Foliage & forage

Foliage & forage

There are so many plants at 555. Some look like weeds, but aren’t. Others are definitely weeds. Some are mysterious. I have been photographing and trying to identify what I encounter. This is a roundup of some of the late summer botanicals and things that caught my eye.

We have a lot of useful or edible plants growing here. Some were intentionally planted, like tea and turmeric. Others, it’s hard to say.

Nettles (or maybe its ramie, I’m not certain) grow abundantly in the wild along the edges of rice fields and in open spaces. Nettle can be used like hemp to make rope and textiles, which used to be a common activity. Up in the barn is a loom and a variety of woven mats made with rice straw, bamboo, and possible nettles. So did this weed-like foliage start out as a cultivated plant and then escape?

Everyone around me knows way more than I do. They casually rattle off names and trivia and I try to soak it in. Last week, I learned from Sakaguchi-san that the fruits of the kusamaki tree (the official tree of Chiba prefecture, also known as Japanese yew) are edible. They have the texture of grapes and are slightly sweet with a hint of pine.

My hope is to develop a working knowledge by documenting the greenery, from weeds to trees, and learning how to cultivate what’s desirable and to cull what’s not.

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