Tag Archive: What’s

What’s Eating My Tree?

What’s Eating My Tree?

Chinese elm tree leaves fall due to feeding squirrels. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension

Chinese elm tree leaves fall due to feeding squirrels. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension

The Chinese elms in my yard are under attack.  They are dropping leaves and the temperature’s still in the 70s.  Upon closer look, they aren’t just dropping leaves but the tips of branches too.  What is going on?  Is there a new insect pest wreaking havoc on my trees?  Did I do something wrong?  No, no, and…no.  The culprits are tree rats!  You know, those bushy-tailed rodents that live in the trees (also known as squirrels).

Squirrels feed on a number of things in my yard including mushrooms, acorns, and now I’ll have to add elm branches to the list.  Chewing on branches doesn’t sound appetizing to me but, as with everything, there is a reason for it.  The best explanation is that the varmints can sense an accumulation of sugars in the trees and they are feeding on the cambium layer underneath the bark.

Another explanation is that there are no other preferred food sources available.  However, I can debunk that theory because the squirrels have not even touched my ripe satsumas.  And we all know that satsumas taste a lot better than tree branches.

A hungry squirrel feeds on Chinese elm wood.

A hungry squirrel feeds on Chinese elm wood. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS Extension.

Whatever the reason, the feeding may actually do a bit of good for the trees.  The squirrels mainly feed on the new tree growth.  This helps to promote new branching, growth which will potentially contribute to better shading from the tree.  However, there is a tried-and-true solution to the problem if the squirrels annoy you as much as they annoy me.  I prefer to brine squirrel in a mixture of water, salt, and sugar before I put them on the grill but you can prepare them in any way you’d like.

PG

Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/11/07/whats-eating-my-tree/

Look What’s Blooming Now!

Look What’s Blooming Now!

Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

When many of our summer blooming plants start fading, yellow cassia, Senna bicapsularis, becomes a show stopper. Late fall and early winter is when it blooms and dazzles. The bright yellow flowers appear in numerous clusters at the tips of this many branched shrub. This makes for a stunning display in sunny areas of the landscape.

Yellow cassia grows to 8 to 12 feet in height and at least twice that in width. In the panhandle it often freezes back when we have a harsh winter. If that happens, prune it to the ground and it will come back the following spring and regain its previous size and beauty by late fall when it is ready to bloom. An advantage is that it is moderately drought and salt tolerant.

The flowers are attractive to bees for pollen although they are not attractive to butterflies as the flowers don’t produce much, if any, nectar. Yellow cassia serves as a host plant for some lovely butterflies. The cloudless sulphur, orange-barred sulphur and the sleepy orange all use cassia to rear their caterpillars. The shrub will rarely be heavily affected by a little herbivory from their caterpillars and will recover to bring you a stunning display the following year.

Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

If you purchase a yellow cassia, check out the botanical name. Senna bicapsularis is what you want and not Senna pendula var. glabra which is a listed invasive plant species for central and south Florida.

For more information on Florida gardening:

UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions

 

PG

Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/11/07/look-whats-blooming-now/

Seafood… What’s in Peak Season for October?

Seafood… What’s in Peak Season for October?

It’s October and it feels great outside. Time to fire up the grill and enjoy football with your favorite local seafood.  So what’s in peak season this month?

 

Clams – cultured Cedar Key clams are always in season and can be purchased at some local markets.

Oysters – they like the cooler months, there are a lot of ways to prepare them but we recommend cooking them

White Shrimp – other varieties of shrimp are not in peak season at this time but still available

Spiny Lobster – the Florida (Spiny) lobster is still in peak season but more available in south Florida

Stone Crab – we are JUST entering peak season for these guys, but like lobster – they are more common in south Florida.

Flounder – a local favorite this time of year – we are in peak of peak season – enjoy.

Mullet – This is a local favorite with those along the Florida panhandle.

Snapper – these are in peak season year round, but harvesting regulations reduce their abundance at the markets – so you will need to check.

Yellowfin Tuna – these have been in peak season for most of the summer; we are on the down side of it.

 

The Striped Mullet. Image: LSU Extension

The Striped Mullet.
Image: LSU Extension

 

SPECIES OF THE MONTH…. MULLET

 

This is one of those – “either you love them or you hate them” fish. It is not news that these are not a popular food fish in much of the Gulf region.  In some locations that have an oily/muddy taste that does not appeal to many.  In those areas the fish is still abundant but is used as bait.  They are an oily fish and are preferred fried or smoked when fresh.  Mullet that sit too long develop a strong fishy taste.  Mullet roe has its fans… and its enemies.  Andrew Zimmern (Bizarre Foods) – did not care for them.  They were very popular in the Orient for a period of time, and the local mullet population suffered for it, but that fad has waned.

