Garden "Weeds" or Pioneer Plants... & Foraging


Intro Info
Links
Foraging
Timing
Planting Time Ref

Buffalo Grass
For wildscapes, see Birds

GOOD WEEDS
Goosefoot
Horseherb
Lambsquarters
Old Man's Beard
Purslane
Queen Anne's Lace
Texas Sedge

BAD WEEDS
Burr
Crabgrass
Dock Weed
Poison Hemlock

Intro, General Info

What Weeds Are Telling Us and Why We Need to Listen The thing is that weeds don’t just pop arbitrarily, they arrive to set things right. By and large, they are indicators that something isn’t working, and quite innocently, they are trying to fix it. We just need to listen to what they are saying.

Nature moves towards forests, so when we try to keep neatly trimmed lawns, weeds are innately trying to repair the overly manicured system. Disturbed soils are in danger of erosion and drying out, so when we till the earth for a garden, uncovering a patiently waiting host of seeds, it’s the fast-growing, reparative ones that try to move the system back to stability. “Weeds”, more lovingly referred to as pioneer plants, are just doing what they were designed to do, and it’s our unnatural practices that cause them. In fact, it’s us who have deemed these particular plants — many of which are edible, medicinal and highly nutritious — weeds.


Sensibly, if we see an abundance of weeds, if we are buying weed killers (please don’t buy weed killers), then we are missing the point. The weeds are telling us that the lawn isn’t how things should be done, that mono-cropped grass expanses aren’t stable, productive systems. They are telling us not to till the earth because that valuable topsoil is going to wash away in the next rain or blow away with the next gust. If we simply attack the weeds and don’t listen, they’ll keep coming back because they are just doing what comes naturally: Healing nature.

Certain weeds can give us very specific information. Weeds with deep tap roots, like dandelions, hint that soils might be compacted, or those that spread out quickly, like crabgrass, may demonstrate soils need to be covered. Plantain or sheep sorrel tell us that soil might be acidic, and other weeds, such as goosefoot, signal a more alkaline soil. If we read the signals they are sending, then we can test our soil and decide to move it in the direction we need. Cornflower can indicate sandy soils, wild garlic likes heavy clays, and cattails need a lot of moisture. Thistle says soils are possibly deficient in iron and copper, whereas ferns often occur where soils have been burned and lack phosphorus. All of this information can be very helpful.

The Invasive, Exotic “Dirty Dozens” excellent photos

Black Medic – Medicago lupulina Bur Clover – Medicago polymorpha Horseherb Straggler Daisy, aka. Horseherb, Calyptocarpus vialis, papershell Horseherb

Creeping Green-and-Gold Arachis glabrata Common name: Ornamental peanut. Description: Spreading, easy-to-grow groundcover with yellow flowers. Without mowing, selected varieties get no higher than 6 inches and can be maintained at 1 1/2 Medic, black An annual or short lived perennial legume with trailing stems that grow close to the ground. The taproot penetrates deeply into most soils. The three-leaflet leaves have prominent veins and are similar to most other clover leaves. The small clusters of flowers are bright yellow. Seed pods turn almost black at maturity. Woodsorrel, yellow Classified as a perennial, but more often performs as a warm season annual. Stems branch from the base. The leaves are palmately divided into three leaflets giving a cloverlike appearance. Funnel-form flowers are yellow. The seed pod is cylindrical, 5-sided, and pointed. The plants contain soluble oxalates which give it a rather pleasing sour taste.


Goosefoot

Goosefoot indicates that the soil is alkaline. Known as Lamb's Quarters or Wild Spinach in Texas; edible.

Chenopodium Chenopodium is a genus of numerous species of perennial or annual herbaceous flowering plants known as the goosefoots, which occur almost anywhere in the world. It is placed in the family Amaranthaceae in the APG II system; older classification systems, notably the widely used Cronquist system, separate it and its relatives as Chenopodiaceae.


Lamb's Quarters in Texas

And Then We Gorged Ourselves on Goosefoot Goosefoot, aka lamb’s quarters, wild spinach, and pigweed, is said to be one of the most popular among wild edible plants, particularly when it comes to the uninitiate.

If you begin learning wild foods with only a few plants…this widely distributed, easy-to-identify, tasty, nutritious, long-in-season plant should be one of the first on your list.

“It tastes like its relative, spinach …only better,” Brill writes in Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants. “However, it shrinks by about two thirds when you cook it, so be sure to collect enough.”

Later that evening, when the pork was just about done and the potatoes were coming off the grill, I followed Mr. Brill’s suggestion and faithfully stuffed what I thought to be a gargantuan quantity of lamb’s quarters into a pan. I dashed it with olive oil, salted the leaves lightly, and cooked for a couple of minutes until the leaves wilted before adding a cup of water, covering, steaming for 7 minutes, draining, and sprinkling with soy sauce. What started out as about 8 cups of plant parts cooked down to about 2 cups. You do the math.


Wild Spinach

The goosefoot turned out to be a big hit with the boys. “Do you mind?” Steve asked me at dinner, looking a little sheepish, as he went for a second serving before he had even finished the first. “I think I like it better than spinach–and I love spinach.”

Of the edible species of Chenopodium, Samuel Thayer states in The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants that C. album is the most abundant, and also the one to which the monikers “lamb’s quarter” and “goosefoot” are applied. Later, however, he makes a distinction between the two common names when he explains that the also-edible eastern variety, C. hybridium or C. simplex, aka “maple-leaved goosefoot,” has larger, darker leaves than lamb’s quarters.


Foraging Wild Spinach

The wild edible plants experts have a few cautionary notes when it comes to grazing on goosefoot. Even with edible varieties, Cattail Bob warns that “like spinach, eating large quantities of lambs quarter may produce mild oxalate/nitrate poisoning.” Brill explains that lamb’s quarters can absorb nitrates from contaminated soil and make you sick, so it’s best to be careful where you forage. Thayer points out that if you are one of those people who experience mild irritation on the tongue with spinach (as he does), then the same will most likely be the case with lamb’s quarters, so you might just want to add it to a stir fry instead of eating a full dish by its lonesome.

