Elisabeth C. Miller Library logo Miller Library Home UW Botanic Gardens Home UW Botanic Gardens Home book graphic

3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98195 | (206) 543 0415 | Open: | Library Schedule

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Search Results for: Edible plants | Search the catalog for: Edible plants


Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: government assistance, Edible plants, Seeds

I receive a food stamp benefit, and I've been able to use it to buy food plants to grow in my garden, but I would like to be able to grow food from seed. Do you know if the benefit covers seeds for food crops?

Answer:

Thanks for pointing out that food stamp benefits can be used for food plants! I consulted with legal experts at Seattle's Solid Ground and found out that the benefit does include seeds. Here is the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program web-site where this is stated:

Excerpt:
"Households CAN use SNAP benefits to buy: Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat."

According to the historical information on the website of SNAP Gardens, this benefit has existed since 1973, when the Food Stamp Act was amended to include "seeds and plants for use in gardens to produce food for the personal consumption of the eligible household." You would still need to obtain the seeds from an existing vendor who accepts the food stamp benefit.

Date 2016-12-17
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Berberis x hortensis, Berberis nervosa, Berberis aquifolium, Edible plants

Are the fruits of Mahonia x media 'Charity' edible, similar to Mahonia x media?

Answer:

First, an aside: Mahonia has been 'moved' to Berberis, so that now Mahonia x media is named Berberis x hortensis, and Mahonia aquifolium is now Berberis aquifolium. Since the resouces I will be quoting use the former names, I will leave them as they are.

Here's what British author Alys Fowler says in her book, The Thrifty Forager (Kyle Books, 2011):

"All Mahonia species are edible, long-used for jams and juices in their native homes [...] Sometimes you'll find Mahonia nervosa, the Oregon grape, with the roundest grape-like berries. It looks very like Mahonia aquifolium but usually fruits later, around early autumn. [...] Even when fully ripe, the acidic berries [of all Mahonia species] are too bitter to eat raw--they should be cooked into pies, jellies and jams. The flowers are edible, but bitter. The fruit needs to be picked and processed into jam or jelly very quickly, and it stains everything. It's very low in pectin, so either add crab apples or add liquid pectin, following the usual jam making rules. You can also make an Oregon grape cordial which tastes a bit like blackcurrant cordial. Because of the low sugar content, it will need to be frozen if you want to store it--it's a very sharp cordial, I use 350-400g (just under 1 lb) if granulated sugar to 600 ml (1 pint) of fruit. If that's still too sharp, try mixing it with concentrated apple juice to sweeten it."

Plants for a Future Database has pages for several Mahonia and Berberis species, including Mahonia x media, and its fruit is listed as edible.

Date 2017-04-22
Link to this record only (permalink)

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Edible plants, Salix

There's a type of willow used traditionally in Iran to make a fragrant beverage. In Farsi, it's called bid, and I think it's also known as musk willow. I need to know what the species is, and I wonder if it will grow in the Seattle area.

Answer:

Most sources I consulted confirm that musk willow or bid is Salix aegyptiaca. Encyclopaedia Iranica says "bid" is a general term for the genus Salix, but does identify "musk willow" as Salix aegyptiaca. The online version of W.J. Bean's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: Temperate Woody Plants in Cultivation says the following:
"Native of S.E. Anatolia, S.E. Transcaucasia and N. Persia; introduced to the Botanic Garden at Innsbruck in 1874 by Dr Polak, doctor to the Shah of Persia, and in cultivation at Kew five years later. At one time a perfumed drink was made in Moslem lands from its male catkins, which were also sugared and eaten as a sweetmeat, and used for perfuming linen. For these it was cultivated from Egypt to Kashmir and central Asia, so the epithet aegyptiaca is not so inappropriate as it would otherwise seem to be."

Salix aegyptiaca is featured in the February 2016 issue of the Royal Horticultural Society's publication, The Garden in an article entitled "Willow the wish" by David Jewell. Since the article recommends it for gardens in England, where the climate is similar to ours here in the Pacific Northwest, it will probably thrive here in Seattle as well.

Date 2016-12-17
Link to this record only (permalink)


Didn't find an answer to your question? Ask us directly!

Browse keywords

Search Again:

April 11 2017 13:50:16