Friday, August 20, 2010

"Stinging Nettle"

Nettle Pictures, Images and Photos
A surprising feature of herbal research is that it is seldom the rare, exotic, and beautiful plant that proves the most interesting; more often it is some common, familiar, and despised weed that it discovered to have undreamed of virtues. The common nettle is a good illustration.

Nearly everyone who has ever run barefoot as a child knows and hates this plant, but it is only a stinging acquaintance.

Nettles are common along roadsides, in waste places, and on vacant lots where barefoot children like to play, and when contacted by a bare ankle it causes a painful smarting followed by a red rash.

"All some want to know about nettles is how to get rid of them." This is the attitude that most people have toward this herb.

And yet, this detested weed is one of the finest and most nutritious foods in the whole plant kingdom. Unlike many health foods, nettle greens are really good, as well as being good for you.

In addition to their good taste, nettles are rich in vitamins A and C, amazingly high in protein, filled with chlorophyll, and probably exceedingly rich in many of the essential trace minerals.

No grazing animal will eat a live nettle, but when nettles are mowed and dried, all kinds of livestock eat them avidly and thrive on them. Horses get shinier coats and improve in health when fed dried nettles. Cows give more and richer milk when fed on nettle hay. Hens lay more eggs when powdered nettle leaves are added to their mash, and these eggs actually have a higher food value. Even the manure from nettle-fed animals is improved, and makes better fertilizer.
Stinging Nettle Pictures, Images and Photos

Nettles furnish one of the most valuable of all plant substances to use as a mulch in your garden, or to add to your compost pile. Having approximately seven percent nitrogen, figured on a dry-weight basis, this plant is richer in this essential nutrient than many commercial fertilizers.
Nettles are covered with tiny, nearly invisible stinging hairs that produce an intense, stinging pain, followed redness and skin irritation. The generic name comes from the Latin word, "uro," which means "I burn." Nevertheless, they're superb, non-stinging, cooked vegetables.

Nettles usually appear in the same places year after year. Look for them in rich soil, disturbed habitats, moist woodlands, thickets, along rivers, and along partially shaded trails.

They grow throughout most of the United States Here are a few of the most common species: Stinging nettle's (Urtica dioica) rather stout, ribbed, hollow stem grows 2-4 feet tall. The somewhat oval, long-stalked, dark green, opposite leaves are a few inches long, with a rough, papery texture, and very coarse teeth. The leaf tip is pointed, and its base is heart-shaped.
stinging nettle Pictures, Images and Photos

This is a dioecious plant, with male and female flowers growing on separate plants. The species name, dioica, means "two households" in Greek: By late spring, some plants have clusters of tiny, green female flowers, hanging from the leaf axils in paired strands.
You can eat the stems as well as the leaves of the very young plant.Collect nettle leaves before they flower in spring. They may be bad for the kidneys after they flower. New nettles come up in the fall, and you can pick them before they're killed by frost.

People have been using nettles for food, medicine, fiber, and dyes since the Bronze Age. Collect them using work gloves, and wear a long-sleeved shirt. If you happen upon nettles when you have no gloves, put your hand inside a bag. The young leaves are the best part of the plant. They come off most easily if you strip them counter-intuitively, from the top down.

Clean and chop nettles wearing rubber gloves. Once youíve cooked them a little, the stingers are deactivated, and the plant becomes wonderfully edible.

Nettles have a bad reputation as an unpleasant-tasting survival food in some circles. That's because people don't know how to prepare them. They often boil them, which is awful. Nettle leaves are good simmered in soups 5-10 minutes, but my favorite method is the waterless steaming method, recommended for spinach in a 1699 cookbook by John Evelyn, and described in the cooking section.
Enjoy nettles as a vegetable side-dish with rice and beans. Sometimes I make creamed nettlesómuch more satisfying than creamed spinach. Because nettles have the richest, hardiest taste of any green,you can combine them with lighter ingredients, such as celery, zucchini, lemon juice, or tomato sauce.
Dry nettles for winter use and tea.

As food, this tonic is good for rebuilding the system of chronically ill people. Nineteenth century literature is full of so-called constitutionally weak people, who usually die on the last page. In Russia, they were given freshly squeezed nettle juiceóa tonic loaded with iron and other nutrientsófor iron-deficiency anemia. This often worked.

Many of the benefits are due to the plant's very high levels of minerals, especially, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, silica, iodine, silicon, sodium, and sulfur. They also provide chlorophyll and tannin, and they're a good source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and B complex vitamins. Nettles also have high levels of easily absorbable amino acids. They're ten percent protein, more than any other vegetable.

The substances in the stingers have medicinal uses: In the late 1980s, scientists studying the differences between dried and freeze-dried herbs accidentally discovered that freeze-dried nettles cured one of the researcher's hay-fever. Subsequently, a randomized double-blind study at the National College of naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon showed that 58 percent of hay-fever sufferers given freeze-dried nettles rated it moderately to highly effective. Nettles are a traditional food for people with allergies.
Velika kopriva - Stinging nettle - Brennnessel - Ortiga (Urtica dioica) Pictures, Images and Photos

Nettles sting you because the hairs are filled with formic acid, histamine, acetylcholine, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine), plus unknown compounds. Some of these substances are destroyed by cooking, steeping, or drying, but not by freeze-drying or juicing. Unfortunately, you need a vacuum chamber to freeze-dry herbs. However, you can purchase freeze-dried nettles in capsules for hay-fever.

As an expectorant, it's recommended for asthma, mucus conditions of the lungs, and chronic coughs. Nettle tincture is also used for flu, colds, bronchitis and pneumonia.

Nettle infusion is a safe, gentle diureticóconsidered a restorative for the kidneys and bladder, and used for cystitis and nephritis. It ís also recommended for weight loss, but you may shed more pounds of water than fat.
Nettle Tea Blue Pot Pictures, Images and Photos

Nettle tea compress or finely powdered dried nettles are also good for wounds, cuts, stings, and burns. The infusion was also used internally to stop excessive menstruation, bleeding from hemorrhages, bloody coughs, nose bleeds, and bloody urine. It helps blood clot, but major bleeding is dangerousóindicative of a serious underlying condition. Consult a competent practitioner in such cases. Use for minor cuts.

Other uses include treating gout, glandular diseases, poor circulation, enlarged spleen, diarrhea, and dysentery, worms, intestinal and colon disorders, and hemorrhoids. Nettles are usually used along with other herbs that target the affected organs.

German researchers are using nettle root extracts for prostate cancer, and Russian scientists are experimenting with nettle leaf tincture for hepatitis and gall bladder inflammation.

Eating nettles or drinking the tea makes your hair brighter, thicker and shinier, and makes your skin clearer and healthierógood for eczema and other skin conditions. Commercial hair- and skin care products in health food stores often list stinging nettle as an ingredient. Nettles have cleansing and antiseptic properties, so the tea is also good in facial steams and rinses.

Nettles' long, fibrous stems were important in Europe for weaving, cloth-making, cordage, and even paper. Native Americans used them for embroidery, fish nets, and other crafts. You can even extract a yellow die from the roots.

Nettle Tea Pictures, Images and Photos
Nettle tea is given to house plants to help them grow, but the strangest use I've ever heard is for severe arthritis. You must whip the victim over most of the body until an extensive rash develops. This flagellation or "urtication" may stimulate the weak organs, muscles, nerves and lymphatic system, and increase circulation. Or it may cause so much pain, the victim forgets about the arthritis.

Old-Time Herbal Remedy

All this would seem enough to ask of one common weed, but in addition to these virtues, nettles have also long been used in home remedies and herbal medicines to treat mankind's ills. Any efficacy the nettle may have in this area is probably due to its high content of vitamins and minerals.

A lively soft drink can be made of nettles that is reputed to cure the aches and pains of the aged, but it also makes a pleasant beverage for people of all ages. Eating nettles is not at all the unpleasant experience you might expect it to be, for this plant, when gathered at the right stage and properly prepared, is a very palatable vegetable. It is said that a good French cook can make seven delicious dishes of nettle tops. You can do as well, once the general principles of nettle-cookery are known.

Nettle Greens: Gather Only Early in Season

Like asparagus, peas, and many other vegetables, nettles must be gathered at just the right stage to be good. The common nettle has perennial underground rhizomes, and from these the tender shoots spring up as soon as the weather is warm. It is only these first nettles, gathered when less than a foot high, that are good to eat.

Take only the tender tops of young, first-growth nettles, before they begin to bloom. Wear leather or plastic-coated work gloves while gathering nettles. Wash the greens by stirring them in water with a long-handled spoon, then use a pair of kitchen-tongs to put them directly into a large saucepan with a tight cover. The moisture that clings to the leaves will furnish ample cooking water. Cover and cook gently for twenty minutes; drain, but save that juice.

You can chop the greens right in the cooking pot by using a pair of kitchen shears. Season the vegetable with butter and salt to taste, and it is ready to serve. A more wholesome vegetable never came to the table. Cooking completely destroys the nettles' stinging properties, and actually converts the venom into wholesome food.

Creamed or Pureed Nettles

Mix the cooked and chopped greens, 2 cupfuls, with a small can of cream of mushroom soup (or cream of celery, or cheese soup) and 1/2 cup of light cream for a superior creamed vegetable, wonderful over toast.

For pureed nettles, rub the cooked nettles, juice and all, through a sieve; return this puree to the heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter, salt to taste, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in a few tablespoons of light cream, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, and serve immediately.

Nettle Pudding

An old English recipe is nettle pudding, which is not a dessert but a hearty main dish. To 2 cups of cooked and chopped nettle greens add 1 cup chopped leek or onion, 1 cup chopped broccoli, 1 cup raw rice, 1 cup ground beef, and 1/2 cup fine-chopped beef suet. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and a little freshly ground black pepper, mix well, then tie the mixture up in a muslin cloth that has been wrung out in cold water. Drop into boiling water and boil for 1 hour, or hang over boiling water and steam for 3 hours. When you remove the pudding cloth, you will have a round cannonball of a pudding that is delicious when served with a good gravy or melted butter.

Nettle Soup, Juice & Beer

Let's return to that juice we drained from the cooked nettles. Just seasoned with a little salt and pepper and a little vinegar, it makes a tasty soup that is supposed to be very efficacious in removing unwanted pounds. Mixed with a little honey it is said to relieve asthma, allay a cough, and help cure bronchitis. Taken as hot as you can take it, after exposure, this juice has a reputation of helping to prevent colds.

This same juice, cooled, is said to be a fine hair tonic. Applied twice a day it is reputed to prevent falling hair, eliminate dandruff, promote a healthy scalp, and help keep the hair neatly combed.

In some parts of England the country people still make a pleasant summer drink called nettle beer. To 4 quarts of freshly picked nettle tops add 2 gallons of water, 2 lemons cut in thin slices, rind and all, and 2 ounces of crushed, dried gingerroot. Boil gently for forty minutes, then strain and stir in 2 cups of brown sugar. When cooled to barely lukewarm, dissolve a cake of yeast in a cup of the liquid and then stir it into the brew. Bottle immediately and cap tightly, and in a few days it is ready to drink. It should be refrigerated until ice-cold before opening, for this is a lively drink and will foam wildly if opened while warm. Since it has no detectable alcoholic content it can be given to the whole family.
Urtica dioica Pictures, Images and Photos

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our ancestors were hunters, gatherers, fishers, and farmers. There were no pilots, cable installers, computer programmers, or telemarketers. Food was either gathered, raised, or killed fresh and served in relative purity straight from Mother Nature’s pantry.

Today, most consumers live in close proximity to a large grocery store, where hunting through the butcher’s cold case or deli and foraging in the produce section is about as close to the food source as they will ever get. It has been observed with sagacity that if all meat eaters had to slaughter their own meat, there would be mass conversion to vegetarianism. Needless to say, that may never happen, but it does show how far most of us are from the real process of food foraging and/or production.

