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Mexican mystery plant

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  • Pat Henry
    Several months ago I posted two photos to the group, hoping that someone might help me identify my mystery plant. I didn t get any responses, but have now
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 30, 2011

      Several months ago I posted two photos to the group, hoping that someone might help me identify my mystery plant.  I didn’t get any responses, but have now figured out what I have and would love to know anyone’s experience with this tree…as it turns out.  It is Paulownia kawakamii aka Empress Tree aka Dragon Tree and you can see it here http://www.bambooweb.info/bb/viewtopic.php?p=24595  Unfortunately it is not an edible…unless you know otherwise…but it has some very useful features…fast growing hardwood with high nitrogen in the leaves for mulch.


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    • Michael Bell
      Just to see if this still works for me. --
      Message 2 of 4 , Sep 15, 2011
        Just to see if this still works for me.

      • Michael Bell
        I see a lot of potential in trees as food crops. Once Planted and established they need no yearly ploughing, they hold and enrich the soil, they put more
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 15, 2011
          I see a lot of potential in trees as food crops. Once Planted and
          established they need no yearly ploughing, they hold and enrich the
          soil, they put more chlorophyll into the light and and fix more
          carbon, they do not need weeding which too often is done with
          weedkillers. It's not a new idea, we have apples and bananas.

          My main project is to develop alder as a grain crop, but to learn from
          other tree-crops, I looked at the Kentish cobnut industry.

          Cobnuts, so called in Kent, otherwise Hazelnuts, have a long history
          of cultivation and not only for their nuts. The small timber got from
          coppicing used to be important, but it's doubtful if it can be again.

          Cobnuts grow all over the country, but Kent was a main centre, it
          developed cultivars, cobnuts were used as rations in the Navy, so it
          was well documented, probably to the neglect of other areas.

          I went to Kent, looked around and talked to the leader of the Kent
          cobnut Association:-


          She said:-

          "Most orchards are kept going by Turks coming in on a pick-your-own
          basis. Nuts are in important in Turkish culture. The Turks like their
          nuts fresh, and pick them from the tree, but they can be shaken down
          when ripe, but that gives the problem of getting them up off the

          "Abroad, most nuts are harvested when ready to fall off the tree. A
          mechanical shaker grabs the trunk and shakes the tree, the nuts fall
          to the ground, are swept by another machine to the centre of the
          windrow, and then hoovered up.

          "Here almost all nuts are picked by hand. Most of the trees are in
          clusters of suckers. The problem of a machine might be getting into
          the centre of the tree and difficulty of manipulating the machine
          round the tree considering the high density of trees in most places.

          "Some orchard grow their trees in the form of hedges and attempt
          mechanical harvesting, but it has not been successful.

          "There is one grower who is working hard on developing methods, but he
          won't let you in to see what he's doing. "

          Apart from this one grower, I got the impression of an industry which
          has given up. The trees were old, fences and buildings neglected,
          every sign of having given up.

          If cobnuts are to be developed as major food crop, what needs to be
          done? There may be problems with trees themselves which I don't know
          of so I can't comment. Mechanical harvesting seems easy enough, a rake
          with tines1-2 cms apart pulled through the branches seems the obvious
          way and it can be mechanised. It may be a problem for mechanical
          harvesting may be that trees grow to 3-4 M high and then produce
          suckers to produce a bush. Is this a problem?

          One solution might be to plant the trees in a narrow line. We can mow
          down the suckers that grow on one side, but allow suckers to grow out
          to say 50 cms on the other side. In the fullness of time, we can cut
          down the original line, to be replaced by the sucker-line, and so the
          line will creep across the field.

          A chain-saw can cut the trees, the branches will have to be burned,
          let's hope usefully as fuel, and the trunks might be sold as thin
          wooden poles, or maybe they will also have to be burned, maybe we
          could get a better price for them as logs for wood-burning stoves. And
          can the process be mechanised so that the whole process can be carried
          out by a single machine driven by a single man?

          Marketing is not my field, but I see the need for it. How is it going
          to be presented to the public? As a staple, ground into a flour and
          incorporated into pies, bread, pasta etc.? (Don't be too
          narrow-minded. Remember that there is "Weizenbier", beer made of wheat
          rather than barley. It tastes noticeably different) As a luxury
          delicacy? But the market for that is small. As something to take with
          you on an outing? (Women are disgusted at men's use of a Mole wrench
          to break open nuts. Is this an obstacle to be overcome or a selling
          point?) How are the shells to be disposed of? There are all sorts of
          decisions to be made.

          A lot of work over a lot of time! I'm not going to do it. Europe has a
          food surplus. I am discussing this crop as a commercial crop which it
          ought to be worthwhile to develop as a commercial crop. But I have
          only heard of one grower who is putting the work in. Prices are too
          low! An established industry is bowing out.

          Michael Bell

        • Bekki Shining Bearheart LMT
          I got it...
          Message 4 of 4 , Sep 17, 2011
            I got it...

            Michael Bell wrote:
            > Just to see if this still works for me.
            > --
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