wild food

local caffeine part 3: California bay nuts (peppernuts)

In the video below, feralkevin presents a portion of his research on the California Bay tree and its edible uses. The slide show gives instruction on how to prepare the fruits and nuts of the California Bay tree (Umbellularia californica).

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

For another source of info, see Tamara Wilder’s article at http://www.paleotechnics.com/Articles/Bayarticle.html

Share on Facebook

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

6 thoughts on “local caffeine part 3: California bay nuts (peppernuts)

  1. I am trying to find out what the chemical compounds and phytonutrients are for bay nuts. Coming across some interesting things. I have never blogged before though. So, I don’t know the proper etiquette. So, for now, I’ll just copy and paste this and you can “moderate” I guess. I am happy to know if you are interested in tid-bits, or not. Hopefully I’ll get my own blog up and running eventually. Not sure on how all this works yet.

    From: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1062165

    Californian Bay
    In the old days, the Chumash people bathed frequently in hot springs (6). The pool was prepared with prayer. Red maids, Calandrinia ciliata, called khutash in Chumash, were sprinkled onto the water. The water was treated with a few Californian bay leaves, Umbellularia californica, psha’n in Chumash (pronounced pshokn). People bathed in the water to soothe themselves, comfort their arthritic joints and to feel normal again. Of course, warm water is soothing to arthritic joints and can help relieve pain and swelling, at least temporarily. Patients can benefit from this therapy in their own tubs at home.

    Californian bay used to be eaten as a flavoring for food and as a way of strengthening the immune system. It was eaten during the first 2 weeks or so of a new season. This means it was eaten four times each year. It was used to help people adjust to the changing seasons and to the changes of life. It can be used by Healers to help the spirit adjust to the changes needed in healing. Usually Californian bay leaves are crushed and smelled. This aromatherapy helps open the breathing passages and can relieve headaches, even migraine headaches. Since Californian bay helps people adjust to the changing seasons, it also helps enhance immunity to colds and flus.

    Californian bay is a large tree that can grow to nearly 150 feet tall. The long, thin leaves are ~4 inches long and smell of bay. The fruit is a soft, green drupe about three-quarters of an inch in diameter. Californian bay trees grow in shady, moist canyons and slopes. In Oregon, this tree is called Oregon myrtle. This tree can be purchased from some nurseries.

    The leaves and fruit contain many fragrant compounds (7). Sabinene smells like pine. Cineole smells like eucalyptus. Thujene smells like grass and soy sauce. There are probably many other compounds in Californian bay yet to be identified. Aromatherapy with Californian bay is comforting and recommended. However, there are some people who complain of headache from excessive aromatherapy with this plant. The leaves make a very pleasant spice in soups and stews. They are more flavorful than commercial bay leaves and have a similar flavor.

    This publication contains similar info for:
    White Sage
    Californian Sagebrush
    Californian Bay
    Californian Rose

  2. Life is stranger than fiction.

    While hiking last weekend, I came across some of these nuts. I collected them along with the leaves, guessing that it was Bay Laurel, but not sure.

    Got home, did research, found the article you mention above:


    and read:

    “You might notice the resemblance of the fleshy bay nut to an avocado. That is because they are related. I have lain awake at night plotting the domestication of the bay into small avocado sized fruit rich in oil with an enormous oily seed in the center, but….”

    I roasted the few nuts I gathered and found them quite delicious. I also roasted and enjoyed some Holly Leaved Cherry nuts.

    Barefoot Ted

    PS. I plan on gathering more of these in the near future.

  3. By the way, page 157 of Paul D. Campbell’s book Survival Skills of Native California has some more interesting information on these nuts in the chapter titled: Pine and Other Not-So-Bitter Nuts.

    Barefoot Ted

  4. I am very interested in finding out what what the stimulant is in Bay nuts, and what nutritional value bay nuts have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *