An integrative approach to healing ourselves and our world: honoring people, plants, planet

Some of the plants you’ll meet

Holli Richey leading a plant walk, picking red Southern Magnolia seeds for all to try. Traditionally used in Mexico. Slightly sedative and antispasmodic.

The following lists are common plants found in the Georgia Piedmont.

 

Edible & Medicinal Plant Walk Gainesville, GA

Agrimony: Agrimonia parviflora: Tea from whole plant; astringent, good for gallbladder, liver, throat or skin; gout; Good flavor tea.

 

Beautyberry: Callicarpa americana: root & leaf tea in steam bath for rheumatism; root & berry tea used in colic; dropsy and skin disease “purifier”

Beech: Fagus grandifolia: nuts for food and anti-worm; bark for pulmonary aid, abortifacient; leaves for skin sores, when skin becomes thin & burn poultice

Blackberries: Rubus sp., fruit high in polyphenol antioxidants; root excellent for diarrhea

Black Walnut: Julglans nigra: hull and leaf are anti-parasitic, antifungal, antiviral, antidiarrheal; bark chewed for toothaches; leaf tea insecticidal against bedbugs; study suggests leaf sedative

Blueberries: Vaccinium sp: high in antioxidants; great for memory, capillaries

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 rattlesnake plantain: Goodyera pubescens: root tea for snakebites; leaf tea for blood tonic, colds

Foamflower: Tiarella cordifolia: leaf tea as mouthwash for “white-coated tongue”. Tannins

Galax urceolata: infusion of root for kidneys; infusion for nerve sedative

Golden rod: Solidago sp.: Leaf tea for those prone to winter colds; diuretic, mildly antispasmodic; used to treat or prevent kidney stones. Seeds are considered survival food.

Grape, muscadine: Vitis rotundifolia: edible fruit; edible leaves: high in resveratrol: longevity, anticancer, blood sugar lowering. Try Stuffed Wild Grape Leaves…Yum!

 

Hearts-a-bustin: Euonymus americanus: bark used by physicians as tonic, laxative, diuretic, expectorant

Honeysuckle: Lonicera japonica: in Chinese patent med. used for colds & flus; leaf and flower have at least a dozen antiviral compounds

Jimsonweed: Datura stramonium: whole plant contains atropine and scopolamine; impedes action of parasympathetic nerves. Leaves smoked as antispasmodic in asthma. Toxic!

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.

Magnolia grandiflora: Bark wash for skin sores; crushed bark in steam baths for water retention; 1800s bark used to treat malaria and rheumatism; Fruits: digestive tonic for dyspepsia; Seeds in Mexico used as antispasmodic, high blood pressure, heart problems, abdominal discomfort, muscle spasms, infertility, epilepsy. Science confirms sedative activity of the seed.

Maple: Red: 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

Mimosa: Albizia julibrissin: Happy Tree: bark & flowers as tea for depression, restlessness, insomnia caused by anxiety; excessive grief.

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, Blackjack, 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; tannins of bark used in tanning hides

Pipsissewa, spotted: Chimaphila maculata: leaf tea for bachaches, bladder & kidney ailments, stones, inflammation; science confirms, diuretic, tonic, urinary antiseptic

Pine: Pinus echinata: Needle tea high in vitamin C; Pitch tea used as laxative and for tuberculosis–carcinogenic; also kidney ailments causing backaches; use inner bark as a bandage—antibacterial; pine bark syrup as a cough syrup

Poke: Phytolacca americana: root tinctured as a lymphatic; berries are a beautiful dye; 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 in berries

Redbud, Judas’ tree: Cercis canadensis: Flowers edible and good–Beautiful in salads!; very astringent seed pods and inner bark; folk remedy for leukemia and dysentery; leaf has a yellow dye

Ragweed: Ambrosia artemisiafolia: common allergen causing hayfever; however, the cure is in the culprit: harvest and tincture before it flowers and use for allergies.

Sassafras albidum: One of 1st export crops, out-selling tobacco in 17th c. Used for colds, fever, arthritis, gout, high blood pressure, skin diseases, stomaches, diaphoretic. Used unsuccessfully to treat syphilis. Root bark tea was a famous spring blood purifying tonic; leaves & twigs used widely also as tea; powdered leaves added to gumbo at end of cooking time for flavor and thickening; safrole is converted into a carcinogen in rats, not humans.

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

Strawberry, Virginia: Fragaria virginiana: leaf tea as nerve tonic, bladder & kidney ailments, sore throats; root tea for irregular menses, lung & stomach ailments; edible, tasteless berry

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, Smooth Sumac leaves smoked for asthma

Sweet gum: Liquidambar styraciflua: medicinal gum; sore throats, sores; antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory; similar to Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia

Virginia creeper: Parthenocissus quinquefolia: plant causes dermatitis in some though used to counter poison ivy and sumac for others

Wild ginger: Asarum canadense: leaves as poultice for cuts and boils. Infusion of root for GI upset. Indian tribes used for protection to ward away evil, especially if a sorcerer was trying to put harmful medicine into food. Circulatory stimulant, antibacterial, antifungal—aristolochia acid can damage the kidneys.

Wild yam: Dioscorea villosa: tubers baked, roasted, eaten; root for GI spasms

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.

Sources:

Brill, Steve “Wildman” (1994). Identifying and harvesting edible and medicinal plants in wild (and not so wild) places.

Foster, Stephen & Duke, James (1999). A field guide to medicinal plants and herbs of Eastern and Central North America. Peterson Field Guide.

Moerman, Daniel. (1998). Native American ethnobotany. Timber Press.

Warning: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.

 

Pipsissewa, Chimaphila maculata

Vickery Creek Edible & Medicinal Plant Walk

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

Pipsissewa: has antiseptic, anti-yeast, antibacterial, and blood-thinning activities. Helps with bladder inflammation, and is a urinary antiseptic. Contains arbutin, sitosterol, ursolic acid. Ursolic acid has proven to be an anti-inflammatory COX-2 inhibitor.

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.

References

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.

Warning

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.

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