Saturday, November 19, 2011

CA bay ~ 11/19/11 ~ Garland Ranch

After a full year of thinking about it and posting about it back in July, I finally had my first taste of a California bay nut. Well, actually, being the piglet I am and wanting to compare, I tried 3 bay nuts. I was so excited I didn't get a picture of the first one, but it was reddish and squishy like the first photo above. The flesh had the texture and taste that reminded me of a cross between a firm avocado and an unripe mango, mild, slightly sweet, and with only a hint of bay. The second one I tried was a bit greener yet also soft. I barely nibbled it before I spat it out. It had a very, very strong bay flavor. It left a burning tingle in the back of my throat, similar to the effect I get when I eat fresh mangoes - I've already looked it up, CA bays are related to avocados but not mangoes. Hoping to try another ripe bay nut, I ate a third that was somewhere in between. Had I been prudent, I would have simply saved them and waited until I got home to taste them; for the rest of my hike, my throat tingled and every exhale tasted like bay. My stomach was not a happy camper by the time I finished my hike.

Interesting to note the seed of the first ripe one was very dark, whereas the seed of the second green one was a much lighter color. In the third photo I also want to show there are buds on the evergreen CA bay already. And the last picture shows a very large and mature CA bay tree.

ps 02/06/12 - I initially posted the last picture believing the large tree was an oak (Quercus sp.) next to a smaller CA bay. The significance of this is that the CA bay serves as a host to a pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death, which also affects tanbark oaks (Notholithocarpus densiflorus). For a very informative blog post about SOD, check out Randy at Way Points. I'm always amazed at the things I learn from fellow bloggers. During another hike at Garzas Creek on 01/16/12, I took a second look at the large tree and realized I had been mistaken about its ID. I've still got a lot to learn about trees.


Cindy said...

Something inside of me was going "No, don't eat it!" but I can't remember where I have read anything about eating or not eating bay fruit. Some animal peels off the outside flesh and then gnaws on the endosperm end of the inner nut. By the location of the gnawed evidence, I think it is squirrels.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Hi, again, Cindy. If you check out my July link above and the other usual embedded links, several online folks have written about eating various parts of the CA bay nut. I'm curious that I get the same reaction to eating bay nut flesh as to eating fresh mangoes, and I don't think that happens to everyone. I like to try things, but I don't yet have the gumption to try wild mushrooms - my ID skills are too spotty for safety!