 

We actually have 3 species found in the northern Gulf. There are two that frequent the estuaries – the white and the striped mullet.  As the name implies, striped mullet does have body stripes as adults.  They grow a little larger than the whites and are the one of choice for eating.  At times though, the stripes on the striped mullet are hard to see.  What then?… well – the white mullet has 9 soft rays on their anal fin, the striped have 8… have fun counting those.  Another way is to look at the operculum (the bony plate covering the gills).  On FRESH mullet, the white will have a gold spot here that is missing on the striped.  The iris of the white mullet has a gold stripe that runs vertically… on the striped mullet the entire iris is gold.

 

Both species are what we call euryhaline – meaning that can tolerate a wide range of salinities. Striped mullet have been found several hundred miles inland and in Baffin Bay TX (where the salinities can reach 70 ppt).  The white mullet prefer saltier habitats and do not frequent the upper estuaries and rivers.  White mullet gather and spawn in the spring, striped mullet spawn in the fall – both spawn offshore on the continental shelf.

 

If you have not tried fried mullet, or smoked mullet dip, give a chance and see what you think. As always – enjoy our local seafood.

PG

Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/10/07/seafood-whats-in-peak-season-for-october/

What’s Wrong with My Plant…Picture

What’s Wrong with My Plant…Picture

Homeowners and businesses will often send in plant and insect pictures to the Extension Office. This is a convenient practice for both clientele and Extension Agents, but sometimes it may make diagnosis more difficult and more time-consuming. More often though, a fresh or living specimen is necessary for proper identification.

In an age when high quality pictures can be taken and viewed within milliseconds, plant, disease and insect ID can still take time. Often it is due to the fact we simply don’t know the answer right away and research is required. Sometimes poor picture quality and scale can make the diagnostic process more difficult. To improve identification turnaround time follow these basic steps:

  • When it comes to taking pictures for diagnostic purposes, more is better. The more pictures depicting angles and magnifications received for a sample the better. If you want a plant identified, take a picture of the entire plant including flowers, leaves, and roots. Take pictures of various stages of spots on leaves, stems, and fruits if you suspect a disease or nutritional disorder. Take pictures from multiple angles and of various body parts for insect identification.
  • Place an item in the frame of the picture to give a good idea of the size of the specimen through the concept of scale. You could use a ruler, a coin, or even a ballpoint pen. Objects such as coins work well for tiny insects when the measurements on a ruler may be too hard to see in the photo. You can even place the insect on the coin.

    A computer keyboard used to show scale for a photo of an aphid. Photo Credit: Julie McConnell - UF/IFAS Extension Bay County

    A computer keyboard used to show scale for a photo of an aphid. Photo Credit: Julie McConnell – UF/IFAS Extension Bay County

  • Pay attention to focus on the subject. This is especially true when taking closeup photos and photos of small things with a cell phone camera. Cell phone cameras tend to focus on the background instead of the foreground. Sometimes the quickest solution is to place your hand behind the subject to change the automatic focus and then either leave it in the picture for scale or remove it and snap the picture quickly. It is also important to have a contrasting background such as placing a white or black paper or plastic card behind the subject.
Poor picture of carpetweed.

A poor picture of carpetweed growing in a peanut crop.

A good picture of carpetweed.

A good picture of carpetweed using a hand for focus and perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although it is quicker and easier to email or text plant and insect pictures, the most accurate identification can be accomplished with a fresh sample. Whether you are bringing a sample into your local Extension Office or one of the diagnostic clinics located throughout the state, it is important to follow the guidelines detailed in this publication http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/sr007.

Extra Credit – If you want to improve you ability to take magnified photos, you may want to build the device featured in the following video “Turn Your Smartphone Into a Digital Microscope”.

PG

Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/07/06/whats-wrong-with-my-plantpicture/

What’s in Your Manure?

What’s in Your Manure?

Humans have used animal manures to fertilize food crops for thousands of years. Manures are an organic source of plant nutrients and are often a waste byproduct that must be properly managed when raising animals. Today, many farmers and backyard gardeners continue to use animal manures to provide nutrition to their crops. However, a recent experience at our local extension office brought to our attention the need to know what else, besides nutrients, is in the manure used.

