Friday, December 30, 2011



Hawthorn Pictures, Images and Photos



LATIN NAME : Crataegus oxyacantha.

COMMON / FOLK NAMES : English Hawthorn May bush May tree Quickset Thorn-apple tree Whitethorn Bread and Cheese Tree Gaxels Hagthorn Halves Haw Hazels Huath Ladies' Meat May Mayblossom May Bush Mayflower Quick Thorn Tree of Chastity

MEDICINAL PART : Flowers Fruit

PLACES OF ORIGIN : Ireland Europe

HABITAT : Mountainous regions. Damp limey soils.

DESCRIPTION : The hawthorn grows as either a shrub or a tree in Ireland & Europe. In Ireland & England it is widely grown as a hedge plant. It trunk or stems have hard wood, smooth and ash-gray bark, and thorny branches. The small, shiny leaves are dark green on top, light bluish-green underneath, and have three irregularly toothed lobes.

FLOWERING PERIOD : The white flowers have round petals and grow in terminal corymbs during May and June. The fruit, or haw, is a 2- to 3-seeded, fleshy pome, scarlet on the outside, yellowish and pulpy on the inside.

PROPERTIES : Antispasmodic Cardiac Sedative Vasodilator

Medical Properties of Irish Herbs, Trees & Fungi


GENDER : Masculine
CELTIC GODS : Manannan Mac Lír Lír Nechtan
CELTIC GODDESS : Áine Brigit Grian
POWERS : Fertility Chastity Fishing Magic Happiness

Hawthorn was once used to decorate May poles. At one time hawthorns were believed to be Witches who had transformed themselves into trees. Witches have long danced and performed their rites beneath the thorn.


Hawthorn has long been used to increase fertility. Because of this power it is incorporated into weddings, especially those performed in the spring. Call on the Goddess Áine or the Goddess Brigit while holding a hawthorn branch or wand of hawthorn to increase fertility.
Fishermen should carry some hawthorn and call on the Gods Manannan and Lír if fishing at sea, or Nechtan if fishing inland.
The leaves, curiously enough, are also used to enforce or maintain chastity or celibacy. The leaves are placed beneath the mattress or around the bedroom for this purpose.
Worn or carried it promotes happiness in the troubled, depressed, or sad. Call on the Goddess Grian to bring some sunshine and happiness into your life.
Hawthorn protects against lightning, and in the house in which it resides, no evil ghosts may enter. It is also powerful for protecting against damage to the house from storms.
In the past most Witch's gardens contained at least one Hawthorn hedge.
Care must be taken to propitiate the tree itself before removing any branches. It is important not to damage the tree and certain sacred trees should not be disturbed at all, lest their guardian spirits become angered.
Hawthorn trees standing alone should be avoided. Take parts only from trees that are part of boundary hedges.
The Hawthorn is sacred to the fairies, and is part of the fairy-tree triad of IRELAND and Britain: 'Oak, Ash and Thorn,' and where all three trees grow together it is said that one may see fairies.
Family: Rosaceae
Hawthorn Pictures, Images and Photos

Useful plant parts: Fruits and flowers

Description: Hawthorn is a plant that mostly comes in a form of moderately sized shrubs or small trees. It is known for the, usually, large number of flowers that are located on the tops of branches. For this plant it is also characteristic that it is whole covered with thorns. The leaves are relatively small, and from the upper side they are dark green colored, while on the lower side they have a light green color. The leaves have short petioles.
Collecting period and locations: The flowers are picked during full flowering (through May and June). Then they are rapidly dried in a warm and airy place. The dried material is usually stored in bottles that can be closed tightly. Medicinal substances are lost with time, and because of that, dried flowers are usually not stored for longer than one year. As for the fruits, they are picked when they are mature (the fruits are mostly red colored). Fruits are dried the same way as the flowers, and they also lose medicinal substances slowly with time. Regarding locations where to search, hawthorn can be found in thickets and hedges, in deciduous, and even in pine forests.

Medicinal properties and applications: Hawthorn is known as an excellent cure for heart problems, where it is useful for a number of problems related to heart and circulatory system. In elderly people it strengthens the heart, stimulates and nurtures it. It is also excellent for the mitigation of degenerative effects on the heart muscles, poor circulation and heart palpilations. It can also treat a too low or a too high blood pressure (in both cases, it normalizes pressure to a certain extent). Also, it is often recommended after a heart attack because it helps by increasing blood flow through coronary arteries and it overall increases activity and better nutrition of the heart muscle cells.Active compounds: Flavonoids, loline, acetylcholine, ethylamine and triterpenes.

Recipe: Tea of hawthorn can be prepared by taking two teaspoons full of dried hawthorn flowers and adding them to about 1/4 liters of boiling water and leaving the tea that way for 20-30 minutes. Usually one should drink 2-3 cups of this tea a day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Winter Solstice!

winter solstice Pictures, Images and Photos
Today is the Winter Solstice! We send Blessings,Love,Light,and Prayers to All! Let us all Pray for the Healing of Our Mother Earth and Father Sky,and Blessings of The Waters! With all our prayers and help Mother will recover! Happy Winter Solstice!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bee Balm

Bee Balm Pictures, Images and Photos
Other Names: Eastern Beebalm, Bergamot, Wild Oswego Tea, Horsemint, Monarda
Bee Balm Herb Uses and Medicinal Properties

Bee Balm is edible and medicinal, the entire plant above ground is edible used as a pot herb, and it is also used as a flavoring in cooked foods. The flowers make an attractive edible garnish in salads. The plant is noted for its fragrance, and is a source of oil of thyme. The fresh or dried leaves are brewed into a refreshing aromatic and medicinal tea. An infusion of young Bee Balm leaves used to form a common beverage in many parts of the United States.
bee balm Pictures, Images and Photos

Bee Balm leaves and flowers and stems are used in alternative medicine as an antiseptic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic and stimulant. An infusion is medicinal used internally in the treatment of colds, catarrh, headaches, and gastric disorders, to reduce low fevers and soothe sore throat, to relieve flatulence, nausea, menstrual pain, and insomnia. Steam inhalation of the plant can be used for sore throats, and bronchial catarrh (inflammation of the mucus membrane, causing an increased flow of mucus). Externally, it is a medicinal application for skin eruptions and infections. Bergamot's distinctive aroma, found in both the leaf and flower is wonderful for use in potpourri.

