Native American Herbs of the Northeast

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

A look to the past reveals some of the most important plants used by Eastern woodland tribes – and an inestimable connection to nature.

My adventure into the historical uses of many Native American plants began when Maine native Kerry Hardy, author of Notes on a Lost Flute: A Field Guide to the Wabanaki, presented a program for Western Maine’s Greater Lovell Land Trust, billed as “Native American Plant Medicine” last summer. So many plants and so many uses! I was intrigued to find out more about these plants and explore the wealth of medicinal knowledge from Eastern Woodlands tribes like the Mohawk, Wyandot {Huron}, and Iroquois. From Hardy’s work, as well as from the research of author Charlotte Erichsen-Brown, I enjoyed a glimpse into how these tribes looked to nature for healing – and how early pioneers benefited from their knowledge.

elderberries-af-canyon-3-2013-09-05

The Essential Elderberry

Hardy’s book focuses on…

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A Druid’s Guide to Connecting With Nature, Part III: Nature Engagement

The Druid's Garden

Leading you in deeper! Leading you in deeper!

I’ve heard a lot of conversation in the nature spirituality community, including the druid community, about not touching nature, leaving it alone, to simply “be”.  I remember one influential druid speaking at an event and saying, “The best thing you can do in nature is pick up the garbage and get out.”  From a certain standpoint, this perspective makes a lot of sense. It is the same perspective held by many conservationists trying to preserve pristine lands or lands that have been replanted and are healing; the best thing that can be done is figure out how to keep people from mucking them up, pick up garbage, and leave them undisturbed. Because people have a tendency to come in, move things about, pick things, disrupt ecosystems, and generally cause havoc.  Or worse, much, much worse. Further, in a world where most humans can’t identify even five…

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Foraging for Fiddleheads {Well, Sort Of}

by Good Witches Homestead

Good Witches Homestead

After a long winter, we delight in those emerging specks of green that mark the start of the growing season. The air might still carry a chill, but that doesn’t deter us from heading to the farmer’s market to catch the first glimpses of fresh, local produce. Among the baskets of root vegetables and early spring herbs, you’ll often find fiddleheads, the coiled fronds of the ostrich fern {Matteuccia struthiopteris}. In the ground, these deep-green curled stems will later unfurl into tall ferns ranging from two to even six feet in height, but in this early stage, they resemble the neck of their namesake; the fiddle.

For Our Body

As with many spring greens, fiddleheads offer much-needed nutrients after a long winter. To start, they’re a great source of vitamins A and C {4,052 IU and 2.6 mg per half cup, raw, respectively}. They also contain potassium and manganese, which…

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Spring’s Rebirth – Slavic and Balkan Pysanky

by Elder Mountain Dreaming

Elder Mountain Dreaming @ gmail

Compilation by Phoenix of Elder Mountain –The Rites of Spring is about honoring our rebirth and the earth’s rebirth, this has specific rituals that are ancient and help us stay connected to our moon nature, our soul and our emotional nature in a positive way. Here at Elder Mountain we do the ritual of building the archaic Goddess Marzanna Effigy (at the autumn equinox and winter solstice) and then burn and throw her into the lake or river, on the day of the Spring Equinox to transform Winter into Spring (and the symbolism of the grandmother into the maiden once again.)

A Pysanka (Ukrainian: писанка, plural: pysanky) is a spring or easter (ostara) egg, decorated with traditional folk designs using a wax-resist method. The word pysanka comes from the verb pysaty, “to write”, as the designs are not painted on, but written with beeswax. Many other eastern Europeans decorate eggs using…

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What to Harvest: March

Mountain Man Traditional Healing

There are useful plants to be harvested year round, if you pay attention to the land, the weather, and generally what’s happening outdoors around you. Here is the first installment of a series I’m going to try and maintain about what useful medicinal and edible plants are popping up throughout the year. Please note, this is based on the weather in Northwest Arkansas, so these plants may be delayed depending upon where you live.

**All medical suggestions are offered for educational purposes only and a trained medical professional should always be consulted before adding any herbs to your self-care routine.**

Wild Onions / Wild Garlic:

Sometimes also called “onion grass” this is a weed that everyone likely has in their yard (if you’ve ever mowed and thought, “Hmmm, I smell onions” you have it), but few know it’s completely edible.

