Tracking in the Mud

All things children and nature

Making Lemonade from a “Weed” May 5, 2010

Filed under: Seasons,Spring,Uncategorized — Sandy Beverly @ 2:07 pm
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Chances are good that yellow wood sorrel is growing somewhere near your home.  This little clover-like plant has delicate yellow flowers and is informally called “sour grass”.  When I was a kid, my friends and I would eat the sour leaves and flowers, and over-react to the tingling in our jaws.  Many consider this plant a weed.

Thirty years later (thank you, Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants), I’ve learned that you can make a refreshing cold beverage—a cross between lemonade and tea—from this plant.  Want to try it?

  • Gather a bunch of sorrel.  You can find it in almost any untreated yard (and do be sure your plants don’t have chemical herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers on them). My bunch was 4 or 5 inches in diameter.
  • Trim off the roots and rinse thoroughly.
  • Steep 10 minutes or longer in hot water.  I probably used about 20 ounces of water, and my drink turned out very mild.
  • Strain out the plant, chill, and sweeten to taste with your favorite sweetener.

It’s that easy.  And a fun way to teach children about the many ways that plants enrich our lives.

Note: A number of reputable sources describe yellow wood sorrel as a safe edible plant.  But it contains quite a bit of oxalic acid (which is in many foods).  It should be consumed in moderation, and avoided by people with kidney disease, kidney stones, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout.


Neighborhood Nature Notes: May

Filed under: Neighborhood Nature Notes,Seasons,Spring — Sandy Beverly @ 1:35 pm

This is a log of nature observations for our neighborhood south of West Junior High.  Want to share your observations?  See below.  Or start your own nature notebook at home.  Earlier Nature Notes are posted here.

May 2010

  • May 26–3 young hawks are still in the nesting tree, but one has moved to a branch a foot or so above the nest.
  • May 26–Purple finches in the neighborhood.
  • May 26–Some mulberries are ripe (and tasty)!
  • May 25–Grackle fusses persistently at neighbor’s cat.  Probably young grackles close by.
  • May 23–Spotted a redtail hawk’s nest on Orchards Golf Course.  Binoculars show 3 large young birds with giant eyes.  Read this about ID’ing juvenile birds.
  • May 22–A broken robin’s egg on the sidewalk.  A different nest has unhatched robin’s eggs.
  • May 10–Baltimore Oriole in our Sycamore tree.  First one I’ve seen here in a few years.
  • May 7–Sycamore trees are dropping seeds, too.
  • May 5–Cottonwood trees are dropping their white fuzzy seeds.  Max calls this “snow”.
  • May 5–Mulberry trees are setting their fruit.  In June, these messy purple berries will make a tasty treat for birds and people.  (Note: Taste varies from tree to tree.  If you’ve had a bad-tasting berry, try again from a different  tree.  And read this short blog.)
  • May 5–The little blue herons have definitely returned to their regular nesting site.  Why do they nest in our so-suburban neighborhood?
  • May 2–Honeysuckle shrubs are blooming, releasing their sweet-smelling fragrance.  Take a walk at night and see if you can tell when you pass one.  (Honeysuckles are a problem plant, but the nectar smells and tastes sweet.)

Want to share your observations?  Add a comment or e-mail me ( and I will add to the log.  Send first name, age (if you’d like), observation, and your location in relation to a public school.

Or, start your own nature notebook at home, with your family.  Sometimes hard to keep at it, but lots of fun to look back at previous years to see if events are happening earlier or later.  We got a big kick out of observing our first-of-year bat on the same day two years in a row.