Harvest time

Access to internet is a luxury at the moment and it has taken a while to get round to writing this post which covers some of the plants seen on the travels in November. Having a few Latin names of plants etc has been very helpful and at least if your looking at a French guide book you see some familar latin names which can then be looked up in English if need be. With the Wwoofing the latin names also came in handy so I think there is real value in identifying a plant in this way if possible.

The town of Brantome in the Dordogne was our next stop. The region is on a bedrock of limestone and is famous for Foie gras with images on postcards of sweet little old ladies funneling grains into the mouth of a goose . It also boasts to be one of the best places for Trufflle Hunters. Trained dogs / pigs and the presence of certain types of insects are used to unearth them from a few centimetres below the soil. Throughout the season one or other truffle is ready for hunting. In the markets, stalls selling only truffles at 15euro for 10 grams were common. These are used to make infusions with olive oil etc. Many other mushrooms are collected in the region. The Bolete family of mushrooms are all called Ceps in the markets even though I had understood a Cep to be a single mushroom, Porcini or Penny Buns  (Boletus edulis).

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If you were wondering where to find mushrooms

Near the town we saw an impressive 400 year old Black Poplar.

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Black Popular (Populus nigra)

The woodland in the area comprises Oak, Hazel, Ash, Alder, Poplar, Maple and Beech and I didn’t see any Walnut or Sweet chestnut. In the hedgerows we saw Dog Rose, Spindle,Blackthorn, Oak and Old mans beard (Clematis vitalba). Deep in the shade of the woodland Butchers Broom was growing.

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Woodland near Brantome

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Ruscus aculeatus

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Spindle

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Oldmans Beard (Clematis vitalba)

From Brantome we headed on to Montignac and the Lascaux caves. The Dordogne region is famous for its cave paintings. One evening in the village of Saint Leon sur vesere just as the sun was setting this enormous number of finch like birds gathered in a dense thicket of bamboo near the aire. It was so loud that most people came out to see what the comotion was all about. I tried to look in to see what they were but the bamboo was too dense.

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This was the first time we saw bamboo growing in large stands as we traveled south and we were to see lots more bamboo taking over the natural vegetation in Les Ezyes de Tayac.

St Cyprien is located on the Dordogne river in a region growing Hazel, Chestnut, Walnut and Almond. Here we were starting to see Orange and Lemon trees. Along the river one house was growing Kiwi

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Kiwi

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A typical Walnut Grove

Growing out over the wall of a house I saw this fruit which at first glance looked like an orange but the skin texture was much too smooth. A few days later I started seeing more of the trees growing further south and in a market a stall holder told me they were called Kaki and could be eaten raw or made in to a jam.  It turns out to be a Kaki (Diospyros kaki) also knowns as Japaneese Persimon.

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I have found it fascinating how the fruit and veg for sale in the markets is so varied from place to place and the offerings reflect very closely what one finds growing locally. It is however odd seeing people paying up to 8 euro a kilo for walnuts and 4 euro for Chestnuts when they can be so easily collected. I feel we have been so lucky moving through France to see the harvests. In the towns and villages trees such as Plane, Mimosa and Robinia are quite popular and pruning is underway at this time of year.

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