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Oxalis

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About red maples. I remember that red maples are toxic to tortoises while ordinary maples aren't. What about red birch ((Betula pubescens f. rubra)? Does anyone know whether it is safe, or what makes red maple toxic compared to the regular maple?
Interesting question. There's only one record of Betula in The Tortoise Table (TTT), which is usually the first place I go when looking up tort plants for food. Moderate consumption of the species in this genus should be OK according to what's been observed so far, although it sounds like there is still a knowledge gap there. Scandinavian peoples have been using B. pubescens in foods for centuries. I just purchased some birch tea and have yet to try it.

Regarding maples in general, TTT wasn't a lot of help beyond mentioning the high sugar content of maple sap. However, their notes specifically on the red maple (Acer rubrum) state that parts of the tree have been observed as being toxic to dogs and livestock, and the identity of the toxin is unknown but has been observed preventing the transport of oxygen in red blood cells. The text in the Plants database I use wasn't extensive, but I did learn that while people have used red maple bark for medicinal purposes, the sap may contain saponins, which can destroy red blood cells. So it may just be the presence of saponins that should give one pause about feeding it to tortoises. I make sure Steve avoids any maple leaves, especially since he has so many other plants that I know are healthy for him.
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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Interesting question. There's only one record of Betula in The Tortoise Table (TTT), which is usually the first place I go when looking up tort plants for food. Moderate consumption of the species in this genus should be OK according to what's been observed so far, although it sounds like there is still a knowledge gap there. Scandinavian peoples have been using B. pubescens in foods for centuries. I just purchased some birch tea and have yet to try it.

Regarding maples in general, TTT wasn't a lot of help beyond mentioning the high sugar content of maple sap. However, their notes specifically on the red maple (Acer rubrum) state that parts of the tree have been observed as being toxic to dogs and livestock, and the identity of the toxin is unknown but has been observed preventing the transport of oxygen in red blood cells. The text in the Plants database I use wasn't extensive, but I did learn that while people have used red maple bark for medicinal purposes, the sap may contain saponins, which can destroy red blood cells. So it may just be the presence of saponins that should give one pause about feeding it to tortoises. I make sure Steve avoids any maple leaves, especially since he has so many other plants that I know are healthy for him.
I was just wondering whether the presence of saponins is somehow connected with the red gene. Thank you for your answer! Birch has also been used for food here in Finland :) As far as I know, the red birch tree was found in nature here in Finland and after that an university has started to cultivate it as a garden plant, and we have one in the neighborhood. I will not feed it to Edward though, just in case. I was wondering if it was edible, so I could bring a bigger variety of colors and plants for him.
 

Oxalis

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I was just wondering whether the presence of saponins is somehow connected with the red gene. Thank you for your answer! Birch has also been used for food here in Finland :) As far as I know, the red birch tree was found in nature here in Finland and after that an university has started to cultivate it as a garden plant, and we have one in the neighborhood. I will not feed it to Edward though, just in case. I was wondering if it was edible, so I could bring a bigger variety of colors and plants for him.
Absolutely. I should use my library science degree at some point...

In regards to color, I don't think there is any connection between plants that we've labeled "red." This was probably just the easiest way to differentiate between species, which further complicates matters when several species share the same common name. 😩 Instead, look at the genera and families of the plants for more information on their safety as tortoise food.
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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Absolutely. I should use my library science degree at some point...

In regards to color, I don't think there is any connection between plants that we've labeled "red." This was probably just the easiest way to differentiate between species, which further complicates matters when several species share the same common name. 😩 Instead, look at the genera and families of the plants for more information on their safety as tortoise food.
Yeah, and I wouldn't say that the re birch is red, it is more like a purple brown in my opinion. The Finnish wikipedia says "Red birch (Betula pubescens f. rubra) is a special mutated form of downy birch (Betula pubescens). " So, I guess it should be safe? It has mutated in the wild.
 

Oxalis

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Yeah, and I wouldn't say that the re birch is red, it is more like a purple brown in my opinion. The Finnish wikipedia says "Red birch (Betula pubescens f. rubra) is a special mutated form of downy birch (Betula pubescens). " So, I guess it should be safe? It has mutated in the wild.
Could offer it and see if your tortoise is interested. I've never offered birch to my tortoise so I wonder how palatable it is.

