Category Archives: Native Species

Evening Primrose

Photo by Josie Cooke taken in the Smoky Mountains

From the genus Oenothera in the Onagraceae family Commonly called the Evening primrose family.  

Leaves form a basal rosette at ground level and spiral up to the flowering stems; the leaves are dentate or deeply lobed (pinnatifid). The flowers of many species open within less than a minute in the evening, hence the name “evening-primrose”, most are yellow.  (wikipedia)

“Young roots can be eaten like a vegetable (with a peppery flavor), or the shoots can be eaten as a salad” (Wikipedia)   I’ve also found that the flowers are edible as well in a few wild edibles books.  I have tried them.  They are a sweet treat.


Dwarf Ginseng or Ground Nut

Panax trifolius, common name Dwarf Ginseng

Sorry these aren’t the Best photos.  But notice “compound leaves, and small flowers in umbels or head-like clusters. Flowers of dwarf ginseng are tiny (about two millimeters wide), dull white umbels rising from a whorl of three compound leaves. In botanical Latin trifolius means “three leaves”. It flowers from April to June followed by yellowish, clustered berries in July to August. The plant reaches 10 to 20 centimeters in height (4 to 8 inches).”

“American Indians used tea of the whole plant for colic, indigestion, gout, hepatitis, hives, rheumatism, and tuberculosis. The root was chewed for headaches, shortness of breath, fainting, and nervous debility. Its distinctive tubers can be eaten raw or boiled.”

Some sources list this variety as not having any medicinal qualities.  This may be  because of lack of research .

I haven’t found any sources that claim this variety to be toxic in any way.

Another website says

“A tea made from the whole plant has been used in the treatment of colic, indigestion, gout, hepatitis etc. The root is analgesic. It has been chewed as a treatment for headache, short breath, fainting and nervous debility.”

It also claims that the roots care edible and have a very “palatable taste after boiling and When cold it has a taste somewhat like nuts.”

Bur Reed

Sparganium amricanum common name Bur Reed

An aquatic plant.  The closest known relative to the cattail.

Edible: Tubers on rootstalk and bulb-like base.

Preparation: Tubers and bulb-like base are edible when cooked (either boiled orroasted). Both tubers and bulb-like base can be dried and pounded into flour.

Dodder Strangles the invasive Purple Loosestrife

An invasive species Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) being choked out by Goldenthread or Dodder (Coptis groenlandica)

Some interesting stuff I read on wikipedia about Dodder:

“After a dodder attaches itself to a plant, it wraps itself around it. If the host contains food beneficial to dodder, the dodder produces haustoria that insert themselves into the vascular system of the host. The original root of the dodder in the soil then dies. The dodder can grow and attach itself to multiple plants. In tropical areas it can grow more or less continuously, and may reach high into the canopy of shrubs and trees; in temperate regions it is an annual plant and is restricted to relatively low vegetation that can be reached by new seedlings each spring.”

“A report published in Science (Vol 313; Sept. 29, 2006) by Runyon, Mescher, and De Moraes, researchers at Penn State University, demonstrates that dodder use airborne (volatile) chemical cues to locate their host plants. Seedlings of Cuscuta pentagona exhibit positive growth responses to volatiles released by tomato and other species of host plants. When given a choice between volatiles released by the preferred host tomato and the non-host wheat, the parasite exhibited preferential growth toward the former. Further experiments demonstrated attraction to a number of individual compounds released by host plants and repellance by one compound released by wheat. These results do not rule out the possibility that other cues (e.g., light) may also play a role in host location”

Cardinal Flower

Lobelia cardinalis common name Cardinal Flower

Went up to Manistee for the weekend with a few friends.  We took the boat out and every so often we would see these brilliant red flowers along the banks of the river.  Named cardinal flower after the bright red robes worn by Roman Catholic cardinals.
Pollinated primarily by humming birds found throughout mid and eastern United States and Canada.  Grows 1-3 feet tall.  Leaves are alternate, lanceolate, and toothed.

Info pulled from The Audubon Society Field guide to North American Wildflowers

Marsh Marigold

 Caltha palustris (Marsh Marigold)


Arisaema triphyllum or Jack-in-the-pulpit found at the east side of Little Pine Island Lake in Comstock Park

 Some have the reddish-brown to purple-brown stripes and others are all green.  I found this in a wet portion of the forest.  In the fall it bears bright red fruit.