The following is an example of the medicinal and edible plants one can find on an herb walk in Georgia. The list is comprised of plants found at the historic Vickery Creek Park which is divided between National Park Service and Roswell City Parks. Along the way, you can view the old Roswell Mill, work site of the Roswell women who made Confederate uniforms during the Civil War and were taken as war prisoners and shipped as chattel to the North. If you park behind the new Roswell Mill and in front of the covered bridge, you can enter the park via the lovely covered walking bridge.
Aster, woodland: Aster divaricatus: other Asters used extensively by Natives
Azalea, native: toxic
Beech: Fagus grandifolia: nuts for food and anti-worm; bark for pulmonary aid, abortifacient; leaves for skin sores, when skin becomes thin & burn poultice
Birch: Betula nigra: Leaves chewed for dysentery, infused for colds; bark infused for stomach or milky urine
Blackberries: Rubus sp., fruit high in polyphenol antioxidants; root excellent for diarrhea
Blueberries: Vaccinium sp: high in antioxidants; great for memory, capillaries
Butterfly pea: Clitoria ternatea: Animal fodder; snake bite antidote, swelling, refrigerant, laxative, thrush
Buttonbush: Cephalanthus occidentalis: inner bark for toothache; bark tea for eye inflammation, emetic, and slows menstrual flow; tonic; diuretic; astringent; antimalarial
Christmas fern: Polystichum acrostichoides: fiddleheads for food; root tea for chills, fevers, stomachaches, pneumonia; externally applied w/ warm hands for rheumatism; wet, mashed root on child’s back for convulsions; cold compound decoction for weak blood
Dogwood: Cornus florida: bark chewed for headache; bark & root infusion for worms & measles; infusion of beaten bark for bathing after “poisons of any kind”; stem & root decoction for blood purifier “blood chills”; infusion of flower taken to sweat out the flu; infusion of bark used by women for backache; root used as tonic
Downy false foxglove: Aureolaria virginica: not used
Galax urceolata: infusion of root for kidneys; infusion for nerve sedative
Grape: Vitis rotundifolia: edible fruit; edible leaves: high in resveratrol: longevity, anticancer, blood sugar lowering
Hydrangea arborescens: peeled branches & twigs used to make tea; new growth of twigs peeled, boiled thoroughly, fried & eaten or cooked in grease like green beans; bark chewed for high blood pressure; Infusion of bark to induce vomiting to “throw off disordered bile”; poultice for sore or swollen muscles, burns; inner bark & leaves as stimulant; abortifacient
Juniper: Juniperus sp.: fruits eaten for food; beverage to relieve thirst; infusion or decoction of fruits & berries for coughs & colds; ointment for itch; female obstructions; decoction of berries for worms; berries for digestive complaints; herbal steam; UTI
Kudzu: Pueraria montana var. lobata: root starch eaten as food (stimulates production of body fluids); root tea for headaches, diarrhea, dysentery, acute intestinal obstruction, gastroenteritis, deafness; lowers blood sugar & blood pressure; flower tea used for stomach acidity “expels drunkenness; seeds used for dysentery & expel drunkenness; tea gargled for sore throats.
Lamb’s quarters: Chenopodium album: leaves edible—better than spinach; Natives ate leaves to treat stomachaches and prevent scurvy; cold tea-diarrhea, poultice, burns, vitiligo
Locust: Robinia: all parts potentially toxic; great wood for fence posts
Magnolia: either frasieri or tripetala (umbrella): no known use for this species; however, the seeds of the evergreen grandiflora are used as digestive aids in Mexico.
Maple: Red, Box-elder: Acer rubrum: infusion of bark for cramps, hives; inner bark for eye wash; blood purifier; sap used to make sugar: baskets, lumber, tools, bowels, spoons; Acer negundo as emetic or sugar source (boiled down).
Mimosa: Albizia julibrissin: Happy Tree: bark & flowers as tea for depression, restlessness, insomnia caused by anxiety.
