Monday, March 31, 2014

A word about weeds: Stellaria media, Taraxacum officinale and Plantago major

Along with the late rains we have recently been blessed with, plants like Chickweed have taken up residence in my yard as well as in my planter box, nestled up against a patch of flowering cabbage.  Chickweed can be found sprouting up in lawns, by the side of the road, or in a forest thriving under the shade of trees.  It is characterized by its tiny star - like flowers (hence the genus Stellaria).

I like it in salads.  It has a mild taste much like spinach, and is quite good for you.  Not to mention the pretty little leaves and white flowers look very nice in a bowl with some Bosch pears.

Chickweed is high in vitamins and minerals, and can also be used externally for inflammation and skin irritations.  Its demulcent properties will soothe and cool inflamed tissue.  A simple poultice (fresh mashed leaves combined with warm water) can help to relieve mosquito bites, burns, and inflamed wounds.  Oh, and you can also feed it to your chickens!

Now, many of us have heard how those pesky lawn invaders dandelions are actually powerfully medicinal plants, cleansing your blood and aiding your liver in its functions.
They are also an important food source for pollinators and are quite nutritious for human consumption as well.  With deep, stubborn roots and tenacious seeds (make a wish!) dandelions are thankfully hard to kill.  So instead of fighting against them and other edible and medicinal plants tagged with the offensive term "weed", why not make friends and harvest them?  

Another weed that has myriad uses for healing is plantain.  Plantain grows, literally, everywhere.  It is the most common herb found in North America.  You have probably seen it working its way up through cracks in the sidewalk, in parks, soccer fields, vacant lots, you name it.  Look for a rosette of broad leaves with a single flower spike growing up from the base.  Plantain has been called an herbal panacea because of the countless maladies that can be treated by this amazing plant. If you sustain a wound and want to stop the bleeding, find a plantain leaf and apply.  After the bleeding stops, you can place a fresh leaf on the wound to speed up the healing process as plantain contains compounds which cause cells to regenerate quickly.  

High in beta carotene and calcium, it is edible raw or cooked, and has been used for everything from bronchitis and swollen joints to sunburns and toothaches.

Plantain is also one of the sacred plants mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm for drawing out poison.

They surround us, encouraging us to use their medicine; offering their help for health and healing.  A little gratitude for the weeds, please.

Thanks to A Modern Herbal,

No comments:

Post a Comment