Sunday, April 6, 2008

Springtime in the Woods

It's the beginning of April, rainy, cold and breezy. Not gorgeous weather, but beginning to tease us with a hint of what springtime will be like once it gets into the full swing of things. I'm a sucker for teasing, so of course this tempted me into going for a hike to see what was waking up under the cold dead leaves of fall. Here's what we found:

My big brother and I ventured out into the woods to play in our old stomping grounds. It was like we were little kids all over again, playing in woods, finding dead things, finding new growth, and most of all, getting very muddy and enjoying every moment of it!

These are the skunk cabbages (Symplocarpus foetidus) that are out in full force along the creeks and forested wetlands on our property. Sure, they're a little smelly, but to us it's the smell of the death of winter! And really, they are something beautiful to behold.

Skunk cabbage was used by the Native American Indians to treat convulsions, whooping cough, toothache, and other conditions. The root is used as a poultice for wounds. Even modern physicians have used it for epileptic seizures and severe coughs. The leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals which, if eaten raw, can burn your mouth and the roots are considered toxic raw. To remove these properties, the leaves and roots can be dried and reconstituted in soups and stews.

These are not the only signs of spring. We also heard the spring peepers begin singing their mating chorus, the barred owl is seeking a domestic mate by calling her with "who cooks for you", and the turkeys are gobbling through the valley.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Kristina, we love seeing these photos of the Maryland woods in springtime! It's just like being there again. We love your blog.