While a fragrant herb in its own right, Wild Bergamot is not the source of the commonly used Bergamot Essential oil.

bee balm Pictures, Images and Photos
Habitat and Description

Bee Balm is a perennial herb native to Eastern North America. It grows in dry thickets, clearings and woodland edges from Ontario and British Columbia to Georgia and Mexico. Bee Balm has showy, red, pink, or lilac flowers in large heads or whorls of about 20-50 flowers at the top of the branching stem, supported by leafy bracts, the leaflets are a pale-green color. The stem of Bee Balm is square, grooved and hard; and about 3 feet high. The leaves occur in opposite pairs, are rough on both surfaces, are distinctly toothed, and lance-shaped. Fine dense hairs cover much of the stem and leaves. Bee Balm roots are short, slender, creeping rhizomes.

How to Grow Bee Balm

Bee Balm is easily grown in ordinary garden soil. It also grows well in heavy clay soils, requires a part shade to sunny place to grow. This species thrives when grown in a dry soil and prefers alkaline soil conditions. Bee Balm is best started from plants which spread like crazy, but will grow from seed as well. Unfortunately, it often gets spotted with a mold like affliction.

How to Harvest and Use Bee Balm

Wild Bergamot flowers bloom from June to July. Gather edible leaves and flowers in bloom, dry on small bundles in paper bags in a dry, well ventilated area. Bee Balm can be used as tea, or as an aromatic suitable for sachets and potpourri.

Herbal Tea Pictures, Images and Photos
Herbal Tea Recipe

"Medicinal" tea: To 1 tsp. dried herb, add 1 cup boiling water, steep 10 min. sweeten to taste, take at bedtime.
Folklore and History

The red variety is commonly known as Oswego Tea. It was used by colonists in place of English Tea after the Boston Tea Party, when they threw the English tea in the harbor to protest the high taxes imposed on it by the British. Read More about Oswego Tea

Bee Balm was used as a medicinal plant extensively by Native Americans who recognized four varieties that had different odors. Wild Bergamot was used also as an active diaphoretic (sweat inducer) for ceremonial sweat lodges. A decoction of the herb was made into hair pomade.

The girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Fall Birch Trees Pictures, Images and Photos


When I hear" birch trees" a vision comes to mind of young thin, tall bright, white trees swaying together in the wind. Intolerant of shade, white birches stand in the open often near lakes or open hill tops reclaiming for the forest what fire, violent winds or man has cleared. A rapid grower, it rapidly survives to 150 years or grows taller than 80 feet, or wider than 2 feet in diameter. Be speaking its love and need for full sunlight the white birch reflects all light that comes its way and stands out thereby.

Long ago an old hollow birch protected the six great mythic Winabojo from an attack by the mighty Thunderbirds. In gratitude Winabojo blessed the Birch tree. He (?) told the Chippewa people " As long as the world stands this tree will be a protection and benefit to the human race. If they (?) want to preserve anything they must wrap it in birch bark and it will not decay. The bark of this tree will be useful in many ways and when people want to take the bark from the tree they must offer tobacco to express their gratitude ". Because of all this a birch tree is never struck by lightening people can safely stand under its branches during storm and the bark is the last part of the tree to decay ( HIU, by Frances Densmore, p.384)

The native peoples have used the birch bark for storage containers , maple sap collectors, cooking pots (amazingly enough with water in it birch bark will not burn) kindling, medicine, spoons, decorations and canoes. The birch bark canoe has grown into its own well-deserved myth. Sturdy and relatively light a product of its own natural environment it is easily repaired with readily available or carried materials -- transportation at its best!!

When gathering birch bark it is important never to peel a standing, living tree, since it can disfigure it or even kill it.

People have used the outer bark brewed into strong decoction as a wash or in a bath for chronic or severe skin problems.

A small pellicle of the bark was used as a scraper to slowly tear the outer edge of a cataract, thus making possible a finger grip on the edge to gently remove the film from the eye, thereby returning (lost?) vision. Good sized pieces can be used as splints for injured limbs. One particular Ojibwe woman used to bind her head with birch bark to cure a headache.

Just under that smooth white birch bark lies a thick inner bark, a source of good food, and helpful medicine. It can be eaten raw, and it's said to have saved hundreds of lives in that way. It can be grated or cut into bits or strips and added to soups and stews or dried and ground into a flour or meal for breads or porridge. Unlike many barks birch is bland in flavor while still somewhat sweet. Thus it is both a good emergency food and a good nutrient to include in a general diet.

Besides its food value the inner bark brewed as a tea is diuretic and helps resolve intermittent fevers, rheumatism, edema, and bladder stones. AS a strong decoction it is used externally for its astringent and weakly antiseptic qualities; as a cleansing and healing wash an/or poultice it is used on bruises, wounds, burns, scalds, tumors, and to help resist putrefaction in open sores. The boiled inner bark may also be ground fine between 2 stones and used as a plaster/ poultice for healing bruised wounds, cuts burns and scalds.

The properties of the birch leaves are similar to those of the inner bark. When young and tender they are edible raw or cooked. Best gathered before mid-summer, the leaves can be infused into tea, either fresh or dry. a strong brew of the tea is very diuretic, mildly sedative weakly antiseptic and disinfectant diaphoretic, laxative and blood-cleansing. It helps dissolve kidney and bladder stones and eases rheumatism gout and edema when taken 3 times daily for a while. Externally the tea can be used as a wash or poultice or as a bath additive for skin problems and eruptions and gargled for mouth and canker sores (?).

The twigs of birch have been boiled in water to improve flavor of other herbal tea mixtures. It is said to be compatible with almost all other herbs.

An Ojibwe woman in 1840 told how she stripped off the bark from a birch tree to get access to a milky substance on the trunk which was then scraped off an used as a remedy for tuberculosis.

Birch sap has been tapped in the early spring for centuries. It can be drunk straight from the tree and as such is very tonic for anemia arthritis and vitamin deficiencies such as scurvy. It too is diuretic and laxative. Some say it can be preserved for months by pouring a little oil on its surface.

Having much less sweetness than maple sap and a shorter 'running season' it is now rarely tapped to make syrup except in those areas where maples are rare. The birch syrup I've tried was heavier and more like molasses in taste than maple syrup. The sap can also be fermented into birch beer or wine. If exposed to air and heat the sap will turn to vinegar. As a daily wash the sap stimulates the scalp and encourages the growth of hair.

The root bark of the birch was also used to improve and disguise the flavor of other less pleasant herbal teas. When cooked in maple syrup the resulting syrup (?) was soothing to stomach cramps.

When the bark is burned the ash has been found to be healing in a poultice for mouth sores and to remove scabs.

Though not gourmet items the catkins and flowers of birches are edible.

Twigs of birch are part of the regular diet of moose, deer, an snowshoe hare. Grouse eat the seeds and buds.

