Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Plants With Symbiotic Relationships

Feast or famine, that’s what we foragers contend with. Right now, garden vegetables are coming in big-time and also, some of the “weeds” in our garden beds, actually wonderful, edible wild plants, continue to produce.

Today, I picked a big helping of lamb’s quarters, one of my favorite green leafy vegetables. Usually thought of as a plant that only yields its sweet leaves in early summer, lamb’s quarters continue pushing up new growth and also, older plants, those purposely left in the garden, constantly put forth new, tender tips.

In the photo accompanying today’s blog post, you can see me standing with my just-picked lamb’s quarters in my hand. I placed myself just in front of a curious combination of cultivated plants.

First, some “volunteer” winter squash that came up in a raised bed meant for beans and chard, has made its way up my grapevine. Airborne squash is fine with me, since it is always clean and usually insect-free.

In turn, the grapes have overstepped their bounds by growing up, in, on and through a nearby crabapple tree.

None of these adventurous plants has done the least bit of harm to the other. In fact, I enjoy the novelty of seeing squash up in a grape arbor and grapes winding through a crabapple tree.

Such apparently symbiotic associations also occur with wild plants. The Japanese knotweed along my driveway hosts the adventitious vines of groundnuts. At first, the groundnut vines choked out the young knotweed. But as it has matured, the knotweed plants have become more able to withstand the pressure from the groundnut vines.

These things might, perhaps, be indicative of both human and animal relationships. Everything depends upon something else in one way or another. There’s a lesson in that, somewhere.


  1. Question for you Tom:
    This is Marie and Im reading "Plenty" eating locally on the 100 mile diet by Alisa Smith & J.B. Mackinnon.
    Knowing some of your foraging and fishing.....It would not surprise me if you were already doing it.
    All the food you consume comes within a one hundred mile radius.
    Thank you, Marie and Luxy

  2. Luxy,

    Yes, you are correct. Most of my food comes from a smaller radius, in fact, perhaps 20 miles.

    You are very perceptive.