don’t eat the lilies!

After completing this sketch, I was hiking back down the trail, and met a group of young adults on their way up. One guy asked me if there was asparagus growing nearby, because he’d just picked and eaten some. Uh … no. There is no asparagus growing here. After reminding him that all plants in the Park are protected, and that some are poisonous, we parted ways. A little further down the track I found the broken plant. I knew it was some kind of lily about to flower, but it wasn’t till I got home I learned that it was Toxicoscordion fremontii (Frémont’s deathcamas or common star lily). As the name suggests, it’s highly toxic to livestock and humans.

I hope he’s OK, but … what a foolish human being! People, don’t go eating plants in the wild unless you know for sure what they are!

yucca not yuca

The native yucca (short u, yuh-ka) is starting to flower. This beautiful and useful plant is often confused with the similarly-named yuca (long u, yoo-ka). It’s not helped by our local supermarkets mis-labelling the yuca roots in the produce department.

If you’re looking to eat the roots, you’ll want yuca (also known as cassava). If you want to make soap from the roots, you’ll need the completely unrelated yucca.

agave americana

Agave americana (maguey) is a huge, sharp, blue-green succulent that blooms once, then dies. The flower spike ranges from 12-25 feet (3.5-7.5m) in height — this one by our driveway is just getting started. The bloom trigger mechanism is not well understood, but it generally flowers at about 10 years of age. The fruit are edible — I’ll be collecting and sautéing them when the time comes.