Ga Dept of Agriculture


Consumer Q's March 2011

Q. Why are foods recalled just because an ingredient is not listed on the label? 
A. Food manufacturers must list the ingredients on the product label.  People need to know what is in the foods they consume.  Some ingredients such as shellfish, nuts, peanuts, eggs, milk, soy and wheat can cause allergic reactions in some people.  These reactions can be severe and even fatal. 

Q: There is something growing on my property that has dark green stems that are thorny.  It has a fruit that looks like a small lemon with a velveteen surface.  What is it?
A:  It is trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata). It is the most cold-hardy member of the citrus family and will grow throughout Georgia and even farther north.  It is almost exclusively grown as ornamental for its interesting branches, white flowers and attractive fruits. Although the fruit is fragrant and citrusy, it contains little pulp compared with other citrus species. The pulp is extremely sour and chock full of seeds. 

Q:  How long may raw chicken be safely kept in the refrigerator?  What about cooked chicken?

A: When you bring your chicken home from the grocery store, immediately place it in your refrigerator.  Your refrigerator should maintain a temperature of 40 degrees F or lower.  Cook raw chicken within one or two days, or freeze it at 0 degrees F. You can keep cooked chicken in the refrigerator three to four days or freeze it within that length of time. If kept frozen continuously, it will be safe indefinitely. Chicken may be frozen in its original packaging or repackaged. If freezing longer than two months, wrap around the porous plastic store packaging with airtight heavy-duty foil or freezer paper, or place the package inside a freezer bag. Use these materials or airtight freezer containers to repackage family packs into smaller amounts or to freeze the chicken from opened packages.

Q:  We are landscaping our church.  We would like to include some palms so that we will have palm fronds to use in our Palm Sunday service.  Are there any palms that can be grown outside in north Georgia?
A:  There are several palms that are winter hardy in much of Georgia.  They make beautiful additions to your home or church landscape all year, not just on Palm Sunday.  It is also becoming easier to find these hardy palms at nurseries and garden centers. 
     Here are some of the best palms to consider:  Needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) is the most cold-hardy palm in the world.  It is reportedly hardy to minus 20 degrees F.  It would be your best choice if you are in the Georgia mountains.  Other hardy palms include windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei), dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor) and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). The windmill palm is the hardiest of all the trunked (grows into a tree) palms.  The cabbage palmetto (Sabal palmetto) is another trunked palm that can be quite hardy when established.   The other palms mentioned here are shrub palms. 
     If you are looking to supply every parishioner with a palm frond to wave during the service, you may want to also consider a few other options since some of these palms have fronds too large to wave indoors in a crowded sanctuary, and for the health of the plant you do not want to cut all the fronds off at one time.  Also try growing some houseplant palms such as the lady palm, areca palm or sago palm.  (Sago palm is not a true palm but looks like a palm.)  These have smaller fronds and could be grown in a sunny room at church or by members of the congregation at their homes.  Parishioners can also grow hardy palms in their gardens.  On Palm Sunday everyone can bring in a few fronds for themselves and to share with others. 
     There are also hardy ferns and houseplant ferns such as sword fern and Boston fern whose fronds can substitute for those of palms. Don’t be shy about using them or branches of some other plants as well.  Churchgoers outside the "palm zone" have used willows and other branches to commemorate Palm Sunday for hundreds of years without experiencing any loss of joy or faith because they were unable to secure leaves of an actual palm.  A horticulturist at your local garden center or nursery can help you with your selections.

Q:  What are banty eggs?
A:  Banty eggs are the eggs of bantam chickens a.k.a. “banty” chickens.  A bantam is a small variety of poultry, especially chickens. Bantam breeds are much smaller than standard breeds. A banty egg is small; it takes about three banty eggs to equal one regular chicken egg.  

Q:  Can corned beef be frozen? 
A:  Drained and well wrapped, an uncooked corned beef brisket may be frozen for one month for best quality. The flavor and texture will diminish with prolonged freezing, but the product is still safe. After cooking, corned beef may be refrigerated for about three to four days and frozen for about two to three months. 

Q:  What is a spider daylily?

A: The term “spider daylily” refers to daylilies that have long, narrow petals.  Specifically, the American Hermerocallis (Daylily) Society defines a spider daylily as one with a flower whose petal length is four times the petal’s width or more, a ratio of 4.0:1 or greater.  There are hundreds of spider daylilies.  A few are: ‘Android,’ ‘Heavenly Light,’ ‘Kindly Light,’ ‘Lake Norman Spider,’ ‘Let It Rip,’ ‘Lois Burns,’ ‘Marked by Lydia,’ ‘Memories of Oz’ and  ‘Miss Jessie.’   These are especially interesting when you contrast them with daylilies that have wide petals.

Q:  Down at Jekyll Island I saw a gorgeous shrub growing wild with magenta-purple berries clustered up and down its bare stems.  Can you identify it for me?  Are the berries edible?  Will it grow in Macon?
A:  It sounds like American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).  This native shrub has berries that are absolutely striking.  The berries are not considered edible for humans but are relished by many species of birds.  It is a good shrub for a bird-lover’s garden.  American beautyberry will thrive in all parts of Georgia. 