We did all share a funny sensation on our teeth afterwards, described by Steve as “sticky” and by Gregg as “very clean.” I would use the word “squeaky” myself. There was little cause for worry, however, as Steve says that spinach does the same thing to his teeth.


Wild Spinach

Years ago, as an archaeology student at Bard College in upstate New York, I learned that Native American people ate goosefoot in the Northeast for thousands of years, as evidenced by carbon-dated, charred plant remains.


Links

Medicinal Plants of Texas WEEDCRAFTING, growing, and using wild herbs in and around Texas

Foraging Texas Merriwether's Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Texas and the Southwest [around Houston]--edible wild plants blog


Queen Anne's Lace

Central Texas Invasive Plants PDF Photinia serratifolia, Taiwanese Photinia. BRAZILIAN VERBAIN, Verbena brasiliensis.

King County Weeds PDF Queen Anne’s Lace or Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

Plant Reference Guide

Weeds of the Southern United States PDF Gnaphalium sp. cudweed.

Flowers Asiatic Dayflower (Commelina communis). Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

Weeds of Arkansas wild carrot


Foraging

Benefits of Foraging

Solvitur ambulando, St. Jerome was fond of saying. "To solve a problem, walk around."

I forage, which means I walk. It means I bend, stretch, and dig. It means I constantly have access [to] fresh, vitamin packed foods that cost no money. It means I bond with my family, friends, neighbors and complete strangers. This bonding expands past my community and into the heart of nature, whose rhythms I must follow to find the foods I seek.

The domestication of plants changed them at a genetic level. They have been bred to remain fresh-looking, resistant to shipping damage, and have a mild flavor, as well as be convenient to harvest and store. In return, these well-trained plants gave up much of their best nutritional compounds. Meanwhile, wild plants have to fight every minute of every day to stay alive. To help them in these battles they load themselves up with a huge selection of chemical warfare agents...agents that we refer to as vitamins, minerals, flavanoids, lycopenes, anti-oxidants and many other beneficial compounds. As I usually harvest and eat the plants within a few hours, they are much, much fresher than any store-bought and even farmer's market-bought foods.


Wax Myrtle / Bayberry

Gardeners often talk about their joy of bonding with "nature" but I just smile at that statement. To me, gardeners seem more often at war with nature than bonding with Her. They plant plants that couldn't possibly survive in the wild. They tear up the plants nature gives them. They spread both poisons and fertilizers. They rely on a faucet rather than rain. The main contacts they have with nature is sunburn and mosquito bites.

The secret to learning edible wild plants is to first identify the plant then search the literature to see if it is edible. In the way you eventually learn most of the plants in your environment, edible or not. As you are out looking at plants you will also find bugs, tracks, and scat. Natural curiosity will drive you to identify these discoveries. Being outside as much as foragers are leads to a heightened weather-sense over time, too. Clouds, wind, and the actions of some insects, animals and plants can all be used to tell what sort of weather is close at hand.

Eat the Weeds, & Other things, too Most Watched Forager In The World

Hello there, I’m Green Deane and I’ve been foraging since I was a child or for nearly 60 years.

Long before I went to school my mother would hand me a table knife and a paper bag and tell me to go find some dandelion greens for supper. While doing that I noticed wild strawberries, later checkerberries, raspberries, apples and roses. My mother foraged as did my grandmother and great grandmother. I learned about plants long before I learned what their names were.

Has a video on foraging available.


Monarda Punctata: Bergamot’s Bud--Horsemint; Spotted Beebalm

Horsemint makes a nice, intentionally weak tea. Stronger brews are used in herbal medicine. The Indians made a “sweating” tea from it to treat colds. The major oil in Horsemint is thymol. Externally it’s an antiseptic and vermifuge, internally, in large amounts, the plant can be fatal. That’s the bad news. So, as I said it makes a nice, intentionally weak, tea.

Horsemint is one of those plants that you seem to never notice until you learn to recognize it, then you see it every so often. It tends to grow in small colonies and near each other. If you find one, you will usually find another not too far away. They can vary in size from six inches to three feet but always very showy and its extroverted colors can last for months. You can propagate it by seeds or cuttings. I dug mine up and carried it home where it has a very sunny, well-watered spot in sandy soil.

The creamy lilac-spotted flowers (its bracts are pink) attract honeybees, bumblebees, miner bees, plasterer bees, swallowtail butterfly as well as the endangered Lycaenides melissa samuelis (Karner Blue.) Hummingbirds like it as well. Most mammals know enough to leave the plant alone. Horsemint grows from eastern Northern Canada down to Florida, west to Michigan and New Mexico and California, also into eastern Mexico. A southern variety, Monarda punctata var. punctarta, grows south of Pennsylvania and out to Texas. There are about 20 different Monardas in the United States.

Horsemint has the highest thymol content of all the mints. It is more than an antiseptic, mite-killer and cough-syrup ingredient. As a depressant, it is one of the most commonly abused substances among anesthesiologists and nurses. If thymol were discovered today it would be a prescription drug.


Horseherb - Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy)

Straggler Daisy Calyptocarpus vialis Less. Straggler daisy, Horseherb, Hierba del caballo, Lawnflower Asteraceae (Aster Family)

Depending on your point of view, Straggler Daisy or Horseherb is a pest or a welcome, shade-tolerant groundcover that tolerates moderate foot traffic. If you have a shady lawn anywhere within its range, you probably already have it. It gained in popularity during the growth in interest in native plants and is now occasionally available for sale at native plant nurseries (though it is so easy to propagate that you can easily grow it on your own). Thriving in sun or shade, its tiny, yellow daisy flowers add a minute touch of color to shady areas and attract small butterflies like sulfurs and skippers.


Calyptocarpus vialis: Horseherb; Straggler daisy

Because it is dormant in cold winters, mix with cool-season spring annuals and evergreens for continuous color. In central Texas, Baby Blue-eyes (Nemophila phacelioides), Widows Tears (Commelina spp.), False Dayflower (Tinantia anomala), Violet Ruellia (Ruellia nudiflora), and sedges (Carex spp.) are good companion plants for shady areas.

Love It or Leave It: Horseherb Ah, Horseherb (Calyptocarpus vialis), also called Straggler Daisy. There doesn’t seem to be much of a gray area on this one. People either truly love this little groundcover or hate it with a passion. I’m of the former variety. I adore this little plant.