We will now turn to the other birches, Black Birch (Betula Lenta) Yellow Birch ( betula Lutea) European White Birch (vetula alba) and other birches have many properties similar to White Birch (betula papyrifera). The three just specified however have a distinct wintergreen taste in their twigs and bark that derives from the oil therein.

To extract this oil the twigs and bark are gathered from May to September chopped or ground up , Placed in vessels with water, and kept warm over a low fire for 12 or more hours; then the liquid is distilled and oil removed. The active principle is mehyl salicylate. Because of its flavor the oil is labeled and sold as wintergreen oil. It is commonly used as an astringent in antiseptic ointments for skin diseases as a flavor in candy and as a counter-irritant for sore stiff muscles and joints. The black birch yields by far the most with yellow birch a distant second and European white birch the least.

The sap of these birches can also be made into syrup, wine, vinegar and birch beer, with the added bonus of the wintergreen flavor. The twigs are also made into a tea that enhances the flavor of other teas.

The yellow birch is a very distinctive tree with several amazing attributes. sheathing an excellent hardwood for lumber and fuel is a bark that in a young tree is often shiny gold occasionally shiny bronze or silver. Old trees sport coarse scaly plates on the trunk with the shiny smooth bark still evident on the young branches high above.

Meanwhile down below at ground level, I'm often in awe to witness a large tree standing on stilts. yellow birch seeds, especially loved by birds, in late winter sprout readily wherever there is ample moisture, to the delight of deer who love the wintergreen flavor. Sometimes old stumps hold enough moisture for a seedling. In a few years new roots grow down the sides of the stump to the ground and still later the stump rots disappears and the yellow birch appears to be standing on golden stilts.

Black Birch also known as sweet birch and cherry birch.Its bark and twigs are perhaps more potent for the same uses as white birch because of the extra presence of the '' wintergreen oil'. The tea is also used for diarrhea, dysentery and cholera infantum, and as an enema ingredient. As an external wash and as a drink the tea purifies the blood especially when boils and sores are present.

To make a tonic, boil 2 pounds of twigs in a gallon of water until only a pint of strong brown tea is left. Drink about half a pint a day. To make birch beer, put a gallon of sap into a jug with a handful of corn and let natural fermentation do the rest.

Scandinavians traditionally used switches of European white birch to stimulate circulation during a sauna bath.

Friday, September 16, 2011


cattail Pictures, Images and Photos

I have posted on Cattail before but since this is the time of year for harvesting Cattail I would like to bring it to the forefront.
Whenever you came across cattails, did you ever stop to think that they are edible? Would you eat them if you were hungry, or are you aware of how this herbaceous plant has been used for centuries in diverse and interesting ways? Ah, then let's discuss a few varieties, and find out a little bit more about how useful this plant is, as well as finding out how this edible plant is consumed.

There are a few classifications and well-known names of the cattails. Some of the more standard names of cattails include:

the narrow-leafed cattail [Typha angustifolia] the wide-leafed cattail [Typha latofolia] the common cattail [Typha domingensis] the hybrid or white cattail [hybrid, crossbred between Typha angustifolia and Typha latofolia T x glauca]

cat-o-nine tails southern cattail Cattail are likely one of the most recognizable of the wetlands plants. The two most popular species are the Typha angustifolia (narrow-leafed cattail) and the Typha latifolia, (broad-leaved cattail) which are found across North America. The T. angustifolia does not go as far north as the T. latifolia and the T. domingensis grows more in the southern parts of America, as well as into South America.

Typha plants are monoecious [having both male and female reproductive organs] and are pollinated by the wind. They are often one of the first wetland plants to colonize areas of newly exposed wet mud. The T. or Typha plants grow in dense stands (many all together) and are found growing along marshes, ponds, canals, brackish water, reservoirs, streams and lake margins. The root system of this plant helps prevent erosion from waves created by boats or wind. The cattail provides an important habitat for many species of water fowl such as ducks, geese, marsh wren, mallards, yellow headed and red-winged blackbirds, as well as making a home for frogs, salamanders, deer, moose, elk and raccoons.
BV3.Catail Pictures, Images and Photos

Some people think of cattails as weeds that are a nuisance, however, they perform important functions that help make the wetlands healthy. They filter runoff as it flows into the water, which helps reduce nutrients as well as reducing mud that enters into the wetlands from the surrounding land. Artificial (man-made) and developed wetlands that have cattail improve water quality problems, addressing such things as various and multiple toxins that challenge wastewater and soil, heavy sediment deposition and nutrient enrichment. The presence of cattail can change levels of chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides, heavy metals, drugs and nitrates in the soil and water, in an inexpensive way.

The cattail, a wetland plant , is a rhizomatous perennial from the Typhacaea family. They are stiff, tall plants that grow from 3 to 10 feet in height, with green, willowy, blade-like leaves [similar to tall blades of grass] The brown, cyclindric and elongated female flower, is what is so distinctive with the cattail and gives this plant its name. Now, let's see what the similarities and differences are with a few species of the cattail.

Narrow leaf cattail [Typha angustifolia] The inflorescence of this species has staminate flowers (above) and pistillate flowers (below) and is medium to dark brown, spike-like and cylindrical. The male flower [a narrower, yellow stalk] grows just above the female flower, but tends to disappear once it has done its job. The leaves grow from the base of a straight, central stalk and have pointed tips and long, straight margins that resemble long blades of grass. The narrow leaf cattail will reproduce by seed and also by rhizomes. A rhizome is a horizontal plant stem with shoots above and roots below, serving as a reproductive structure.

The seeds are contained in the spikes. The fruit seed period begins in the spring and ends in summer. Each spike contains from 117,000 to 268,000 miniscule seeds. This spike bursts open under dry conditions, releasing the fruits. The seed vessels opens quickly when the fruit comes in contact with water, releasing the seed which then sinks. The fruits will often fall to the ground in wet weather, rather than being dispersed by wind.

The narrow leaved species is smaller than the broad leaved species. Its leaves are thinner and darker green, extending beyond the spike. The male and female portion of the narrow leafed species is separated by an inch (approximately) of bare stem. The T. angustifolia occurs in deeper water than the T. latifolia [broad leaf cattail] and has fewer and larger rhizomes, which enables it to grow in deeper water.

Broad leaf cattail [Typha latifolia] This species grows up to 10 feet tall and is found in areas of shallow water or seasonal flooding, or along the shores or margins of deeper water. This wetlands plant has become widespread in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa, wherever weather is tropical or temperate.

