Pisgah National Forest Spring Wildflowers
Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend a day-long workshop on The Nervous System as well as a plant walk led by 7Song, the director of the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine. 7Song has been running his school in Ithaca, NY for 13 years and is also the Director of Holistic Medicine at the Ithaca Free Clinic. I’ve visited his school and have also taken a weekend Clinical Herbalism course with him. He swears during class, is sarcastic and thinks being an herbalist is a political act (my new jersey self really identifies with the swearing and sarcasm! and of course my whole self identifies with herbalist as a political act). And he happens to love and admire the natural world and knows so much about it! It is always a treat to learn from his many years of experience as a community and clinical herbalist.
Greensboro is about three weeks ahead in terms of the Spring season, so in the mountains we were able to still see some of the Spring ephemeral wildflowers that have recently faded out of the Greensboro forests and green spaces. We started out in the bright sunlight at Dancing Springs Farm and then moved on to a beautiful higher elevation lush slope in the Pisgah National Forest.
I want to share some of the plants I got to visit with during that trip…
Pedicularis canadensis is one of my favorite plants. It is wild looking and beautiful and captures my heart. It is a local favorite around the Asheville area and is known for its abilities as a nervine, hypnotic and skeletal muscle anti-spasmodic. 7Songs favorite skeletal muscle relaxant formula would be Pedicularis in combination with Skullcap and Black Cohosh. This will relieve muscle tension specific to the upper and lower back, but will not relieve any pain associated with tension. For further relief from pain associated with tight muscles and tension try Wild Lettuce (Latuca spp.) or Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). You can prepare Pedicularis by tincture, the taste of which actually reminds me of a rich chocolate. It can also be made into a tea and sipped or can be made into an oil and rubbed onto sore spots.
Another lovely medicinal plant we spent time with was the ever-so-special and rare (due to overharvest) Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). Its roots have a bright yellow color, indicating the medicinal constituent it is favored for: berberine. Berberine has a highly bitter/acrid taste and is also found in plants such as Oregon Grape (Mahonia spp.) and Yellowroot (Xanthorizha simplicissima). Goldenseal, with its yellow berberine rich roots, works best for sinus infections and respiratory viruses. It can also be the trick to knock out a general infection. Goldenseal is tinctured fresh 1:2 95%. The tincture can be taken internally for infection or you can put 2-4 drops in a nettie pot for sinus infection or 2 drops in saline solution to make an eye wash for eye infection. For a sustainable source of Goldenseal, you can order from Loess Roots. Or you can harvest Yellowroot and use in its place. Although the herbs are not directly interchangable, Yellowroot offers an alternative to the increasingly rare Goldenseal.
Here are some other beautiful, stunning, heart-staggaringly beautiful plants from the Pisgah National Forest (many of them are not medicinal but may provide an uplifting feeling)…..