we got back into town early from arkanas, taking the 6am flight, and leaving me with a whole day off before going back to work on tuesday. seeing as we were so close, we decided to go for a walk at lower huron metropark. i’d never been there before, but it’s just off of 94 not much past the airport – very easy to get to. i had low expectations, but on the brief trails we took the forest was alive with wildflowers.
when we were in arkansas i was walking with my father and sister, and as always i was amazed with his plant id skills. it’s something that i’ve always wanted to be better at, and have gone so far as to purchase id books and take them in the woods, but i just don’t really enjoy looking things up while i’m in the woods. i have a new strategy – taking photos and then looking them up at my leisure when i get home. i’ve also looked into their edible and medical use. please don’t think for a minute i’m recommending to use these plants for edible or medicinal uses – it’s just for your knowledge of what they have been used for.
some of the highlights from this weeks walk.
spring beauty – claytonia virginica. in addition to being gorgeous it forms edible tubers, which are reported to have a sweet chestnut like flavor. I’ll have to try them sometime when i actually bring a shovel with me. i’m wondering how hard it would be to propagate these, they would be a great addition to an edible forest garden.
trout lily – erythronium americanum. used traditionally as a medicinal by native americans for a variety of purposes – poultices to heal wounds, and root teas to treat fevers
wood anemone – anemone quinquefolia. traditionally used for gout and headaches
toothwort – dentraria laciniata. with a name like toothwort it comes as no surprise that it’s roots have been used for toothaches. root tea gargles have been used to treat sore throats.
spicebush – lindera benzoin. tea can be made with the leaves, and the fruits are dried, ground and used as a spice. it has been used for a variety of aliments, including inducing fevers, expelling worms, and treating diseases of the joints.
marsh marigold – caltha palustris. the leaves are edible but require several changes of boiling water, much like the way poke weed is prepared. traditionally used for a variety of ailments namely inflammation and “sexual problems”.
dutchman’s breeches – dicentra cucullaria. leaves used for skin problems and root tea was used as a diuretic
bloodroot – sanguinaria canadensis. aptly named the root really is blood-red and has been used to dye baskets and clothing. medically it has been used for a number of uses – most notibley cancer – but it is also highly toxic.
it was an especially good time to go for a walk looking for spring ephemerals. hope that next walk we will be able to find morels.