So I couldn’t prevent myself from creating a second “Saturation” post. The autumn colors are bewitchingly beautiful and we aren’t even at peak yet.
This hedgerow called my name this morning and made me go back home to get my camera even though I was on my way to someplace else.
The Hedgewitch used to be the true alternative healer: herbalist, midwife, and shaman. She knew that Nature had an ancient intelligence and was able to mediate for those who did not have her intuitive powers. She talked with the plants which always held answers to what a person needed to heal. The connection with plants is made through the heart, the center of our intuitive and multi-dimensional knowing.
Let’s take a closer look at this hedgerow, the way the hedgewitch might have so long ago (click on an image to see it enlarged):
The colors of the Virginia creeper vine range from flame orange to blood red. Its dark blue berries and autumn leaves are toxic. However, roots and leaves have been used for various ailments including jaundice, gonorrhea, diarrhea, and poison-sumac rashes.
The goldenrod plumes capture the intensity of summer sun a bit longer before they too fade into winter oblivion. The hedgewitch knew that goldenrod leaves could be used as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory for the urinary tract.
I have personally collected the green leaves of goldenrod and used the dried leaves to make a subtly flavored tea.
Here is a fence bouquet of daisy fleabane which was used as a folk remedy for diarrhea and kidney stones, diabetes, and hemorrhages of various internal organs (did people have a lot of diarrhea back then? It seems like every other plant I look up has been used for that purpose).
I always enjoy seeing the sky-blue flower of the chicory plant. I found a single one in this hedgerow:
Chicory root has been used as a diuretic and laxative, as well as for fevers and skin eruptions. It reportedly lowers blood sugar. I am waiting to have a large supply of chicory plants on my own property, away from the polluted roadsides where they are usually found. Why: because I want to roast the root and try it as a coffee substitute (remember those war time stories when there was no real coffee to be had? Well, roasted chicory root took the place of coffee). I have no idea how tasty it is, but one day I’ll find out.
And then there is a sweet mallow plant with only one or two small flowers hiding between the leaves:
Mallows produce a small wheel-like fruit pod that is edible, raw or stir-fried. The leaves are also edible and can be turned into a pot herb or cooked in soup. Mallow tea can soothe respiratory problems. Leaves can be poulticed on wounds and tumors.
And tugged between all of these riches were a few other plants: dandelion, burdock or dock, and a few other leaves I felt I should know but wasn’t sure about. If I could just call up that hedgewitch and ask her…
If you are curious about medicinal plants, please study them thoroughly and find a good teacher. There are many look-alikes. I use several plant ID books. One of my favorites is the “Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs” by Steven Foster and James A. Duke (one of the Peterson Field Guides).