Calyptocarpus vialis: Horseherb; Straggler daisy

Why do I love it? If you’ve ever walked past a field of horseherb, you are presented with an incredibly lush sea of green, with the daintiest of little yellow flowers throughout to catch your eye. I’ve seen some gorgeous fields, and each time I was mesmerized by the beauty and serenity of the scene.

I almost don’t want to walk on it — it’s so pretty in appearance — but for a non-lawn groundcover, it can withstand some foot traffic. It only needs water in the worst of droughts, and it loves shade and sun.


Calyptocarpus vialis: Horseherb; Straggler daisy

Horseherb is also native to the southern U.S. on into Central America, and it makes a great alternative to the exotic and water-hogging Bermuda and St. Augustine grasses. I’d love to see it replace Asian jasmine, as well — now THAT is a plant that will take over a garden bed and yard. Horseherb is considered semi-evergreen, blooming most of the year except in cold winter areas, and if you like you can mow it, or you can let it grow to its typical max height, which is about 8 inches. But as bonus, horseherb also attracts small butterflies, including sulfurs and skippers. And think of all the happy little lizards that will zip underneath the foliage!

It’s an eco-friendly solution to having a lawn without having to resort to heavy chemicals or fertilizers or ridiculous amounts of water to sustain it. Lawn irrigation tops the list on where our municipal water goes, and the time for water conservation is now, especially in Texas.

Why do some people want to leave it? Well, in some yards it can be a big nuisance. For those who keep a grass lawn, horseherb is a competitor, and it can be difficult to get rid of. And it can spread into garden beds, though I’ve found that so far it doesn’t bother much with my well-mulched beds. In fact, one of the characteristics of this plant is that it supposedly doesn’t do well in areas that have heavy leaves that take a long time to decompose.


Calyptocarpus vialis: Horseherb; Straggler daisy

But for now I prefer to embrace its desire to spread. What I loathe is the Bermuda Grass and St. Augustine in my yard. I loathe the unnamed weeds that dominate my backyard. I love my buffalograss in the back, but it too is losing to the weeds, and in the drought, the buffalograss was dead most of the time, so I didn’t end up loving it as much as I wanted to – I loved it when I could see it.

Comment: Iris/Society Garlic, Austin on October 2, 2009 at 12:00 pm said: I love it! It took us 7+ years, but we no longer have any grass lawn and do not own a lawnmower. Horseherb is our primary groundcover in our xeriscaped front yard garden and also in back surrounding the veggie raised beds. In the full-sun front yard, it got crispy and brown this summer but is coming back like crazy now. The few times it’s encroached on a flower bed, it was easy to yank out and keep away with mulch. Your post says it all.


Plateau Goldeneye

Greatstems, Austin TX, Nov. 9. 2014 Plateau Goldeneye (Viguiera dentata). This lovely aster is a prolific reseeder, but it is easy to manage. I have some special Goldeneyes in my backyard that were given to me by a dear woman who passed away this spring. They can reseed in my yard all they want, for each one is a memory of a wonderful environmental steward and friend.


Calyptocarpus vialis: Horseherb; Straggler daisy

Apparently some grasshoppers find it tasty, too. This photo actually is of a muncher I saw at the Wildflower Center a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t bother to stop eating while I took its picture.


Calyptocarpus vialis: Horseherb; Straggler daisy

Above, Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) had a determined showing at Walnut Creek Park despite the abundant presence of Plateau Goldeneye. No worries, for it knows that its seasonal blooms will outlast the yellow ones of its aster companions.

Plateau Goldeneye is not only beautiful, it is the host plant for Cassius Blue and Bordered Patch butterflies.


Purslane (oleracea)

Purslane It loves heat and needs very little water. This juicy plant thrives in the heat of summer and grows out of the cracks in city sidewalks. It is sold in Mexican and Asian markets as a vegetable.


Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Portulaca oleracea Succulent. Portulaca oleracea (common purslane, also known as verdolaga, pigweed, little hogweed, red root, pursley, and moss rose) is an annual succulent in the family Portulacaceae.

Although purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it may be eaten as a leaf vegetable. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, the middle east, Asia, and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is, and because of its mucilaginous quality it also is suitable for soups and stews. The sour taste is due to malic acid, which is produced through the crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) pathway that is seen in many xerophytes (plants living in dry conditions), and is maximal when the plant is harvested in the early morning.


Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Australian Aborigines use the seeds to make seedcakes. Greeks, who call it andrakla (αντρ'ακλα) or glystrida (γλυστρ'ιδα), use the leaves and the stems with feta cheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, and olive oil, add it in salads, boil it, or add to casseroled chicken. In Turkey, besides being used in salads and in baked pastries, it is cooked as a vegetable similar to spinach. In Albania, known as burdullak, it is also used as a vegetable similar to spinach, mostly simmered and served in olive oil dressing, or mixed with other ingredients as a filling for dough layers of byrek. In the south of Portugal (Alentejo), baldroegas are used as a soup ingredient. In Pakistan, it is known as qulfa and cooked as in stews along with lentils like spinach or in a mixed green stew.


Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album and C. berlandieri)

Lambsquarters Even though this plant has delicious leaves with more Vitamin A than spinach or broccoli, to most people it's a no-good weed to be mercilessly hoed out of the garden. The seeds of one of its relatives were a staple food of the Aztecs.

These two very similar species (except C. berlandieri smells, but does not taste, like dirty gym socks) are "camp followers," and move with people from site to site and thrive in disturbed soil (like a building site or garden). Keep it. It's great.


Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album and C. berlandieri)

Lambsquarter, Lamb’s Quarter, Chenopodium – Delicious whatever you call it one of the all-time great greens. It tastes wonderful (like a cross between asparagus and spinach); it’s easy to prepare and cook; it’s good for you – the usual dark green “high in vitamins and minerals, low in calories” – and as a major bonus, it not only plants itself, it starts so early and grows so fast that you can harvest multiple crops and still have time to plant tomatoes, corn, squash, beans or whatever in the very same ground.

It is considered by some to be one of the most widespread weeds in the world. Lambsquarter (Chenopodium album) is probably best thought of as a complex of related plants which intergrade and hybridize quite easily. I find a variety of forms growing in my garden, often changing as the season progresses.


Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album and C. berlandieri)

In Mexico a subspecies (ssp. nuttalliae) and hybrids are still grown as commercial cultivars: ‘Huauzontle’ for the flowering heads, ‘Chia’ for the seeds, and ‘Quelite’ for the leafy greens. It is sometimes called Pigweed or Goosefoot, and Giant Goosefoot, or ‘Magenta Spreen’, (C. gigantium) is available from several specialty seed suppliers, including Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

All varieties of Chenopodium seem to be quite prolific, producing panicles that release thousands of tiny seeds, some of which germinate quickly while others persist in the soil for years. This is undoubtedly one reason why these plants are such successful weeds.

Far from being difficult to grow, they are often difficult to eradicate, particularly in soils which are frequently turned. It’s like the many-headed Hydra of Greek Mythology, every time you hoe down the weed, more come up as you expose more seed to sprout. You can see how lambsquarter is a problem when thought of as a weed. Think of it as a delicious green, however, and the problem becomes a blessing, a gift that keeps on giving.


Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album and C. berlandieri)

Next to Broccoli Raab, Lambsquarter is my favorite green, but it does have two characteristics that might give you pause the first time you try it.

The first is a grayish, mealy powder found mainly on the underside of the young leaves. This will create an intriguing silvery sheen to the leaf when it is plunged into clear water. The grayish powder, parts of the leaf structure itself, will easily rinse off and rise to the top as a scum. Not to worry, it is harmless.

Equally harmless is the purplish red bloom which will come to dot some of the leaves.

The second aspect of lambsquarter that might cause concern is a flavor characteristic. Best described as a slightly astringent, bitter or mineral quality, it occasionally will leave in the mouth and on the tooth an oxalic acid sensation similar to that produced by rhubarb. If you or your children do not like spinach, you will not like lambsquarter. But if your palate has progressed to a more mature level chances are that you will flip over it.


Old man's beard

Clematis vitalba--Old Man's Beard (Clematis vitalba)
(In our backyard)

Also called traveler's joy, this import from Europe and south western Asia is an aggressively spreading woody vine, found along streams, fencelines, forest edges and hillsides. Old man's beard vines can grow up to 100 feet long and can completely blanket trees and other plants. Creamy white flowers in summer are followed by feathery seed heads in late summer and early fall, giving this vine its common name "old man's beard. These fluffy seed heads are persistent and quite conspicuous in the winter.

The King County Noxious Weed Control Board encourages property owners to remove old man's beard where possible and to avoid introducing it to new landscapes. Ornamental plantings can be contained by removing flower stalks before they form seeds.

Similar to other invasive vines, old man's beard prevents trees and bushes from getting sunlight and add considerable weight to trees, eventually weakening and even killing the supporting trees and bushes. After the tree dies, old man's beard continues to grow, creating dense thickets of growth. Young plants can grow 6 feet a year and once established, vines can completely cover existing vegetation. The airborne seeds allow this vine to spread quickly to new locations. Also, damaged or cut stems can re-sprout so plants can spread vegetatively as well.


Plantain

Plantain is a useful herb that is often considered a weed by most people.

It is native to Europe and parts of Asia, but was said to have been introduced to North America when the settlers came from Europe. It’s scientific name is Plantago Major, and it likely grows in your yard.

The leaves are actually edible and somewhat similar to spinach, though slightly more bitter. They can be used in salads or other culinary uses.

Herbal Uses:

The leaves can also be made into a tea or tincture, and this is said to help with indigestion, heartburn and ulcers when taking internally.

Externally, Plantain has been used for insect and snake bites, and as a remedy for rashes and cuts. I use it in making my Homemade Healing Salve, which we use as a natural antibiotic ointment on cuts and bruises.

The natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of plantain leaf make it great for healing wounds, and for itching or pain associated with skin problems. A tea made from Plantain leaf can be sprayed on mosquito bites to ease the itch.

Precautions:

Plantain is good for injuries because of its coagulating properties, but those with blood disorders or prone to blood clots should not use Plantain internally.

WebMD: Great Plantain Other Names: Common Plantain, Erva-De-Orelha, General Plantain, Grand Plantain, Greater Plantain, Llantén, Plantago asiatica, Plantago major, Plantago Mayor, Plantain, Plantain à Bouquet, Plantain Commun, Plantain à Feuilles Larges, Plantain Majeur, Plantain...

Great plantain is a plant. The leaves and seed are used to make medicine. Be careful not to confuse great plantain with buckhorn plantain, water plantain, or other similar sounding medicines. Great plantain is used for bladder infections, bronchitis, colds, and irritated or bleeding hemorrhoids. It is also used to kill germs and reduce swelling. Some people apply great plantain directly to the affected area for skin conditions or eye irritation.

Safety: Great plantain seems to be safe when taken by mouth by most adults. But it may cause some side effects including diarrhea and low blood pressure. It might be UNSAFE to apply great plantain to the skin. It can cause allergic skin reactions.

Warning: Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with GREAT PLANTAIN. Great plantain contains large amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is used by the body to help blood clot. Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. By helping the blood clot, great plantain might decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin).

Plantain Plantain is an Alterative meaning that it is one of about 100 plants that clean and correct impure conditions of the blood and the eliminative tissues and organs. The roots, leaves, flowers and seeds can be used internally or externally.

Plantain is #1 in the field of blood poisoning treatment. You can see the healing at work. Swelling goes down and the “red” line recedes. Limbs poisoned can be saved using this herb. It is used as a poultice on the outside and taken as a tea on the inside.

Plantain is also a diuretic so is useful for kidney and bladder problems. It is taken throughout the day as a tea to help the kidneys and bladder. It is used in bed-wetting challenges. It also helps dropsy and water retention.

As a styptic it can be chewed or pounded into a paste and applied to a wound to stop minor bleeding. It is very soothing and cooling as it heals. Taken as a tea or in soup it soothes irritated mucous membranes. It will stop the bleeding of minor cuts and when taken internally, ulcers.

Plantain recipes Plantain is also great as an astringent for your face. It is a great addition to your nopoo routine to help heal dandruff & other scalp issues. Plantain contains natural allantoin a phytochemical, & allantoin produces its desirable effects by promoting healthy skin, stimulates new skin cells & healthy tissue growth. Plantain is an anti-inflammatory that kills germs & speeds wound healing.

