PLANTS ~ Native and Exotic


Exotic as Okra

Okra (Hibiscus esculentus) or lady fingers as she is known throughout the rest of the world, is a hibiscus and cousin to many botanical plants including Hibiscus cannibus (marijuana). The pods are high in minerals and vitamins A and C, very low in sodium, fat and cholesterol. The seeds are very high in protein, both iron and Folic acid and dry well making them quite popular across the rest of the world as a dried protein source.

There is much debate over her origins. Some saying Ethiopia but, while in Africa with missionary parents, archeologist said she probably hails from ancient matriarchal Sheba. Sheba was the most advanced soil and water engineering culture Earth has ever had. No one has yet figured out how their pumping dams and water rams worked pumping water up hill and irrigating far more than the ancient Egyptians. The Bible projects that David lied to and tricked a Queen of Sheba into Her downfall but archaeological and genetic seed evidence shows the Persians attacked and stole everything ~ plants, engineers and music. Some escaped to Egypt helping to develop Nile irrigation and crops. Many built the hanging gardens of Baghdad. The Spanish Moors introduced lady fingers to the rest of the Arab world, North Africa and Eastern Europe in 1216 from Egypt. Loving poors soils and equatorial drought, okra spread rapidly across Africa and Asia grinding the seeds for a high protein meal. She is ọ́kụ̀rụ̀ in West Africa, quillobo in East Africa, bāmyah in Arabic, vendi in Asia.

She was introduced to white Europeans in North America by the Choctaw Native Americas using their Muskegon word "okra" meaning water not. They had gotten okra from West African slaves from Brazil coming through New Orleans. We know Thomas Jefferson's seed program included okra and he was selling/promoting seed in 1781. He served her fried at banquets just as Cleopatra served it to Julies Caesar.

My fried exotic okra recipe includes calamondin. Calamondin is a Maylasian lime that is frost and light freeze tolerant growing to only 10" tall. Must be covered in hard freezes but is both droubt and sand loving. She bears/blooms 12 months a year with one of the most exotic taste/smells in the world. Either the parent of all citris or a post interglacial backcross of all citris on islands where alotta currents meet up, she taste of lime with a touch of orange and a dash of exotic. Meats, vegetables and tea love her and her peeling is edible. This is a natural tree from seed and not a graft, hybrid or clone. Trees are now available at Lowe's in Palatka for $9.95.

Let's take some fresh okra chop lengthwise into 3/4" pieces (or whole) then dip into batter of 1/2 corn meal and 1/2 Aunt Jemima pancake flour. Add either ground local fresh pecans or ground local fresh peanuts with some Malasyian red or green curry (or Japanese wasbi powder). Add ground or shredded calamondin peeling and lots of pepper or coconuts. Fry til brown and squesh fresh calamondin juice on okra and in ur drink! Curry, okra and calamondin all love any pickling recipes, as well.

For more exotic droubt tolerant sand loving seeds contact the United Nations FAO SEEDS Project where they are hiring local 3rd world farmers to raise ancient native seeds. Western agriculture/plants are letting them down with the hotter changing weather pattern and this is a world wide effort. In many cases you will be directly dealing with the farmer who raised yours seeds or local African agricutural personel. All seeds are irradiated for disese. Sure we have all dealt with the UN's slow confuzion but I feel it's worth it to particate AND get some cool seeds. May I suggest kalima and nasaka beans whose seeds, pods and shoots are all round wonderful. Make seed pal today!

Come to my workshop or contact me to learn more about exotic vegetables suited to Florida or the UN directly.


Pat High at, email or 386-546-6554.

Turmeric in Bloom

Raw Native Florida Plants

Amaranth, Amaranthus spp.; leaves

Bear grass, Yucca filamentosa; flower petals only

Bitter grass, Cardamine pennsylvanica; leaves, young seed pods

Bracken fern, Pteridium aquilinum; young fiddlehead only (under 2 inches)

Bullrush, Scirpus validus; tender, young shoots

Cattails, Typha spp.; young roots shoots, seeds

Chickweed, Stellaria; leaves, stems

Cleavers, Galium aparine; leaves, steamed

Creeping mint, Micromeria brownii, leaves (mint)

Dandelion, Taraxacum officinate; leaves, flowers (bitter)

Daylilies, Hemerocallis fulva; shoots, sliced tubers

Dayflowers, Commelina spp.; leaves

False dandelion, Pyrrhopappus carolinianus; leaves

Fireweed, Erechtites hieracifolia; leaves

Florida betony, Stachys floridana; tubers

Glasswort, Salicornia spp.; young stems

Grape, Vitis spp.; young leaves, tendrils (sour)

Green briar, horsebriar, blaspheme vine, Smitax spp.; young leaves, shoots

Jerusalem articoke, Helianthus tuberosus; tubers, leaves

Meadow beauty, Rhexia virginica; leaves

Mints, Mentha spp.; leaves

Mustard, Brassica spp.; young seed pods, leaves, seeds

Oxeye daisy, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum; petals

Partridge berry, Mitchella repens; berry

Pellitory, Parietaria floridana; leaves (Caution: allergen for some

Peppergrass, Lepidium virginicum; leaves, seed pods (peppery)

Pickerel weed, Pontederia cordata; leaves

Plantain, Plantago major; leaves

Purslane, Portulaca oleracea; leaves

Ramps, leaves, bulbs

Red bud, Cercis canadensis; flowers

Saw palmetto, Serenoa repens; terminal bud, does not kill plant

Sea rockets, Cakile spp.; leaves, young seed pods

Sheep sorrel, Rumex acetosella; leaves, seeds (sour)

Shepard's purse, Capsella bursa pastoris; leaves, seed pods

Sow thistle, Sonchus spp.; leaves

Spanish bayonet, Yucca aloifolia; flower petals only

Spanish needle, monkey lice, Bidens alba; flower petals

Spiderwort, Tradescantia ohiensis; leaves, flowers

Swamp rose, Rosa palustris; petals

Thistle, Cirsium spp.; flower pods (like artichoke), leaves (remove spines), 1st year root Violet, Viola spp.; leaves, flowers

Wild garlic, Allium canadense; leaves, bulbs, bulbets

Wild lettuce, Lactuca spp.; leaves

Wild onions, Allium spp.; leaves, bulbs

Wood sorrel, Oxalis spp.; leaves (sour)

Youngia, Youngia japonica; leaves (bitter)


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