Hey all! There is so much more to add but I figure this project will be a few years in the making anyway 😉
Without further adieu – and in honour of yesterdays Summer Solstice I bring you an array of wildflowers that if you venture outdoors this weekend you can find for yourself! These were all taken within the last 1.5 weeks so you should be in luck if you know how to look – which is closely.
Yesterday was the solstice and while sitting in my garden I saw my first monarch fluttering by on some newly blooming milkweed in my yard. Look at the incredible delicate design of these blooms. Milkweed flowers bloom in rounded clusters of pink and lavender.
The shape + symmetry is incredible. The colour both subtle and jarring.
Milkweed is native to North America. It’s name comes form it’s milky white sap. The young shoots and young unopened pods are all edible.The roots are poisonous. The plant increases in toxicity overtime. That poison is absorbed by monarch over their development and actually caused them to taste bitter as a deterrent to being eaten by birds. Indigenous people knew of its medicinal value and used its sap for skin ailments and as treatment like poison ivy. Some tribes used extract form the boiled root to treat bowel and kidney issues. This knowledge was taught it to English colonialists in Virginia as recorded in 1597.
In the 1800’s physicians used the sap and roots to treat respiratory diseases, to treat asthma and as a sedative.
Another naturalized European import but perfect for a little “he loves me, he loves me not”
The name fleabane comes from the plants insecticidal properties.
Robin Plantain // Philadelphia Fleabane
There are a variety of anemones that grow around this time. All are found beneath the forest overgrowth and prefer damp/shaded areas. This anemone is often found on the edge of the woods where there is both shade and light. I found this one along a river bank at the edge of a tree line.
The ancient name, anemone, is a corruption of the semetic Na’man, meaning Adonis. In Greek mythology this flower is said to have sprang from Aphrodite tears when her mortal love Adonis was killed in jealousy by Ares, the god of war, who disguised themselves as a boar and killed Adonis while he was hunting alone. Aphrodite came to rescue Adonis but it was too late. Her tears fell on his grave and the anemone sprang to life. Other stories tell of the origin of the red anemone having sprung from Adonis drops of blood.
Many indigenous tribes used it as medicine. The root was chewed by the Chippewa to stop internal bleeding and to stop nosebleeds pieces of the root were inserted in the nostrils. For the Ojibwe the root was also prepared to treat sore throats and clear the throats for singers.
This flower gets its name from a story perhaps real perhaps not, of lovers walking along a rivers edge and as the man bent down to pick these flowers for his lover as suddenly fell back into a rushing river and threw the flowers to his love and yelled “forget me not!” Whether or not this story is true this name has become the common label for these tiny but delightful blooms.
They are often founs in damp areas along the rivers edge much like the story depicts. I’ve also heard it told that it was a knight in heavy armour and so as they fell into the river they knew hope was lost due to the weight of the armour.
Cinqufoil gets its name from an Old French word meaning “five-leaf.” The latin word Potentilla refers to its potent medicinal properties of the plant. In medieval times knights sought to have a cinquefoil flower on their shields, because only those who achieved self mastery were allowed to bare it’s symbol. Cinquefoil was said to scare of witches, fisherman added it to their nets to increase yield and some used it in love potions.
Herb Robert // Geranium
Belonging to the geranium family it gets its name from the Greek word geranos which means “crane” because the seedpods look like crane bills. It’s main usefulness through history was as an externally applied astringent for skin irritations and bruises. Since medieval times the entire plant has been used to make a compress to stop bleeding, leading to its other name bloodwort. It also treats toothaches, skin inflammations, as an immune booster, and more.
It has a distinct and unpleasant odour when bruising the leaves and can be rubbed on the skin to repel mosquitos.
Other names: Red Robin, Death Come Quickly, Stinking Robert, Cuckoo’s Eye, Bloodwort, Fox Geranium, Felonwort, and Cranesbill.
Tufted Vetch // Cows Vetch
This plant gets its name from the Latin word vinicio (to bind or twine) which refer to how the plants grows pulling and stretching itself across nearby plants by climbing and grasping with its tendrils.
A European import this plant is now naturalized in many open fields.
There may have been clovers without a hole in the leaf but this one was still my favourite.
Of all the clovers that exist red clover is the most celebrated for its powers. It has been credited with protecting people against witchcraft and evil spirits since pagan times. If one travelled where malevolent spirits were said to lurk you would carry red clover as protection.
It has long been used to treat coughs, sore throats and skin issues. It can be dried into a tea and the leaves can be eaten when young and added to salad.