Cattail Quiver Pictures, Images and Photos
The broad leaf cattail is an upright, rhizomatous, aquatic (or semi-aquatic) perennial herb, which produces sexually or asexually. The rhizomes are 3 -4 inches below the soil surface and can grow up to 27 inches long, with a diameter of 0.2 1.2 inches. Asexual reproduction occurs through the rhizome system, whereas sexual reproduction is carried out through seed dispersion and seedling establishment. The fruit seed period begins in late spring and lasts until the fall.

Common Cattail [Typhaceae] The common cattail is a native, perennial plant that grows to heights of 4-9 feet tall. It has flowering stalk and 6 or more leaves. The leaves grow up to 7 inches long and 1 inch across. They have parallel leaf venation and are flat, hairless and green to bluish grey in color and originate from the base of the plant. It has a flowering stock which ends in a spike of staminate flowers [male] and a spike of pistillate flowers [female]. Every staminate flower bears 4 grains of pollen. Once the pollen is released, the staminate spike shrivels up. The root system has thick starchy rhizomes and fibrous roots.

Cattails can reproduce by rhizome [roots that creep] or seed made by their flowers. Pollinated flowers will develop into seed heads which are carried away by the wind. Cattails can also spread through their root system. The narrow leaf cattail, the broad leaf cattail and the common cattail have characteristics that overlap, so identifying these wetland plants can be challenging. Typically, the common cattail is larger in size. One other difference is that the staminate and pistillate spikes of common cattail are adjacent to each other or separated less than inch. On the other hand, the staminate and pistillate spikes of the narrow leaf cattail are separated by more than a inch; but normally by a few inches. The cattail family prefers shallow, flooded conditions. During growing season, cattails like to be constantly wet [saturated soil].

The Edible Uses of Cattail You may just wrinkle up your nose at the thought of eating any part of cattail, but before you toss the idea away, take a look at some of what you can do with this plant. Keep this information filed away somewhere because if you are ever out in the wilderness, thirsty and hungry, spotting cattail is not only a sure sign of water, but knowing some of the following data just may keep your hunger pains away. There are also medicinal uses of cattail.

Believe it or not, every part of the cattail is edible but you must be careful not to mix cattail up with poisonous plants such as irises. The tender, young shoots are cut from the underground stems [rhizomes], in the spring when they are 4 -16 inches long. The base of the stem, where it attaches to the rhizome, can be boiled or roasted like potatoes. It is interesting to note that the rhizomes are richer in starch than potatoes. The young flower stalks can also be eaten raw, baked, boiled or steamed. The core of the rhizome can be ground up and used as flour, as it is a rich source of starch. According to a Harrington 1972 report, one acre of cattails yields approximately 6,475 pounds of flour. The Native American Indians made bread and other baked goods from the flour', which contains about 80% carbohydrates, 6% - 8% protein and is abundant in minerals and vitamins. The pollen can also be a great supplement for cornstarch.

The female part of the cattail can be eaten like sweet corn, when the stalk is immature and green. The rhizomes tender young shoots can be peeled and eaten as a vegetable or in salad. The Russians named the young shoots, Cossack asparagus'. The roots were used to treat intestinal problems and malaria.

There are a myriad of things that the cattail has been and can be used for. The Native American tribes used cattail leaves and wove them into sleeping mats and waterproof mats for the sides of their wigwams or lodges. The root stalks can be boiled or mashed, and used as a pasted for burns, scabs, sores, boils, inflammation, wounds and smallpox sores.

The dried leaves can be used to make chair seats, mats, baskets, rafts or floats. The roots were most often used in treating intestinal maladies and burns. The fluffy seeds that look almost like down, are used in coats, pillows, mattresses, quilts, dolls and life jackets. It was also used to dress wounds, and provide tinder. Dried cattails are an effective treatment for burns.

The benefits and uses of the cattail plants are quite numerous and very impressive. So the next time you pass by some cattails, stop and think of all the diverse uses for it; especially if you are feeling rather hungry!

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Black Eyed Susan"

Black Eyed Susan Pictures, Images and Photos
The Black Eyed Susan(Rudebekia) is an easily recognizable plant native to most of North America. It most often grows in moist thickets or fields. It can reach a height of around 3 feet, and has alternate, mostly basal leaves 4 to 8 inches long, covered by coarse hair. The Black Eyed Susan flowers from June to October. The familiar yellow ray florets circling a brown or black, domed center, makes it a plant that is easily distinguished.
Black Eyed Susan Pictures, Images and Photos

The roots but not seedheads of the Black Eyed Susan can be used much like the related Purple Coneflower. It is an astringent used as in a warm infusion as a wash for sores and swellings.
Black Eyed Susan
Black Eyed Susan Pictures, Images and Photos

Black Eyed Susan
black eyed susan pod Pictures, Images and Photos
black eyed susan vine seeds Pictures, Images and Photos
The Ojibwa used it as a poultice for snake bites and to make an infusion for treating colds and worms in children. The plant is diuretic and was used by the Menominee and Potawatomi. Juice from the roots had been used as drops for earaches. The spring greens can be cooked and eaten.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Making A Poultice

Comfrey Pictures, Images and Photos
Poultice Making is sometimes thought of as granny medicine and not really something that is done any longer. That is not really the case, though. The concept remains fairly prominent in modern medicine.

I’ve noticed that many people interchange the use of the terms “poultice” and “compress”. My understanding of these two terms is that one applies the herbal mixture directly to the skin when making a poultice, although sometimes it is wise to protect the skin with a thin layer of cheese cloth or muslin. Compresses are usually made by soaking a clot in an infusion and applying these cloths to the skin. I will put something together on the uses of compresses at a later date. I’ve put together a poultice/compress kit in which I keep the following materials:

My Poultice/Compress Kit

Sterile cotton and flannel and wash cloths.

Wool sweater ribbing cut from old sweaters.

Bedding protectors such as an old flannel lined plastic table cloth.

Hot water bottle and covers.

Old hosiery

Fresh Herbs Drying Pictures, Images and Photos

You will also want to have clay and finely ground flour ( I like rice flour) on hand but I keep these in glass containers in my herb closet. I have large tongue depressors for spreading poultices in my first aid kit.

Traditionally poultices were used to soothe, warm or to draw. The poultice is prepared, spread on the affected area and then covered with a thin piece of cotton. I wrap an outer cloth around this area to hold the poultice in place. The wool ribbing works very well for warming poultices because it holds in the heat.

The simplest of poultices is prepared by simply grinding up the fresh herb, spreading it on a gauze pad or piece of flannel and applying it to the area where it is needed. For example, when I cut myself, I grind up yarrow and apply it directly to the cut. The astringency will stop bleeding and help the injury to seal itself shut. Plantain leaves work very well to draw out splinters and when trying to soothe insect bites.