As I wander through the orderly vegetable and fruit displays in our area’s new mega market, I hear thunderclaps and the sound of soft rain as overhead misters automatically spray the vegetables. In the egg and dairy section, I am serenaded by mooing cows and clucking hens. By the meat and fish counter I hear the sounds of the ocean and the piercing cries of seagulls. In the pet section, I am reminded to buy the kitty her cat food with the plaintive meows of hungry kitties and barking dogs. These nature recordings are more than mere entertainment or novelties. I know store managers are subtly trying to manipulate my natural foraging instincts by attempting to make me feel like a self-sufficient primitive hunter/gatherer, or at least like I’m back on the farm, filling my basket with the earth’s fresh bounty. The recordings seem to delight most shoppers and their children, but they do nothing but annoy me. I resent any form of sales manipulation, especially on the subliminal level.
As a child, I loved to walk along ditch banks in the spring and summer to find tender greens, fruit, and whatever else was free and edible.Given the opportunity, I prefer to forage for wild foods,and also grow my own food for winter eats.
Take a hike, cutting across foothills and forest . . . preferably with someone, and determine if there are any wild edibles that haven’t been sprayed. Forget mushrooms unless you have been taught by someone knowledgeable in the field.
Puffballs at Mequon Nature Center Pictures, Images and Photos
Puffballs are usually good, if picked fresh, and can be sliced and sauteed in Tamari (soy) sauce and margarine — a real delicacy!
Be a responsible forager, asking for permission when necessary. Be kind to the trees and plants you harvest, leaving enough behind for them to regenerate or reseed. Always leave some for the wild birds and animals that depend on them for survival. Never gather so much in one area that it looks stripped or bare . . . move along and take a little here and a little there as the animals do.
The most overlooked area to forage is our own gardens, yards, and property. If you have a dripping faucet, brook, or spring, plant mint, watercress, or other water-loving plants that can take care of themselves. In our own yard, we have many plants that require little but water. These include catnip, two types of oregano, peppermint, rosemary, volunteer mammoth sunflowers, garlic, and Echinacea Augustifolia. Our garden offers foragable edibles like Lamb’s Quarters and squash blossoms, which we dip in blue cornmeal batter and fry. My most wonderful garden “weed,” however, is Purslane.
Purslane? Pictures, Images and Photos
It can be enjoyed for its tangy taste in raw salads, or fried lightly with other vegetables. Native Peoples have always valued this super-nutritional plant. Traditional herb lore prescribes this lowly plant as a treatment for the “sugar” disease.
Finally, one might consider becoming a modern-day Johnny Appleseed. If you are aware of ditches, brooks, or other damp areas, try planting Mammoth Sunflowers, watercress, tomatoes, or other (legal) herbs, trees, or seeds and care for them periodically during their initial growing stages. A few squash or pumpkin seeds can yield enormous amounts of food. Just don’t be too disappointed if fellow foragers discover and harvest your plants. True earth farmers and caretakers know that if we could give as freely as Mother Earth, no one would ever go to bed hungry.
Our surroundings are overgrown with edible herbs, greens, berries, roots, nuts, seeds and mushrooms, which survive the herbivores who dine on them by prolifically reproducing-so much so that people incorrectly identify them as "weeds." Although certain wild plants are poisonous, there are plenty of edibles that are easy to recognize, tastier than anything you buy, super nutritious and just plain fun to gather and cook with.
respect mother earth Pictures, Images and Photos

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Fireweed Pictures, Images and Photos
Fireweed grows abundantly here in Maine in blueberry barons,along roadsides and in old burn areas.
Epilobium angustifolium is synonymous with Chamaenerion angustifolium & frequently mispelled augustifolium. It is circumpolar in distribution beginning in the subarctic regions. Due to its extensive range it has a plethora of common names, but the foremost name is Fireweed.
Fireweed Pictures, Images and Photos

Because it has willow-like leaves its second most common name is Willow Herb with sundry variants: Rosebay Willowherb, Bay Willow, Flowering Willow, French Willow, Persian Willow, Willow Weed, Giant Showy Willowherb, Great Willowherb (as distinct from the small alpine willowherb), Spiked Willhowherb, or Tame Withy (after willow withe). It is frequently called Blooming Sally, especially in Ireland, alluding to both the flowers, Sally being a corruption of the Latin Salix (Willow).

Both E. angustifolium & E. palustre are sometimes known as Wickup, Wickop, or Wicopy. It shares this name with Dirca palustris also known as Wicopy, Leatherwood, Moosewood, or Rope-bush. Both plants share in common that they were used to make twine or ropes or were woven with reeds or rushes to form tough mats. The name Wickup has the same proto-Algonquin origin as Wickiup or Wigwam, a hut covered with mats woven from just such plants.

It has been called Wild Asparagus because edible, & for its blossoms, Purple Rockets, Mare's Tail, & in Great Britain, Bloomi. It has also been called pileworts because of its medicinal use, though lesser celandine has a greater claim to that name. A recurring name that puzzles me is Blood Vine, because it never grows like a vine, though it does produce a great deal of sap (blood) that was used as syrup by Inuit people.

In Italy E. angustifolium is known as the Herb of Saint Anthony (Erba di Sant Antonio), while in Spain E. hirsutum has the same name (Yerba de San Antonio) & E. spicatum along with other species of Epilobium are called St. Anthony's Laurel (Laurel de San Antonio).

The association with the saint arose from a belief that Fireweed was the herb to treat Saint Anthony's Fire, a horrific disease of the Middle Ages caused by fungal poisoning from ergot-contaminated rye. It caused berserk rages, hallucinations, & a feeling of being burned at the stake, before fingers & other extremities began to black & drop off. It was believed that St. Anthony was able to cure this affliction, & Fireweed was one of the plants that peasant lore lit upon as Anthony's curative herb.
Fireweed Pictures, Images and Photos

Fireweed is such a common wildflower throughout our county that there's even a Fireweed Road. It's beautiful in full flower almost as soon as the wild foxgloves have finished flowering in the same vicinities, & continues flowering throughout summer.

Flowers are followed by fluffy seeds dispersed upon the wind. Native peoples also mixed the fluff with dog hair or other animal hair to manufacture blankets, or just used the fluff to get fires started. In Europe fireweed fluff used to be mixed into cotton for the manufacture of stockings.

Fireweed is common along roadsides, meadows & clearings, edges of conifer & deciduous forests, sea level to sub-alpine levels, in wet or dry locations, & its one of the first wildflowers to appear in clear-cuts & burned areas. Indeed its common name Fireweed arose because it so quickly colonized areas that had experienced forest fire, both from the facility with which the seeds reach new areas, & because its thick rhizomous root system can survive forest fires. When Mount Saint Helen's exploded, a year later the Fireweeds were first to recover, turning the blasted hillsides purple.

