FACW – Discover This Amazing Natural Resource


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Swamp Milkweed
Swamp Milkweed Pod

FACW plants are plants that can to grow in wetlands but may also be found outside of wetlands.  These are versatile plants that can grow in many conditions.  This includes trees such as red maple(Acer rubrum), Serviceberry (Amelanchier), river birch (Betula nigra), certain types of dogwoods (Cornus) and a vast assortment of other trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. Versatile plants such as these are valuable natural resources that may be able to thrive despite changing weather patterns.

Wetland Indicator Status

FACW is a category of the wetland indicator status. The wetland indicator status of a plant is a system of categorizing plants based on likelihood of being found in a wetland environment. A list of approximately 7000 plants was compiled in 1988 by the U.S. fish and wildlife service in conjunction with a federal inter-agency review panel. This list had the lengthy name of the national list of plant species that occur in wetlands.  There are 5 categories of estimated probability of a plant species naturally growing in a wetland environment:

  • OBL– Obligate wetland  (estimated probability > 99%)
  • FACW– Facultative wetland  (estimated probability 67% – 99%)
  • FAC– Facultative(estimated probability 34% – 66%)
  • FACU– Facultative upland  (estimated probability probability 1% – 33%).
  • UPL– Obligate upland  (estimated probability < 1%)

FACW

FACW plants
FACW

Facultative wetland plants are plants such as pennsylvania bittercress that are very likely to be found in a wetland but occasionally grow in non-wetland areas. Some plants are considered FACW in some regions but considered FAC in other regions.  This usually depends on weather patterns and climate.

Recent Changes

There have been subsequent updates to the list in 1996 and 1998. In 2012 the national wetland plant list replaced the national list of plant species that occur in wetlands. The new list can be search here at the department of agriculture website. This new list is a very useful list for finding out where specific plants grow, this can be used for finding specific species or for narrowing down species for identification.

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3 of The Best Free Android Apps for Wild edibles and Foraging


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phoneleafThere are a few free android apps in Google Play Store that focus on teaching you to find, identify, or prepare wild edibles.  Below are 3 of the best apps for learning about wild edibles and foraging.   I will explain the differences and What you should expect from each one.

Wild Edibles Lite
By WinterRoot LLC and Wildman Steve Brill

Edible and Medicinal Plants
By Government Conspiracy

Foraging Flashcard Lite
By WinterRoot LLC and Wildman Steve Brill

I intended to review Edible and Medicinal Plants By Clandestine Research but had technical problems just trying to open it. It is .pdf based, and the .pdf wouldn’t open in my reader. Others have had the same problem.

 

Wild Edibles Lite
By WinterRoot LLC and Wildman Steve Brill

Wild Edibles Lite By WinterRoot LLC and Wildman Steve Brill is by far the app that contains the most information per plant. The lite version features 20 plants and the full version features more than 200 plants which is more than any other app. For each plant there are multiple pictures and up to 14 categories: General Info, Habitat, Seasons, How to Spot, Positive Identification, Similar Plants, Similar Plants Explained, Cautions, Harvesting, Food Uses, Nutrition, Recipes, Medicinal Uses, and Poisonous Lookalikes. The inclusion of recipes for each plant makes this app truly unique compared to the others (most if not all the recipes are vegan). This app features only plants that grow in temperate climates, some of them happen to grow in tropical climates as well. The plant selection also focuses on ease of identifying, harvesting, and preparing, so these should be the best wild edibles for beginners as well as experienced foragers.  Even though one of the other free apps has more plants that Wild Edibles Lite, this is the one you want if you live in a temperate climate. Wildman Steve Brill has written numerous books about foraging and wild edibles and his vast knowledge shows with this app.  If you’re serious about learning to identify and forage for wild edibles then you’ll probably want the full version with more than 200 plants, as well as about 65 minor plants including lookalikes, similar plants, and poisonous plants, no other app has that many plants, and as mentioned before there is a lot of info for each plant.

 

Edible and Medicinal Plants
By Government Conspiracy

Edible and Medicinal Plants By Government Conspiracy contains more plants than any other free app. there were 110 plants and  each plant has up to 5 categories of information: Description, Habitat and Distribution, Edible Parts, Other Uses, and Cautions as well as one or two photos per plant.  The plant selection is broad and diverse.  Its difficult to know which plants grow in your area and which ones don’t. There are literally plants from the arctic to the tropics and from mountains to swamps.  This app would be good for someone who is a world traveler and is likely to find themselves in survival scenarios, but someone like that would already have extensive survival knowledge to begin with I would hope.  You can  find a good amount of useful information from this app, but it would probably take some time sifting through all the plants and cross referencing online to see what grows in your area. I know for myself personally I found a few edible and medicinal uses for plants in my area that I had not previously known.