Herbal Alternative Medicine FL Pictures, Images and Photos

A soothing poultice helps with itchy rashes or skin irritations, such as rashes or hives. They can also help to reduce inflammation and encouraging healing. In the Gladstar course, we learned to mix two parts cooling , demulcent herbs to one part relaxing herb. Comfrey root and leaf juice are my hands down favorite demulcents to use. In the fall, I preserve comfrey poultices by juicing comfrey leaves and mixing in dried comfrey root to form a thick paste. Then, I spread this mixture on squares of cotton muslin, cover it with another flash freeze. These work well when you want to apply initial cold to a bruise or a sprain to stop swelling. I also freeze comfrey leaf juice in ice cubes trays and then store the cubes freezer containers to be used in warming poultices. For relaxing herbs, I like to use borage because it also has cooling properties or lavender as it is an analgesic.

A warming poultice is used to bring heat to an area to encourage circulation and or to relax muscles. They can work very well in relaxing muscle spasms. They often include ingredients like mustard powder or cayenne powder. I often just mix 1/t part mustard and 1/2 part cayenne to three parts rice flour, then mix in enough water to make a paste.

A drawing poultice is often a mixture of herbs and clay and cold water; which when applied to splinters or insect bites will help to draw out foreign objects. I often use tinctures or liniments in drawing poultices, as well.

I make a drying poultice which is basically a cold, drawing poultice. I always make these with clay and liniment and use them to dry up itchy , oozing rashes such as poison ivy. These should never be warm because heat may spread the rash due to the fact that the oils become more fluid when they are warm.

Sometimes when we are out camping and I am away from my larger supply of herbs, I cheat and make poultices out of the liniments and tinctures I keep in my portable first aid kit, poured on a gauze pad.

The only thing left to discuss is temperature. You can figure out what temperature to use by using some common sense. Heat expands and draws energy so a very hot poultice might bring an infection to a head or draw blood to an area to increase healing. I would use heat to draw out a splinter. Heat also relaxes so it works well to relieve cramped, sore muscles or back spasms.

spices in a mortar and pestle Pictures, Images and Photos

Cold constricts, slowing the inflammation process, so you might want to use it to stop burning or swelling. Once that has stopped, you can always apply a warmer healing poultice. Physical trainers often recommend alternating between cold and hot when dealing with injuries, anyway.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Solomons Seal

Solomans Seal Pictures, Images and Photos

Solomon’s Seal
Polygonatum biflorum

Other Names: American Solomon's Seal, King Solomon's Seal, King Solomon's-seal, Small Solomon's Seal, Lady's Seals. St. Mary's Seal.

Perennial native herb found growing in moist sandy, loamy or rocky woods and thickets, N. America from New Brunswick to Michigan, south to Tennessee and Florida. Cultivation: a very hardy plant, it prefers a light soil and a shady situation. Seeds, or transplants, if taken up with plenty of soil. The creeping root, rhizome, or underground stem, is thick and white, twisted and full of knots, with large circular scars at intervals, these scars give Solomon's Seal it's name. Stems grow to a height of from 18 inches to 2 feet, or even more and bend over gracefully. Large, light green, and broad ovate leaves grow alternately on the stem, clasping it at the bases. The flowers are tubular, succulent and thick, light yellow- green, and hang in little drooping clusters of two to five, growing from the leaf axils. Flowers bloom April to June. The fruit is a small berry about the size of a pea, blackish-blue, fruit is not edible, said to be poisonous. Gather roots in fall as flows fade, dry for later herb use.

Solomon's Seal is edible and medicinal, the young edible shoots are an excellent vegetable when boiled and eaten like Asparagus. The root is edible after boiling in three changes of water or sun baked, and is a good source of starch. This herb has a long history of use in alternative medicine dating back to the time of Dioscorides and Pliny. The main constituents are saponins (similar to diosgenin), flavonoids, and vitamins. A medicinal infusion of root or rhizome, is used in alternative medicine as an astringent, demulcent, and tonic. The dried herb is taken as a laxative and restorative, and is good in inflammations of the stomach, indigestion, profuse menstruation, lung ailments, general debility, bowels, piles, and chronic dysentery. A medicinal poultice of the fresh roots is said to fade bruises, also applied to cuts and sores.

Once believed to have aphrodisiac properties, and used in love potions. More than likely due to its ability to stop profuse menstruation. Gerard says: 'The roots of Solomon's Seal, stamped while it is fresh and greene and applied, taketh away in one night or two at the most, any bruise, blacke or blew spots gotten by falls or women's wilfulness in stumbling upin their hastie husband's fists, or such like.'

"Medicinal" tea: To 1 tsp. dried herb add 1 cup boiling water, steep for 10 min. sweeten to taste, take in the morning as laxative.

Monday, July 25, 2011

How To Make a Decoction

Herbal Decoctions and Syrups

Decoction, or simple decoction, is my term for an infusion which has been reduced to one-half its volume by slow evaporation. A double decoction is an infusion reduced to one-fourth of its original volume. Some herbalists use "decoction" to refer to what I call an infusion; others use it to mean something closer to tea.

Decoctions keep longer than infusions if carefully stored under refrigeration. Decoctions are more potent than infusions; this makes them invaluable when dealing with children and animals. The smaller dose is more easily administered.
herbal2 Pictures, Images and Photos

Decocting is an excellent way to prepare an herb with a terrible taste, such as Yellow Dock root, so it can be consumed without gagging. Adding a bit of some nice tasting brandy or liqueur to decoctions enhances the taste and the keeping qualities.

Yellow Dock Pictures, Images and Photos
(Yellow Dock) Looks Like Coffee, or Kawi Iyusdi Rumex crispus or Yellow Dock ,It can be used as a wild leaf vegetable; the young leaves should be boiled in several changes of water to remove as much of the oxalic acid in the leaves as possible, or can be added directly to salads in moderate amounts.[3] Once the plant matures it becomes too bitter to consume. Dock leaves are an excellent source of both vitamin A and protein, and are rich in iron and potassium. Curly Dock leaves are somewhat tart due to the presence of high levels of oxalic acid, and although quite palatable, this plant should only be consumed in moderation as it can irritate the urinary tract and increase the risk of developing kidney stones. The roots have also been used medicinally as an astringent, tonic, and laxative. Compounds contained in the plant's roots have been clinically verified to bind with heavy metals such as lead and arsenic and expel them from the body by stimulating biliary function in the liver. The plant is considered a highly effective blood cleanser and is used by herbalists to assist the body in eliminating heavy metals and to treat other This plant is not only a medicinal herb, but also a food. It is much like spinach, but believe it or not, contains MORE vitamins and minerals. Because of the long taproot, it gathers nutrients from deep underground. The leaves are a source of iron, and also have laxative properties. Juices from the stems, prepared in a decoction, can be made into an ointment with beeswax and olive oil, and used for itching, minor sores, diaper rash, and other irritations. Cherokee herbalists prescribe a warm wash made from the decoction of crushed roots for a disinfectant. Juice from the root, not prepared in any certain way, is said to be a cure for ringworm,Yellow Dock Root helps to eliminate toxins from your body. In this manner, Yellow Dock Root effectively aids in eliminating foreign substances that can overburden the liver.

