HerbStalk 2017: Plant Walk

Last month I attended one day of classes at HerbStalk. I picked the urban plant walk around Somerville as my first class. Though a terrible note taker, here are a couple plants we visited. Sorry about the quality of my mobile photos in advance.  Take a virtual plant walk with me!

Our guide began with sharing her “bug juice”, a yarrow, catnip and mugwort tincture. She got us started right in front of the building talking about plantain, dandelions, and maple. That was before I started taking pictures or proper notes. Did you know maple leaves were edible?

A few plants that may be growing unnoticed

Burdock: Arctium L.
Burdock growing in Massachusetts The picture is a first year plant.  In its second year, a tall stalk rises.

Roots are the most commonly used portion of burdock. You dig them up in the fall of first year or spring of its second. Our guide uses them in soups, stews, and chews them too!

Two facts about burdock
1.  You can find it growing in much of North America as a weed. Especially on river banks. I see it along Charles River.
2.  Can be used as a diuretic.

Here is a great overview from University of Maryland’s Medical Center.

Milkweed: Asclepias syriaca L.
Milkweed in Massachusetts Some avoid this butterfly haven because of its poisonous milky sap. But during the late stage in August, you can take the pods. Our guide steams them first and you don’t want to eat raw leaves.

Two facts about milkweed
1.  Native Americans taught colonists how to safely eat it.
2.  The floss has been used as tinder for fires. Now I’m tempted to harvest some later this year for car camping.

Here’s a general overview from Farmer’s Almanac.

White Cedar: Thuja occidentalis
White cedar in Massachusetts One of my favorite scratch and sniff portions of the walk. Can make tincture or tea out of this tree and is good for many things including the lungs. But use with caution and do your research about the quality of any products.

Two facts about white cedar
1.  Some use for managing pain in trigeminal neuralgia.
2.  Used to treat warts and canker sores. 

You love science? Then check out the 2005 article:  Thuja occidentalis (Arbor vitae): A Review of its Pharmaceutical, Pharmacological and Clinical Properties.

Linden: TiliaI love linden tea! I used to mix it with juice when babysitting my sick cousin.

Our guide suggested making a double infusion hot and then cold. A nervine that’s also good for the heart and delicious when added to footbaths. Another great idea she shared was to mix powdered linden with cocoa powder to make chocolate. Yum!

Two facts about linden
1.  It has safely been used for children for centuries.
2. Also called lime blossom in certain regions and drunk as a tea in Britan during World War II.

A great article from Herbal Academy about the sacred tree.

Altogether it was a wonderful way to start HerbStalk and now I keep looking at the weeds in the yard or on the side of the road and try to place them.

Pop Quiz: Which plant is this about a month later?
Wild weeds in Massachusetts