Plantain can be eaten raw or cooked & used almost anywhere you would use lettuce or greens. Great in salads, salsa, pesto, smoothies, juicing, & vegetarian meals, just use your imagination.

Pan fried green n onions: I added olive oil & raw coconut oil to my pan & heated it to med/high,plantain greens then I added 1 med sized diced onion & cooked till translucent, then I added a bit more olive oil, to this I added fresh picked, washed greens, Turnips & Spinach & the Plantain... Then I cooked until desired tenderness & add a couple caps of Bragg Vinegar & a pinch of natural unrefined salt & a pinch of course black pepper, & served with baked chicken, broccoli, & rice.

Salad: Great mixed into salad, cut into strips like above, & toss in with other salad items.

Learning to Love Weeds - Plantain Comment: One of my favorite stories is when my boyfriend ( a huge herbalism-skeptic) got some bee-stings. We applied plantain spit-salve mixed with some self-heal spit-salve to the stings on his elbow. Those stingers slid out like…well..something that easily slides out. The other ones were not as easy to get out. However, one of the things he noticed was that the ones that we applied the salve to seemed to leave more of a scar a few months later, and the ones that stung longer but did not have plantain did not do that.

Comment: Yes wild plantain leaves are everything you say of them. Added storey. My mother used to score them with a knife and then place them on cuts ,bruises or bee stings covering the leaf with a small piece of cotten and taping in place. We kids used to pick them from the stem and count the white strings that show up telling us of how many lies we have told in the past year. tee hee.

How to Grow Plantain Greater Plantain is low to the ground and will grow to a height of approximately 8-12" showing tiny white flowers. Plantain prefers full sun to partial shade and will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, including rocks and sand.

can be direct sown outdoors in mid-spring, or started indoors in early spring and transplanted out in late spring. Germination rates can be enhanced with a one week period of cold stratification prior to sowing.

Perennial (zones 3-9) Germination 7 - 14 days. Seed life 2 years. Partial shade to full sun. Seeds: Whole plant. Seedlings 12" apart. Days to harvest 30 days+

Plantain Till or No-till: This is a plant that does its best using Natural farming or no-till garden methods. Once started, whether on its own or in with other plants, there is no need to turn the soil. In fact, this plant takes hard, compacted soils and loosens them.

This plant is remarkable for its ability to grow in hard, poor soil and take abuse like being walked on over and over. So, I like to grow it between the rows of plants in the garden on the pathways. It can grow in a wide range of soil pH, types and climates. If you are growing for greens, other than turning over the soil before planting, there is nothing you need to do. If you do put some composted manure or other fertilizer in the soil, this plant can get huge.

Planting: Spread the seeds over the area you want them, tamp lightly, put over a very thin layer of fine mulch, water, and there should be no problem getting a good crop. When planting for pathways between rows, just spread a layer along the pathway between rows early in the spring when the garden has been prepared for planting. You don't have to wait for the last frost to plant this one. After spreading the seed, just tamp the soil with the back of a hoe, then spread a little mulch.

Maintenance: If you are growing a couple of these for the greens, there is nothing to do other than picking off flower heads to prevent them from turning into seedheads. This forces the energy back to the roots and into the greens so year after year you will have nice greens. Mulch around them to prevent other weeds from coming up.

When using for paths between rows in the garden, I run over it now and then with the lawn mower to keep it growing low and prevent the seedheads from coming up. If I see low seedheads forming, I just pick them to prevent this plant from becoming a weed in the garden next year. By doing this, it provides a path to walk on that is not muddy after rains or watering, plus during times of drought, this plant shades the soil and prevents the sun from baking it.

Harvesting: For greens, harvest small, young leaves only. Don't use the pathway plants for this, only use the ones you left to grow upright.

Using: You can use the fresh, young leaves raw on a salad, but I have to say, I'm not really keen on them. Not bad tasting, but the chewy texture, dry/nothing taste isn't my favourite. However, used steamed or chopped up and a little in soups, or other cooked foods, it makes a good, healthy green. Not a green to serve by itself, but with others greens, or just as one of many ingredients, it is quite useful. Leaves must be young and immature, or they will be stringy.


Buffalo Grass

Video: Considering Buffalograss Oklahoma. Plant in April/May. Will not give year-round green color - turns brown in winter. Vegetative types = Legacy, Prestige, 609. Seeded types = Cody, Bowie, Bison, and Texoka.

Buffalo Grass in SA

Buffalo Grass backyardfarmer. Nebraska.

Buffalo Grass As summertime breezes float over the hills and plains of Texas, Texans long to walk barefoot through their own bit of prairie. We Texans must love our prairies, since nearly every residential and commercial development has been sodded with acres of grasses such as bermuda, zoysia, or St. Augustine.

An alternative to these water-hungry grasses is buffalograss, Buchloe dactyloides, a Texas native turf grass. This rugged short-grass prairie resident is naturally drought tolerant and disease resistant. It is ideal for residential and commercial turf, golf greens, and for erosion control. Both the cool green summertime color and the rich golden flax winter tones of buffalograss are exceptionally attractive.

Buffalograss provided rich grazing for the great herds of buffalo once found on the North American continent. It can also provide your home with a thick, rich, and beautiful native prairie. For those who want to provide a native, wildlife-friendly landscape, buffalograss is ideal.

Buffalograss produces a uniform and attractive turf that ranges in color from spring green to blue green. A short-grass prairie native, it reaches a mature height at 4 to 6 inches. The narrow leaves curl downward to produce a shorter-looking turf even without mowing. It can be left longer for a soft, prairie look, or cut to 2 to 3 inches for a tighter, neater looking turf. Buffalograss also has finer, "drier" leaf than other broadleafed grasses such as St. Augustine, and so resists clumping and thatching when you do choose to mow.

When supplemental water is limited, buffalograss is very competitive against weeds including johnsongrass, dallisgrass and bermudagrass. Because of this characteristic, buffalograss can be used as an effective weed barrier. The native Texas turf needs only moderate sun: from 4 to 6 hours of sunlight per day will promote dense growth. It is very hardy and will persist with drought conditions, periods of flooding, compacted soils, and can tolerate temperatures ranging from +120 F to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. Commercial varieties are vegetatively propagated female strains, so that no pollen or seed heads are produced.