Decoctions of roots and barks are often prepared; decoctions of leaves, flowers, or seeds are rarely prepared. Since decoctions are made by evaporation, the volatile essences are water-soluble vitamins in the leaves, flowers, and seeds are lost in the process.

I always make decoctions when I have to be in the same room as the stove for the entire evaporating time. With such a low heat, decoctions rarely burn, but if you become involved in something else, there is the danger of reducing the liquid to a scorched nothing. For a pint of infusion (two cups), about an hour is needed to reduce it by half.
Boiling the Decoction Pictures, Images and Photos

Making a Decoction

Begin by straining the plant material out of the infusion and discarding it.
Measure the liquid.
Heat the liquid until it begins to steam; this is before it simmers and long before it boils.
Stand right there and watch for the steam to start rising. When it does, turn the heat down very low.
Steam until the liquid is reduced to half or one-quarter of what it was in the beginning. A little stainless steel pan with measuring marks on the side is of invaluable assistance in this process, but you can also judge by the mark left on the side of the pan as the liquid level falls. Or you can measure it.
Pour the decoction into a clean or sterile bottle.
Label with the contents, strength, and date. Example: Simple decoction of Witch Hazel bark, Dec. '84.
Optional: Add one tablespoon of brandy or spirit per four ounces of decoction.
Cap well
Cool at room temperature, then store in the refrigerator. Some decoctions may keep for as long as a year, others ferment and sour within a few months.
Dosage: A simple decoction is four times as potent as an infusion. One cup (8 ounces) of infusion is equal to one-quarter cup (2 ounces) of a simple decoction. Use up to one tablespoon for an infant.
Double decocting increases the strength of the infusion by a factor of sixteen (four times four). So the dose equivalent of one 8 ounce cup is only one tablespoon (1/2 ounce). The usual infant dose is half a teaspoon of double decoction.

Making a Syrup

Add sugar or honey to any type of decoction, and you have a syrup. The extra sweetness makes some herbs more palatable, soothes the throat, and can improve keeping qualities.

How much sugar or honey should you add? The exact amount is determined by weight. A standard for syrups is an equal amount, by weight, of sugar and decoction.

One cup (8 fluid ounces) of water or decoction, weighs half a pound (8 ounces). So one cup of decoction requires half a pound of sugar.

Honey is about twice as sweet as sugar. Use a quarter of a pound (4 ounces) of honey to every cup of decoction. One level tablespoon of honey weighs about one ounce.

Add the sweetener to the hot liquid
Increase the fire until the brew just comes to a boil.
Pour the boiling hot syrup into a bottle and cap it. Sterilized bottles reduce the risk of producing unexpected herbal fermentations. But the boiling liquid kills many yeasts in the bottle.
Optional: Add one tablespoon of brandy, vodka, etc. to further stabilize the syrup.
Store the syrup in the refrigerator once it cools. Syrups keep for 3-6 months.

Depending on the herbs in your original infusion, you can make a cough syrup (Comfrey root and Wild Cherry bark), an iron tonic (Yellow Dock and Dandelion roots), a soothing syrup (Valerian root), or any other medicinal syrup.

Dosage: Generally, one teaspoon of syrup is a dose for a 125-150 pound person. The dose is repeated as needed, up to 8 times daily. Use a half teaspoonful for 60-75 pound children and a quarter teaspoonful for 30 pounds or smaller.

Summary of Syrup Proportions

Begin with one pint (16 ounces) of infusion
Reduce the liquid to half its original amount (8 ounces).
Add an equal amount, by weight, of sugar (8 ounces or 1/2 pound), or half the amount, by weight, of honey (4 ounces or 4 tablespoons).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Making Tinctures(and Dosage)

Usnea Tincture Pictures, Images and Photos

After posting so much I never know if I am repeating a similar post or not.
For those that dont know how to make a Tincture I will explain.

Making an Herb or Wild Plant Tinture.
You can make tinctures from fresh and dried roots as well as from fresh flowers and leaves.Tinctures Act Fast

Tinctures are alcohol-based plant medicines. Alcohol extracts and concentrates many properties from plants, including their poisons. Alcohol does not extract significant amounts of nutrients, so tinctures are used when we want to stimulate, sedate, or make use of a poison. (Remember that nourishing herbs are best used in water bases such as infusions and vinegars.)

The concentrated nature of tinctures allows them to act quickly.A little goes a long way.

pressing tincture 1 Pictures, Images and Photos
Making Dried Root Tinctures

I strongly prefer to make tinctures from fresh plants. But many people have a hard time getting fresh plants. Most books therefore ignore fresh plant tinctures and focus on making tinctures only from dried plants. The only dried plant parts I use to make tinctures are roots and seeds. All other plant parts I use fresh when making a tincture. And I actually prefer to use fresh roots too.

To make a tincture from dried roots:
Buy an ounce of dried Echinacea augustifolia or Panax ginseng root or better yet...Grow your own.
Put the whole ounce in a pint jar.
The dried root should fill the jar about a third full. If not, use a smaller jar.
Fill the jar to the top with the alcohol. Cap tightly and label.

Almost any alcohol can be used to make a tincture. My preference is 100 proof vodka. A lower proof, such as 80 proof, does not work nearly as well. Higher proofs, such as 198 proof or Everclear, can damage the liver and kidneys, so I don't use them to make medicine.

The tincture is ready in six weeks, but gets stronger the longer it sits. I like to wait about six months before using my ginseng tincture and a year before using my echinacea tincture.

filtering sediment out of jewelweed tincture Pictures, Images and Photos

Making Fresh Root Tinctures

Roots generally hold their properties even when dried. But two of my favorite root tinctures must be made from fresh roots are the dried ones have lost much of their effect.

