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Do It Yourself

12 September 2014

Black Walnut: Juglans nigra

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

2012.4.5 corinna purThe black walnut (Juglans nigra) can be hard to miss at this time of year—or to mistake for anything else. There are other regional trees with pinnate leaves that have a similar appearance but as we move toward fall, an abundance of yellowish-green “tennis balls”—the fallen fruits—covers the ground around the base of black walnut trees.

green blk walnutsI adore black walnut’s edible nutmeat—it has a richer, more complex flavor than the supermarket variety European walnut. Nutritionally, black walnuts are dense with proteins and essential fatty acids, wonderful for heart health. But the prized meats are nestled deep inside those greenish balls, and it takes a bit of effort to tease out the nut meat.

03 July 2014

Jewelweed

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

jewelweed flower

I just returned from a special journey back to my hometown, introducing my son for the first time to my old stomping grounds. When we went through the local Arboretum up there, I fondly recalled to him how, as a girl, I first met a particularly enchanting plant ally: jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).

In an Arboretum nature walk for children, the leader entranced me by submerging a translucent, serrated-edged jewelweed leaf in water, glistening silver like a mermaid underwater. And then removing it to show how the water droplets beaded up, like little “jewels” glittering in the sun! I still love to catch sight of her shimmering at the edges of ponds and streams after a light summer rain.

Adding to the fun were the distinctively spotted, brilliant orange cornucopia-shaped flowers that come out in the late summer. Turns out, their common name is “touch-me-not”, since the ripe flower seems rather ticklish and will shoot out spirals of seedpods when pinched or prodded—much to our delight!

05 June 2014

Dandelion Dip

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

dandelion flowerHow can you not love dandelion? Friendly and familiar and so very versatile, those cheerful yellow flower heads practically beg “come on, pick me!” This time of year, dandelion is abundant and offers so much nourishment, I’m constantly harvesting her leaves and flowers for my salads.

I enjoy the tangy bite of her flavor, but I do realize that some of you may find her taste rather bitter. While the Western palate isn’t attuned to bitter elements (with the exception of coffee, which we often adjust with sweeteners and dairy), Chinese medicine recognizes the value of bitters in good digestive health and includes them in a well-balanced diet.

13 March 2014

Wild Salad Time

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

WildSaladHarvestedbyandforClass

Wild salad time already? Yes, with Spring Equinox right around the corner, the chickweed is already starting to sprout up! When I see her lush, green leaves I feel excited. It’s like seeing a beloved friend return, offering abundance and nourishment, in so many ways.
 
Wild salads are what inspired my interest in herbal medicine and nutrition in the first place. I wanted to be able to look around my yard and know what to eat. It reinforced my connection to the land on which I dwell and, over the years, wild edibles have added to my relationship to the divine as well. I find that the sacred and our bodies are one and the same; the experience of harvesting and eating these gifts of the Earth is deeply nourishing—physically, and spiritually.

18 November 2013

Poke Root

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

PokeRootLate fall is the best time to harvest roots. One of my apothecary favorites is a low-dose botanical - the root of the Poke plant. Often considered toxic, I discovered that in the South poke root has traditionally been used in tiny doses as an immune stimulant. This powerful plant actually has a wide range of medicinal uses -- but you have to treat it with respect or risk unpleasant side effects (see below).

Herbs can rival the effectiveness of antibiotics, and they're generally much gentler on the body. Some folks turn to goldenseal for this purpose, but it is an endangered species. Poke, on the other hand, is a weed -- the problem is not having too little of it, but too much. And for most purposes, poke is at least as good, if not better.

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