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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

    Arb Notes

    < of interesting birds have been seen recently in the arb, including the increasingly rare red-headed woodpecker. Bald eagles (two individuals at least) continue to haunt the Cannon, and a red-tailed hawk has been sighted several times in the upper arb and near the Rec Center. If you go for a ski after dark, look for beavers on the ice pack—with their dark fur, they are visible from some distance. Apart from this news, this week's Arb Notes focuses on a few nonnative plants in the Arboretum which have useful properties. Since these plants should not be here in the first place, they can be harvested guilt-free—but please, be sure of your identification, and tread lightly!

    Barberry (Berberis spp): A thorny, unappealing nonnative shrub with bright red berries in the fall. These berries are quite tasty in sauces or as a trail snack. The roots of the shrub can be used (with a suitable mordant) to impart a delicate yellow color, or can be used to make a tea rich in berberine (a substance traditionally held to be medicinally valuable).

    Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Everyone knows this small, weedy plant. All parts of the plant are edible. The leaves are good as a potherb or in salads; the flowerheads can be frittered, and the root, boiled with a change of water, makes an excellent root vegetable.

    Burdock (Arctium lappa): A large weed known for its annoying burs, which tangle in clothing and hair. While all parts of the plant are edible, the large taproot is indisputably the best part. Boiled, roasted or steamed, it makes an attractive vegetable.

    Common lawn plantain (Plantago major): An inconspicuous weed common on lawns. The young leaves are good in salads.

    Thistles (polyphyletic, mostly Cirsium spp.): tall, spiky plants common in fields. The roots, cooked well, are reminiscent of a sweet parsnip. The peeled stems, with a consistency like that of celery, are also good.

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