Category Archives: Plant identification

Rocoto – Capiscum Pubescens – the hairy chilli from South America

RocotoThis rather gorgeous chilli plant is known in Peru as rocoto. Sometimes it is called the hairy chilli, think of a pubescent boy! And Wiki tells me it will have black seeds which distinguish it from other species of chilli. Thanks to Rhizowen for confirming the id too!

It will overwinter providing it is protected from frost and its stems become woody, so it is also sometimes called a tree chilli and can live up to 15 years!

Neil and Jo were lucky enough to be gifted a two year old plant by Henleaze Garden Shop  for Blaise Community Garden – HGS is an independent garden centre where the owner and  family grow all sorts of unusual plants in their greenhouses , sharing Neil’s chilli passion – at the back of the shop – and thus are able to offer something different to their customers as well as the stock that comes in from nurseries. Henleaze Garden Shop is next to the Tesco garage on Henleaze High Street and always worth a visit as it is packed with plants and is a genuine local family business.

rocoto fruit.jpg

The Blaise plant is being lovingly tended by Neil in Greenhouse 1 and at the moment is flowering and setting fruit. When fully ripe the fruit will be red and resemble a small bell pepper. Jo has been told it is a hot chilli with a short burst of heat! Can’t wait to try it!

Neil.jpg

From Wikipedia :

Like all other species of the genus Capsicum, plants of the species Capsicum pubescens grow as a shrub, but sometimes as climbing plants. They grow into four-meter woody plants relatively quickly, and live up to 15 years, which gives them, especially with age, an almost tree-like appearance.[10] After a first impulse is formed, the plant branches at a height of about 30 cm for the first time, and forms during growth by further dividing into a bushy appearance. More shoots develop from the leaf axils. Some varieties have purple discoloration on the branches, as can be observed in other Capsicums pecies. The leaves have a 5–12 mm long petiole and a leaf blade ovate to 5–12 cm long, 2.5 to 4 cm wide, tapering at the top and the base is wedge-shaped.[11]

In addition to the relatively long life, Capsicum pubescens differs in many other characteristics from related species.

Flowers

The flowers appear singly or in pairs (rarely up to four) on the shoots, and the branches are at about 1 cm long flower stems, which extend on the fruit to around 4–5 cm. The calyx has five triangular pointed teeth, which have in the fruit a length of about 1 mm. A characteristic different from other cultivated species of the genus Capsicum is the blue-violet-colored petals, brighter in the centre. The anthers are partly purple, partly white.[7]

PS  I found this on the Scoville Scale ( I am growing Anaheim at home this year because I am a wimp!)

Image result for rocoto wiki

Joanna Baron July 2017

UK National Fungus Day

Bread in Morning Light

Sunday 13th October 2013

Some bread out of the oven cooling in the early morning sunshine.  The one in the front is in reality very small but because of the way the camera works it looks quite big. Thanks to the kefir and whatever yeast (fungus) we use we have bread and can make our own as human beings have been doing for a very long time now.

Fungi and bacteria work with the building blocks of the living world to create and destroy. The more we learn about how they work the more amazing they turn out to be. Maybe we should have a National Bacteria Day too?

Here are some of this autumn’s crop of fungi photographs, taken at Westonbirt, Glos and in the Forest of Dean, which is on the other side of the Severn Bridge, but on this side of the border with Wales. It is a good year for fungi in the UK, so have a go at seeing what you can see, or go to an organized walk or a talk, lots around ! This is the first UK Fungus Day and I think it is a great idea!

I have had a stab at identifying some of them but as ever warn people not to go by my identification as I am not a mycologist. I used to be quite reasonable at identifying about a dozen or so of the edible fungi, but as the years pass I have got out of practice. If you go on a fungi foray with a group or a self-styled forager be sure to ask them how they learnt their trade and ask lots of questions. In these straitened economic times, people turn to all sorts of ways to earn a living and foraging and ‘teaching’ foraging is one of them.

