What kind of tree with sour leaves did we chew on at camp when I was a kid?
July 19, 2010 7:27 PM   Subscribe

When I was a kid, I went to a summer camp in North Georgia for several summers. There was this one tree near the main parking lot that, for some reason, we all used to pull leaves off of and chew on them. They had a really pleasant sour taste. Anyone know what kind of tree it might have been?

The staff were all very knowledgeable, and knew what we were doing, so I don't think there was any concern about anyone getting sick - and no one ever did, as far as I know. At the same time, I don't think the tree had been planted with this in mind, either.

If I remember correctly, the leaves were 2-3 inches long, light green, and smooth.
posted by ivey to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:39 PM on July 19, 2010

Sassafras if they smelled like root beer. I don't think of it as "sour"......
posted by HuronBob at 7:49 PM on July 19, 2010

You might not remember, but did it have three different kinds of leaves on the same plant? If it did, it's definitely sassafras, as MrMoonPie said.
posted by wayland at 7:51 PM on July 19, 2010

Best answer: Sassafras leaves don't have much of a taste. Sorrel, however, seems to fit your description. It's also known as sourwood.

I first heard about it from a camp in Western NC.
posted by cirgue at 9:25 PM on July 19, 2010

It wasn't Camp Mikell was it?
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 10:05 PM on July 19, 2010

Ginko tree?
posted by Blasdelb at 10:48 PM on July 19, 2010

Sassafras has a very distinctive slimy texture that you would probably remember. It kind of like chewing ectoplasm. It also isn't sour. I'm with cirque - sorrel sounds most probable.
posted by ChrisHartley at 4:54 AM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: This is exactly what the leaves looked like. Sourwood or Sorrel Tree (Oxydendrum arboreum). Thanks cirgue! And it looks like I can grow one here in South Alabama.

In case anyone's curious, or for future Google juice, it was Camp Cherokee for Boys on Lake Burton in Rabun County, Georgia. Awesome place. Got turned into a quasi-military camp, and then split up to be sold as homes.
posted by ivey at 6:54 AM on July 20, 2010

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