*A salve, made in the early 1600s by John Gerard, was “the most precious remedy for deep wounds”.
“The arbutus is now open everywhere in the woods and groves. How pleasant it is to meet the same flowers year after year! …. We admire the strange and brilliant plant of the green-house, but we love most the simple flowers we have loved of old, which have bloomed many a spring, through rain and sunshine, on our native soil.”
― Susan Fenimore Cooper
In the world of wildflowers, the magic and power of wildflowers create health and vitality, if we only know enough to search there.
Let’s discuss the importance of wildflowers, especially native ones, the dangers of invasive species, how to sustainably harvest them, and the top 2 for health and vitality.
Who has a childhood memory of blowing a wish out into the wind on a dandelion seedhead? Food, shelter, pollen, nectar, and nesting materials are sourced by animals at their local wildflower “store.” There is a mutualism that develops between wild animals and plants; animals are born just as plants emerge. How convenient! Insects, birds, butterflies are the plants’ pollinators and spread seed and pollen throughout the area. Seed heads that last through the winter are a sought-after food source. Have you ever seen a bee asleep in a wild blossom?
Let’s support this delicate balance of nature by planting in our gardens native plants. Invasive species such as purple Loosestrife and Japanese Knotweed create unwanted pressure on native populations for food, space, and pollination by insects.
If you decide to wildcraft your favorite plants, ensure the population is vibrant, that no spraying of herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers has occurred in the area, that plants are a safe distance from the road, that you only take the amount you need, that it’s the best time of year for harvesting your desired plant part (early spring for pot herbs such as dandelion, autumn for roots), that your desired plant is not on the threatened or endangered list and when you get your harvest home, that you wash it completely and allow to dry in a well-ventilated area.
A few top trivia tips on 2 Top Plants for Health & Vitality. The recipes associated with these plants are in my A RAY of Wellness Facebook Group. Join the group and grab the recipes here:
Dandelion: Taraxacum officinale
Its common name Dandelion (tooth of the lion) refers to 3 things: the cut of the green leaves, the whiteness of the cut root and the strength of the plant’s medicinal qualities.
Its roots can grow up to 3 feet (90cm), helping its continued spread.
There are 35 major species and 2000 subspecies.
It is the most widely recognized plant on the earth, found on all 7 continents.
Make your liver happy and eat it as a spring alternative/blood cleanser.
The diuretic properties are doubly potent since many diuretics drain potassium from the body. Dandelion provides potassium in its leaves and roots. Use this tea to reduce swelling stemming from menstrual or circulatory issues.
St. John’s Wort: Hypericum perforatum
There are both internal and external benefits to this powerful plant. Reduce anxiety, mild depression, stress, and/or irritability. Allow St. John’s Wort to help us stay focused and centered during these trying, uncertain, and tumultuous times. Create a tincture in July the beautiful flowers and watch the magic happen before your eyes.
It will take longer when you make the oil and yet the same red color is pulled out of the seemingly yellow flowers. There are glands of hypericin, a beautiful red oil in each petal that flow into your oil of choice, usually organic extra virgin olive oil. I have relieved the severity and duration of bruises with a salve I make with St. John’s Wort. It is truly magic in a jar.
Wildflowers keep us healthy on many levels. We walk to find them, thereby increasing our exercise regimen. We can enter a meditative state in nature when we revel in their beauty, diversity, and perseverance. Utilizing these beauties and their healing qualities brings us in closer connection to Mother Nature. Find a natural sanctuary, whether it’s your local park, the beach, or a mountain stream. Look around and discover what is there. Leave your worries, find peace.
We are not alone on this path to wellness. Trust the wisdom of the ancient plants and allow their healing to keep you strong. Enjoy your native plants. As the saying goes, bloom where you’re planted. Get to know the edible and medicinal plants. Eat and drink them! They are strong, have simple needs, and contain much good. Let’s incorporate those qualities in ourselves.
Get to know your tribe of wildflowers better and better each season, and especially this year. We all need to keep our connections to nature strong and this will help us to remain centered through this pandemic and give us direction for how to navigate the racial unrest in our country and the world. “The arbutus is now open….” Go out in it. Revel in the bounty of nature. The flowers will be back next year, of this, we can be sure, and aren’t we so grateful for their constancy? Take this moment, and notice the wildflowers. Remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson believed, “Earth laughs in flowers.” Find levity in a lupine.
For recipes associated with the aforementioned plants, join my A RAY of Wellness Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/ARAYofWellnessGroup/?source_id=532370877266699
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