Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Roadside Yucca

So I ask, what better thing to do than blog about Yucca when holed up in a restroom for the night? That's right, folks, comin' to you live from the commode at the Harmony Hall Historic Plantation Site!

I was granted permission to camp on the grounds by Albert and upon my arrival I couldn't have been more pleased with plenty of green grass to pop my tent upon and a picnic table for relaxing...as well as this little restroom hut with running water for visitors. However, just as I had gotten into my tent for the evening, flashes of lightning illuminated the grounds and booming thunder rolled across the sky...I prepared for rain by zipping up my tent...but oh, no, nothing could have prepared me for what came next.

A wind like I have never heard before swept up from the river and farmfields behind me, carrying leaves and debris along with it - I wondered for a good second what on earth I was hearing - and then as the wind came crashing against my tentwalls, I knew. Instinctively, I grabbed for the main supporting pole and held it upright with all my might as I watched the rain and treetops blow furiously sideways. Next thing I knew, most all of my tentstakes had come loose and as I struggled to get them back into the ground I watched as a lake formed beneath me.

There was just one thing to do - abandon ship.

And so in the bathroom I will be for the night - it's warm and free of leaks - really not a bad deal. When it comes down to it, hiking teaches you to be grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what you don't have.

Thank you, Albert! I'm sure if you knew the state I was in, you'd make arrangements for even better accommodations!

So, about that Yucca! The last few days, I have had the pleasure of stumbling upon this plant roadside on those long stretches of "nowhere." Most often I found it growing by an old homesite or hugging the telephone poles. I have also seen it standing one lonesome plant atop sandy roadside hills. The nice thing about Yucca is that it is a plant that maintains it's edible parts high above the ground and therefore less likely to be covered in the grit and run-off from the road unlike most roadside plants (although I wouldn't munch those by the telephone poles due to whatever the wood may be treated with). It's also easy to spot from afar.

Yucca filamentosa - a member of the Lily Family (Liliaceae)
Yucca is woody at its base with long, thick, evergreen leaves that form a dense basal rosette. Leaves are sword-like, growing erect 1- 2 1/2 ' long with parallel veins. Flowers are large and showy, six-petaled, white, waxy to the touch, and grow on a central branching stalk.

Yucca filamentosa's 6 - petaled white petals


Yucca filamentosa, the species that I have seen most frequently on the MST is also known as Bear-Grass. It can reach a height of 5 feet and will have flowers loosely arranged on a stalk. Leaves will have peeling threads or fibers that will often curl away from the leaf margins.


Besides merely munching on the raw petals of Yucca, they can be thrown into a simple hiker salad...

1 large handful or bowl of salad greens
1 ripe mango
2 Yucca flowers
squeeze of lemon or lime
 
As a hiker, it is best to purchase salad greens from the store in a single-serving bag or bowl that you know you can use up in  just a meal or two.
Slice mango into thin slices. Pluck petals from flower base. Add to greens along with your squeeze of lemon or lime and toss to blend.
 
(recipe from: A Guide to the Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Mountains to Sea Trail)
 
Another fruit that you could easily add to your Yucca salad would be fresh blueberries.

 
Bluberries (Vaccinium spp.)
 

I had the pleasure of walking through 2 miles of blueberry farms today. Let me tell you...this is how you make a hiker's day. I could barely make my way down the trail as I had to just stop for a bite with every ripe cluster I saw. Thank you Big Sky Blueberries and Burney's Blueberries! It was certainly a treat.

Blueberries ripening at local farms just outside of White Lake, NC

I will tell you the easiest way to recognize a Blueberry...look for the crown at it's end and often, though not always, a whitish bloom on the berry. Blueberry is such an amazing plant in more ways than just its fruit that I will save further details for a blog all its own.

Before I go, I'd like to say a big thank you to Mickee at the Melwood Hotel. This lovely lady was more than helpful in making sure that I had a pleasant stay by not only giving me a lakeside room, but upon my sadness at hearing they did not have beer at the convenience store down the street, offered to go grab me one from a place further down the street and bring it back to me when she got off work. Not only did she later arrive with frosty beer in hand, but powerades for the next morning, gummi bears, and a bag of potato chips (all of which has already been consumed). It's truly awesome the kind people you meet out here!


3 comments:

  1. Enjoyed talking with Heather, guest of Roland and Mabel Hall at Hunt's Pizza Thursday night. We enjoyed a refreshing conversation with Heather as she shared her stories of walking from Nags Head to the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. Her story was captivating as she shared stories of her travels and meeting wonderful people along her journey. We pray for safe travel and God's protection over Heather as she continues her journey to the Appalachian Trail. Praying you stay on "track" and reach your destination safe and sound. Looking forward to reading your blog and learning more about God's creation. So glad our paths crossed this evening. Take care and God's blessings as you continue your journey. Bobby and Judy Owen from Roseboro, North Carolina.

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  2. It was a pleasure to meet you! It's so refreshing to meet kind folks like you as I make my way across the state:)

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