|What's for Supper in the Woodlands of Kentucky?|
|It's funny that this section reminds me of a certain sketch routinely performed on the old "Hee Haw" Show. The audience would ask Grandpa Jones "Hey Grandpa!! What's for Supper?" And of course Grandpa Jones would deliver a poetically enthralled hunger inspiring menu describing all the best down home Country fixin's from cornbread to collard greens. If only we could ask one of these creatures, "What's for Supper?" If only we knew. But, the question of what exactly do the creatures eat or what could they eat in the Ky wilderness is valid and central. After all, in order to have a resident primate, there must be plentiful food available. Bigfoot can hardly stop in the local Quickie Mart for a Corndog and a Coca Cola.
The Wild Edibles
I will describe a few here and these were taken from the internet and other sources, myself being one source. I found there are many plants eaten by local residents that are not listed on the edible foods of Ky on the net. Odd, I always thought the internet was the source of all knowledge but it only knows what people list there. Keep in mind this is not a complete list of wild foods. I'll also go into some human planted farm foods that have been reported to be popular with the creatures. If you know of anything that grows wild, not listed here that's common to the area, by all means , email me at email@example.com. I honestly do appreciate the input.
First, there's a root that looks like a small potato called the wood sorrel. Some people call it the oxalis. The plant has a root tuber that looks like a small potato but it sure doesn't taste like one. According to the internet, the stems, leaves and flowers are mildly toxic and should not be eaten. Onion grass, grows everywhere in Kentucky, the grassy stem as well as the bulbs are edible. Not a great choice of diet, eating wild onions, but if need be a person could survive on them. There's also another more popular breed of wild onion some call a "ramp" These look like the other wild onion stems but have a larger bulb. The bulb is commonly flat on one side, hence the nickname "ramp"
Ginseng is an edible root and also has medicinal value but it's not common in large enough quantity to support a primate population on it's own. But i'll wager ginseng is used by these creatures from time to time.
Sassafrass root is another common root. I'll bet most people have heard of sassafrass tea. The roots are edible, they don't taste good and are about the same texture as chewing on a stick, but they are edible.
Fruits and Berries
The most common wild berry in Kentucky is the Blackberry. Sightings peak when these berries are ripe. The American elderberry is also found in KY, but it should be carefully studied before consumption since it superficially resembles several varieties of poisonous berries. Ground cherries or wild strawberries are also present in Kentucky, but since these plants grow best on loamy, well-watered soil, they are normally found in the sandy and/or rocky areas around the state's creek banks and river banks/bottoms. (The most common places the creatures travel and or are sighted.)
Wild Pear trees populate the state along with many plum, cherry and persimmon trees. The crab apple tree grows well here and tame apple trees also flourish. Even the "tamed" apple trees that are orchard grown by local residents tend to get "robbed" early in the Fall most times overnight. I'll get into garden tamed and human planted foods later below. Paw Paw trees, Just like the old folk song says "Pickin up Paw Paws, puttin' 'em in my pocket" Paw Paws are a wild fruit very similar to a banana. I love these things. Persimmon trees, their fruit is tastey when ripe, but don't try the green persimmon fruit, oh, it's so sour it'll lock your jaws.
The ponds and lakes of Kentucky are home to wild watercress, which can be harvested and eaten. Wild prickly lettuce, rabbit lettuce are both just as edible as iceberg lettuce and they taste better too. Rabbit tobacco is also widely eaten by rabbits but the taste is similar to the bitter Burley Tobacco plant and may not be palatable to primates. Dandelions, yes you know the weeds in your lawn that are hard as heck to kill. The yellow flowers and greens from these plants are absolutely delicious. Polk greens and the large stalks are also edible but here's the thing about Polk, the greens are toxic until they're properly prepared and cooked. I know this is true for the greens. So, Polk greens may be quesionable as a food source for the creatures because they don't prepare/cook food as we do with flame or heat but here's the thing, the Polk berries are also supposed to be toxic but birds love them! As a child I was always told not to eat Polk berries so I never have. But I've seen birds eat them by the handfuls and seen the evidence of Polk berry ingestion within the bird droppings. So the toxin may not be toxic to all species.
Chickweed, another lawn weed, is actually considered a wild herb and can provide some nutrition as well. The entire plant is edible from the root to foilage. I ate some, actually a very sweet taste, not bitter as I expected..
Some mosses are edible but I really wouldn't want to eat moss personally. That ranks up there with eating lichen and leaves and my point is there's a lot better foods out there than those.
Walnuts in Kentucky virtually litter the ground. One of the most common trees in Ky is the American Black Walnut tree, It also grows best close to rivers and streams. (again , luckily for the creatures) The state has a good climate for hickory trees, which produce edible Hickory nuts. (Locally called "Hiccur Nuts") The Kentucky coffee tree produces an edible bean, meaning that the seeds can be used as a substitute for coffee if they are roasted for three or four hours. Reportedly However, even after being roasted, the seeds supposedly remain a little toxic so should never be consumed in large quantities. (I think a little oil on the seed before roasting helps reduce or remove the toxic effects.) Buckeyes are common, some are thought to be poisonous but are often eaten by deer and squirrels without any ill effects. Chestnuts are also common and found in large quantity. Maybe the creatures can't roast them by an open fire, but they can certainly crack the hulls to get at the LARGE meaty nut inside. The Catalpa tree has a large seed pod that seems to be very popular with the creatures. Catalpa trees are popular among fishermen as the trees always have a large supply of "catalpa worms" which are highly sought after by the fish. Also another seed pod or bean bearing tree is the Honey Locust. These trees produce a seed bearing pod and also seem popular with the creatures.
Other Plants That are Field or Garden Planted by Humans
Some of these "creature eats" food preferences are taken from actual sightings, Corn is popular with the creatures. Reports of creatures carrying arm fulls of "Roasting Ears" from corn fields is common. Apple orchards are commonly robbed when their fruit ripens along with other fruit trees like pears, peaches, cherries, plums etc.
Ky gardens are often victim of nighttime visitors commonly lifting cantalope, musk and water melons. I personally have lost an entire crop of water melons to these creatures. (Roughly 80 to 100 melons taken overnight by a group of creatures. Ironically, I had planted the melon patch far away from the highway on the very back of the farm near the woods. By doing this I had hope it would curb any temptations for passers by and keep anyone from stopping to get a free melon, only to end up losing all the melons to something quite extraordinary.) Fruits and melons seem to be by far the most popular weakness of the creatures as they tend to risk exposure by being in an open environment and indeed highly populated residential areas, to retrieve these highly desired food items from local gardens and melon patches. The melon patch I had mistakenly planted next to the woods must have been a welcome buffet. 2010 will see another patch of melons planted in the same area. This time there may be a live feed IR cam and audio monitoring of the melons though.