Left above: Buffalo Supreme grass seed is a two-way blend of top rated Bowie Buffalo grass seed and Cody Buffalo grass seed

Since buffalograss is hardy and disease resistant, there is little need for supplemental fertilizer or pesticides. The lower, slower growth rate of buffalograss also means less watering is necessary. Data from the Texas Water Commission indicates that buffalograss flourishes over most of Texas with only natural rainfall, and thrives in central, south, west, and north Texas. However, the sandy, acidic soil of east Texas and the very wet conditions of coastal Texas do not promote thick and lush growth of buffalograss. The Texas Water Commission suggests this watering schedule:

Buffalograss: every 21-45 days
Zoysia: every 7-10 days
Bermuda: every 5-10 days
St. Augustine: every 5 days

Buffalo grass is a beautiful and water-thrifty alternative to traditional landscaping turfs. For those interested in creating a more native, wildlife friendly landscape, buffalograss is the natural choice. Commercially, there are four main varieties (cultivors) available:


Left and Right above--Texoca Buffalo grass

Texoka: Texoka is an early cultivation of buffalograss that produces a thinner turf with a spring green color. It is ideal for planting in wildflower areas, since the relatively thin turf provides a pleasant background for colorful blooms.
Prairie: Developed at Texas A&M, the Prairie variety performs best in soils with high clay content and with neutral to alkaline soil pH. It is apple green in color and the turf is of medium density. It is low growing with a slow rate of spread.
609: Developed at University of Nebraska, the variety "609" produces a rich blue-green turf. It has a quick rate of spread and has medium density.
Stampede: Stampede is a semi-dwarf grass with a mature height of about 4 inches. The turf has a beautiful kelly green color. Stampede is the most dense of these varieties, and has a rapid rate of spread.


Texas Sedge

Texas Sedge Carex texensis If you’re thinking about removing your turf but don’t quite want to go all the way to installing landscape beds, you might consider planting Texas sedge. It’s very water-wise and drought tough, and performs great in partial shade.

They’re also perfect to plant under live oak trees or others where you’d like groundcover in those semi-shady spots. Or simply accent areas where you want their textural grassy low-care foliage.


There are many species of sedges so find the one that you like for your conditions. Sedges don’t spread and fill in like lawn grasses do, rather they grow in clumps, so don’t expect a uniform look.

Texas sedge stays naturally around 10 inches tall, flopping over on itself, and doesn’t require mowing.

The texture and pattern created by planting large swathes of sedges can be quite beautiful, especially with some rocky, bermed areas to simulate a natural limestone outcrop.

Sedges prefer well-drained soil and at least partial sun, and only need irrigation during especially long dry spells.

If they brown in a harsh winter, simply shear them back.


Burr, Field sandbur (grassbur)

Field sandbur (grassbur) Field sandbur (grassbur) is a summer annual grassy weed that can be found in home lawns, sports fields, parks and along roadsides. This weed is especially adapted to dry, sandy soils but can be found growing in other types of soils as well. The big problem with this weed is the sharp, spiny burs that are part of the inflorescence. These burs can be painful and are difficult to remove from clothing material. Field sandburs (grassburs) generally start germinating in late spring and will continue to germinate until late summer or early fall months. This weed will continue to grow until the first hard frost or freeze occurs in the fall.


Bur Clover [Astralagus trichopodus]

Texas Primer: The Sticker Bur I was in my early teens before I realized that children in other parts of the country could run barefoot through tall grass without fear. Any child who attempted to do so in Central Texas—or in most parts of the state, for that matter—was either very brave or just plain foolish. For Texas fields and lawns had little in common with the velvety expanses of, say, Massachusetts or Northern California. Here, defenseless children had to contend with grass that concealed chiggers, mesquite thorns, hackberry branches, and, grizzliest of all, a small brown barb known to connoisseurs as the sticker bur, land mine of the backyard. No instep, no matter how proudly toughened on sizzling pavement, could endure it.


Bur clover Medicago hispida - Sticker Burr

The sticker bur served notice to suburban children that the Texas landscape, however well fenced, watered, graveled, or gardened, remained untamed and inhospitable.

The sticker comes from a lateral and low-growing grasslike weed called the sandbur, which has been causing trouble for quite some time. It was first identified in the eighteenth century by Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus, author of Species Plantarum, the seminal work in plant taxonomy. The burs are actually spiny seeds that mature in the summer, just in time to torture tiny feet.

Today there are several kinds of sandbur, including southern, longspine, and field sandbur (whose Latin name, Cenchrus incertus, is particularly apt). The most cursory study of a botanical map will reveal why the plants are so familiar to Texans. Sandburs prefer the sandy soil of the southern U.S., especially that beside highways and baseball diamonds, where sand containing sandbur seeds is dumped as fill. Some infested states may have one kind of sandbur but not another, but Texas has all three common kinds, and they all thrive here.


- Buffalo Burr [nightshade]

Grass Burrs, Burr Grass, Sand Spurs - whatever you call 'em So, what's a gardener to do? While there's no "silver bullet" — some kind of magical herbicide — there are some steps we can take to make it less attractive for these weeds to take hold.

It's a four-step process that begins with adding humates or humus. Then, the use of nitrogen-rich (or nitrogen-only) fertilizers, sticking to a specific fertilization schedule, and gathering up as many of the burrs as possible.


burrs hate a humate-rich environment, so apply humates on a quarterly basis the first year, then one to two times every year after that.

Another thing burrs hate is a nitrogen-rich environment. This does not mean you should use "high-nitrogen" fertilizers. It means you should use nitrogen-rich or nitrogen-only fertilizers.

The next step in the equation is to stay true to a smart fertilization schedule that calls for slow- or controlled-release fertilizers

The final step is the most annoying, and I completely understand why. It's the process of gathering up as many fallen burrs (the seeds that will likely germinate again) as possible.


