Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wildflower Walk and Identification

The weather has become just perfect for taking walks identifying the early Spring wildflowers. With Tim Pratt, Hansen Nature Center Director, as my guide - I am learning things I thought I knew. Bringing along an old wildflower book, I started a journal of pressed pieces along with taking pictures. These plants can be found virtually in any woodsy area. We ask here at Tinker Park that you take only pictures and leave only footprints. However, I will have the journal on display as the seasons pass.

Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis
Interesting Facts: The blood-like juice that can be extracted from this plant's root was used by Native Americans as body paint. Native Americans and early settlers also used Bloodroot to treat medical conditions such as soar throats, skin cancers, and treatment of ringworm, worts, or polyps.

Wild Ginger Asarum canadense
Interesting Facts: Native Americans used the root of this plant much as real ginger is used today. It was also used as a medicine to treat digestive disorders or as a poultice on sores.

May-apple Podophyllum peltatum
Interesting Facts: Mayapples appear before the trees leaf out. The plant is sometimes called the umbrella plant because it looks like a closed umbrella when first emerging, then opens into the open umbrella shape. The white flower is about 2 inches in diameter and grows beneath the leaves. The berry that develops is the "apple" of the plant. It is reported that the apple can be eaten however the roots, stems and leaves are poisonous.

Red Trillium or Wake Robin Trillium erectum
Interesting Facts: The flowers have an unattractive smell of putrefied flesh (hey that's what the site said.) Traditionally the plant was used by various native North American Indian tribes as a woman's herb to aid childbirth.

Trout-lily Erythronium americanum
Other Common Names:
Yellow Adder's Tongue
Interesting Facts:
The yellow flowers of this plant are among the first to bloom in springtime. The tuber of this plant are edible.

Wild Leek Allium tricoccum
Other Common Names:
Interesting Facts:
This member of the onion family was used by Native Americans and early pioneers used leaves and bulbs from this plant for seasoning bland or tastless foods. The juices from crushed bulbs were also used to treat insect stings by rubbing the juice on affected areas.

A patch of wild leeks

False Solomon's-seal Smilacina racemosa
Interesting Facts: It was widely employed by several native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism.

Field Horsetail Equisetum arvense
Interesting Facts: Never has flowers or seeds but reproduces by spores and by horizontal underground stems. It contains a substance which destroys vitamin B in animals. It is especially poisonous to young horses. Hay containing this weed may be more poisonous than fresh plants in the field.

Blue Cohosh Caulophyllum thalictroides
Interesting Facts: This native wildflower is nicknamed papooseroot because the medicinal root was used by the Indians medicinally for infants.

Jack-in-the-pulpit Arisaema triphyllum
Other Common Names:
Indian Turnip
Interesting Facts:
Crystals of calcium oxalate found throughout this plant can cause an intense burning sensation if eaten without proper preparation. Native Americans used this plant externally to help with pain and swelling as well as other skin infections.

Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara
Interesting Facts: A declared aquatic or terrestrial noxious weed and/or noxious-weed seed in Alabama and Oregon.

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