If you want to get super nerdy on binomial nomenclature, for the red birch species (Betula pubescens f. rubra), f. = form and rubra = red, meaning that there have been sporadic red variations observed within the Betula pubescens species, but they're not quite a subspecies. I guess this is similar to a variety, e.g., Pinus contorta var. latifolia (lodgepole pine), but some taxonomists consider varieties more synonymous with subspecies? Sounds like it depends on who you ask.
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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I will try offering it some day. I haven't offered regular birch either, so maybe I will try offering it first as a control group. I know birches have a bit stronger smell, but I think that the red color might encourage my tortoise to eat it?
 

Oxalis

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I will try offering it some day. I haven't offered regular birch either, so maybe I will try offering it first as a control group. I know birches have a bit stronger smell, but I think that the red color might encourage my tortoise to eat it?
Mine tends to head toward yellow. He wants everything to be a dandelion flower!!
 

Oxalis

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Now that we're in a horrible heat wave, the Opuntia flowers have decided to open. I braved the glochids to bring Steve a snack. He approved.

opuntia_flowers.jpg
 

Ray--Opo

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20240625_182706.jpg
View attachment 371715View attachment 371716These are second generation seed started red maple trees. Years ago I started some red maples from seed. I didn't keep any of them, I gave them away to friends and neighbors. They started producing seeds so I started a couple more last spring. I've found a home for one of them and plan on keeping one. View attachment 371717I'm going to plant it behind and to the right of the red lace leaf maple.
Hi Len, the mulberry tree is alive. It started growing leaves last weekend. The ROS are doing ok but now something is eating the leaves.
Any suggestions?20240625_182706.jpg20240625_182634.jpg
 

Len B

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Len B

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This is the first year that the Japanese lace leaf red maple has produced seeds. So I did some research and found the seeds need to go through a cold spell of 90 to 120 days. I've never had luck putting them in a refrigerator so I'm going to contain them in something to keep birds and mice from getting to them. Leaving them outside for the winter. I hope it works.KIMG3469~2.JPGAlso today I started harvesting some of next winters food for the sulcatas.KIMG3473.JPGI store it in the large paper bags after it drys completely out.KIMG3474.JPG
 

Ray--Opo

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This is the first year that the Japanese lace leaf red maple has produced seeds. So I did some research and found the seeds need to go through a cold spell of 90 to 120 days. I've never had luck putting them in a refrigerator so I'm going to contain them in something to keep birds and mice from getting to them. Leaving them outside for the winter. I hope it works.View attachment 373256Also today I started harvesting some of next winters food for the sulcatas.View attachment 373257I store it in the large paper bags after it drys completely out.View attachment 373258
What is that you harvested for your sulcata's?
 

COmtnLady

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Steven: All I can say is, "Wow!"

I'm lucky enough to have a nice space outside for a garden. I've grown it for the past three years now. The first year I had egg plant, tomatoes, different squash, turnips and different lettuces. That garden taught me that lettuce turns bitter once the hot weather sets in. Also, no one ate the egg plant and the tomatoes turned into a wild, overgrown caterpillar patch. So I pulled it all out, tilled the soil and only planted one row of different lettuces and one row of turnips. That was last fall/winter. I harvested greens from those two rows all winter long. In the a.m. I'd go out and the lettuce would be frozen, but once the sun shone on it and it defrosted, it was as good as new. I finally pulled it all out and tilled the soil in April (I think).

So two weeks ago, I bought some gypsum and fertilizer and dug up the dirt in the garden patch...watered it well then yesterday I planted a row of different lettuces and greens that I bought online. I haven't been able to find turnip seeds yet, but when I do, I'll plant a row of turnips too.
This is my favorite seed place. They are really good about stuff and have a bazillion different kinds of veggies available. Last year I made of list of tortoise faves and sent them a suggestion to to put that in their "pets" area, but haven't seen it yet.



.
 

Len B

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Do I see some tasty violets in there? 😉
Yes you do, but not doing as well as usual. Because of their small shallow root system and the lack of rain they aren't growing and spreading very fast. But still have plenty for the hermanns tortoises and add some to the sulcatas winter feed.
 

Oxalis

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Yes you do, but not doing as well as usual. Because of their small shallow root system and the lack of rain they aren't growing and spreading very fast. But still have plenty for the hermanns tortoises and add some to the sulcatas winter feed.
Mine don't spread very fast either. Sometimes I wish they were more aggressive plants! 😄
 

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