Native to Europe but naturalized here. Often used to replenish nitrogen into the soil during crop rotations and as food for bees.
Large Blue Flag // Wild Iris
The word iris comes from the Greek goddess of rainbows, because of the many hues iris’s come in. The blue flag iris is one of the few native species in eastern North America. This common wild iris has large showy flowers. It has 3 large sepals and three small erect petals. It was given the name blue flag because it looked like the yellow flag iris of Europe for which the fleur-de-lis is modelled after – an emblem of French royalty.
It had many uses in folk medicine and was sometimes called liver lily as the rhizomes would be dried and powdered to purify blood and treat the liver.It was also used for skin conditions and rheumatism. Indigenous people used it for many cures including treating sores and wounds.
The rhizome can be dangerously toxic and so it carries the additional name of poison flag.
From what I can tell so far this plant hasn’t interested too many people about much.
If you find it interesting and know something you’d like to share – please do! firstname.lastname@example.org
A bouquet of simplicity and chaos. A great way to familiarize yourself with and find love of wild plants is to bring a few inside.
Featuring buttercup, fleabane, and dames rocket.
Let’s explore the cycles of the Earth together.
These are the photos I’ve taken of wildflowers so far this year. Though I’ve been studying weeds for eating for quite some time, my love of flowers is quite new. I blame my love of bees for turning me into such a flower seeking softie!
I will be adding a lot more information about edibility, medicinal uses, myths and more on the website but I did want to share these blooms in hopes of inspiring you to go out on a wild exploration yourself this weekend!
Bloodroot is one of my personal favourites. It appears emerging from the Earth guarded by its leaves. As though they are a cloak to keep it from the cold. They let down their guard to the suns warmth and their petals quickly fall.
Originally from Europe, these flowers are often found at the side of the road, like these ones. They are often mistaken for dandelion but if you look closely they are not. They are edible and have medicinal value.
Yellow Trout Lily
These beauties near carpet the forest floor at this time. Many trout lily’s do not have a flower but their leaves are abundant. It takes at least 7 years for this plant to produce a flower! It is edible as well. Try a leaf on your next trek.
I had to stop for the beautiful and vibrant bloom. Of course, after I snapped this I saw many large abundant patches but I still find myself fond of this lonely little bloom.
These arise quickly with fine pink lines that fade over time. So look closely!
These were named such because they look like a bunch of breeches (old-timey underwear) hanging out on the line. Personally, I think they look more like the work of a hoarding tooth fairy…
You can find my fellow wild explorer in the background as well.
This is another favourite. Though it is not much of a ‘flower’ I love how strangely these plants bend and contort as they grow. Blue Cohosh was traditionally used as medicine as well.
Maybe I just have to admit I like many many flowers… as this one is also one I love to find.
Its elongated drooping leaves look to me like the limbs of a lengthy dancer. Particularly when they blow in the wind.
When I was a little girl I remember swearing to myself that I would never let anyone hurt me.
To proclaim so made me feel strong and safe.
Like so many times in life, some things just don’t go as planned.
Sometimes the things we think we will avoid are near hardwired into us and we don’t even know it.
Like the people who came before us.
We play out our wounds in real time. Including the wounds, we inherit from the unresolved pain and patterns that came before us.
Trauma can happen from an incident, like a car crash, an illness…
But often trauma is a creature with tentacles that extend through the generations. Wounds that no one ever asked for.
It changes who you are and who you might become.
It’s taken a long time but I’m working hard towards healing the wounds of my ancestors and those I was predisposed to acquiring and did – in my own lifetime.
After surviving some extreme domestic violence I have been forced to take many steps toward a genuine and authentic level of healing. I’m certainly not there yet. I don’t have all the secrets to heal all your pain. I haven’t yet healed mine. I can’t make all your dreams come true but I can teach a lot about what I’ve learned and what I know which is to never stop trying.
This blog is about all the things I’ve learned along the way, and continue to learn, and my opportunity to share them with you. Through my endless hesitations to be open I have realized I am still not free.
I’m still afraid.
but I’m not going quietly or gently into any good night and so here I am.
This blog will explore many things: wild edible plants, foraging, wildflowers, experimental gardening, herbal medicine, wildcrafting, traditional skills, fermentation, nourishing recipes, nature-based child activities, outdoor adventures, rural creativity and resilience and whatever else I nerd out about in life.
Thank-you for reading and now: PLANTS 🙂