For most of us, wild fungi are not an essential part of our diet, but rather a treat, a flavour, an aroma, something maybe that one wouldn’t desire if not driven by media hype and an urge for different experiences.

I am not saying don’t or that it is wrong to want to taste and touch new things, just be extremely careful. There are cases of poisoning each year, usually well-documented in the press, of people who eat the wrong fungi, or the wrong berries or plants.

What is fun and completely safe however, is to go out and take photographs and look for them. We are sticking to that this year unless we see the ones that I know I can id positively.

And not to create any confusion, we didn’t bring any of the fungi depicted here home with us, only took their photos. Please do not ask me to identify your fungi finds!

larch Boletus Brian Kent

I am pretty sure this is the larch boletus, with its spongy underside.

Yellow Stagshorn Calocera viscosa

and I think this is Yellow Stagshorn( Calocera viscosa) – because it was growing on wood but it’s not one we see very often, it is very small and delicate but has this outstanding glowing colour.

autumn fungi

Haven’t looked this one up yet…

…and finally the most glamorous one we have seen this autumn which I think is a magpie inkcap but I haven’t found an image exactly like it so who knows?

magpie inkcap?

One of the hardest things is keeping the dogs out of the field of shot, as anything that interests us, interests them and we don’t want them to eat the fungi either!

Anyone want to tango with a wet poodle?

Anyone want to tango with a wet poodle?

So for those of you who miss him, here is your small friend Zeb, following an exciting jump into a mud bath on the edge of a small pool which contained a stick of desire that he had to have, (just had to).  We are taking him and his sister to the beach this coming week. I forsee many early evening baths.

Big Moon and a Frog

24th July 2013 1.29 a.m -– just now as I turned to leave the kitchen to go upstairs to bed I realised there was a frog silently staring at one of the poodles asleep on her blanket.

I was slightly baffled – the back door was shut and the frog must have come in the house much earlier in the day.  I picked up a plastic pudding basin and popped it over the frog and found He who loves Frogs and used to rescue tropical ones from the bananas when he worked in Safeways and take them home with him and look after them when the zoo didn’t want to know.

He was asleep. I woke him. I could have maybe done it myself, I know I know, but I didn’t want to. He likes frogs a lot, I like frogs, but not so much that I want to have one jump up at me, because then I would jump and we would all scream a bit and the frog would get stressed.

So the sleepy Lord of the Frogs put on his Frog Catching Gloves and airlifted Mr Green to safety. I don’t think he really woke up, he is clever like that. He will think it was a dream in the morning.

Outside there is a big golden moon sailing high in the sky. lighting up the streaky clouds.  We saw the moon earlier in the evening and did that thing where you look at the moon upside down (easiest way is through your legs)  and it looks smaller. It worked.

Inula Hookeri

This post could do with a photo or two and I don’t have a picture of the moon, but here is a photo I took the night before of a flower in a front garden I walked past. There were lots of them and they had clearly spread through the garden in a slightly invasive way.

I asked on Twitter if anyone knew what it was and kind people made all sorts of suggestions and eventually came up with Inula Hookeri. It reminds me of something you would find stuck on a bathing cap from my childhood.  I think it is beautiful.

If I walk down to the back fence, there is this stalwart shrub covered in flowers. Every year I think it is going to die in the cold winds of winter. Its leaves turn red, and then mysteriously they turn green again in the Spring and by July it is covered in sweet white whirls of jasmine scented flowers, the shrub doesn’t grow very much but it is still here eight years after being planted in a planting pocket surrounded by concrete. It is a survivor. The Clock is telling me to Go To Bed once more.

I am becoming an insomniac blogger.

Night all x

Trachelospermum Jasmonides

Woodland Walk in April

April is the month of showers and young shoots in England and once again the nettles and the wild garlic are overwriting the brown manuscript of faded winter leaf litter in vivid shades of green;  baby saplings are shooting from where the squirrels have planted forgotten acorns and hazels – and when the sun shines, muddy puddles glint and poodles dive in for a quick paddle.

