Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Unknown Tree: Identified!

A few weeks ago, my friend Fred the Master Gardener brought me some samples of a tree to identify:

The leaves initially made me wonder if this tree was some kind of a sumac, but the encapsulated fruit you see in the third picture above disallowed that identification. Sumac trees possess berries in either red or white, the former being edible, the latter being very toxic.

Anyhow, this tree stumped me. I came across it here and there in the wild for a few years but never really looked it up.

After Fred asked me about his specimen, I did some googling and nailed it down with relative certainty as the "Hercules' Club" tree, a Florida native.

A week or two after Fred's question, I led a wild foraging class at Pear Park in Leesburg. There I came across another specimen of this tree and took a picture up through the canopy:

Then I looked down and saw this sign...

Okay, that clinches it. I have a Latin name. Whew.

Not only is this tree an interesting native, it also has some good medicinal uses.

I think I'll add one to the food forest in case I get a toothache!

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