A local backyard gardener brought in samples of tomato plants that had strange new growth. She had purchased the tomato plants, along with other vegetable plants, from a local nursery. When she repotted the tomato plants into larger pots, she added horse manure from her own horses to the soil mix. She then noticed this strange growth on the tomatoes, but not in the other vegetable plants that were repotted without adding horse manure. Herbicide damage was one of the first potential causes we suggested, since the new growth was twisted and distorted, a common symptom of plants that have been sprayed by herbicides. The gardener was sure she had not sprayed any herbicides near these plants, or in the pasture where she keeps her horses.

 

Herbicide damaged tomato plants. Photo by: Mark Tancig

Herbicide damaged tomato plants. Photo by: Mark Tancig

 

Photos of the tomato plants were shared with other NW District agents and an agriculture agent with livestock and hay producer experience had the probable answer – herbicide damage due to the horses being fed hay from a hayfield that was treated with a particular herbicide. Interestingly, this agent also had experience with these symptoms after their neighbor had similar issues using manure to fertilize the garden.

Herbicides with the active ingredients picloram or aminopyralid are able to cause this kind of unexpected damage to many gardeners’ crops. Herbicides containing these active ingredients are used in hayfields to control broadleaf weeds. These herbicides are especially effective at controlling hard to manage weeds such as thistle, nightshade, and nettle. They also provide long-lasting weed control. Unfortunately, the persistence of these ingredients extends into the hay, and also persists in the manure and urine of animals who eat hay from treated fields. These ingredients pass through the animal unchanged and remain active as an herbicide. Since many vegetable crops are broadleaf plants, the herbicide’s ingredients cause injury.

So what can a farmer or backyard gardener do to prevent this problem? When purchasing hay for livestock, ask the seller if they know whether the hayfield has been treated with herbicides that contain either picloram or aminopyralid. Most herbicides are known by their common names, rather than their chemical name. If they give you a common name or brand name, the active ingredient can be obtained by contacting your local extension office. If the seller can’t tell you, then, as a precaution, do not use the manure to fertilize broadleaf vegetable crops. The same question should be asked if purchasing hay for mulch as well. Composting the manure or hay does not break down the active ingredient, and may even concentrate it.

While we continue to use animal manures to fertilize our crops as our ancestors did, it’s important to remember that many of the tools and products we use today are much more advanced. These advanced products require that we stay informed of all precautions, use them responsibly, and, in this case, inform end users of any precautions. Remember to always read and follow the label and ask questions. And if a science-based answer is what you’re looking for, your local extension office is a good place to go!

 

Warning from herbicide label.

Warning from herbicide label.

 

PG

Author: Mark Tancig – tancig00@ufl.edu

Mark Tancig

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/05/24/whats-in-your-manure/

What’s Wrong with My Camellia Leaves?

What’s Wrong with My Camellia Leaves?

Recently, a home gardener brought in some strange looking new leaves on his camellia. The youngest leaves were thick and fleshy and looked more characteristic of a succulent type plant than a camellia. What’s wrong with these leaves?

Camellia leaf gall infection resulting in fleshy yellow and pink leaves. Note the contrast with a healthy uninfected leaf. Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS.

Camellia leaf gall infection resulting in fleshy light green and pink leaves. Note the contrast with a healthy uninfected leaf. Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS.

The culprit is a fungus Exobasidium camelliae whose spores are carried by the wind in search of camellias. This fungus infects camellias, especially sasanquas; it will not infect any other plant species. The disease it causes is known as camellia leaf gall and is most commonly seen here in the Florida panhandle in April. The frequent wet weather this winter and spring created favorable conditions for disease development.

The symptoms of the disease are easy to distinguish and really stand out against the typical dark green leaves of the camellia. Leaves become thick and fleshy and the color ranges from light green to cream to pink. As the disease progresses and the galls mature, the lower leaf surfaces of the leaves will peel away to reveal a white underside laden with fungal spores. Wind and rain will take these new spores to other parts of the camellia or other camellias in the vicinity where they will lay dormant and cause infection the following spring. Eventually the galls will turn brown and dry up.

The underside has pealed away revealing white fungal spores. Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

The underside has pealed away revealing white fungal spores. Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension.

Camellia leaf gall is not a serious disease that requires chemical intervention for the homeowner. Simply remove the galls and put them in the trash. The earlier you remove the galls the better; the risk of further infection can be reduced if the galls are removed before the undersides peel and expose their spores. Any that have fallen to the ground can spread the disease and need to be removed.

