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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Wednesday - July 02, 2008

From: White House, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Recipe for cherry jelly from wild black cherry tree in Tennessee
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I think that we have a wild black cherry tree on our farm. I understand that the fruit is edible. Do you have a recipe for jelly or any other food product using this fruit?

ANSWER:

Um, we think you've reached the wrong number. This is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, dedicated to the protection and propagation of plants native to North America. Not Betty Crocker. However, just for the heck of it, we Googled for a recipe for cherry jelly, and got this one from RecipeZaar.

Now, more to the point-before you eat anything off any plant growing in the wild, make absolutely sure that it is what you think it is, and safe to eat. We found two "black cherries" that grow naturally in Tennessee, the Prunus serotina (black cherry) and the Prunus serotina var. serotina (black cherry).

Prunus serotina (black cherry) - take a look at this page of Images of this plant and this Floridata website on Prunus serotina.

Prunus serotina var. serotina (black cherry) - pictures of this one, and, the only site we could find on this specific sub-species, the USDA Plant guide.

Finally, humor us, we don't like to have customers poisoned. Go to the website for the University of Tennessee Extension program, Robertson County and contact someone there about identifying your tree. Who knows? Maybe they'll have a recipe for cherry jelly.

 

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