Making a tincture with a fresh root is similar to making one with a dried root.
With great respect for the plant, dig up its root.
Gently rinse mud away.
Chop root into small pieces and fill a jar to the top with the chopped root.
Fill jar to the top with alcohol. Cap tightly. Label.
Fresh root tinctures are ready to use in six weeks.
Making Fresh Leaf and Flower Tinctures

I use only fresh flowers and leaves in my tinctures. These delicate plant part lose aroma and medicinal qualities when dried.

Tinctures can be made from dried herbs, but I find them inferior in in both effect (how well they work) and energetics (how many fairies are in it), not to mention taste (how many volatile substances remain) and somatics (how something makes you "feel").
strained jewelweed tincture Pictures, Images and Photos

Plant Poisons

You remember that there are four types of poisons in plants: alkaloids, glycosides, essential oils, and resins. The first three are fairly easy to move from plants to a tincture.

Resins, because they "fear" water (hydrophobic) are difficult to tincture. When I want to tincture a resin I do use high proof alcohol. Some examples would be: pine resin tincture, balsam bud tincture, calendula flower tincture.

Tincture of Squills Pictures, Images and Photos
Taking Tinctures

I see many people put herbal tinctures under their tongues. I prefer to protect my oral tissues from the harsh, possibly cancer-causing, effects of the alcohol.

I dilute my tinctures in a little water or juice or even herbal infusion and drink them.

Yarrow Pictures, Images and Photos

Using Your Tinctures

Here are a few of the ways I use the tinctures in my herbal medicine chest. For more information on using these tincture, see my books and my website.

Acid indigestion: 5-10 drops of Dandelion root or Wormwood tincture every ten minutes until relieved. I use a dose of Dandelion before meals to prevent heartburn.
Bacterial Infections (including boils, carbuncles, insect bites, snake bite, spider bite, staph): 30-50 drops Echinacea or Yarrow tincture up to 5 times daily. For severe infections, add one drop of Poke tincture to each dose.
Colds: to prevent them I use Yarrow tincture 5-10 drops daily; to treat them, I rely on Yarrow, but in larger quantity, say a dropperful every 3-4 hours at the worst of the cold and tapering off.
Cramps during menstruation: 10 drops Motherwort every 20 minutes or as needed. Used also as a tonic, 10 drops daily, for the week before.
Cramps in muscle: 25 drops St Joan's every 25-30 minutes for as long as needed.
Cramps in gut: 5-10 drops Wormwood, once.
Diarrhea: 3 drops Wormwood hourly for up to four hours.
Energy lack: 10 drops of Dandelion or Ginseng tincture in the morning.
Fever: 1 drop Echinacea for every 2 pounds of body weight; taken every two hours to begin, decreasing as symptoms remiss. Or a dropperful of Yarrow tincture every four hours.
Headache: 25 drops St Joan's plus 3-5 drops Skullcap every 10-15 minutes for up to two hours. 5 drops of Skullcap may prevent some headaches.
High blood pressure: 25 drops of Motherwort or Ginseng tincture 2-4 times a day.
Hot Flashes: 20-30 drops Motherwort as flash begins and/or 10-20 drops once or twice daily.
Insect: prevent bites from black flies, mosquitoes, and ticks with a spray of Yarrow tincture; treat bites you do get with Yarrow tincture to prevent infection.
Nervousness, hysteria, hyper behavior: 15 drops Motherwort every 15-20 minutes.
Premenstrual distress: 10 drops Motherwort twice a day for 7-10 days preceding menstruation or 10 drops daily all month.
Sore throat: Gargle with Yarrow tincture.
Swollen glands: 1 drop Poke root tincture each 12 hours for 2-5 days.
Viral infections (including colds and the flu): 25 drops of St. Joan's wort tincture every two hours. Add one drop of poke root tincture 2-4 times a day for severe cases.
Wounds: I wash with Yarrow tincture, then wet the dressing with Yarrow tincture, too.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ground Ivy...Creeping Charlie

ground ivy Pictures, Images and Photos

Ground ivy is a creeping European perennial evergreen, naturalized in North America and found in moist shady areas, along paths, around hedges, and roadsides from Ontario to deep south, west to Kansas, and along the Pacific Coast. Cultivation: it is easily cultivated through root division and thrives in moist shady areas. A member of the mint family it is finely haired all over and has a square creeping stem which grows from a few inches up to two feet long. The leaves are heart shaped, opposite, scalloped, and dark green, sometimes tinted purple. The main root is thick and matted it sends out runners as long as 36 inches. Flowers appear in march and are purplish to blue, two lipped and grow in axillary whorls of six. Gather leaves, flowers and stems year round. Can be dried for later herbal use.
Alehoof, or Ground-Ivy Pictures, Images and Photos

Medicinal and edible, a light taste very agreeable in salads. Ground ivy is used in alternative medicine and is an excellent spring tonic, it is an appetite stimulant. It contains a volatile oil which aids in relieving congestion and inflammation of mucous membranes associated with colds, flu, and sinusitis. It is Anti-allergenic, Antibacterial, Anti-flu, Antihistaminic, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Antiviral, Cancer-Preventive, Expectorant, Immuno-stimulant, and Sedative. Ground ivy tea or juice is well tolerated and can be given to small children. Some of the most valuable plant constituents are 1,8-cineole, alpha-pinene, apigenin, beta-sitosterol, borneol, caffeic-acid, ferulic-acid, hyperoside, iodine, luteolin, menthol, oleanolic-acid, rosmarinic-acid, rutin, ursolic-acid. Ground-Ivy is being studied for use in preventing Leukemia, Bronchitis, Hepatitis, many kinds of cancer, and HIV. The fresh juice or a medicinal tea is used to treat digestive disorders, gastritis, acid indigestion, and diarrhea. It is also beneficial for liver and kidney function, said to relieve gravel and stones. Although results are not conclusive it is being used as an antidote for lead poisoning. Added to bath as an emollient to soften skin and has a sedative effect.

Ground ivy has a long history of use in alternative medicine and as an edible herb, dating back to the first century A.D. it was long considered a panacea (cure-all). Known for it’s hi vitamin C content it is said to be one of the first herb and edible plants brought to the North American continent by early settlers.

Spring Tonic: Steep 2 tsp. of fresh or dried herb in 1 cup water for 10 min. flavor with peppermint or honey to taste take in ½ cup doses twice a day.

Colds and flu: Express fresh juice with press. Take in 1 tsp. doses 3 times a day, ½ tsp. for children. Use 2 or 3 drops in nose twice a day for sinusitis.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Blue Violet

Common Blue Violet (Viola papilionacea)This grows rampant in my neck of the woods.
violets Pictures, Images and Photos

This is the most common species, with a sterile violet-colored flower that blooms in the spring. There are no leaves on the flower stalk. The heart-shaped, shallow-toothed leaves arise separately from the ground. They're good to eat in springtime, but become tough and coarse in the summer.

