Edible?

evilsharky

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Hey everyone!

My neighbor gave me some veggies and was wondering if my star tortoise can eat it. Seems like some kind of lettuce and gourd? I can't seem to find out a definite answer with my plant ID app. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
 

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Loohan

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Normally gourds are not considered edible for humans because they contain more toxins than eatin' squash.
I think i read that somewhere once anyway.
 

evilsharky

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Normally gourds are not considered edible for humans because they contain more toxins than eatin' squash.
I think i read that somewhere once anyway.
Not sure if it's really a gourd. Just taking a guess haha
 

TisMary

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I'm not so sure that is lettuce. It looks more like a Teasel (except I don't see any spines under the leaves - are there any?), or maybe a milkweed? Is your neighbor cultivating this (is it planted in their garden) or was it picked wild? If it's growing in their garden, ask them what it is (!) - they should know. If it's growing wild, try to find one like it that has flowers - much easier to tell what a plant is by its flowers.

I'm also thinking the other is some kind of gourd, but again, ask your neighbor. Gourds, cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash are members of the Cucurbitaceae (or Gourd) Family. This is probably (not sure) in the Genus Cucurbita. The Tortoise Table Plant database is not a big fan of any plants in this Family in general, or this Genus in particular. There is little nutritional value as they are mostly water. Some are even toxic (or their leaves are, or their flowers are, or their seeds are, or the fruit is - lots going on in the Gourd Family!)

Unless I were really sure what both of these plants are, I wouldn't feed them to my little guy.
 

evilsharky

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I'm not so sure that is lettuce. It looks more like a Teasel (except I don't see any spines under the leaves - are there any?), or maybe a milkweed? Is your neighbor cultivating this (is it planted in their garden) or was it picked wild? If it's growing in their garden, ask them what it is (!) - they should know. If it's growing wild, try to find one like it that has flowers - much easier to tell what a plant is by its flowers.

I'm also thinking the other is some kind of gourd, but again, ask your neighbor. Gourds, cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash are members of the Cucurbitaceae (or Gourd) Family. This is probably (not sure) in the Genus Cucurbita. The Tortoise Table Plant database is not a big fan of any plants in this Family in general, or this Genus in particular. There is little nutritional value as they are mostly water. Some are even toxic (or their leaves are, or their flowers are, or their seeds are, or the fruit is - lots going on in the Gourd Family!)

Unless I were really sure what both of these plants are, I wouldn't feed them to my little guy.
It is growing in their garden. I would ask them but they only speak chinese :(. No spines under the leaves. Yeah definitely not feeding until I can get some concrete ideas on what they are. I have more pictures of the lettuce looking plants attached. Not sure if this is any help.
 

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TisMary

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It is growing in their garden. I would ask them but they only speak chinese :(. No spines under the leaves. Yeah definitely not feeding until I can get some concrete ideas on what they are. I have more pictures of the lettuce looking plants attached. Not sure if this is any help.
Thanks for these pix @evilsharky. Do you see how the base of the leaves wrap around the stem of the plant? Also, they are not "opposite" each other on the stem; they "alternate" up the stem in what looks to be a spiral - very impressive!

I know that plants in the Spiderwort Family (Commelinaceae) do this - from one of my go to books (Botany in a Day), here is a description of characteristics of plants in this Family "have alternate, usually sharply folded leaves, and the base of each leaf wraps around the stem". Sounds like what you have, but you'll want to narrow it down some. You could google this Family and look at the pictures. What I don't know is if this is a plant native to North America, or if it comes from China.

Same with the gourd. Take a look at the "image" page of this google search. I see names like "opo lauki", "bottle gourd", and "calabash". Looking at the pictures might help you to narrow it down. (When I zoomed in your picture, I noticed fine hairs on the skin - might be another clue on what to search for.)

Don't think I can be much more help than this. You might try writing and sending your pix to the Master Gardeners at Cornell University's Cooperative Extension in your County. I find them very helpful! Good luck!
 

evilsharky

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Thanks for these pix @evilsharky. Do you see how the base of the leaves wrap around the stem of the plant? Also, they are not "opposite" each other on the stem; they "alternate" up the stem in what looks to be a spiral - very impressive!

