Thursday, April 29, 2010

More on Mulberries and A little on Sassafras

As I am having an ailment that may go on a while, I will post a short one here. I cannot stay focused on the other subject right now.

Many folks don't care for mulberry fruit. Many folks have complained through the years about the dropping of the fruits, seeds, on vehicles, laundry, and the tracking of the juicy juice on shoes. When I was growing up, one mulberry tree was great but that one didn't usually stay just one for long. They would show up in nearby yards or fence rows. These little trees grew to be fairly large trees and leave “messes”.
As you know we ate and eat them in my family. Now it turns out the mulberry tree this year is producing heavy pollenlink. (The link that still works is today's news. You can then search for the mulberry pollen article.) That pollen may be great for fruiting but not so good for allergy sufferers.

Then I find some articles of interest on the different kinds of mulberry trees. I was unaware of the “invasive”, alien, . One of the recommended replacement trees the sassafras reminded me of a discussion I had recently with the baby brother. He won't eat poke, nor does he like sassafras tea. I don't think he remembers eating poke or drinking sassafras tea when we were little but he does remember the “nasty” smells later in life when he would visit Mom and Dad. Doubt he even tried either one at that time.

Again, there were, and probably are, many who didn't want that “prolific” tree anywhere around their property. They used to say things like: “it takes over like a lilac”. I don't know but I know the tree was not “prolific” enough for some of us. Now you can buy small packets of sassafras root, sassafras oil, sassafras powder, sassafras tea bags or maybe just buy yourself a sassafras tree. Just Google sassafras and you will find places from which to purchase.

I still love sassafras tea. I can't really remember every thing about the tea making with my grandmother but I remember I loved the smell and I loved the taste. I thought it was truly “root beer”.
No fizz but same great taste and smell.

I guess to each their own.

(Well here is a coincidence for you. I have PBS Create on the tube and the host of the garden, Copia, just gave the visiting host of the Victory Garden some mulberries. Mulberries will not be found in stores because they have no shelf life.)


  1. Kanna,

    I want to try some sassafras tea; I hope I will remember to look for it. I know many are allergic to Mulberries, so some plant some version that is non flowering or something. The fruit bearing kind became a problem in the Phoenix area until then it was a very popular tree because it grew so well there.

    I don't think I have ever tried poke.

    I enjoyed the post... Good stuff

  2. thanks Thomas.
    Does Sassafras or Poke grow in your area?
    The map shows the old one mostly on a diagonal from the East to TX.
    I hadn't seen that about Phoenix. Sometimes we don't think further than our noses.
    Poke is tricky to eat. We were always told eat only the leaves and before it gets to a certain height. Parts of the plant can be toxic to people. So maybe limit the amount too. We used the berries to make ink. My mother would get very unhappy because it stains your clothes as well as Your skin for a long time.
    The berries are a beautiful color though.
    Hope you and yours stay well and happy.

  3. Kanna,

    Thank you for the info about poke, I will look into it further if I can just think about it long enough....

    I was reminded of the time one of my cousins and I decided to peel green walnuts; we had green/brown hands for a long time.

    I will try to remember to ask my mom if she knows the why and such of the mulberry trees in Phoenix.

  4. thanks Thomas.
    Would love the info.
    Oh yes, my baby bro and I tried one year to get enough money for Christmas with walnuts.
    We put them in bags and then in the driveway but it didn't go well.
    Anyway there were many times we messed with them. Again much to mother's dismay and really bad anger.

  5. Kanna: I enjoyed the memories this posting of yours evoked in me.

    I love the smell of sassafras.

    I had a grandfather who had a mulberry tree and I remember climbing it as a kid to gather buckets of mulberries that I gobbled up until I was turning a mulberry pink/purple shade.

    I was also fond of that mulberry tree because I remember one happy day sitting under that tree while my grandfather decided to "cure" me of my gluttony by feeding me all the cantaloup I could eat. I love cantaloup. That was one of the happiest days of my life. I ate until my belly was bigger than a peach basket and I was in extreme pain, but I loved every bite and would have kept eating except my mother showed up and was outraged at the "child abuse" and marched me home.

    I also had fond memories of my other grandfather who had a row of big pecan trees and he had a wonderful mechanical sheller and when we visited in the summer I could use it to peel and eat as many pecans as I could handle. Sheer joy. Not as glorious as cantaloup, but very, very nice.

    I remember growing watermelon and cantaloup in the backyard as a kid. The stuff grew like weeds. I would go out every morning and check "my" melons. Being a kid I kept picking things before they were ripe because I got over-anxious. I would thump and test and check and convince myself that each melon was ready and of course it wasn't. But it was fun watering, watching, and dreaming about those melons. They never delivered (as a tasty fruit), but just growing them was fun.

  6. RY,
    If you lived in this part of the world, you would have had a terrible time growing anything.
    The soil tests are basically; 0, 0, 0.
    As Master Gardeners we learned you may as well do raised beds or grow native.
    But, my dad always tried to be a small farmer, the only kind further South of here.
    Of course, he was gone a lot with his "other" job so his kids and spouse got to do most of it. Now that is the only way to farm.
    With my new ailment, I may be looking at container, or "wheelchair height" gardens.
    Which would suit me just fine at this stage of life.
    All I need is a bucket of dirt.
    Thanks for the comment.

  7. Kanna: Don't lose heart. Working in the soil from a wheelchair can work out for you if you get stuff put in pots and low shelves. I don't have a green thumb, but I watched my mother. She loved it. I know it kept her going well into her 80s way past the point of getting down on hands and knees grubbing in the soil. She had a zillion pots and was always proudly showing off something budding or flowering.