Parts Used: Bulb, foliage

When to Harvest: Wild…

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Cabin Fever: You Get What You Ask For

Appalachian Ink ~ Home of Anna Wess (and Granny)

Every now and then, I get a glimpse of Granny’s wild spirit, the very one she’s kept hidden from the rest of us girls no matter how many times we’ve sat around the table in her kitchen. Sometimes, just sometimes, she lets that spirit out. And if there’s anything that’ll bring out her wild spirit, it’s cabin fever, sisters. Cabin fever and those bottled spirits in the china cabinet. And memories of them bitches, of course.

Granny turns on the radio and tunes it to her favorite station, WRIC-AM 540 radio in Richlands, Virginia, and she continues a’ singing the song in her head, some tune about Tom Dooley and his imminent demise, even while the announcer reads the local obituaries, forlorn organ a’ playing and all. Granny don’t know any of those dead people on the radio. And even if she does, she doesn’t let on. Lord, no.

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That Funny Little Spring Weed: Lamb’s Quarter

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Lambs quarter is one of the most common weeds in gardens, backyards, and fallow fields, following human habitation closely. If you add horse or cow manure to your garden you will have a steady supply of these tasty wild greens for most of spring and summer. Easy to recognize with its alternate, triangle-to-diamond shaped leaves which are coated on the underside with a whitish grey powdery meal resembling flour. This coating may sometimes possess a coppery-fuchsia sheen and is sold as a cultivar called “magenta spreen” in some garden catalogs. The coating is a natural part of the leaf and is fine to eat. Put a leaf under water and the meal will cause the water to bead up in a beautiful iridescent fashion. Lamb’s quarter grows to 3-5 feet and is a branching annual with a grooved stem which is often tinged with red, especially at the node, or…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – P – Pawpaw

Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Pawpaw – Asimina triloba

Parts used: bark, fruit

Traditional uses: Fruit used for food. Inner bark used to make strong ropes and string. Wood used in pegging for various illnesses. Fruit used in ritual associated with curing a man of drunkenness. Used in love magic and to prevent infidelity. A magical wood, associated with death and witchcraft. Used to protect from evil spells and curses. Seeds associated with death rituals.

Use in pegging against infidelity – “A hillman whose wife is ‘triflin’ on him’ is sometimes persuaded that he can make everything right by going into the woods at midnight and boring a hole in the crotch of a pawpaw tree. This done, he mutters a secret Biblical quotation, drives a stout wooden peg into the auger hole, and walks away without looking back at the tree. The hole behind the peg may contain a wad of human hair, dried…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – P – Paper

Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Note for headache and eyestrain – “I met a witch doctor in Little Rock, Arkansas, who cured headaches and eyestrain simply by writing MOTTER FOTTER on a piece of paper and letting the patient burn the paper in the presence of three witnesses.” ~Randolph OMF 133

Used in curing warts – “Another way to ‘pass’ a wart is to spit on it, rub a bit of paper in the spittle, fold the paper, and drop it in the road; the wart is supposed to pass to the first person who picks up the paper and unfolds it. Children are always trying this, and one can find these little folded papers in the road near most any rural schoolhouse.” ~Randolph OMF 127

Paper doll against witchcraft – “I interviewed one renowned witch killer who cuts a silhouette out of paper and writes the witch’s name on it. Then he very slowly…

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Ozark Encyclopedia – O – Onion

Mountain Man Traditional Healing

Onion – Allium cepa

Parts used: bulb

Traditional uses: Syrup of chopped onions taken for colds. Used to destroy germs because of a volatile oil in roots. Onion placed in a sick room to draw fever out.

“Antiseptic, diuretic. A roasted Onion is a useful application to tumours or earache. The juice made into a syrup is good for colds and coughs. Hollands gin, in which Onions have been macerated, is given as a cure for gravel and dropsy.” ~Grieve MH

Red onion on bedpost for a cold – “A big red onion tied to a bedpost is said to prevent the occupants of the bed from catching cold. A famous politician in Arkansas had an onion fastened to his bedpost as recently as 1937. When I asked him about this he laughed rather sheepishly. ‘That’s just one of Maw’s notions,’ he said, referring to his mother-in-law. ‘She lives with…

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