saying hello with photos of wild flowers, our pets, and a bit of this and that from our corner of France...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

chêne kermès/chêne de garrigues: kermes oak
Quercus coccifera

-this Oak is particular to the Mediterranean zone. 

There are 550-600 (depending on which site you read) different species of Oak Tree in the world. There is an oak tree in the Sherwood Foest called 'The Great Oak of Sherwood' they say is between 800-1000 years old.

The following Oak tree folklore information is at:  (

Common Beliefs 

-if two acorns are dropped in the same bowl of water, a couple can divine their future plans. If the acorns float together, they will marry — if the acorns drift apart, the couple will drift apart.
-carrying an acorn at all times will prevent old age from coming on, prevent illness, increase fertility and strengthen sexual potency.
 -carry a small piece of oak for good luck.
 -Oak Apples (galls) on an Oak tree are made by a worm. The person who finds the worm will be assured of riches and prosperity.
 -essence of the oak flower will prevent despondency and despair.
 -in German lore, it was believed that children came from an ancient hollow Oak tree.
 -to plant an acorn after the sun goes down will ensure fortune in the near future.
 -Oak fires draw illnesses away.
 -tie two twigs together with red thread, like a cross, to guard against evil.
 -place acorns on window sills to guard against harm and lightning.
 -catch a falling oak leaf and you will be free from colds all winter.
 -if acorns are gathered by the light of the full moon, good faerie talismans can be made of them.

And for my Canadian West Coast readers: from Wikipedia-

<In British Columbia, the Garry oak occurs on the Gulf Islands and southeastern Vancouver Island, from west of Victoria along the east side of the island up to the Campbell River area. There are also small populations along the Fraser River on the British Columbia mainland.>

Once again things I do not know that I think I should know stagger me!  

 Happy a good day everyone. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

 Mushrooms in abundance, with yesterday's morning mist still emanating from the mossy forest bottom, we'd see several varieties of wild mushrooms, dozens of them, of which we know absolutely nothing about, other than some are deadly if ingested. We left them where we found them while amassing a Winter stash of cones for Mr O.'s bar-be que starter.    

-this one stood at least 13 cm's or 5 inches in height.  

-these miniatures were there in the hundreds.

We'd also see a lot of these gnawed Pine cones, and they made us super happy for though we don't see Squirrels, it is evident they are about albeit in the safer parts of our region.   Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Phytolacca Americana
Family Phytolaceae in Oppède-le-vieux, 2013
When I saw this plant I would fall heavily under her charm, I was amazed at the richness of her colours, the size of her berries and her height (she can reach 10 feet/3 metres). I would learn this American stray is offically called 'phytolacca americana' but has 16 nicknames: pokeweed, inkberry, virginia poke, american nightshade, coakum, garget, pocan, pokerroot, redweed, scoke, pigeon berry, poke sallet (salad), pokeberry, red ink plant, chui xu shang lu (in chinese medicine) and cancer jalap.
-they like an anthropogenic habitat and are usually dispersed in the droppings of birds who've enjoyed their tiny dark seeds. 
-they are herbaceous perennial plant, bearing racemous clusters of inflorescent flowers.

-apetalous, the flower is composed of 5 sepals 'calyx', usually 10 stamens and a 10-carpellate ovary (ovules wrapped in the carpel and in the case of the PW fused together.) The flower bears both her female  pistils 'gynoecium' and her male stamens 'andoecium' and is referred to as being 'synoecious' or bisexual, a perfect flower.
-once fertilized the gynoecium develops into a globose fruit..finally turning a deep, rich purple, or a black colour.
-the weight of the fruit arches the raceme ground ward..
-the very young leaves before they turn red are edible but they need to be boiled x2, tossing the first batch of water then boiling them again.Tony Joe White sings about them in, 'POKE SALAD ANNIE'.

 I've seen canned sallet/pokeweed on line.

The Pokeweed arrived in Bordeaux, France from the United States in the 1800's expressly to improve the colour of wines thought to be too pale, this practice was part and parcel of a few scandalous maneuvers done during this time. In France the PW is referred to as: raisin d'Amerique, teinturier, or epinard de Cayenne,
 The American Native Indians used the berry juice as war paint or in their herbal medicine, some people still eat a couple of the berries to stave off or relieve arthritis pain, they've not died to date. It is not recommendable, on line info suggest to leave it alone and definitely teach kids that it may be pretty but it is deadly. 

I use the deep red juice with my watercolours but it has begun to fade and I imagine soon it will turn an awful shade of brown like other berry juice has done. 

The PW has a pretty impressive potential; is being studied in the treatment of cancer and different viral diseases, has a patent suggesting that the toxin be used to fight the zerbra mussel and listen to this, the red dye from the berry can be used to coat fiber-based solar cells, increasing their efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity, now isn't that cool so she isn't all bad.          
-the brilliant colours of the pedicel and peduncle are almost artificial looking.
-I've read that one should burn out the root-in some areas it has been formally labelled at another Public Enemy, with numbers to call if you've seen one.  
-slowly turning from green through a variety of shades of pink then to a dark purple.

This tiny cluster appeared over the weekend and is the last on the plant, I wonder if they will bloom. 
-each berry usually has 10 of the tiny black seeds you might be able to spot along the top edge of the berry  juice splash-it is a shame that such a beauty has so many nasty characteristics.  Do any of you have a Pokeweed growing near you?

Have a good day everyone-