Poisonous dwarf larkspur (Delphinium tricorne) has a similar violet flower, but with a "spur" behind the flower, and a different leaf. Monkshood (Aconitum uncinatum), also poisonous, has a large, helmet-like upper sepal that covers 2 petals.
Violets grow in partially shaded spots in moist woods, and in meadows and gardens. They spread by underground rhizomes (which are toxic), creating dense stands of plants.

violets Pictures, Images and Photos
Sherbets usually contain water, sugar, and artificial flavors. This one, using natural thickeners and sweeteners, provides an especially rich setting for these luxuriant flowers.

4 cups water
1/4 cup grape seed or canola oil
1/4 cup vegetable glycerin
1/4 cup raw cashews
1?4 cup lecithin granules (available at health food stores
2 tbs. flaxseeds
2 tsp. liquid stevia
2 tsp. freshly grated orange rind
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups violet flowers

1. PurÈe all ingredients except the violets in a blender.

2. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's directions.

3. Stir in the violet flowers

Makes 5-1/2 cups

Preparation time: 20 minutes

White Violets are also edible.

violets Pictures, Images and Photos
Violets have been used medicinally for centuries. There is some speculation as to whether Violets and their extracts are useful in cancers and tumors, and an experiment done in 1960 allegedly resulted in a Violet extract damaging tumors in mice. Another story has it that a man with colon cancer was cured by eating Violet leaves, but apparently he had to eat a 1,600 square foot nursery bed of them to get this effect.
Wild Sweet Violet Eye Cream Pictures, Images and Photos

The leaves and flowers of Violets do have expectorant properties, and work well in cases of respiratory disorders such as bronchitis, colds, and coughs. One recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of Oil in a cup of water to be sipped slowly four times a day. Alternatively, making a Tea to use as a gargle, or making a syrup by adding honey to thicken the tea are also valid ways to use this plant to combat these symptoms. Ingesting a tea made of violet leaves is reportedly also effective as a laxative and for insomnia, and there are reports in the literature that Violets contain an aspirin-like substance that in a tea may be helpful in reducing the symptoms of hangovers. This aspirin-like effect has also been reported as being effective externally in reducing headache and neck pain. Pound the leaves into a paste, adding water and oatmeal as needed, then apply to a warm compress and place on the back of the neck. This also works for the pain of rheumatism when applied to the affected area. Capsules can be made for internal use by pulverizing the leaves and making a powder.
Violets have antiseptic properties that may be helpful in relieving symptoms of various skin eruptions and sores when made into an Ointment and applied as needed.
Wonderful for eye and face creams.

Wild Violets-Viola macloskeyi Pictures, Images and Photos
Although it is reported that ingesting large quantities of Violet seed may cause vomiting, these plants are safe, and as such are a good plant for the inexperienced herbalist to use for experimentation.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Skunk Cabbage

DESCRIPTION: This entire plant smells like a skunk when injured (hence the specific name, foetidusóstinking)ógreat to show kids, always eager to be repulsed!

The flower, which appears in late winter before the leaves, features a stalked, elliptoid, pale pink spadix (the reproductive part) about 1 inch long, studded with small yellow flowers, and partially shielded by a mottled, purple and green, long-oval spathe, 3 to 6 inches tall. It generates enough heat to melt the surrounding snow, while the odor attracts the yearís first flies to this heated haven. They mate there and pollinate the flowers.

The smooth-edged, long-oval to heart-shaped leaves come up in March (sometimes also in late fall, when they complete their development). First wrapped like scrolls, they grow 1-1?2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet long.

In mid-summer and fall, an inconspicuous, low, flattened, green, egg-shaped fruit, 2 to 3 inches across, its surface convoluted like a brain, appears in the mud, turning black as it matures. Inside, a circle of 10 to 14 roughly globular seeds lines the periphery.

Caution: Deadly false helleboreÝ(Veratrum viride) superficially resembles skunk cabbage, and the plants often grow side by side. Odorless, false hellebore leaves look pleated, with prominent parallel veins, while skunk cabbageís inconspicuous veins branch.

The leaves, which appear in early spring (they sometimes also appear in late fall, but don't complete their development) are first wrapped like a scroll.

HABITAT: Skunk cabbage grows in large, dense stands in wet woods and swamps. And it grows in a certain area in eastern Asia too. Even though the 2 populations have been separated for 6 to 8 million years, the plantsí forms are identical, and they interbreed readily. For a long time, biologists couldnít figure out why they didnít evolve into 2 different species incapable of interbreeding in all that time.

It turns out that once a new species comes into existence, it remains unchanged for millions of years, through ice ages and hot climates, until it finally goes extinct. New species may branch off and evolve from an isolated pocket population of the parent species in as few as tens of thousands of years, only to continue unchanged for millions of years as well. And the stagnation of skunk cabbage in Asia and America (it does grow in swamps after all) supports this take on the scale of evolution's operation, and explains the conundrum.

MEDICINAL USES: An ointment made by boiling skunk cabbageÝroots in oil is said to be good for ringworm (a fungal infection of the skin), as well as sores and swellings.
I'd be willing to try this plant externally, but I'll let someone else swallow the tea made from the roots or seeds first. Such an infusion is supposedly antispasmodic, diaphoretic (inducing sweating and stimulating the immune system), and expectorant (bringing up phlegm), and it reputedly acts as a narcotic for asthma. It ís supposed to be good for arthritis, chorea, hysteria, edema, whooping cough, worms, epilepsy, and convulsions in pregnancy and labor (the Iroquois would pass the seeds over female genitals to bring on childbirth). I doubt that all these claims could be verified scientifically.
skunk cabbage 5/15/2008 Pictures, Images and Photos

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Curly Dock

CURLY DOCK, YELLOW DOCK, (Rumex crispus)
#8 ?curly dock Pictures, Images and Photos
Long, lance-shaped, hairless leaves with very wavy margins radiating from a common center in early spring makes this species distinct. In mid-spring, curly dock grows one- to five-foot tall spikes encircled by dense clusters of tiny, inconspicuous, green flowers, giving way to dense clusters of hard, reddish fruit. It grows in fields, on disturbed soil, along roadsides, and near the seashore.
The highly nutritious, lemony flavored young leaves are excellent raw or cooked in early spring, as are the leaves on the flower stalk and the peeled flower stalk in mid-spring. People boil the long yellow taproot and drink the bitter tea to detoxify and to help liver or skin ailments.