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Wild Edibles

Wild Plants with Paul

A daffodil

img_7711-copyWild food forager Paul Tappenden shows us what’s growing wild in our area.

About 10 years ago, I spotted a plant that I had only previously seen in the marshes at Cape May. It was considered invasive and not desirable, yet it was such a beautiful and exotic plant. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t want it growing there. I’ve since learned exactly why.

Porcelain Berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata – quite the mouthful) was no doubt brought into this country from Asia as an ornamental plant, with little consideration for the ultimate consequences. I can understand people wanting to plant them, as the berries are quite spectacular, resembling speckled porcelain beads of green, turquoise, rich blue, purple, deep pink and white, with many tones in between.

A large cluster of berries may not have any two berries of the same color or shade. They are set against a background of dark green leaves. They can be truly exquisite. Even the leaves will often have a filigree beauty. However the vine can be very destructive.

Over time, I have watched the water’s edge of Tallman Park transformed by these relatives of wild grapes, that have now spread out into the Phragmites marshes and are advancing up the hillside into the park. The have completely overpowered trees much like Kudzu does in the South. If you find it growing in your yard. I’d suggest you dig it up before it spreads all over.

Porcelain berries are best used as a colorful garnish.

tree-sculpture

A creeping tower of porcelain berries

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