements and almost always some organic matter. The color of the varnish varies from shades of brown to black.So although the rocks along the trail certainly look like they were discolored by the same process of manganese oxidation, I'd need to talk to a geologist or a chemist to be sure.
Culinary usesThe entry goes on to describe the plant's use in alternative medicine and its historical impact on the United States wheat crop. The USDA Forest Service Fire Effects Information System entry for Berberis vulgaris goes into more detail on this subject.
The berries are edible, and rich in vitamin C, though with a very sharp flavour; the thorny shrubs make harvesting them difficult, so in most places they are not widely consumed. They are an important food for many small birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings.
A widely available Russian candy called Барбарис (Barberis) is made using extract from the berries, which are pictured on the wrapper.
The Zereshk (زرشک) or sereshk is the Persian name for the dried fruit of Berberis vulgaris, which are widely cultivated in Iran. Iran is the largest producer of zereshk and saffron in the world. Zereshk and saffron are produced on the same land and the harvest is at the same time.
The South Khorasan province in Iran is the main area of zereshk and saffron production in the world. Barberry cultivation in Iran is concentrated there, especially around Birjand and Qaen. About 85% of production is in Qaen and about 15% in Birjand. According to evidence the cultivation of seedless barberry in South Khorasan goes back to two hundred years ago.
A garden of zereshk is called zereshk-estan.
Zereshk is widely used in cooking, imparting a tart flavor to chicken dishes. It is usually cooked with rice, called zereshk polo, and provides a nice meal with chicken. Zereshk jam, zereshk juice, and zereshk fruit rolls are also produced in Iran.
Eradication efforts and effects on local distributions: Soon after the introduction and escape of common barberry in New England, colonists determined it was responsible for dramatic reductions in wheat crop yields . Common barberry is an alternate host for cereal stem rust (Puccinia graminis). As a host, common barberry provides an inoculum source and a sexual reproduction site for stem rust (Leonard 2001 cited in ). When common barberry grows near cereal crops (‹330 feet (100 m) away) (Roelfs 1985 cited in ), it can support the development of new genotypes able to adapt and attack rust-resistant crops (Leonard 2001 cited in ). Earlier reports suggested that common barberry in urban areas was also able to spread stem rust to other grasses that eventually passed it on to wheat crops , suggesting there was no safe distance between common barberry and cereal crops. During epidemic stem rust outbreaks, wheat yield losses up to 70% were reported . In 1916, stem rust was considered the principal reason for a 200 million bushel reduction in wheat yields for Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana .It's amazing to me that I can walk out onto the trail and obtain a profound connection to world and local history through the simple expedient of looking up teasel, St. John's wort, Queen Anne's lace or Common Barberry.
In the 18th century, the New England colonists of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island wrote laws restricting the planting and spread of common barberry. Over time many other states developed laws against the sale, transport, and planting of new barberry (Berberis spp.) plants and for the removal of established plants. It was not until 1918, after "devastating" wheat losses to stem rust, that federal laws and funding were devoted to eradication. Eradication projects and funding between 1918 and 1942 led to the destruction of 309,645,502 landscape, escaped, and nursery plants from the 964,000 mile² (2,497,000 km²) eradication area that included nearly all of the North American spring-wheat growing areas . Between 1935 and 1950, there were 150,087,197 common barberry or American barberry (B. canadensis) shrubs destroyed in West Virginia . By 1956, nearly 500 million barberry shrubs were killed on 149,318 properties in 19 states . Widespread barberry eradication was "gradually phased out" by 1980 . It is important to note that scattered common barberry populations persist in several areas of North America, and the potential for long-distance seed dispersal by birds makes monitoring and early detection of common barberry important to long-term control.
As it turns out, I made the mistake I always make: confusing baby's breath with forget-me-not. This looks like a Myosotis laxa, or tufted forget-me-not. It also looks like Myosotis nemorosa, or possibly like several others on the Wikipedia page for the genus.
Wow. I just had one of those frustrating experiences where I thought I knew something and then I spent the better part of an hour having Google and Wikipedia teach me otherwise. This looks like what my mother used to call "baby's breath" but, as it turns out, that's about as definite as saying "That's a Queen Anne's lace". There are over 70 species of what people call Queen Anne's lace, and as it turns out there are about 100 species in the genus Gypsophilia. If anyone could tell me what species this is, I'd appreciate it.
We repeat the warning here that it is not always easy to separate some lavender or reddish-purple flowers (treated in a pink-red section, which starts on page 212) from some violet ones, shown here in the following pages. If in doubt, look in both places.I won't forget again.
...When flower heads (1/2-3/4 in.) wither, florets fold down, become brownish, suggesting dried hops.
Thanks Al. I think you've led me to the answer. The Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Track_ballast says that...Al's reply goes into some interesting history of the railroad.A good ballast should be strong, hard-wearing, stable, drainable, easy to clean, workable, resistant to deformation, easily available, and reasonably cheap to purchase. Early railway engineers did not understand the importance of quality track ballast; they would use cheap and easily-available materials such as ashes, chalk, clay, earth, and even cinders from locomotive fireboxes. It was soon clear that good-quality ballast made of rock was necessary if there was to be a good foundation and adequate drainage.So am I correct in thinking that this material that covers parts of the Link Trail is cinders? It does seem like something that came from a furnace, because it seems far too light and porous to be unprocessed stone.
I concur--The original Cazenovia and Canastota RR was built about 1870. Although their surveying skills were good--given the manner in which they were able to find a way around the Perryville area falls and cut into the hills as you approached Cazenovia, I am sure that the basic ballast used was cinder based.I do not recall where I saw the comment, but there was some industry locally that generated a large quantity of cinders. The engines were small in size and limited in power output. I do remember that the original bridge in Cazenovia spanning the creek was tested by placing the steam engine upon it--it passed, an empirical solution.