The Woods

Growing Deeper Roots… Literally

Spring has (finally) arrived to our nine acre forest and, for heaven’s sake, we’re so glad!! Winter felt like it would never leave us. Now, when we walk through our property no two walks are the same. There is an exciting emergence of brand new baby leaves, strange plants I’ve never seen and flower buds showing a peak of their vibrant color.

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Why use medicinal plants?

This new life is beautiful, sure, but what I’ve been really excited to learn is that much of our foliage is also useful. For us, a high priority is to appreciate what we have been given. We want to revive what has been neglected and nurture the natural environment where we will build our home. Construction will alter the property, and probably be hard on it in some ways… but our poor woods has been neglected, logged and littered on for forever and we are so excited to appreciate it and love it back to it’s rightful glory. SAVE THE WOODS!!! Lol, but no seriously … that’s our mission.

Read more: Buying the Land of Our Dreams… On a Budget

We don’t have any desire to make our land bend to our will, look ultra manicured or landscaped. One, that would be so time consuming… but more than that… what we find beautiful about this land is it’s natural beauty.

Now, this might sound hippie dippie trippie to some… but I am SUPER into homeopathic treatments, eating real foods, and limiting consumption of toxins AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. My reasons for getting into this sort of thing is largely rooted in our journey of trying to have children. I would love to tell you more of how getting back to the roots of eating real whole foods and staying away from toxic chemicals has been a game changer in our lives… but that’s for another day. Today, I would like to share the excitement of Spring,. Let’s talk about new life and how God has given us so many useful and healing properties from a source that is both accessible and affordable. All we need to do is stop and observe.

4 Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

  1. 1. Beech Tree: Fagus grandiloia

Find it: These are my favorite trees on our property! They have a smooth silver bark, and their leaves are bright green and oval shaped, coming to a point on the end. They stand out in the winter because their leaves turn a beautiful opaque orange-ish cream color and hang on to their branches almost all winter. Some refer to these leaves as ghost leaves. Beech trees can grow up to 120 feet and 4-5 feet wide. Beautiful.

Use it: If you must cut down a beech, they are said to have a clean burn with minimal smoke output, so they make good indoor firewood. In the fall, race the squirrels to grab a few of the beechnuts and make a nut milk rich in minerals and healthy fats. The beech tree’s health benefits are surprising. The ghost leaves can also be harvested and made into a diffusion that has astringent properties. It can be useful in washing a seeping wound or as an eyewash to treat conjunctivitis. How cool is that?? Best part: harvesting won’t hurt the tree or effect next year’s harvest. Win-win!

how to identify Beech Tree and it's health benefits

2. Dandelion: Taraxacum officale

Find it: You know what this looks like! Spiky leaves, white roots, yellow flower. Everywhere.

Health benefits of dendelion

Use it: Here is what you might not know… the health benefits of dandelion are numerous. You can eat the leaves in your salad! The bitter compounds in the leaves get your body’s detox pathways going! It aids in the absorption of other nutrients and in digestion. It also can be used in a protocol to urinary tract health. Try for a spring harvest so the leaves are still tender. Also… rumor has it that they taste the best when harvested in the early morning, and if they have been growing in the shade. They aren’t so good after they have flowered. Who knew? The yellow flower can also be harvested and made into an infused oil and massaged on the body to stimulate lymphatic tissue. The roots can be roasted and eaten, made into a tincture or a tea.

3. Dock: Rumex species; sorrel

Find it: This is a cold tolerant plant that emerges in early spring. In spring the leaves have either straight, curly or wavy edges and can be up to 2 to 3 inches long. Flowers emerge in mid summer and will grow up to 5 feet tall. It’s flowers are dark green and will turn into little winged seeds by fall.

Health benefits of dock root

Use it: The dock root’s health benefits include being particularly high in iron and can be used to make a mineral rich molasses syrup (I guess you can buy this syrup at health food stores but it’s SUPER expensive… this would be pretty much free!). The root also aids in digestive health. The leaves can be harvested and incorporated into cooked dishes for a high dose of vitamin A and C. The seeds produced by the flowers are rich in protein as well!

4. Partridge Berry: Mitchella repens

Find it: This is a lovely ground cover plant that loves wooded properties. It’s leaves are small, round, deep green and grow in an opposite arrangement. It produces small red berries which are odorless. This plant is really beautiful and covers the ground in such a lovely way.

Use it: The little partridge berry is very astringent and can be used to tone and strengthened weakened or prolapsed tissue. The leaves and stem of the plant can be made into a tea with similar health benefits.

The BEST part of all of these plants is that they are growing naturally on our property with no work. Let me repeat that: we have beautiful plants with healing and culinary properties growing on their own and require NO WORK. Need I say more?

I hope that, if you live somewhere in the Midwest you might be inspired to find these medicinal plants, use and appreciate them for the free health and beauty they provide! Even if you don’t live around these parts taking time to appreciate the natural apothecary wherever you are will have lasting benefits!

Maybe it’s time we take a hard look at all the highly processed drugs and chemicals we are consuming. We spend so much money on things that are disease causing, when there are so many health promoting real whole foods and plants right in our backyard… literally!

I hope knowing a little more about medicinal plants and their uses will inspire you to slow down, notice the nature around you and get back to your roots this spring!

Midwest Medicinal Plants

** All plant identification and their uses listed above… plus MUCH MORE can be found in the book:Midwest Medicinal Plants by Lisa M. Rose.

***This is not an affiliate or sponsored post. Simply to recommendation from an excited reader!

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