 

We walked through the woodland at Ashton Court, passing by the new mountain bike trail along the deer park fence; it has weathered and is not as intrusive looking as it was when it was all raw and new and finally came out on this dusty path down the hill with a view to the sky and Dundry Hill in the distance.

The buzzards were busy carrying nesting material around, beautiful big birds outlined against the blue.  There was much rustling and squawking and the alarm calls of birds which I couldn’t quite identify; tall trees creaking and rubbing alarmingly against each other in the wind. We walked softly down the side of the hill and along the lower wall.

Wood pigeons flew out of hollow trees, wrens whirred and fizzed on their short flights from woodpile to streams, goldfinches bathed in the shallows and for a big city there are always surprises. We heard talking up in the air at one point and realised there were two people chatting in one of the ancient pollarded oaks that are cared for at Ashton Court. I took a picture of the tree they were in two years ago almost to the day. It is a miniature ecosystem in itself, with ferns and fungi and grass growing in its centre.

Pollarded Oak Ashton Court

Celandine and wild violets were a couple of the more common wildflowers that we recognised. I nibbled a blooming violet and it was gently sweet.

If you can identify nettles, then at this time of year you have a free source of the most wonderful healthy (and, dare I say it, fashionable)  green vegetable to add into your supper dishes. I saw a piece by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall about them the other day here in the Guardian. Brian’s Dad and Gran always ate nettles in the springtime and Brian says his Dad could pick them with his fingers the way he can – must be a special nettle picking gene!

Last year around this time I made nettle gnocchi and wrote about them in this post. I haven’t made them since, but I remember they were very good and I really should make them again!

 Yesterday we picked (that is the ‘royal we’ – Brian picked the most because he has asbestos fingers and I didn’t have any gloves, good excuse!)  the top four leaves of young nettles on our walk and I picked a bunch of wild garlic.

Both nettles and wild garlic are fairly easy to identify and I have written about the wild garlic on a page here. If you are unsure about any wild plants find someone who is confident about their identification skills and go out with them the first time. Better safe than sorry.

You could always borrow Zeb as he is expert at finding wild garlic.

We made a risotto with the wild garlic and the nettles that we picked which I will post about next.

I held the camera low to the ground trying to grab a picture of this allium, either chives or crow garlic, probably the latter, growing strongly in little clumps at the base of this Bronze Age mound at Badocks Wood.

Zeb always seems to get in the pictures whether I want him to or not,  but I like the way his tail echoes the bent piece of allium so I thought I would show it to you.

I am looking longingly for the first signs of the wild garlic, but it will be a while yet.

It was all a terrible dream…

I am back and my horns and fangs have vanished as if they never really existed….

I have put a link in the sidebar to a baking event that those of you who have Dan Lepard’s glorious new book Short & Sweet might like to join in at some point. For an explanation of what the idea is behind it click here.  I made the first cake and messed it up a bit, if you click through to Evidence Matters’ new blog #shortandtweet you can see a round up of the different results that people got, including mine. Continue reading

Wild Garlic Season

For Mitchdafish

In the Wild Food section (see the black menu bar at the top of the blog) I’ve created an information page about Wild Garlic; it also gives links to various posts I wrote last year about this wonderful plant.  I hope it is helpful. Please let me know if there is anything else I can add to it. You can click here to go straight to the page.

Wild garlic makes the most wonderful pesto by the way. I whizzed some together recently with a mixture of basil leaves, fresh garlic leaves, Millstone sheep’s milk cheese from North Wootton Dairy (Bristol Slow Food Market),  pine nuts and olive oil.

Use it in sandwiches and on pasta, stir it into anything that you think might benefit. Just delicious!

What are your favourite garlic recipes? I have fond memories of picking olives in Crete and eating cold lentils strewn with fresh chopped garlic at lunchtime. I had to drop that habit when I came back to England though as no one would speak to me!

North Wooton Dairy Millstone Sheeps Cheese

North Wootton Dairy Millstone Sheeps Cheese