Sunday, May 4, 2014

Duraznillo: South Texas Wild Peach

Paleolithic people living at the edges of the South Texas Sand Sheet as well as the southern Texas coast knew that springtime was the season for duraznillo.  Eaten ripe off the bush or made into a jam the little peaches provided a tasty treat and a healthy diversion from the nopalitos and mesquite beans that were usually harvested around the same time.

Here at the old Woods Roamer’s hideout we’ve got duraznillo growing in clumps within a few yards of the cabin.  But getting a taste of the sweet fruit is rare.  You see I’ve got competition.  Mockingbirds, thrashers, woodpeckers, pyrrhuloxias, the list is long and hungry; and they usually feast on the fruit long before I get a chance.

Duraznillo flowers attract scores of important pollinators

If I’m going to get a morsel then I’m usually forced to harvest the duraznillo green so I time my pickings to just before they begin to ripen.  Now nothing beats shrub ripened fruit and a couple of times in the last few weeks I chanced upon a bush loaded with fruit with a few of them ripe.  I’d pick them and eat them.  But there were never enough to make jam.  The next day I’d go out to see if the little peaches were ready but they were always gone.  Time and time again this happened.  I guess I could build a shelter around several shrubs (a sort of greenhouse) and then have all the fruit to myself.  But then those of you who follow this roaming into South Texas nature and bushcraft know I’m also a dedicated bird watcher.  So I’ll sit somewhere close to a duraznillo bush, binoculars nicely focused, and watch birds munching and singing and talking up the feast.  But wait, there’s more!  A year later there’ll be many more duraznillo shrubs growing under places where the birdies perched after gorging on the little peaches.

Can you spot the bird's nest?

Family: Rosaceae
Scientific Name: Prunus texana
South Texas Common Name: Duraznillo (Little Peach)
Pronounced: Doo-raz-nee-oh

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