A Walk in Fern Bluff Park
November 3, 2001- Page 6

Archives of previous walks in the park: 12 May 2007 05 May 2007; 28 April 2007, 21 April 2007, 14 April 2007,  1 April 2007 Easter Egg Hunt; 24 March 2007,  17 March 2007; Nov. 03, 2001; April 04, 2001; March 25, 15, 10-11, 04, 2001; February 2418, 10, 2001

Bugsinthenews

The roots of M. trifoliolata were used in frontier times for medicinal purposes. The root contains a number of alkaloids, including berberine. Although this alkaloid was once thought to be of promising medicinal value, it is now known to be relatively feeble. The root extract is, in fact, toxic in small doses and, in sufficient quantities can produce a fatal reaction. The aromatic red berries (not shown, as they ripen in June) are highly acidic, and make excellent jellies and wine. The roasted seeds make a good coffee substitute. A yellow dye can be made from the wood and roots, and the plant was sought out by early settlers for this purpose. I suspect they were taught to do this by native American Indians.

Several species of native and introduced grasses are found in the park.

Many know the plant pictured below by the vernacular name of "Agarita." It is a member of the Barberry Family, and is officially known as Laredo Mahonia (Mahonia trifoliolata). I have found it in only one location in Fern Bluff Park, but it grows naturally throughout this area. It prefers dry, stony hillsides, and is common throughout Texas (except in the east and southeast portions of the state), west through New Mexico and Arizona, and south into at least four states in Mexico. 

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Archives of previous walks in the park: 12 May 2007 05 May 2007; 28 April 2007, 21 April 2007, 14 April 2007,  1 April 2007 Easter Egg Hunt; 24 March 2007,  17 March 2007; Nov. 03, 2001; April 04, 2001; March 25, 15, 10-11, 04, 2001; February 2418, 10, 2001