Rockies Adult Pictures, Images and Photos
This tough perennial ranges in height from four feet to eight feet, its yellow stems sporting purple flowers in tapered racemes. They are especially liked by bees & Fireweed Honey is available from our county on a pretty regular basis. It is a host plant for the North American yellow-banded sphynx moth (Proserpinus flavofasciata).

It is very widespread here & is the floral symbol of the Yukon. It also grows in northern Europe, where it became famous for springing up where soil had been cleared & disrupted by aerial bomb attacks during World War II. It even sprang up flowering amidst the rubble of the bombed inner city of London.

Some tribal peoples used fireweed medicinally to topically treat infected wounds. Modern herbalists regard it as an antispasmodic medication taken internally. In Europe it is still used to treat diarrhea & other bowel syndromes, & it is an ingredient of many commercially prepared alternative remedies for everything from cosmetic skin care to asthma to baldness to kidney disease.
Fireweed and red clover flowers Pictures, Images and Photos

Many of its alleged values are false or exaggerated, but a good deal of authentic medical research has been done with Epilobium species of America & Europe, & it is in fact one of the more promising herbs. It has been shown to inhibit cell proliferation of the prostate [Vitalone et al, Pharmacology October 2003]. It is an effective antimicrobial [Battinelli et al, Farmacology May-July 2001], & it has several other potential values, possessing chemical components that are a proven anti-inflammatory.

Early season shoots are a delicacy harvested late spring or early in the summer. Shoots & young stems are peeled & can be eaten raw or steamed as a substitute for asparagus. Yupik eskimos preserved the stems in seal oil in order to have them year-round, & their name for Fireweed, Pahmeyuktuk, referred to its edibility. The peelings of the stems were not wasted as they were dried & used to weave strong twine for fishing nets.

Very young leaves are also edible in salads or in soups or steeped for use as a tonic tea for upset stomach. Mature leaves become tough & bitter, but by then the unopened flower buds are tasty for salads or in stir-fries. A syrup was traditionally extracted from the stems & flowers, having a high mucilage content that made it useful among native peoples in preparing berry-cakes that dry solidly. Today the flowers are harvested to make Fireweed Jelly, available from small cottage-industry canning companies including Native American companies.

Pioneer Alaskans used the sweet pith in the manufacture of ales & vinegars. As an intoxicating beverage it was rendered potently hallucinatory with the addition of Fly Agaric, Agaricus muscarius.
fireweed Pictures, Images and Photos

Monday, August 16, 2010

Black Cohosh

The fruit of the trees shall be for meat,and the leaf there of for medicine.
Ezekiel 47:12

The old Indian teaching was that is is wrong to tear loose from its place on the earth anything that may be growing there.
It may be cut off, but it should not be uprooted.
The trees and the grass have spirits.
Whenever one of such growth may be destroyed by some good Indian, his act is done in sadness and with a prayer for forgiveness because of his necessities...
Black Cohosh Pictures, Images and Photos

"Herb of the Month"

"Black Cohosh";scientific name:Cimicifuga racemosa;Plant Family:Ranunculaceae

A Dr.Young first introduced Black Cohosh to the Medical world in 1831,but the Native Americans had been using it for hundreds of years prior to that.

A member of the Ranunculaceae family, Black Cohosh spans up to three feet and can reach a height of eight feet when it flowers, in late spring to early summer. Its leaves have toothed margins and are divided into three lobed leaflets. Its foliage is lush, and its attractive flowers are cream-colored and fragrant.
Roots and rhizomes are thick, knotty and very dark. Black Cohosh is native to the eastern woodlands of North America and ranges from southern Canada south to Georgia, across to Arkansas and up to Wisconsin.
It's more abundant in its southern range. Black Cohosh is one of 15 species of Cimicifuga found worldwide.

By 1912,Black Cohosh was one of the most frequently prescribed herbs by American physicians.As synthetic medicines were developed during the 20'th century,Doctors turned away from the use of Black Cohosh,as they did with most other medicinal herbs as well.But now,it's time to turn back to this wonderful herb.
Other more common names for this herb are: RattleRoot,SquawRoot,SnakeRoot,and Black SnakeRoot.As the common names suggest,this herb was often used by the Native Americans as a remedy for snakebite,as well as for women's female problems.
Black Cohosh Pictures, Images and Photos

How does it work,why does it work?Black Cohosh contains estrogenic sterols and glycosides,and a host of micronutrients.Black Cohosh has a most powerful effect as a relaxant and normalizer of the female reproductive system.
It may be used beneficially in cases of painful or delayed menstruation,ovarian cramps,or cramping pain in the womb.It has a normalizing effect on the balance of the female sex organs and may be used safely to regain normal hormonal activity.It has been used quite effectly for women going through Menopause.It is a safe and comfortable alternative for women who don't feel safe with hormonal therapy.
It also seems to help balance a woman's moods when going through Menstration or Menopause.In addition,it may be used safely in cases of Premature or False Labor.

It is very active in the treatment of rheumatic pain,arthritis,muscular,and neurological pain.It finds use in Sciatica and Neuralgia.
As a relaxing Nervine it may be used in many situations where such an agent is needed.It is useful in labor to aide uterine activity whilst at the same time,calming nervousness.
Black Cohosh will reduce spasms and aides in the treatment of pulmonary complaints,such as Whooping Cough.It has also been found to be beneficial in cases of Tinnitus.
People with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as cancer of the breast, prostate, ovaries or uterus, endometriosis or uterine fibroids, should avoid black cohosh until more is known about how it works and whether it has a hormonal effect.

Side effects of black cohosh may include:

* Indigestion
* Headache
* Nausea
* Perspiration
* Vomiting
* Heaviness in the legs
* Weight gain
* Low blood pressure

Excessive doses of black cohosh may cause seizures, visual disturbances and slow or irregular heartbeat. There have been a number of cases of liver damage suspected to be associated with black cohosh use. In most of the cases, there were other medical problems present and other medications used that may have contributed to the liver damage. Also, the quality and purity of the black cohosh products used isn't known. Some black cohosh products, for instance, have been found to contain a Chinese cimicifuga (Cimicifuga foetida) instead of black cohosh.
black cohosh Pictures, Images and Photos

Still, in August 2006, Health Canada advised consumers of the possible link between black cohosh and liver damage. In June 2007, the United States Pharmacopeia proposed that black cohosh product labels contain a cautionary statement. The American Botanical Council has countered that there is insufficient evidence to warrant the proposed caution.