I know that plants in the Spiderwort Family (Commelinaceae) do this - from one of my go to books (Botany in a Day), here is a description of characteristics of plants in this Family "have alternate, usually sharply folded leaves, and the base of each leaf wraps around the stem". Sounds like what you have, but you'll want to narrow it down some. You could google this Family and look at the pictures. What I don't know is if this is a plant native to North America, or if it comes from China.

Same with the gourd. Take a look at the "image" page of this google search. I see names like "opo lauki", "bottle gourd", and "calabash". Looking at the pictures might help you to narrow it down. (When I zoomed in your picture, I noticed fine hairs on the skin - might be another clue on what to search for.)

Don't think I can be much more help than this. You might try writing and sending your pix to the Master Gardeners at Cornell University's Cooperative Extension in your County. I find them very helpful! Good luck!
Thanks a lot for you help! I think I will keep them away from my tort for now haha.
 

TisMary

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Thanks a lot for you help! I think I will keep them away from my tort for now haha.
You're welcome @evilsharky. I agree - best not to feed it your tort.

I had another thought - this may be Elecampane (Inula helenium). That's is a member of the Sunflower (Asteraceae) Family. Yours is a younger plant than the ones I have near my house which are in full bloom - as I've said flowers make plant identification so much easier. If it is Elecampane, and you see it flower, you're in for treat! (NG for tortoise though - it contains helenalin). Check the underside of the leaves for whitish hairs (see below).

From Wikipedia: "The leaves are large and toothed, the lower ones stalked, the rest embracing the stem; blades egg-shaped, elliptical, or lance-shaped, as big as 30 cm (12 in) long and 12 cm (4.7 in) wide. Leaves are green on the upper side with light, scattered hairs, but whitish on the underside because of a thick layer of wool."

Here are a coupla closeups of the plant I've been watching. The red is probably due to the sun and to the age of this particular plant.

1627654276630.png

The flowers are small, but very showy!
1627654368928.png
 

Lady Boxsworth

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You can download apps that identify plants by taking their picture. Its very helpful for tortoise owners. I use one myself. Looks like lettuce. Which has NO nutritional value for tortoises.
 

RosemaryDW

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I think the first one is young celtuce/AA choy, which is indeed a Chinese lettuce variety. It can be grown just for the stem but the leaves are eaten as well. I feed it, including any part of the stem I can get. I’d taste it myself, celtuce is pretty mild, which would be a key. At any rate it sure seems like one of the lettuces. Most images of celtuce on the internet are going to focus on plants old enough to have developed the thick stem so it’s going to be hard to get a good comparison of the leaves. I’d feed it but I have plenty of experience with various Chinese greens; I can’t think of any common ones that are dangerous. There are few that are fine in moderation vs. an all out free for all but nothing dangerous. But of course don’t feed anything you aren’t comfortable with.

The second is fuzzy/hairy gourd, totally fine to feed. It’s going to look somewhat like a zucchini when you cut it open. My Russian finds the skin on some of these gourds a little harder to bite through than zucchini at first but once she’s had a bite or two it’s full speed ahead. That’s a lot of gourd for one tortoise, I’d eat some of it myself. :)

Should you ever get one of these gourds that’s old enough to have developed a kind of white film you should probably scrub or peel some of it off; that part is bitter but the rest is fine.
 

RosemaryDW

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Normally gourds are not considered edible for humans because they contain more toxins than eatin' squash.
I think i read that somewhere once anyway.
I think that might be old info or maybe just specific to ornamental gourds. (I think they probably are edible, just not very good; all hard skin, no flesh.)

There are plenty of edible gourds eaten in other cultures: bottle gourd, hairy gourd, winter melon, bitter melon, luffa, snake; my Russian has eaten them all. Most are also usually too big for her to eat the whole thing so I hope you like zucchini-like vegetables!
 

evilsharky

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I think that might be old info or maybe just specific to ornamental gourds. (I think they probably are edible, just not very good; all hard skin, no flesh.)

There are plenty of edible gourds eaten in other cultures: bottle gourd, hairy gourd, winter melon, bitter melon, luffa, snake; my Russian has eaten them all. Most are also usually too big for her to eat the whole thing so I hope you like zucchini-like vegetables!
Thanks for all the info @RosemaryDW!
 
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