Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I just thought I would post this collage of woods plants...across the top is a Jack-in-the-pulpit, a Mayapple blossom, and toad shade (I always thought it was trillium but according to Audubon Society book, it is toad shade), the three across the middle and the first one in the last row is ginseng, followed by repeat of Jack-in-the-pulpit and the Mayapple blossom.

I love to hunt ginseng, even though I don't dig it any more. It is always a thrill to find it. When I am in my actual photos I will try to watch for a picture to scan of it after it turns gold in the fall--I can't remember if the ones I have have berries on them or not. When I was a kid, digging it was allowed all year long....now there is a season just like everything else. If the summer is been extremely dry, it will be gone by the time the season rolls around.

Robert Morgan has written two or three books--the first I read was Gap Creek. It is a work of fiction. Of course I had to read it--that is the name of the creek that ran by home. Even though the author is from North Carolina, he disappointed me. He talks about finding ginseng in the attic of the house--I forget the number of roots found but it was a ridiculously low number and he said they made 3/4's of a pound.

The other thing, in Gap Creek, he has the the family rendering lard on the kitchen stove. And it splashes out and catches fire. This is the part that really got me...everyone I knew always rendered their lard outside for a number of reasons. Safety was one...at least while people still used wood burning stoves. Probably later, it was just to conserve on electric bills. When my mom made it, she used a huge cast iron kettle and it was usually full of cut fat. It would have taken two or three days to do as much in the kitchen.

I kept telling myself that it was a work of fiction....to read it and enjoy the rest of it. But then he came out with a book about Daniel Boone. Again he mentions ginseng...this time he says it is hard to recognize in the winter without the leaves or berries. I feel like saying DUMMY! There is nothing to recognize in the winter. It all dies back--there is not one thing left to recognize. I think he has heard people talk about berries and immediately thinks in terms of blackberries, raspberries, etc that leaves the briers. I did not read the rest of the book, even though he surely did more actual research about Boone. It makes me wonder what all I have read and took as fact that was not at all true.