Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Green Hour Challenge #8 : Up Close

We had a lot of fun outdoors today as we did challenge #8. One of the main activities of this challenge was to take a magnifying glass out in your own backyard and look at things. Well, we did that. But, we actually quickly got distracted, so we need to do this again someday!

We enjoyed looking at this weed that grows in our yard - we used to call them baby strawberries, but they're really nothing like strawberries. They start as this little yellow flower...

...then the turn into this white "fruit" covered with little red "beads." Does anyone know what this is? We'd love to know!

Then, we went and looked at the garden we planted yesterday. We planted our gourds that we'd started indoors. They are looking OK. I hope they make it! We also planted some marigolds, verbena, and something else... I've forgotten its name. And, we planted more milkweed. When I looked at the photo I'd taken of it today, I noticed at least two little insects (ants?). I'm amazed at how often I take a photo of something and find something that I'd never noticed before! So, this was kind of like using a magnifying glass. :-)

We also found this neat egg sac of some kind on our sago palm.

Then, I decided to go and get some loquats. For the past few weeks, we'd been noticing trees in our neighborhood covered in yellow fruit. We even thought we saw some kids picking them and eating them. I had no idea what they were. Then, a few days ago, a friend wrote an email to a group we belong to saying that people should go eat some loquats and he briefly desribed them. So, I looked it up on the internet, and that's what we'd been seeing - loquats!

We went to our local park to pick some loquats. They have a thin peel and a texture kind of like an apple. But, they are sour!!! Alexandra really enjoyed them and ate several. Then, I started worrying that maybe I had the wrong fruit! Maybe they were poisonous! It didn't help that the first webpage I found when I got home told about a 5-year-old girl had eaten some that were not ripe and they had trouble waking her up. Yikes!!!

But, then I found this site that had a lot more information. First of all, it sounds like loquats don't produce fruit very often, so that might be why this is the first time I have noticed it. (It says they only fruit once a decade, but I'm not sure they were being literal.) And, the site said they were good to eat, but that the seed contains toxins. They also had a recipe for jam that Alexandra really wanted to make, but we didn't.

I'm also wondering if ours wasn't quite ripe. It was SO sour and another website says the fruit's "flavor is a blend of apricot, plum and cherry." (Doesn't that sound yummy?) It also says the loquat is native to Southeastern China, where loquat means "reed orange."

So, that was our adventure for the day. I feel like our moto should be "Never stop learning!"


Theresa said...

I think your loquats must not have been ripe. I used to eat them often in FL and they were very sweet when ripe.
Nice pictures!

Robin said...

I love your pictures, Dana!
I tried to find a berry that looks like that, but all I could find was strawberry. I'm not really very good at that. It looks strawberry-ish to me.
You guys have such different plant species from us. Isn't it weird that we live in the same country but have such different flora and fauna?
I would love to take a taste of the loquat fruit. That's so cool! Once every TEN years! Crazy!

Marjorie said...

Dana, those are Indian Strawberries aka Duchesnea indica or Mock Strawberries. My girls always want to eat them even though they aren't sweet. Then again, my girls eat the wild garlic and onions too :-)

Rhonda said...

We have some of those little red berries in our yard too. I never knew what they were, but I always told the girls not to eat them. I was afraid they might be poisonous. Glad to know the name of them now.

Those loquats do sound delicious, once they are ripe. My mouth was puckering up just thinking of them being that sour.

Sounds like you had such a wonderful day and I LOVE that motto of yours.

live4evermom said...

I can't wait till my loquats are ripe. I actually posted about it in the Picture Quiz.

Melissal89 said...

What a fantastic nature study. Your pictures are full of such color and beauty. I'm glad the loquats were safe! Everything you have there looks so different from where we are; looks like you're on a tropical island!


Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

We have those "strawberries" in our yard too! I love the little yellow flowers and how they look.

Great week of nature study, thank you so much for sharing with us all.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Anonymous said...

You have reminded me...
I ate loquats, as a child, from my neighbors tree. So much fun to eat something right off the tree.

Marsha said...

What a fun adventure in your own yard! We have those little strawberry thingies too. But no loquats... I did plant several fruit trees this year-- mandarin orange, lemon, red plum and crab apple. I hope they survive the summer!

Jimmie said...

Yes, your loquats were not ripe. I didn't know what the name of those was in English. I only know the Chinese name pi pa. Very neat! I thought they only grew in China. I'm learning too.

I'm a new subscriber to your blog ( a few weeks now). I'm really enjoying it!

Makita said...

I'd never heard of loquats! Interesting! :D

mamasmurf said...

I think you had a wonderful time doing all this! We aren't so lucky over here in England - nothing very exotic grows in our backyards.

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