Black cohosh should not be confused with the herb blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), white cohosh, bugbane, Cimicifuga foetida, sheng ma or white baneberry. These species have different effects, and blue cohosh and white cohosh, in particular, can be toxic. There is a case report of neurological complications in a post-term baby after labor induction with a herbal blend of black cohosh and blue cohosh.

People with allergies to plants in the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family should avoid black cohosh.

black cohosh Pictures, Images and Photos
Black cohosh contains small amounts of salicylic acid, so people with allergies to aspirin or salicylates should avoid black cohosh.

People with a history of blood clots or stroke, seizures, liver disease and those who are taking medications for high blood pressure should not use black cohosh.
Possible Drug Interactions

Because it may act like the hormone estrogen in the body, black cohosh could interfere with hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives.

Black cohosh may interfere with the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin.

Theoretically, black cohosh may interfere with the effectiveness of hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Native American Herbal Remedies

Native American Herbal Remedies

Skunk Cabbage.
Used by the Winnebago and Dakota tribes to stimulate the removal of phlegm in asthma. The rootstock was official in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1882 when it was used in respiratory and nervous disorders and in rheumatism and dropsy.
Introduced by Europeans. The Menominees smoked the pulverized, dried root for respiratory complaints while the Forest Potawatomis, the Mohegans, and the Penobscots smoked the dried leaves to relieve asthma. The Catawba Indians used a sweetened syrup from the boiled root, which they gave to their children for coughs.
The Catawba Indians used a tea of arnica roots for treating back pains. The Dispensary of the United States (22nd edition) states this drug can be dangerous if taken internally and that it has caused severe and even fatal poisoning. Also used as a wash to treat sprains and bruises.
The Catawba Indians steeped the roots in hot water and applied the hot fluid on aching backs.
The Catawba tribe crushed and steeped fresh horsemint leaves in cold water and drank the infusion to allay back pain. Other tribes used horsemint for fever, inflammation, and chills.
Creosote Bush.
A tea of the leaves was used for bronchial and other respiratory problems.
Pleurisy Root.
The Natchez drank a tea of the boiled roots as a remedy for pneumonia and was later used to promote the expulsion of phlegm,
The Yokia Indians of Mendocino County used a tea of the boiled leaves of a local species of wormwood to cure bronchitis.
Yellow-Spined Thistle.
The Kiowa Indians boiled yellow-spined thistle blossoms and applied the resulting liquid to burns and skin sores.
To Speed Childbirth:
The Cherokee used a tea of the boiled leaves. Frequent doses of the tea were taken in the few weeks preceding the expected date of delivery.
Blue Cohosh.
To promote a rapid delivery, an infusion of the root in warm water was drunk as a tea for several weeks prior to the expected delivery date.

To Speed Delivery of the Placenta:
American Licorice.
A tea was made from the boiled roots.
Broom Snakeweed.
Navajo women drank a tea of the whole plant to promote the expulsion of the placenta.

To Stop Post-Partum Hemorrhage:
Hopi women were given an infusion of the entire buckwheat plant to stop bleeding.
Black Western Chokecherry.
Arikara women were given a drink of the berry juice to stop bleeding.
Smooth Upland Sumac.
The Omahas boiled the smooth upland sumac fruits and applied the liquid as an external wash to stop bleeding.