    There is something about working with plants and staying in contact with life that gives you a groundedness. Everything has its season. I guess you are into your wheelchair season. Keep your spirits up. The plants aren't judgmental. They aren't going to notice you aren't down grubbing in the soil. They are happy to be comforted, caressed, and fussed over in little pots.

  8. RY,
    Thanks for your concerns.
    I go for tests tomorrow. Should know what is next by the weekend.
    I worked as Master Gardener trying to get them to build wheelchair gardens for Srs. still at home. Too much money I guess.
    But learned allot about containers and wheelchair gardens.
    My spouse and I built my dad some barrel tomatoes after he had strokes. He did enjoy them.
    Thanks again.
    I am sure I will get a few years before anything too drastic.

  9. Kanna: Whatever your medical problem is, make sure the doctors investigate it thoroughly and nail it down.

    My mother had a number of problems late in life and I found that the doctors would initially assure her they would "find out" what the problem was and fix it. But if they couldn't easily identify it, they would start ignoring her concerns. She died of a brain tumour.

    Looking back, I now can see physical symptoms of it three years before she died. If they had caught it early, they probably could done the surgery early and done radiation and might have stopped it. But they discovered it only very late and I think they botched the operation. She didn't actually die of the tumour but from a hematoma (blood clot) that formed where they excised the tumour. They didn't catch the hematoma early enough and that killed more brain cells and that pretty well did her in. Really sad.

    This sure wiped out my Marcus Welby, MD view of doctors. I've since decided that most have no more "professionalism" than a day labourer in a factory putting widgets on gizmos. They do push the image in order to get their salaries up there, but the doctors I ran into with my mother didn't strike me as losing any sleepless nights over he problems or her death.

    As far as I could tell, their only concern was to not be sued. I told them Canadians don't sue, but I still couldn't persuade them to be honest and forthright.

    I also tried to tell the hospital the long list of complaints about treatment of my mother in the three weeks it took her to die. I promised not to sue. But they only superficially responded to my complaints. Bottom line: they weren't willing to look at their practices and try to improve them.

    Some of what I tried to get the hospital to fix were obvious, e.g. putting a call service button on the left when the person has "left neglect" (i.e. they are unaware of anything on the left), leaving a person on a bedpan for 3 hours and causing a bed sore, stepping on a person's feet when they move them in/out of a bed, failing to monitor food to ensure that the patient eats, etc. I was completely disgusted with the American medical system (and have since looked for and found similar problems in Canada, just not as extreme but I'm willing that that may simply because I haven't spent the same amount of time in hospitals here). It is really disheartening.

  10. kanna: And one other thing I learned. If you go to a hospital, always have at least one friend check on you daily (hopefully spend many hours each day). You need an advocate looking out for you. Big modern hospitals end up killing patients by neglect. It is shocking. They spend millions on fancy equipment and pay people big money for fancy degrees, but they don't look after the small things like making sure the patient is comfortable, well fed, gets enough sleep. I tried to convince the hospital where my mother died to give up one big expensive piece of machinery and hire some low wage, low skilled people to simply be "patient advocates" with the job of simply visiting patients, socializing, listening for any problems. I'm convinced they would save more lives with these kind of "low tech" supplements than if they keep adding the big expensive stuff.

    A friend of mine had an older friend die in a hospital corridor -- in Canada -- because he had a heart attack while in a stretcher in a corridor and nobody noticed for several hours. If he had been monitored and caught early he wouldn't have died.

    With my mother they had fancy rooms with slanted windows to allow a nurse on station to monitor 4 rooms simultaneously. Great idea, but I found the nurses were either running around dealing with a problem or, if they were at the nurses station, they were gossiping with other nurses and not watching. In other words, the administration had designed a system to enhance vigilance, but it broke down at the point of application because the nurses were either overworked or failing in their duties (by gossiping) when they were at their stations.

    The best systems work only as well as their weakest link. Too often the big fancy "high tech" hospitals have a lot of weak links that are ignored.

  11. RY,
    Thanks for sharing.
    We, my family, learned a long time ago about always having some member of the family with a patient. It was after an overworked nurse overdosed my Dad with morphine. We also learned that unless you had lots of money suing on behalf of a retired person was not going to work. Judges based cases on the person's ability to earn money. My mother at the time called it "open season on old people".
    I have an excellent family physician. We searched for years to find someone that was good and would listen to the patient. He is really good at diagnosis but we still don't use sharing and guidance once you see a specialist or a surgeon. I miss that from the "good ol' days". The days when the family physician was the CEO of your care.
    The MRI sure was easier than it was 20 years ago. Much more comfortable too.
    I love our small medical center but many times we have to go to "the city" for any larger procedures or major surgeries. I feel like a non-person when I have to go to those bigger care centers or hospitals.
    The new med center out here is larger but still not large enough. I heard they are already full quite often.
    Thanks again for your concerns.
    I know how tough medical care can be or should I say the lack of medical care.

  12. Kanna;

    Please, let us know in one way or the other, and with as much detail as you choose, how the hospital visit goes and what they learn or can tell you. My thoughts are with you.... I hope that you receive good news or at least information that will help you.

  13. Thomas,
    Thanks for the hopes and thoughts.
    The test was fun, MRI. I had one 20 years ago and was apprehensive to have another.
    Well, thank heaven for the advances. It wasn't nearly as claustrophobic and the steel table had pads on it this time. A lot less pain for back patients.
    I am now on more drugs. Joy.
    Actually, again, this is an improvement over the good old days.
    Thanks again for your concern.