Category Archives: Medicinal

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.”

The season of Goldenrod!

Goldenrod everywhere!  Such a versatile plant.  It’s genus name is Salidago and with about 200 known species I didn’t attempt to identify them any further.   They have several uses most interestingly to produce rubber which Thomas Edison was experimenting with before he died. (this site contains photos and info on the rubber he produced).  He was even given a Model T from Henry Ford with tires made of Goldenrod Rubber (wikipedia)!

Medicinal Uses according to Wikipedia:
“Solidago virgaurea is used in a traditional kidney tonic by practitioners of herbal medicine to counter inflammation and irritation caused of bacterial infections orkidney stones.[10][11] Goldenrod has also been used as part of a tincture to aid in cleansing of the kidney/bladder during a healing fast, in conjunction with potassium broth and specific juices.[11] Solidago odora is sold as a medicinal, for these issues: mucus, kidney/bladder cleansing and stones, colds, digestion, and a tea is made from the leaves and flowers for sore throat, snake bite, fever, kidney and bladder problems, cramps, colic, colds, diarrhea, measles, cough and asthma. A poultice is used for boils, burns, headache, toothache, wounds, and sores. Native Americans chewed the leaves to relieve sore throats and chewed the roots to relieve toothaches. ” **  Before using for any of the above uses please note that specific species have some specific uses.  Please do further research before using.  I’m posting this for now as I am discovering for myself how awesome and versatile goldenrod is.

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




Liverwort or Hepatica Nobilis

Used by native Americans to cure or liver disorders

True Solomon’s Seal

Polygonatum biflorum (Solomon's Seal)

This is the true Solomon’s Seal, you can tell by the way it flowers underneath the stem as opposed to the impostor whom fruits and flowers at the end of the stem.