Saturday, April 11, 2015

An April Weed Walk ... As the Snow Melts

The days are warming and the snow is melting and rooted life is ready and willing! I thought I'd share, over the coming days, a few of my earliest rooted friends.

Hemerocallis fulva, the common (and original) day lily, is poking her head up. I'm sure this is true along the local roadsides, too, where she grows with wild enthusiasm. Here on my little acre, she's most pronounced in the warmer sections, but I see her along the north side of our stone wall too. So, like us, she's ready for spring!

She's native to Asia, but has naturalized here over the past 400 years in southern New England and throughout much of North America.

Not only is she lovely flower (later in the season), but she offers us food. The tubers, dug now, in early spring, may be washed and cooked like potatoes. And as spring moves to summer, the flower blossoms are lovely chopped into salads and summer soups and I often dehydrate some to add to traditional Asian soups all year 'round.

I'll add that there's controversy about how edible and/or safe this plant is, but it has a long tradition as food long before it reached to this continent. Thousands of cultivars have been bred from this plant over the past century and those ... those I trust less, as food. After all, they don't share the tradition of potentially thousands of years as food like our orange, spotless, Asian friend.

Allium schoenoprasum, our common kitchen chives, are peeking too. I have them growing around my little acre and plan to spread the love even more this year, transplanting their gifts wherever I please.

She is native to North America and to Europe, and has a long and well known value as food, like many of the alliums, for seasoning and making our food more delicious and for adding immune-supporting benefits too, not to mention other physiological benefits.

I add her greens, fresh to salads, soups, and as a garnish to meat and fish, vegetables and dips. I chop and dry the greens to use throughout the year too. I employ the flowers in the same way, and I make an infused vinegar too, which is both lovely, delicious and Good for you. I infuse the greens and scapes (think: buds) in vinegar too.

Stachys officinalis, commonly known as betony, wood betony, purple betony and bishopwort, and she's making her way back to the upperworld despite the scratching of the cooks.

She is a bitter, astringent and warming herb, and I dry her aerial parts just as she's beginning to flower, and make tincture with the fresh plant matter as well. And I've made tincture with the dry matter too. I'm a believer in using what you've got when you've got it and when you need it. She's has a history of being used as a water infusion ~ a tea ~ but my palate prefers her in tincture form and I feel her Medicine is most effectively gained in this way.

This is a beautiful plant, flowering later in the season, is one that has a long history, not as food, but as a medicinal herb. Maude Greive describes this plant as a "...sovereign remedy for all maladies of the head, and its properties as a nervine and tonic are still acknowledged, though it is more frequently employed in combination with other nervines than alone. It is useful in hysteria, palpitations pain in the head and face, neuralgia and all nervous affections."

Herbalist, Jim McDonald shares his many wise observations on this plant, including support for head injuries. This, like all of Jim's writings, is a worthy read for those seeking to expand their Green Medicine knowledge. I refer students to his site frequently.

And, I can't close without mentioning that, as a bitter, she's a nice addition to support digestion.


As with all plants, whether you're using them for food or for Medicine, be certain of the plant. When in doubt, consult with a local herbalist. We're everywhere! 

So there's our Weed Walk for today. I'll be returning over the coming days to share a bit more about our rooted friends as they continue their emergence from the underworld in our thawing spring.

Peace.

rose
Walk in the Woods

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