Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Goatweed, Citrus Composting & Carolina Wolfberry

011520_fig_1_goatweek_in_pasturejpgGoatweed in a pasture. Photo: University of Florida.


John in Grant Parish emailed this note, “In your latest email you discussed tea that can be grown in Louisiana. The subject brought back memories of when I was a kid at my grandmother's house in rural Acadia parish. In winter she would make goat weed tea which came from the dried leaves of the goat weed plant that grew wild along roadsides and pastureland. I now live in Grant parish and goat weed is abundant in this part of the country and was wondering if you had any knowledge of the medicinal, health specifics or toxicity of the extracts from this plant. I remember that it made a very aromatic and tasty tea but never thought about the safety of drinking it on a regular basis. If you could find out any information in that regard, I would appreciate it.”

According to Medical News Today online, “As with any medications, herbs, and supplements, it is important for people to speak to their doctor before using horny goat weed. A doctor can work out its safety and dosage based on an individual's needs and medical history.

For the treatment of atherosclerosis and ED, the University of Michigan recommends taking 5 grams 3 times per day. For the treatment of hay fever, it is recommended to simmer 500 milligrams in 250 milliliters of water for 10-15 minutes and consume 3 times daily.

People should check with their doctor to see if seeping in water is required when treating themselves with horny goat weed. Typically, the herb is mixed in a tonic to decrease the risk of side effects.

Alternative medicine should not take the place of traditional medicine or be used in the place of recommendations from a doctor.

High doses of horny goat weed have been associated with breathing difficulty, vomiting, and nausea.”

011520_fig_2_citrus_compostingjpgCitrus and other food scraps are good items to compost. Photo: Aspen Public Radio

Citrus composting

Naomi sent this question, “A friend has an overabundance of spoiled oranges in her compost. What should she put on it or layer to have a good “balance”?”

Oranges and other citrus provide nitrogen to the composting process. Adding pine straw, wood chips, and other brown materials will help with balancing the nitrogen and the carbon levels.

If you use worms to compost food scraps, then your worms will be unhappy with oranges and other citrus because citric acid creates a poor environment for their survival.

011520_fig_3_Christmas_berryjpgA closer view of Carolina wolfberry or Christmas berry, a wetland plant. Photo: Clint Pitre.

Carolina Wolfberry

Clint visited a natural area recently and sent his email with pictures, “Not sure if this is the right link for a plant identification, but I thought I’d try.

This plant is growing down in the saltwater marsh in Golden Meadow, Louisiana. I grew up here and spent a big part of my life out in this marsh and I have never noticed this plant.

The leaves are thick almost like a succulent. The stem is woody, but very green on the inside.

The fruit has a smooth skin like a tomato or pepper. It is very delicate. The inside of the fruit is like a pepper, dry with the seeds resembling that of a pepper. The fruit has a very bland smell and has an unfamiliar taste. The taste is just a bland tangy plant taste, the best I could describe it. Just a few touches on the tongue is all I did to taste.

Not sure if it’s native and I somehow never noticed it? Or maybe something that floated here and took root. I have only seen it in this one spot so far.”

Kevin Savoie, a fisheries agent with the LSU, AgCenter, helped identify this plant, “This is Carolina Wolfberry or Christmas-Berry (Lycium carolinianum). It is fairly common on slight ridges in coastal marshes along waterways and levees.”

According to Texas A&M University, it is a member of the nightshade family like tomatoes and peppers. It grows in wet areas of the American and Mexican gulf coast as well as the coastal areas of California and Baja Mexico. Native Americans ate this fruit either raw or dried, and today whooping cranes and other wild fowl will forage on wolfberries.

Finally, the AgCenter is a good place to start in identifying plants for general purposes or for healthy and safety reasons.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006. Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

1/17/2020 7:43:57 PM
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