Monday, August 18, 2014

Rich pickings at the dump

On a perfect Saturday we walked into Dead Horse Bay. We wandered the paths, finding mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), wasabi-hot poor man's pepper (Lepidium virginicum), young dandelions (Taraxacum officinalis), pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) and smooth sumac (Rhus glabra). The Phragmites - the monoculture of invasive weed reeds - were in bloom. 

So were the bottle trees. This was an old bayberry.

Tide was high. The beached Sandy boats gather more graffiti every year.

We spread out our picnic on a beached log. Field garlic butter, sumac butter and sumac bread. I found some sea rocket (Cakile edentula) leaves to top mine.

By the time we had eaten the high tide had retreated enough to allow us to walk along the littered shore.

The steam punk tree lives on.

As we cut back in to the old dump, the reeds closed in again.

This sumac is Rhus copalina. Winged sumac (glossy sumac, dwarf sumac), as its leaves' axes (below) told me, soon enough. I have never paid it much attention but I have also never seen it in bloom as profusely as this. It was heavy with bees carrying even heavier loads of pollen.

Bless botanist's carrying plant bibles. Fortunately, I did not know until the end of the walk that Eve is a botanist, or I would have got the jitters.

                                                                  We found ripe blackberries.

And trees dripping with fat black cherries, the best I have tasted. Sana, a fellow walker, pointed out guava notes. Yes!

Goldenrod is early, I think. A funny botanical year.

We paused for a good bit, here. Now I have jam to make. Or perhaps chutney. Then again, the black cherry fizz I bottled last week is incredibly delicious. What to do?

I limited myself to one bottle from the beach, but a good deal of sumac, super-sour and moistly fresh. Now bathing in jars vodka, gin, and water with sugar.

The next walk is this Saturday, in much tamer Central Park.

More here.


  1. Ah, those cherries. Lucky, lucky you. It's been a good year for elderberries up here. Just made a small batch of pontack sauce.

  2. Hello Marie, fellow Capetonian here. Those cherries look delicious, but we need tasting notes on the sumac. The boats are fabulous bits of public art. Must look into whether there is a foraging group here, it looks like fun- Lesley

    1. Hi Lesley - sumac is very sour, like lemon juice. The Atlas Trading Company may sell it, in powder form.

      Look up Loubie Rusch. She does foraging walks and meals in Kommetjie.

  3. Thanks Marie, but I'm an expat too, living in Sydney, I'm sure there must be a group here. Thanks for the notes on Sumac!

  4. have always loved your photos, but since starting my photo class am seeing what good composition you have. Jealousy overwhelms me!


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