 

 

For more information:

Camellias at a Glance

Camellia Leaf Gall

 

 

PG

Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/21/whats-wrong-with-my-camellia-leaves/

April: What’s in Season Now?

Can you believe Florida fresh fruits and veggies are supplied to 160 countries around the globe!  Particularly abundant right now are the vegetables commonly referred to as cruciferous vegetables.   (However, many scientists are starting to favor the term brassica vegetables over cruciferous vegetables)  These nutritious veggies are ones that you will want to eat on a regular basis as they are bursting with both macronutrients and micronutrients.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services lists, cabbage, cauliflower, and radishes as being abundant in April for world production.  Locally though, growers are  turning out broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy, Chinese cabbage and arugula, as well as radishes.

cruciferous veggiesThere are many simple ways to include cruciferous/brassica vegetables into your diet.

  • Eat them raw! Raw vegetables can make a delicious, crunchy snack especially when served with a low-fat dip.
  • Use in recipes! Make slaw, soup or salad, main dishes and even condiments!
  • Substitute! Did you know steamed, mashed cauliflower can replace mashed potatoes? Or that coarsely grated cauliflower can replace rice?  Folks have even substituted a cauliflower mixture as pizza crust!  (okay, it might be a stretch but it does taste good)

Shopping, preparing and storing

  • Cruciferous/brassica vegetables are typically inexpensive and can also be found year-round, fresh or frozen.
  • Store raw, uncut and unwashed vegetables in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for up to five days.

Cooking methods:

There are three factors affecting nutrient loss when you cook cruciferous/brassica vegetables:

  1. Temperature
  2. Time
  3. Amount of water used.

The cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible.

  • Using the microwave with a small amount of water essentially steams food from the inside out keeping more vitamins and minerals than almost any other cooking method. http://www.health.harvard.edu/
  • Steam vegetables over a small amount of boiling water until a fork can just barely pierce it. (You can save the nutrients that are lost when steaming cauliflower by using the leftover water in a soup)
  • Braise, bake or broil, stir-fry or sauté

Cruciferous/brassica vegetables are very unique in that the flower, the root, the stalk and even the leaves can be eaten depending on which plant you are eating.

Try a cruciferous/brassica vegetable a new way or even try a new cruciferous/brassica vegetable a traditional way!

 

Cauliflower Salad

(Or even use a combination of cauliflower and broccoli and kohlrabi)

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons sliced or diced onion, red, green or white

1 head of cauliflower – including the tender stems, cut into small pieces (or even cut into small florets)

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon vinegar (red wine, white wine, apple cider, or rice wine)

¼ cup mayonnaise

½ cup dried cranberries (or favorite dried fruit)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, vinegar and mayonnaise together.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss in the onion, cauliflower and cranberries and stir until well coated.  Eat it right away or savor for a few days.

http://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/16796/269931/04April.pdf

 

 

 

 

PG

Author: Heidi Copeland – hbc@ufl.edu

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, Leon County Florida Educational Program Focus: •Food, Nutrition and Wellness •Child Development and Parenting
http:leon.ifas.edu

Heidi Copeland

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/01/april-whats-in-season-now/

Enjoying Local Seafood; What’s in Peak Season for February?

Enjoying Local Seafood; What’s in Peak Season for February?

There has been an increase interest, from both visitors and residents, in purchasing local seafood.  Here we are going to define local seafood as anything caught or grown within 200 miles of your location.  For Pensacola that includes Alabama, Mississippi, and much of Louisiana; for St. Mark’s that would include the Big Bend and much of Florida’s west coast.

Though some seafood is caught, or grown, year round we will focus on species in peak season each month.  This peak season list is provided by the Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation’s Gulf Coast Seafood Program.

Oysterman on Apalachicola Bay. Photo: Sea Grant

Oysterman on Apalachicola Bay.
Photo: Sea Grant

So What’s in Season for February?

 

Clams and Oysters

Winter is a good time to consume local bivalves.  These creatures are filter feeders and in the warm summer months there is more bacteria in the water.  Clams are a new item for Floridians but we are growing our own in Cedar Key! (see links below). There are many seafood markets providing them so ask for them by name – Cedar Key clams.

Everyone knows the historic oyster beds of Apalachicola have suffered in recent years, but there is an effort to restore oysters to beds all across the northern Gulf coast.  Oysters are a Florida classic and though many like to eat them raw, we do recommend you cook them.  For clams most people grill, roast, or steam them.  To learn more about bivalves and seafood safety visit www.flseagrant.org

 

Pink Shrimp 

Shrimp is hands down the most popular seafood species in the Gulf region.  There are three species we harvest here, and some are experimenting with culturing, but right now pink shrimp are at peak.  Pink’s are more common in the eastern Gulf, and they may trucked into your area, but local none the less.  If you want to know how to prepare shrimp – watch Forest Gump… there are 1000 ways.