 

Foraging Flashcard Lite
By WinterRoot LLC and Wildman Steve Brill

Foraging Flashcard Lite By WinterRoot LLC and Wildman Steve Brill is a great little app for helping you to memorize plant names.  It is simple and straightforward.  It doesn’t give any written information on these plants but learning to match the name with the plant is important for foragers since all the plants in this app are very common wild edibles. Besides for the lite version there are 5 more apps in the series all focusing on different identification features or seasons.


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Hawthorn, an Ornamental Tree With Edible Fruit


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Crataegus phaenopyrum, Washington Hawthorn leaves and berries
Crataegus phaenopyrum, Washington Hawthorn leaves and berries (photo By: Nadiatalent / Wikimedia Commons)

Washington hawthorn tree (Crataegus phaenopyrum) is a common ornamental landscape tree in the Eastern  and Central United States.  The genus Crataegus is a large genus including many species referred to as hawthorn tree, hawthorn apple thornapple, maytree, whitethorn and hawberry.  Although this article focuses on the washington hawthorn tree the information here applies to many other species in the genus. Washington hawthorn tree is native to the US and serves as an important food source for wildlife such as squirrels and birds. The culinary and medicinal use of plants in the hawthorn genus: Crataegus goes back thousands of years to many people and cultures around the globe. This plant has a long history of use by humans.

Hawthorn Fruit

Hawthorn fruit is edible and delicious. The seeds are likely about as poisonous as apple seeds, see the ‘cautions’ section below. The washington hawthorn tree has small berries grouped into clusters.  Even this species with its small berries is worth finding.  I usually take a mouthful of hawthorn fruit and spit out the seeds. There are other species with larger berries as well but this particular species is very common in the Norhteastern US, therefore it is easy to find and forage.  Hawthorn fruits are produced in the fall and hang on into mid winter. Hawthorn fruit can be used as a flavoring or addition to many things. Click Here to learn how to make a Hawthorn extract.

Health Benefits

Hawthorn berries, young leaves and fresh hawthorn flowers are known to lower blood pressure and have a general tonic effect on the heart. There are numerous hawthorn products that focus on cardiovascular health on the market. This is one of the primary traditional medicinal uses of Hawthorn throughout the world.  Combining hawthorn with Hibiscus is one way to reap the heart and blood pressure benefits of both plants.

Cautions

Hawthorns are in the same subfamily as apples and likely have poisonous seeds like apples.  At least one report says that the seeds are significantly poisonous and too many could be lethal to children, other reports don’t mention it.  Exercise caution and spit out the seeds. Hawthorns have been used safely by humans for thousands of years. Another thing to watch out for when harvesting is THORNS! They are sharp and long!

Key ID Features

Crataegus Phaenopyrum, Washington Hawthorn
Crataegus Phaenopyrum, Washington Hawthorn (Photo By: Richard Webb, Self Employed Horticulturist, bugwood.org)

Identifying a plant as being definitively in the genus: Crataegus is difficult.  There are some typical features but not all species show them and not all features distinguish them from other plants.  There are a few general identification features. 1) They have thorns which can be very long (up to 4″). 2) they typically have lobed or largely serrated leaf margins. 3) The fruits of all species are pomes(apple-like) but might be difficult to determine as such since the seeds in the middle sometimes stick together. As well as all the ID features above there are some identification features that are particular to Washington Hawthorn that will help with identifying this plant.  The leaf shape tends to be shallowly to deeply lobed as well as serrated and pyramidal.  The berries grow in clusters in the fall and winter and are small and red with a dark circular ‘crown’ at the end of the berry. So if you have found a plant that has thorns, fall pomes, and serrated leaves, it is likely a hawthorn, the best next step would be to research hawthorns in your area and compare to make a positive ID.

Conclusion

Hawthorn is a delicious cultivated and wild edible fruit for many parts of the world. In the eastern US washington hawthorn is a very common native species, promoting and growing this plant is great for human and animal foragers.  There are some important health benefits to be had as well, especially in regards to heart health which is one of the leading health problems among Americans.  Add Hawthorn to your diet for a healthy tasty winter snack.


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