370 – Botany in a Day Review – Part 6

Paul had Neil Bertrando from Reno, Nevada with him in this podcast to review Botany in a Day, by Thomas J. Elpel.

Exploring the Mallow sub-class, Paul discovered that it includes Huckleberries, Blueberries, the Mustard family, the Squash family, and the Poop Beasts (Poplars, Cottonwoods and Willows).

St John’s Wort family. St John’s Wort is used as an anti-depressant. It grows prolifically in the wild in Montana. Paul has used it as mulch. Neil suggests selecting the correct variety, harvesting it in the wild, before it’s sprayed with herbicide, and then selling it. Thus obviating the use of herbicide, saving that energy and making some money.

The next family is the Basswood family. Included is the Linden tree (also known as Lime) and is edible, including providing cordage.

Now the Mallow family. This includes cotton, okra and marshmallow. Paul reads a recipe for making marshmallows. Members of this family contain natural gum and are, therefore, mucilaginous. They are also rich in calcium and iron. Neil grows Edible Hibiscus and appreciates the tastes found in the leaves, which are like spinach and stinging nettle. Helpful in thickening stews. In addition, Neil said, they are mildly astringent, soothing irritation. They are also low maintenance. Many have lovely flowers, as well. Neil is fond of eating Hollyhock flowers. That helps to limit the number of seeds they produce. Neil pointed out that as they have so many uses: pretty, attract insects, have medical uses and are edible, this is good family to choose from.

The Sundew family includes the Venus Flytrap. They eat insects because they live in nitrogen and phosphorus deficient places, thus getting what they need from insects. Not very common.

Then Paul and Neil went on to the Violet family. Edible and pretty. However, the African violet is not a member of this family.

Now it’s the Loasa family. This includes the rock Nettle. Not many uses recorded.

Then we come onto the Gourd family. Included in Cucurbits are Pumpkins, Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers, Watermelon, the Buffalo Gourd, and the Luffa vegetable sponge. Choko, a climbing squash, belongs to this group but must be frost free. Pumpkin seeds contain alkaloids, useful for arresting certain types of cancer. Saponin is in the roots so they can provide soap and fish poison.

Credit: Susan McGuinness

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Relevant Threads

Botany in a Day by Thomas J. Elpel
Plants forum on Permies
Botany in a Day Review – Part 5
Botany in a Day Review – Part 7


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