Crabgrass


Crabgrass


Dock Weed


Dock Weed


Foraging

Medicinal Plants of Texas WEEDCRAFTING, growing, and using wild herbs in and around Texas

Foraging Texas Merriwether's Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Texas and the Southwest [around Houston]--edible wild plants blog


Queen Anne's Lace

Benefits of Foraging

Solvitur ambulando, St. Jerome was fond of saying. "To solve a problem, walk around."

I forage, which means I walk. It means I bend, stretch, and dig. It means I constantly have access [to] fresh, vitamin packed foods that cost no money. It means I bond with my family, friends, neighbors and complete strangers. This bonding expands past my community and into the heart of nature, whose rhythms I must follow to find the foods I seek.

The domestication of plants changed them at a genetic level. They have been bred to remain fresh-looking, resistant to shipping damage, and have a mild flavor, as well as be convenient to harvest and store. In return, these well-trained plants gave up much of their best nutritional compounds. Meanwhile, wild plants have to fight every minute of every day to stay alive. To help them in these battles they load themselves up with a huge selection of chemical warfare agents...agents that we refer to as vitamins, minerals, flavanoids, lycopenes, anti-oxidants and many other beneficial compounds. As I usually harvest and eat the plants within a few hours, they are much, much fresher than any store-bought and even farmer's market-bought foods.


Wax Myrtle / Bayberry

Gardeners often talk about their joy of bonding with "nature" but I just smile at that statement. To me, gardeners seem more often at war with nature than bonding with Her. They plant plants that couldn't possibly survive in the wild. They tear up the plants nature gives them. They spread both poisons and fertilizers. They rely on a faucet rather than rain. The main contacts they have with nature is sunburn and mosquito bites.

The secret to learning edible wild plants is to first identify the plant then search the literature to see if it is edible. In the way you eventually learn most of the plants in your environment, edible or not. As you are out looking at plants you will also find bugs, tracks, and scat. Natural curiosity will drive you to identify these discoveries. Being outside as much as foragers are leads to a heightened weather-sense over time, too. Clouds, wind, and the actions of some insects, animals and plants can all be used to tell what sort of weather is close at hand.

Eat the Weeds, & Other things, too Most Watched Forager In The World

Hello there, I’m Green Deane and I’ve been foraging since I was a child or for nearly 60 years.

Long before I went to school my mother would hand me a table knife and a paper bag and tell me to go find some dandelion greens for supper. While doing that I noticed wild strawberries, later checkerberries, raspberries, apples and roses. My mother foraged as did my grandmother and great grandmother. I learned about plants long before I learned what their names were.

Has a video on foraging available.


Monarda Punctata: Bergamot’s Bud--Horsemint; Spotted Beebalm

Horsemint makes a nice, intentionally weak tea. Stronger brews are used in herbal medicine. The Indians made a “sweating” tea from it to treat colds. The major oil in Horsemint is thymol. Externally it’s an antiseptic and vermifuge, internally, in large amounts, the plant can be fatal. That’s the bad news. So, as I said it makes a nice, intentionally weak, tea.

Horsemint is one of those plants that you seem to never notice until you learn to recognize it, then you see it every so often. It tends to grow in small colonies and near each other. If you find one, you will usually find another not too far away. They can vary in size from six inches to three feet but always very showy and its extroverted colors can last for months. You can propagate it by seeds or cuttings. I dug mine up and carried it home where it has a very sunny, well-watered spot in sandy soil.

The creamy lilac-spotted flowers (its bracts are pink) attract honeybees, bumblebees, miner bees, plasterer bees, swallowtail butterfly as well as the endangered Lycaenides melissa samuelis (Karner Blue.) Hummingbirds like it as well. Most mammals know enough to leave the plant alone. Horsemint grows from eastern Northern Canada down to Florida, west to Michigan and New Mexico and California, also into eastern Mexico. A southern variety, Monarda punctata var. punctarta, grows south of Pennsylvania and out to Texas. There are about 20 different Monardas in the United States.

Horsemint has the highest thymol content of all the mints. It is more than an antiseptic, mite-killer and cough-syrup ingredient. As a depressant, it is one of the most commonly abused substances among anesthesiologists and nurses. If thymol were discovered today it would be a prescription drug.

Foraging Texas: Bottlebrush Tree leaves, flowers are eatible.

How: tea, seasoning
Where: dry sunny yards, landscaping
When: all year
Nutritional Value: flavanoids


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Goldenrod Abundance: plentiful
What: young leaves, flowers
How: tea and small addition to salads
Where: fields, borders
When: late summer, early fall
Nutritional Value: low

Goldenrod: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Goldenrod (or Solidago virgaurea) is not a bad guy. Grown and used for centuries as a medicinal herb, for a variety of ailments, goldenrod pollen is not the villain that people with allergies believe it is. Ragweed is the true culprit. Ragweed, which is blooming at the same time as goldenrod, depends on the wind to carry its pollen, whereas goldenrod is pollinated by bees.

There are well over 100 varieties of goldenrod due to its ability to crossbreed with other similar plants. The variety called Solidago is the subject of this information and can be purchased from any nursery that carries a good supply of herbal plants, or it can be harvested in the wild. Solidago goldenrod is easily identified. It has long stems that grow in clusters from a base on the ground with small, bright yellow flowers toward the tops.

If you find yourself needing an astringent or medicinal wash for bites, scrapes, and minor wounds then goldenrod is your “go to” herb. The leaves and flowers can be dropped into boiling water, then, after turning off the heat, leave the mixture sitting until cool enough to use. This application can also give relief to eczema, poison ivy, and insect bites. Just apply with a sterile piece of gauze or cotton ball several times a day. The remainder can be stored in the refrigerator, covered for about a week. Many people prefer it over iodine based fluids due to allergies.


Young goldenrod plant. These the young leaves make a tasty tea.

There are pages of scientific research using goldenrod as a diuretic for kidney stones, bladder infections, and arthritis and also as a tea or gargle for colds, flu, sore throats and as a wound treatment. All above-ground parts of the plant can be used. Just remember that with all natural herbs caution should be used in case of allergic reactions or side effects. For those who are pregnant or have serious heart problems, always consult with your doctor before ingesting any herbal treatments

Canada goldenrod [Solidaga altissima] SIZE: 3-6 feet
LIGHT: Part shade, shade
SOIL: Clay, clay loam, medium loam, sandy loam, sandy, caliche
MOISTURE: Moist, dry
DURATION: Perennial
BLOOM COLOR: Yellow
BLOOM PERIOD: September-November
FAMILY: Asteraceae (Aster Family)
DESCRIPTION: Canada goldenrod, also called Tall goldenrod, is native to the San Antonio River basin. It can grow to six feet. This plant has a very feathery appearance as well as vibrant yellow flowers. Canada goldenrod can be found in a number of habitats including in roadsides, thickets, prairies and open woodlands. This plant is attractive to birds and butterflies as well as honey bees.

