Friday, March 18, 2011

Redbud Blossoms on the Table

The Redbud trees are blooming now. Their shocking magenta blossoms cover the branches, visible from far away in their little spots tucked in among the oak and mesquite. Later, after the leaves come on, these little understory trees will melt into the background until their pretty leaves turn yellow in the fall.

Unlike the mesquite trees, redbuds are native here. It's Oklahoma's state tree, and is plentiful in Texas as well, roughly following the "blackjack belt" through the state from east to west. The "blackjack belt" is named for the Blackjack Oak tree - very similar to the Post Oak, with slight differences. Both are small (as the name indicates) deciduous oaks that grow near each other.

The ferns in the vase with the redbud branches are asparagus that got away from me! Less than a week since I checked on the asparagus bed and the first shoots went from invisible to 3 foot tall ferns. This is the first year we can gather shoots since we planted the crowns three years ago so we are looking forward to our own homegrown asparagus.

Redbud blossoms are edible too, in small amounts,and make a pretty addition to salads (well, salad for luncheons. Don't feed it to the kids or they will grow up and tell stories about the weird food you forced on them). My copy of "Texas Trees" also says the young seed pods are also edible sauted in butter for a bit but I have not tried them before. Maybe this year I'll remember to gather some before they have matured, and we'll see if I live to tell the tale. ;-) That is a joke, but it is wise to remember that many wild plants with pea-like leaves and pods are poisonous (some deadly so - see last paragraph of opening article here: Pea Family) , so be certain to verify edibility and confirm identification with experts (& I am not an expert outside my own family) before experimenting with these things.

At any rate, Redbuds make a lovely specimen tree in town too, and are recommended by the Native Plant Society of Texas. With their small size and glossy, heart-shaped leaves all summer, they fit nicely into an ordinary sized yard and require little care. And of course, make very nice bouquets in the Spring: which encourages me to leave the peach blossoms on the tree so they can turn into fruit I KNOW we will eat!

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