Q:  I have trouble finding some of the plants I read about.  It seems the big stores in my area only carry a few, basic plants – nothing different or unusual.  Any suggestions?
A:  Consider making a trip to some smaller nurseries and specialty garden centers around the state.  While big box stores can provide massive quantities of basic, mainstream plants, you will need to look further for rarer items or ones that require special care. Put a free ad in the Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin asking where to find a specific plant. (You may even find a generous gardener willing to share what they have.)  Subscribe to a garden magazine such as Horticulture.  You will see lots of advertisements for different plants and seeds.  The articles also list sources of where to find items.  Do some internet surfing and you will find mail-order sources and perhaps some local ones as well. "Dave’s Garden" is an online database with comments and suggestions from gardeners about where to find and how to grow certain plants. Ask your county Cooperative Extension agent; he or she has a wealth of information. Visit the state botanical garden in Athens or one of the other botanical gardens around the state.  Employees and volunteers there are often a big help. If you become a member, you also get newsletters about events, seminars and classes.  You may also get invitations to plant sales and plant giveaways. The Georgia Perimeter College Native Plant Botanical Garden in Decatur has plant sales of hard-to-find native plants. The horticulture program at Gwinnett Tech sometimes has plant sales including some uncommon plants. If you read about a plant you really want, don’t stop until you find it.

Q:  Is it true that lavender is one of the ingredients in the formula for Coca-Cola?
A: Lavender can have a refreshing cola-like fragrance when you rub its leaves.  There is no telling whether it is part of the secret formula for the famous soft drink, however. 

Q:  Are there any weeping trees besides the weeping willow?
A:  There are numerous species of trees that have varieties with pendulous or weeping branches.  The most common is the weeping Higan cherry.  This popular tree is much like weeping willow in that its branches are limber and can move in breezes the way the branches of the weeping willow do.  Other varieties of trees have pendulous branches, but they are generally stiffer than the weeping willow. 
      A few examples suitable for Georgia include weeping varieties of yaupon, bald cypress, flowering dogwood, blue Atlas cedar, white mulberry, oriental persimmon, redbud or Judas tree, Canadian hemlock, winged elm, Scotch elm, crabapple and pussy willow. With so many weeping varieties, it is possible to have a garden that looks like a botanical Niagara Falls.

Q:  Is it true the Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin will cease publication if it does not get enough paid subscribers?

A:  Yes.  To keep the Market Bulletin alive, subscribers now need to pay a modest subscription fee for the newspaper. Everyone who loves and appreciates the Market Bulletin needs to subscribe as soon as possible. 
      The Market Bulletin began in 1917, and since then it has been a valuable source of news and information and a marketplace for Georgians, both rural and urban, to buy, sell and look for a wide variety of products and services including: alternative livestock, bees and beekeeping supplies, honey, cattle, horses, mules, farm machinery, farm employment, farmland to buy or rent, feed and hay, fertilizers and mulches, firewood, fish and supplies, flowers, goats, sheep, herbs,  poultry, rabbits, swine and timber.  From teaspoons of old-fashioned petunias to tons of tractors; from bees to bulls; from figs to firewood – you can find it in the Market Bulletin. 
      Subscriptions are available at a cost of only $10 per year; out-of-state-subscriptions are available for $20 per year.  To renew or start a new subscription, send a check or money order payable to Market Bulletin, along with your name, complete mailing address and daytime phone number (in the event the Market Bulletin office needs to contact you concerning your subscription) to the following address: Market Bulletin, Georgia Department of Agriculture, 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SW, Atlanta, GA  30334-4250.
      To pay with a credit card online, visit the website at click the link for “online subscription payment form.” Please note there is a $1 convenience charge for online payments, and at this time, it is only applicable for new subscriptions. Renewals will be made available online in the future.
      If you experience any issues with your online subscription form, please contact April Anderson at 770-624-4940 or

Q:  Is it true that the herb rue can cause burns on the skin?
A:  Yes, there are reports that the oils in rue (Ruta graveolens) are phototoxic.  That is to say, the oils you can get on your skin from handling the leaves will damage the skin when exposed to light.  Essentially, the oils act as the opposite of sunscreen.  This characteristic of rue was written into an episode of this season’s Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Theatre on PBS when one of the servants came down with a strange rash on his hands after trimming rue.  Rue can be an attractive and interesting plant in the garden, but it should be treated with caution, and children should be instructed about not handling it. 

Q:  I love lemons.  Are there any varieties that are will survive Georgia’s winters?
A:  Lemons are not winter-hardy in Georgia.  However, they are easy to grow as houseplants in sunrooms or sunny windows.  The pots should be set outdoors in the summer.  ‘Ponderosa’ and ‘Meyer’ are the two most popular lemon varieties to grow as houseplants.  If you really love lemons, consider growing other lemony plants such as lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon thyme, lemon grass and lemon basil.
     You may also want to try growing the trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata). It is the most cold-hardy member of the citrus family and will grow throughout Georgia and even farther north.  It is almost exclusively grown as ornamental for its interesting branches, white flowers and attractive yellow fruits that look like small, round lemons with a velveteen surface. Although the fruit is fragrant and citrusy, it contains little pulp compared with other citrus species. The pulp is extremely sour and chock full of seeds. 

Q:  Are there any regulations or precautions about moving firewood from state to state?
A:  There are state and federal quarantines that restrict the movement of firewood in order to prevent or limit the spread of established pests such as:

  • The Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), a native of Asia is established in parts of 13 states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin). 
  • The Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), also a native of Asia, is established in parts of Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. 
  • Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum) is established in parts of California and Curry County, Oregon.

          All hardwood species of firewood are prohibited from moving out of these quarantined areas unless treated in compliance with the federal quarantine.
          In addition, Tennessee prohibits movement of firewood of any non-coniferous (hardwood) species from Knox and Blount Counties due to detection of Thousand Cankers Disease of black walnut. 
          Because invasive pests can be moved to new areas in logs and timber debris, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Forestry Commission, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the University of Georgia encourage even non-commercial users of firewood such as campers and tailgaters to purchase firewood at their destination rather than transporting wood. 
         We do not want any new insect pests or diseases brought into Georgia. 

    Consumer Q's is written by Arty Schronce. For more information, contact him at 404-656-3656.