Canada Goldenrod [Solidago canadensis] Our native Goldenrods (about 100 species) are THE primary nectar source used by eastern Monarch butterflies on their southbound migration to Mexico in the fall. Long ignored because of the mistaken belief that they cause hayfever, they can be hard to find but please plant them! Canada goldenrod volunteers in many areas and spreads by rhyzomes, so it can be too aggressive for small gardens. In this case consider some of the other species that do not have rhyzomes. Combine any of them with with ironweed and asters for beautiful fall purple and gold--and loads of butterflies!

Ashitaba, Angelica * [Japanese, not New Zealand, variety]

Health Benefits of Ashitaba Angelica kinesis. Tastes bitter and nutty. Rich in potassium and manganese; fights diabetes.

Ashitaba Angelica keiskei, commonly known under the Japanese name of Ashitaba (literally "Tomorrow's Leaf"), is a cold hardy perennial plant from the angelica genus with an average growth height of 50–120 cm. It is endemic to Hachijo-jima, though it is artificially cultivated in Izu Oshima, Mikura-jima, Nii-jima, To-shima and parts of Honshu as well.

The plants additional cultivar epithet koidzumi refers to botanist Gen'ichi Koizumi, while its Japanese nomenclature stems from the above-average regenerative capabilities it exhibits after injury. Harvesting a leaf at the break of day often results in a new sprout growing overnight, being visible the following morning.

Traditionally it is seen as a major contributor to the supposedly healthier, extended lives of the local residents, something that may be based on its substantial levels of vitamin B12 and on the chalconoids that are unique to this species of angelica.

modest conditions for cultivation and fast rate of growth, with optimal temperatures ranging between 12-22 degrees, have led many locals to plant ashitaba in herb gardens, flower pots, and backyards. These days the main use of their stipes, leaves, and taproots is in regional cuisine, where they are prepared as soba, tempura, shochu, tea, ice cream, etc. The Mikura-jima variety might excel in this regard as it is reputed to be less bitter than others.

Wakate [tastes similar to cilantro]

Wapato?

Wapato Sagittaria latifolia is a plant found in shallow wetlands and is sometimes known as broadleaf arrowhead, duck-potato, Indian potato, or wapato. This plant produces edible tubers that were extensively used by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Easily cultivated in 0.15 m to 0.45 m of water with no or little current. Plant tubers well spaced (no more than 12 plants per square meter) at the end of May at a depth of 5 to 7 cm. Fertilize with decomposed manure. Multiply through seeding or division in July. The tubers of Sagittaria latifolia and Sagittaria cuneata have long been an important food source to indigenous peoples of the Americas. The tubers can be detached from the ground in various ways: with the feet, a pitchfork, or a stick, and usually then float to the surface. Ripe tubers can be collected in the fall and are often found floating freely.

These tubers can be eaten raw or cooked for 15 to 20 minutes. The taste is similar to potatoes and chestnuts, and they can be prepared in the same fashions: roasting, frying, boiling, and so on. They can also be sliced and dried to prepare a flour.

Other edible parts include late summer buds and fruits.

It is vulnerable to aphids and spider mites.

Eat the Weeds: Wapato: All It’s Quacked Up To Be Sagittaria Lancifolia: Duck Potatoes, Wapato: Duck potatoes are actually corms... cut off the sprout before cooking.

Generally the bigger the leaf in structure, usually the larger the potatoes. The S. latifolia tends to have the best “duckies.”

Duck potatoes, also called Arrowhead, Watato or Wapati, or Katniss, can be eaten raw, should you be in a survival situation. But, they’re bitter and don’t taste good. A little cooking, like a little wine at closing time, can make all the difference in the world. Boiled or roasted for about a half hour, they become worth getting wet for.

Besides being part of the staple of Indian life, duck potatoes were also the entre and dessert for Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition. According to their diaries, Duck Potatoes and elk were their main fare while they were on the Columbia River, now in present day Oregon.

Other edible parts of the Sagittaria include young unfurling leaves and stalk. Boil them like any green. The flower stalks before the blossom are also a tender tidbit, again, boil them. Lastly, the lateral tips of the growing rhizomes are also edible, raw or cooked. The petals of the white blossoms are edible raw. They are delicat. Light. A little minty. Sweet.

Foraging Texas: Arrowhead/Wapato Dangers: Beware the similar-looking arrow arum, (Peltandra virginica) plant which has an arrowhead-shaped leaf and produces tubers same as Sagittaria species.

The vein pattern in the leaves of Sagittaria species is palmate, which means the leaves have numerous thick veins running from the stem out to the tips and sides. This pamate venation is important to distinguish the edible Sagittaria from toxic Arum species.

Note that arrowhead tubers do not store very well, unlike traditional potatoes. If you want to keep them make sure you are storing only perfect, undamaged tubers and place them in moist, clean sand in a cool, dark place.


Queen Anne's Lace


Queen Anne's Lace


Queen Anne in our backyard mixed with tillage radish


Poison Hemlock

Poison Hemlock Conium maculatum Hand-pull only while wearing gloves – this plant is highly poisonous. Tap-rooted plant with stout hollow stems marked by distinctive purplish splotches . Its dark green leaves are somewhat fern-like. Tiny white flowers form an umbel.

Clematis vitalba, White Virgin's-bower


Planting Time References

White Flower Farm See plant descr. then click on Growing guide

West Coast Seeds see plant descr. then go to Growing Guides


Timing

Plant Hardiness:

By Zip 1st freeze 11/12... last freeze 3/20

USDA 8b 1st freeze 12/1... last freeze 3/1

Rainbow Gardening by the Month


Email Professor Colby Glass, MAc, MLIS, PhDc, Prof. Emeritus
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