Wednesday, July 27, 2011

U.S.A. Native Wildflowers and Plants Used by Native Americans

There are many plants that have been utilized as an herbal remedy. These four native wildflowers are just a few of the plants that have, at one time, been a Native American remedy for something. One is poisonous and should never be ingested.

Cypripedium acaule Ait. (Moccasin Flower, Pink Lady’s Slipper)
This version is the only Cypripedium to require an acidic soil. Test your soil before planting and make sure it has a range of pH 3.5-4.5. These will bloom five to six years after first growth. Moccasin flower has light to dark pink flowers from May to June and it reaches eight to 18 inches in height. The leaves look like they are coming right out of the ground instead of off the stem. Native Americans used this to invoke spirit dreams just by its presence.

Diphylleia cymosa Michx. (American Umbrellaleaf)
This is a member of the barberry family and will reach three feet in height. Space them at least two to three feet apart in your garden arrangement. It is found in four counties in northeast Georgia. It has opposite leaves and white 6-petal flowers growing mid-spring to late summer. It has blue berry-like fruit and is slow to establish. Keep in afternoon shade for better growth.  Cherokee Indians used it as a root tea to induce sweating. WARNING: This plant can be toxic.

Eupatorium perfoliatum L. (Boneset)
Boneset grows two to our feet high with opposite leaves eight inches long and hairy stems. Flowers are clusters of white flowerheads blooming summer and fall. They have a nice scent to them. Boneset prefers full or partial sun and moist or wet soil conditions. Butterflies and bees are attracted to the nectar and moth caterpillers such as the clymene moth and the lined ruby tiger moth feed on it. Boneset is a Native American herbal remedy for fever, colds, malaria and break bone fever. It was used as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, immune stimulant and analgesic.

Jeffersonia diphylla L. Pers. (Twinleaf)
This perennial ground cover grows to 12 to 18 icnhes tall high. It is pretty, but short -lived. It will have white star-like 8-petaled flowers March through May that resemble bloodroot. Twinleaf prefers partial shade and moist acidic soils. Propagate by seed or division. Native Americans used twinleaf for urinary problems and to make a poultice for sores.


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