To relieve the Pain of Childbirth:
Wild Black Cherry.
Cherokee women were given a tea of the inner bark to relieve pain in the early stages.
The Alabama and Koasati tribes made a tea of the roots of the plant to relieve the pains of labor.
Boneset tea was one of the most frequently used home remedies during the last century. The Menominees used it to reduce fever; the Alabamas, to relive stomachache; the Creeks, for body pain; the Iroquois and the Mohegans, for fever and colds.
The Mohegans made a tea of catnip leaves for infant colic.
Ragleaf Bahia.
The Navajos, who called the Ragleaf bahia herb twisted medicine, drank a tea of the roots boiled in water for thirty minutes for contraception purposes.
Indian Paintbrush.
Hopi women drank a tea of the whole Indian paintbrush to "Dry up the menstrual flow."
Blue Cohosh.
Chippewa women drank a strong decoction of the powdered blue cohosh root to promote parturition and menstruation.
Generally used by many tribes, a tea from the boiled roots of the plant was drunk once a week.
Navajo women drank a tea prepared of the whole plant after childbirth.
American Mistletoe.
Indians of Mendocino County drank a tea of the leaves to induce abortion or to prevent conception.
Antelope Sage.
To prevent conception, Navajo women drank one cup of a decoction of boiled antelope sage root during menstruation.
Shoshoni women of Nevada reportedly drank a cold water infusion of stoneseed roots everyday for six months to ensure permanent sterility.
The Cree Indians used an infusion of the inner bark as a remedy for coughs.
Wild Cherry.
The Flambeau Ojibwa prepared a tea of the bark of wild cherry for coughs and colds, while other tribes used a bark for diarrhea or for lung troubles.
White Pine.
The inner bark was used by Indian people as a tea for colds and coughs.
The Penobscots pulverized dried sarsaparilla roots and combined them with sweet flag roots in warm water and used the dark liquid as a cough remedy.
Wild Carrot.
The Mohegans steeped the blossoms of this wild species in warm water when they were in full bloom and took the drink for diabetes.
Devil’s Club.
The Indians of British Columbia utilized a tea of the root bark to offset the effects of diabetes.
A tea of blackberry roots was the most frequently used remedy for diarrhea among Indians of northern California.
Wild Black Cherry.
The Mohegans allowed the ripe wild black cherry to ferment naturally in a jar about one year than then drank the juice to cure dysentery.
The Menominees boiled the inner bark of the dogwood and passed the warm solution into the rectum with a rectal syringe made from the bladder of a small mammal and the hollow bone of a bird.
Chippewa and Ottawa tribes boiled the entire geranium plant and drank the tea for diarrhea.
White Oak.
Iroquois and Penobscots boiled the bark of the white oak and drank the liquid for bleeding piles and diarrhea.
Black Raspberry.
The Pawnee, Omaha, and Dakota tribes boiled the root bark of black raspberry for dysentery.
Star Grass.
Catawbas drank a tea of star grass leaves for dysentery.
Digestive Disorders
A tea of the roots was drunk for heartburn by the Pillager Ojibwas. Mohegans drank a tea of the leaves for a tonic.
Yellow Root.
A tea from the root was used by the Catawbas and the Cherokee as a stomach ache remedy.
The Delaware Indians, who called the tree Hat-ta-wa-no-min-schi, boiled the inner bark in water, using the tea to reduce fevers.
The Pomo tribe boiled the inner root bark, then drank strong doses of the resulting tea to induce sweating in cases of chills and fever. In the south, the Natchez prepared their fever remedies from the bark of the red willow, while the Alabama and Creek Indians plunged into willow root baths for the same purpose.
The Cherokees drank a decoction of the coarse, leafy, perennial herb to cure fevers.
The Onondagas steeped pennyroyal leaves and drank the tea to cure headaches.
Heart and Circulatory Problems
Green Hellebore.
The Cherokee used the green hellebore to relive body pains.
American Hemp and Dogbane.
Used by the Prairie Potawatomis as a heart medicine, the fruit was boiled when it was still green, and the resulting decoction drunk. It was also used for kidney problems and for dropsy.
White Oak.
The Menominee tribe treated piles by squirting an infusion of the scraped inner bark of oak into the rectum with a syringe made from an animal bladder and the hollow bone of a bird.
Inflammations and Swellings
Witch Hazel.
The Menominees of Wisconsin boiled the leaves and rubbed the liquid on the legs of tribesmen who were participating in sporting games. A decoction of the boiled twigs was used to cure aching backs, while steam derived by placing the twigs in water with hot rocks was a favorite Potawatomi treatment for muscle aches.
Native Hemlock (as opposed Poison Hemlock of Socrates fame).
The Menominees prepared a tea if the inner bark and drank it to relieve cold symptoms. A similar tea was used by the Forest Potawatomis to induce sweating and relieve colds and feverish conditions.
Insect Bites and Stings
Fendler Bladderpod.
The Navajos made a tea and used it to treat spider bites.
Purple Coneflower.
The Plains Indians used this as a universal application for the bites and stings of all crawling, flying, or leaping bugs. Between June and September, the bristly stemmed plant, which grows in dry, open woods and on prairies, bears a striking purplish flower.
Stiff Goldenrod.
The Meskwaki Indians of Minnesota ground the flowers into a lotion and applied it to bee stings.
Trumpet Honeysuckle.
The leaves were ground by chewing and then applied to bees stings.
Wild Onion and Garlic.
The Dakotas and Winnebagos applied the crushed bulbs of wild onions and garlics.
The Navajos chewed the stems and placed the pulpy mash on areas of swelling caused by ant, bee and wasp bites. The Zunis applied the dried, powdered roots and flowers mixed with saliva to ant bites.
Broom Snakeweed.
The Navajos chewed the stem and applied the resin to insect bites and stings of all kinds.
A favorite remedy for bee stings was the application of wet tobacco leaves.
Insect Repellents and Insecticides
The Cherokee pounded the large rootstock with bear fat and smeared it on their bodies as an insect repellent. It was also used as a tonic, stimulant, and astringent.
Indians of Virginia drank a tea of the boiled berries to cure rheumatism. The dried root was also used to allay inflammation.
A favorite rheumatism remedy among the Indians of the Mississippi region - the Rappahannocks of Virginia drank a tea of the root.
Wild Black Cherry.
The Meskwaki tribe made a sedative tea of the root bark.
The Mohegans prepared a sedative medicine from the conelike strobiles and sometimes heated the blossoms and applied them for toothache. The Dakota tribe used a tea of the steeped strobiles to relieve pains of the digestive organs, and the Menominee tribe regarded a related species of hops as a panacea.
Wild Lettuce.
Indigenous to North American, it was used for sedative purposes, especially in nervous complaints.
The Cherokee boiled geranium root together with wild grape, and with the liquid, rinsed the mouths of children affected with thrush.
The Catawba stripped the bark from the tree and boiled it in water, using the resulting dark liquid as a mouth rinse. Pictures, Images and Photos

Friday, August 13, 2010

Beautiful Killers

Most plants contain some level of toxins (like alkaloids) for defense. After all, they’re plants. They can’t go anywhere. Through millennia of trial and error, both animals and human beings have figured out which plants are safe, which are lethal, and which are somewhere in between. For example, did you know that many grain-bearing plants contain a toxin known as lectins? And that the African staple, cassava, must be thoroughly boiled and soaked to separate it from its poisonous compound, cyanide? Even the humble lima bean has been bred to contain less cyanide. Cherries, potatoes, peaches and apple seeds are all toxic – eat enough of the latter, in fact, and it will prove fatal. Fortunately, artificial selection and cooking methods have all but eliminated the threat of toxins in everyday foods. But you may be surprised to find out the incredibly lethal plants often hanging around the neighborhood park – or gracing your tabletop in the form of a centerpiece.
Castor bean Pictures, Images and Photos
Castor Bean

Castor oil – for anyone unlucky enough to have been force spoon-fed this healthy yet disgusting fluid as a child, you may be surprised to learn that an ingredient in the castor bean just happens to be the deadliest plant poison on earth. Literally. Just one tiny castor bean is enough to kill an adult within a few minutes. Castor oil is made safe (but not palatable) with the removable of the lethal compound known as ricin. Amazingly, castor bean plants are grown for decorative purpose all over the place, particularly in California.

Rosary Pea

Rosary Pea Pictures, Images and Photos

As if a deadly legume weren’t bad enough, the pulses aren’t so benign, either. The rosary pea may sound sweet and downright pious, but it’s actually one of the most dangerous plants on earth. Its seeds contain a particular lectin known as abrin; if chewed and swallowed, death will follow shortly. The seeds are easily identified with their distinctive bright red jacket and single black dot (almost like a reverse Black Widow spider). Abrin, which does its damage by inactivating ribosomes, is one of the most fatal toxins on earth. After the vomiting, fever, nausea, drooling and G.I. dysfunction but before the bizarre hyperexcitability, edema and fatally convulsive seizures, renal tubular degeneration, bladder and retinal hemorrhage and widespread internal lesions typically develop.


