Thursday, April 24, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Notice that there is an acorn in the background. These shoots are tiny!
The Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) is in the Berberidaceae family. This is a two leaved plant which vaguely resembles an umbrella and is also known as a Devil's apple. It will flower in May and form into a berry which ripens in late summer and is the only part of the plant that isn't considered poisonous. The plant's rhizome is being studied for it's anticancer properties. Native American Indians were known to gather the rhizomes in autumn, dry them, and grind them into a powder which was eaten or drank as a laxitive, to treat intestinal worms, or as a poultice to treat warts and skin tumors. Another interesting fact - Although this is an abundant plant in the forests of the northeastern US, it is endangered in Florida.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
And some newly sprouted multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), an extremely aggressive invasive species. It is a thorny perennial shrub found along disturbed edges which form impenetrable thickets and exclude native plants. And look how cute and unassuming this little bugger looks when it first emerges:
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.