Mountain laurel; Kalmia angustifolia: higly toxic do not ingest
Mullein: Verbascum thapsus: leaf & flower tea as expectorant & demulcent; contains verbascoside: antiseptic, antitumor, antibacterial, immunosuppressant
Oak: White, Chestnut, Willow, Red; nuts of white oak hairless and good to eat; tannin of all oaks is astringent, antiseptic, antiviral, antitumor, anticarcinogenic; sore throat, diarrhea, skin infections
Poke: Phytolacca americana: lymphatic; toxic: very low dose herb
Poplar: Liriodendron tulipifera: nectar of flowers is divine; bark for indigestion, cough syrups, pinworms, fevers; externally on wounds; green bark chewed as aphrodisiac stimulant; crushed leaves poulticed for headaches
Privet: Ligustrum sinense: highly invasive: shows antioxidant activity
Ragweed, Great: Ambrosia trifida: ingredient in the Green Corn Ceremony of the Cherokee of late summer-dancing, feasting, fasting, religious observance; crushed leaves rubbed on insect sting & infusion on hives; juice of wilted leaves applied to toes; infusion of leaf for fever; root chewed to drive away fear at night.
Resurrection fern: Pleopeltis polypodioides: ointment of heated stem and leaf for sores; leaf tea for headaches, dizziness, sore mouth, thrush
Rhododendron sp: peeled and boiled twig used externally on rheumatism; flowers used for dance wreaths
River oats: Avena sp. grain used for meal. Calming to the nerves; soothes the skin.
Sassafras albidum: Root bark tea was a famous spring blood tonic; leaves & twigs used widely; safrole is in sassafras is reportedly carcinogenic, though less than alcohol in beer.
Smilax sp: Roots used for food; leaf & stem for rheumatism, stomach troubles; science confirms anti-inflammatory, estrogenic, cholesterol-lowering, and anti-stress activity.
Solomon’s seal: Polygonatum biflorum: general debility: anti-inflammatory, for pain
Sourwood: Oxydendrum arboretum: leaves are edible; flowers used for honey; chew bark for mouth ulcers; leaf tea used for nerves
Sow thistle: Sonchus arvensis: young shoots eaten in salad; leaf tea to calm nerves; leaves for poultice on swellings
Spicebush: Lindera benzoin: bark tea for blood purifier; antifungal (yeast), worms; berry tea for coughs, cramps, delayed menses; berries as a carminative; twig tea: colds, colic
Sumac: Rhus sp.: berries used for lemonade high in vitamin C; berries, leaf, inner-bark and root-bark tea used for colds & fever; astringent, antiseptic, tonic
Sweet gum: Liquidambar styraciflua: medicinal gum; sore throats, sores; antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory; contains similar compound to Tea Tree, Melaleuca alternifolia
Sweet shrub: Calacanthus americana: unknown value
Viburnum: maple leaf: Viburnum acerifolium: infusion to prevent recurrent spasms; root bark diaphoretic; infusion of bark taken and applied as poultice for pain caused by witchcraft
Virginia creeper: Parthenocissus quinquefolia: plant causes dermatitis in some, though used to counter poison ivy and sumac for others
Wild ginger: Asarum sp.: leaves as poultice for cuts and boils.
Wild yam: Dioscorea villosa: tubers baked, roasted, eaten; root for GI spasms
Witch hazel: Hamamelis virginiana: Leaves & twigs used to make tea; infusion for periodic pains, colds, fevers, sore throat, sinus infection, tuberculosis, wash for sores; decoction of leaves and twigs for lung trouble or cold around the heart; dried seeds used in a test to tell whether sick person would recover
Yellow dock: Rumex crispus: leaves and seeds edible; root known as panacea or “life medicine”; blood purifier; poultice & salve for skin conditions; laxative; stomach upset
Yellow root: Xanthorhiza simplicissima: decoction of root for colds, ulcerated stomach, jaundice; infusion of root taken for cramps; blood tonic; chewed for sore throats.
Brill, Steve “Wildman” (1994). Identifying and harvesting edible and medicinal plants in wild (and not so wild) places.
Foster, Steven & Duke, James A. (1999). Eastern/Central medicinal plants and herbs. Peterson Field Guide.
Moerman, Daniel. (1998). Native American ethnobotany. Timber Press.
To the untrained eye, and even to the trained eye, plants can be difficult to tell apart. Some plants are toxic at low doses. Do not eat or use a plant medicinally for any purposes unless you are sure of the identity.