Monkshood Rabbit Valley Pictures, Images and Photos

Another unassuming plant – until you learn that the nickname for monkshood is actually “wolfsbane”. That’s owing to its once common use by farmers as a very effective wolf extermination tool. (Not to be left out, fowl are also fatally affected by the related hensbane.) The monkshood has the distinction of evidently being the bane of many creatures: its nicknames include womensbane and leopard’s bane, though it is also known as blue rocket and devil’s helmet. It is technically part of the aconitum genus, of which there are more than 250 species. The wolfsbane used to be a popular werewolf detection tool, by the way. (Status was determined by holding the flower near the alleged’s chin; a yellow-tinged shadow on the skin was thought to be confirmation.)

Bushman’s poison

Poison Tree Pictures, Images and Photos

The aptly-named Bushman’s poison has famously been used by the Khoisan of South Africa to poison the tips of their arrows. Though the plant produces pleasantly scented flowers and a tasty plum-like berry, the milky sap can be fatal. The leaves, however, have medicinal properties. Bushman’s poison is also known as the wintersweet.

Angel’s trumpet
angels trumpet Pictures, Images and Photos

What could be sweeter than the sound of an angel’s trumpet? Perhaps the moaning agony of a trip that won’t end. Related to petunias, tomatoes and potatoes, the angel’s trumpet (datura stramonium) is a highly effective hallucinogen, but should not be consumed for recreational purposes as it can also be lethal. According to wikipedia: “The active ingredients are atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine which are classified as deliriants, or anticholinergics. Due to the elevated risk of overdose in uninformed users, many hospitalizations, and some deaths, are reported from recreational use.” This common plant also goes by many other names, including jimson weed, stink weed, loco weed, and devil’s snare. One 18-year-old who was house-sitting alone for his uncle recounts how he decided to prepare some angel’s trumpet tea in curiosity and almost died (a friend burst in on him convulsing on the bathroom floor and the authorities assumed he was on an acid trip).

Water hemlock

Water Hemlock plant Pictures, Images and Photos

The poison hemlock famously drunk by Socrates is deadly, but the water hemlock is just as fatal. According to the USDA, water hemlock or poison parsnip is “the most violently toxic plant in North America”. The flowers and stems are safe, but the stalky roots contain chambers that are full of a deadly sap containing the convulsant cicutoxin. Grand mal seizures are followed by a quick death if even a tiny amount is consumed.

English Yew

2009 09 09  Versailles, France  :  Chateau de Versailles Pictures, Images and Photos

The English Yew, or taxus baccata (“taxus” meaning toxin), is one of the deadliest trees on the planet. The evergreen has a majestic and lush appearance and is fairly common in forests of Europe. The yew is considered by scientists to be an odd and primitive conifer along with the monkey puzzle tree of Chile and Gingko biloba tree of Asia. The yew has a rather sad history. All parts – save for the flesh of the berries – are extremely poisonous. Because the toxin causes convulsions and paralysis, it was once used as an abortifacient. Apothecaries would dry and powder the leaves and stems and give desperate women minute amounts in the days before birth control was available. Unfortunately, death would often result. The yew has been quite popular throughout history for a number of medicinal purposes at extremely dilute levels, but it is deemed too dangerous in modern medical practice to be of use. The yew’s primary toxin is taxine, a cardiac depressant. The yew acts rapidly and there is no antidote.


White Snakeroot Pictures, Images and Photos

Snakeroot is most dangerous for livestock such as cattle and sheep. When cows consume the attractive fluffy white blooms and stems of the snakeroot, their milk and bones become saturated with the toxin tremetol and humans who consume these contaminated animal products will develop milk sickness (tremetol poisoning). In fact, milk sickness is what killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks.

Strychnine tree
No Photo for this one
Queen Cleopatra famously forced servants to commit suicide by means of a strychnine tree’s fruit seeds, which contain lethal levels of strychnine and brucine, in order to determine if it would be the best means for her own suicide. Upon seeing their agony (which included painful vomiting, facial contortions and convulsions) she opted for the apparently less horrific choice of the asp. (The asp was actually an ancient term for any number of poisonous snakes, but experts think it was probably the cobra that Cleopatra chose to end her life.)


Moon Flower Pictures, Images and Photos

A otherworldly name and a plant with often fatal effects. The seeds of this Eastern North American drupe (stone fruit) are extremely toxic to humans, although birds can eat them. Moonseeds first cause paralysis but are fatal in larger doses and/or if treatment is not sought immediately.


Daphne odora Pictures, Images and Photos

This plant, also called the spurge laurel, is a favorite ornamental shrub in Europe. This drupe-producing evergreen with waxy, attractive foliage and gorgeously fragrant blooms is also highly toxic. Consumption of the leaves or red or yellow fruits will first cause nausea and violent vomiting, followed by internal bleeding, coma and death. The daphne plant is rich in the toxin mezerein.


Narcissus Pictures, Images and Photos
Narcissists are toxic enough when they come in human form, but the plant for which they are named, also called the daffodil, is highly poisonous. Poet’s narcissus is more toxic than daffodil, but in both cases it is the bulbs, not the flower or stems, that cause illness. One famous fatal case in Toulouse in the early 1900s occurred when the bulbs were mistaken for onions and consumed. According to, “Socrates called this plant the ‘Chaplet of the infernal Gods,’ because of its narcotic effects. An extract of the bulbs, when applied to open wounds, has produced staggering, numbness of the whole nervous system and paralysis of the heart.” Yet, there are medicinal properties, and some cultures even believe they can cure baldness and serve as a potent aphrodisiac. (Do not try at home.)


oleander Pictures, Images and Photos

The oleander is the most deadly plant in the world. It is also tremendously popular as a decorative shrub. Just one leaf can kill an adult, and fatal poisonings have resulted from minimal exposure to the twigs, blooms and berries. The plant contains numerous toxins, including nerioside, oleandroside, saponins, and cardiac glycosides. Though native to parts of the Mediterranean and Asia, it is now widely cultivated throughout the world. Fatalities among horses and other livestock are common. Once ingested, oleander goes to work simultaneously on the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and the digestive tract.