The famous Gulf Coast shrimp. Photo: Mississippi State University

The famous Gulf Coast shrimp.
Photo: Mississippi State University

Mackerel – King and Spanish

Mackerel are members of a family of fish we call “ram letters” meaning they must move in order to flush water over their gills.  Constantly on the move, getting them to bite bait is not the hard part… it is finding them and getting the bait within their range.  This time of year is good for mackerel but king mackerel is one of the species of concern with mercury.  The current recommendation is that if the king is <31” you should not consume more than one meal / month; young children and women of child bearing age should not consume at all.  King mackerel >31” should not be consumed.  For Spanish you should not consume more than one meal/week; for young children and women of child bearing age – no more than one meal/month. Read more about mercury in Florida fish athttp://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/prevention/healthy-weight/nutrition/seafood-consumption/_documents/advisory-brochure.pdf

 

Pompano

This is a Gulf coast favorite anda great tasting fish.  I like mine grilled but there are plenty of other ways to prepare pompano.  This is one fish that many like to blacken.

 

Snapper

There are 10 species of snapper in the Gulf but the red snapper is the one most are looking for.  Snapper are in season now but availability of some species is dictated by federal and/or state  quota’s and closures.  This is one of the most popular finfish species in the Gulf.

 

We’ll let you know what is in Peak Season in March.

 

http://www.cedarkeyclams.com/cedarkeyclams.com/Cedar%20Key%20Clams/Cedar%20Key%20Clams/www.cedarkeyclams.com/index.html

 

http://www.clamdelivery.com

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlVuTaSwzVA

 

http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/prevention/healthy-weight/nutrition/seafood-consumption/_documents/advisory-brochure.pdf

PG

Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/02/08/enjoying-local-seafood-whats-in-peak-season-for-february/

What’s in Season Now? January

Goodness, it is freezing cold in most parts of the country and Florida is gearing up for a record breaking harvest season!

According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Florida commercial farms rank second in the U.S. for value of vegetable production; first in production value for oranges (accounts for 63 percent of total U.S. citrus production), fresh market tomatoes, watermelons, grapefruit, fresh market snap beans, fresh market cucumbers and squash; second in the production of greenhouse and nursery products, bell peppers, strawberries, fresh market sweet corn, spring potatoes, tangerines and avocados. Florida ranks eighth in agricultural exports with over $ 4 billion in receipts.

It may be winter but wintertime in Florida is an incredible season for Florida agriculture. Look for these “Fresh From Florida” items in your grocery store during January: avocado, bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage carambola, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, grapefruit, guava, lettuce, mushroom, orange, passion fruit, peanut, radish, sap bean, squash, strawberry, sweet corn, tangerine, tomato.

http://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/16793/269910/01January.pdf

Starfruit

Starfruit

And why not try something new?

According to the Tropical Fruit Growers of South Florida carambola, commonly known as a starfruit is just getting started and will continue into February. These lightly sweet fruits are crisp, juicy and perfect for adding to meals and desserts as well as for just snacking on.

If you purchase a carambola buy one with little or no bruising or brown spots on the ribs. Starfruit that is ready to eat is gold in color. If you can wait a few days, select a starfruit that is a light yellow, with a hint of green along the ribs because carambola that is yellow or a very light green will ripen on the counter at room temperature. (Don’t place it in the refrigerator as this will stop the ripening process.) Once the carambola is ripe, wash the fruit and then cut it crosswise to reveal its beautiful star pattern. The skin, the seeds and core are all edible, and delicious!

Ripe carambola can be stored in the refrigerator; it will keep for almost a week. Be aware that a frozen carambola will change consistency when thawed but can be successfully added to a smoothie along with other fruit.

Carambolas are a nutritious, low calorie fruit, and are a great addition to healthy meals and snacks. Try one!

Try this easy recipe found the Tropical Fruit Growers of South Florida website. http://www.tfgsf.com/?page_id=545 

Carambola and Lettuce Salad

1 head of Romaine Lettuce, washed and dried

2 large or 3 medium Carambolas sliced in their beautiful star patterns

2 T Balsamic Vinegar

4 T olive oil

2 T chopped mint

Salt and pepper to taste

On a large plate fan out the lettuce leaves, going all the way around making a ring and making a second layer if needed. (Larger leaves first and smaller ones subsequently) Lay the carambola slices in the center.

Combine the vinegar, olive oil, chopped mint, salt and pepper and drizzle over the salad.

Serves four

PG

Author: Heidi Copeland – hbc@ufl.edu

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, Leon County Florida Educational Program Focus: •Food, Nutrition and Wellness •Child Development and Parenting
http:leon.ifas.edu

Heidi Copeland

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/01/11/whats-in-season-now-january/

The Danger Within… What’s Hiding in Our Woods

The Danger Within… What’s Hiding in Our Woods

As summer comes to its apex you may find yourself longing to move your activities outdoors and commune with nature. However, as you are reveling in the warm weather while hiking, camping, biking, gardening, etc. remember that there are native plants of a less friendly nature hiding in plain sight. I’m sure you have all heard the tried and true mantra “Leaves/leaflets of three, let it be”, we suggest you hum that to yourself as you head outdoors in order to save yourself from the consequences of an accidental poison ivy encounter.

While I am not a native of Florida, I grew up in the Deep South and I have had many dealings with our aforementioned foe. Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is a native to North America which contains an oil known as urushiol. This oil can cause a severe skin rash (dermatitis) when any part of the plant is contacted. The reaction and rash, in susceptible humans, usually starts with itchiness and swelling, followed by the reddish inflammation of tiny pimples or formation of blisters at the areas of contact. The rash can begin as early as an hour after contact or up to five days after contact. All parts of poison ivy, including the hairy-looking aerial roots, contain urushiol at all times of the year, even when bare of leaves and fruit in winter. An allergic reaction can occur by touching the plant directly or indirectly contacting it through animals, tools, clothing, shoes and other items. Also, be aware when preparing your campfires and bonfires that the smoke from burning poison ivy contains oil particles that can be inhaled and cause lung irritation.

A picture of poison ivy with its characteristic 3 leaflets.

A picture of poison ivy with its characteristic 3 leaflets.

Now that you know the consequences of coming in to contact with poison ivy, let’s talk about where you can find it and how it can be identified. Poison ivy can grow in shady or sunny locations throughout Florida. It’s habit can be a woody shrub up to 6 feet tall or a vine up to 150 feet tall that climbs high on trees, walls and fences or trails along the ground. Leaves emerge with a shiny reddish tinge in the spring and turn a dull green as they age, eventually turning shades of red or purple in the fall before dropping.

Poison ivy has little or no effect on animals, but, as we discussed, they may carry the irritating substance on their hair and thereby transmit it to us more susceptible humans. Not only are the berries attractive to birds, but the leaves and fruit are also an important food source for deer.

Poison ivy is often confused with another native, the Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). However, this trailing or climbing vine can be distinguished from poison ivy rather easily by its five divided leaflets. Also, Virginia creeper has blue-black berries and tendrils that end in tiny sticky pads that attach to trees and other surfaces.

So, what methods of treatment are available to those who suffer the wrath of poison ivy? If you suspect that you have come into contact with poison ivy always wash your skin with strong soap and cold water immediately! If you scrub with hot water you will open up your pores and let the oil into your skin, causing further irritation. Remove and wash all clothes, including shoes and socks in a strong detergent and warm or hot water. Keep your hands away from eyes, mouth and face. Don’t scratch the rash! To soothe the itch apply calamine lotion, zinc oxide or other doctor recommended products. Always call and visit your doctor if these measures don’t work, you know you are highly allergic or the rash persists.

So, how can you stop poison ivy at the source and avoid these painful symptoms? The first approach would be to eradicate an area by hand removal. Anyone who is extremely sensitive to the oil should ask for help when removing these plants. Always wear proper clothing that covers all areas that could potentially come in to contact with the plant. Also, lotions and creams containing the active ingredient bentoquatam can be used before the weed whacking begins. A suggested technique for removal using chemicals is to cut out a section of actively growing vine and promptly applying a legal herbicide to the bottom half of the cut stem to control re-sprouting. Choose a herbicide only after reading the pesticide label. Some products are labeled for specific sites, and pesticide registrations change over time. Please check with your UF/IFAS Extension service for current recommendations. Hopefully, this article will help you take preventative and proper measures against poison ivy and give you a more care free and informed attitude when partaking in summer activities!

PG

Author: Taylor Vandiver – tavandiver@ufl.edu

Taylor Vandiver

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/06/15/the-danger-within-whats-hiding-in-our-woods/

Older posts «