Rhododendron Pictures, Images and Photos

The toxic rhododendron, a stalky tree-like evergreen shrub with large, brilliant blooms, is famously seen throughout much of the Pacific Northwest and is the state flower of Washington. Its relative, the popular garden shrub azalea, is also poisonous. Both plants contain andromedatoxin, which can cause severe pain, lethargy, depression, vomiting and nausea, progressive paralysis, coma and eventual death. All parts are deadly.

Choke cherry

choke cherry Pictures, Images and Photos

Chokecherry, or wild cherry, is a North American plant that is known for its large sprays of tiny white flowers. The cherries are small and not eaten. The plant’s woody stalks and leaves are full of hydrocyanic acid, which is fatal if consumed. The poison affects the respiratory system, and rapid breathing, choking and asphyxiation result.


Bittersweet Nightshade Pictures, Images and Photos

Also known as the devil’s cherry, black cherry, great morel and belladonna, the nightshade is toxic from tip to top. Containing atropine, a deadly alkaloid, those who ingest even a small amount of the plant will soon notice they have lost their voice. Respiratory trouble and convulsions follow. The plant is problematic because its cherries are so sweet and children are frequently attracted to the wild fruit. Strangely, horses, birds, sheep, goats and pigs seem to be immune to the effects of nightshade. Nightshade poisoning is treatable with an emetic if treatment is sought swiftly. Plutarch spoke of armies being wiped out by nightshade, and legend has it that Macbeth’s soldiers poisoned the invading Danes with wine made from the sweet fruit.

There are many, many more toxic plants,these are just a few.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Blackberries Pictures, Images and Photos
Strawberries, raspberries, red currents - most of the berries are already gone. But one remains, serving to remind us of sweet summer days and accompanying us to winter's threshold: the lowly Bramble - also known as Blackberry. How we curse it in spring and summer when we find passage across a field blocked by its thorny arms, when its barbs tear our clothes, tangle our hair, or scratch our skin! When bramble blocks the way it means business. Although it is not impossible to overcome, most will choose an easier route than to engage in direct combat.
Blackberries Pictures, Images and Photos

Yet, who can resist its sweet berries when bramble bestows a seemingly endless harvest, so much so that looking at the remaining rows of jam jars I always wonder whether I will be able to finish it all before the time comes to make more…

Bramble is an undemanding plant, springing up just about anywhere it gets a chance. In fact, it is often regarded a weed. But, like many other so-called weeds, its humble appearance disguises a lavish gift.

Blackberries are rich in vitamins, especially C and A, and minerals. They also contain flavonoids and tannins, which means that they are not only delicious field fare or jam material, but can also be used medicinally.

Blackberries 1 Pictures, Images and Photos
The tannins act astringent, thus medicinally blackberries (as well as the blackberry leaves, when picked in spring) can be used to tighten the gums, and to inhibit bleeding. Small children benefit from their action on a 'rumble-tum', arresting diarrhea, settling an upset, nervous stomach and even soothing a stomach-flu.
Sand Blackberry leaves Pictures, Images and Photos

The leaves can be brewed into a tea. Sometimes they are mixed with raspberry and strawberry leaves to make a refreshing general purpose household tea. Medicinal they act diuretic and diaphoretic and thus are used to cleanse the blood and lower a fever. A less known, very valuable property of the leaves is their ability to lower blood sugar levels, which should be interesting for diabetics, who ought to consider using blackberry leaves as an alternative to regular tea or coffee. The leaves are also astringent and can be used as a gargle to soothe a sore throat. The berries or juice are beneficial for treating hoarseness. Singers and public speakers should make ample use of this freely available and effective remedy.

On a more spiritual note, the lowly bramble flower has an honored place among non-traditional flower essences It serves as a remedy for confusion. Bramble essence is said to help one realize the 'essential truth' or underlying pattern of a situation and is thus said to help find solutions to a problem. It is claimed to bring about mental clarity and aid concentration and memory. Pictures, Images and Photos

Of course there are gazillions of blackberry recipes - cordials, jam, jellies, ice cream, mousse, pies, chutneys and tons more. I prefer them fresh off the vine with a little cream, but here are some all-time favorites:
Apple and Blackberry Crumble:

* 3 Large cooking apples
* ½ kg Blackberries
* 5oz Sugar or Honey
* Cinnamon
* Lemon
* ½ oz Butter


* 2 oz Butter
* 2oz Rolled oats
* 2oz Flour
* 1oz Walnuts (crumbled)
* 1oz Sugar or Honey

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F

Peel and cut the apples into small chunks. Melt the butter and sauté the pieces, stirring frequently. Add the sugar, lemon and cinnamon and walnuts and continue to stir until the apples are getting soft.

Prepare the crumble topping by rubbing the softened butter, sugar, flour and oats into a crumbly mixture.

Add the blackberries to the softened apple filling and stir gently. Transfer the filling into a shallow ovenproof casserole and sprinkle the crumble topping on top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until light golden brown.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Trixie's Organic Blackberry Jam w/ Berries Pictures, Images and Photos
Blackberry Jam

* 2 cups blackberries
* 4 cups rhubarb
* 4 cups sugar
* Pinch salt

Carefully clean the berries and peel and cut the rhubarb into one inch pieces. Place the fruit into a heavy pan with 2 cups of sugar and boil for three 3 minutes. Add the rest of the sugar and a pinch salt and boil for four more minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and sea. Makes three pints.
Blackberry Cornbread

* 2 cups white corn meal
* ¼ tsp. soda
* ¼ tsp. salt
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 1 egg
* 1 cup sorghum molasses
* 1 ½ cup blackberries (the wild is better than tame)

# Into mixing bowl, add corn meal, soda, salt, buttermilk, egg; stir well. Add molasses, stir well. Add blackberries, stir into mixture without mashing them. Pour into a well greased iron skillet and bake slow at 350 degrees until pone begins to brown. Reduce heat to 200 degrees until cooked.
From Alicia's recipes
Blackberry Sauce

* 1 lb Blackberries
* 3 tb Sugar
* 1 tb Lemon juice

Serve this with duck.

Combine berries, sugar and lemon juice in a pot. Cover and cook until bubbling, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat, place in a food processor and blend.

Pass through a strainer to remove the seeds. Chill before serving. Can be frozen for up to 1 year.
Makes 1 Cup
Blackberries Pictures, Images and Photos