Saturday, September 20, 2008

You see weeds...I see wildflowers!

According to the American Heritage Dictionary a weed is defined as: "a plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one growing where it is not wanted, as in a garden." The same dictionary defines a wildflower as: "a flowering plant that grows in a natural, uncultivated state." But honestly, aren't these one in the same thing? Almost every "weed" has flowers of some sort.

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation Leadership Program for Teachers 2000 Summer Biology Institute on Biodiversity lists these 10 common weeds:

Milkweed - An important nectar source for bees and other nectar seeking insects, and a larval food source for monarch butterflies and their relatives, as well as a variety of other herbivorous insects. It is not the most beautiful flower in the world, but it serves an important function in the environment.

Mullein - The down on the leaves and stem of the common mullein makes it burn quite readily when dried, so it was used for lamp wicks before the introduction of cotton; therefore, an historic name for the plant was “Candlewick Plant”. Today, a decoction of the flowers is still used as an emollient and treatment for ulcers, wounds and hemorrhoids and for relaxation of the digestive tract and mucous membranes. It also sooths the liver and gallbladder. The leaves have exhibited strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Plantain - Current use of plantain is the commercially significant extraction of its mucilage – a carbohydrate fiber that is used in gentle laxatives. Mucilage also acts as an appetite suppressant and reduces intestinal absorption of fat and bile. It reduces LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. Plantain is commonly used as an astringent; its juice, when rubbed on an insect bite or bee sting, immediately sooths the area and begin the healing process. It can also stop poison ivy from blistering and itching if applied to the skin immediately after contact.

Dandelion - were actually brought to the United States from Europe to provide food for honeybees. Various clinical studies have demonstrated the legitimate use of dandelion as a diuretic, a bile production stimulant, a mild laxative, and an excellent source of potassium. Dandelions are still used as food; many enjoy the dandelion leaves boiled like spinach or mixed in salads. Baby dandelion leaves are often found in haute cuisine. The root, when dried, has been used in coffee substitutes.
Queen Anne’s Lace - Queen Anne’s Lace contains flavonoids, essential oils, vitamins B and C, pectin, lecithin, glutamine, phosphatide and cartotin, a vitamin A precursor. Chinese research has confirmed the function of Queen Anne’s Lace seeds as an abortifacient; other research has shown the plant to be a bactericidal, a diuretic, a hypotensive, and an effective treatment for parasites. It is said to have been named after Queen Anne of England, an expert lace maker. When she pricked her finger with a needle, a single drop of blood fell into the lace, thus the dark purple floret in the center of the flower.

Red Clover - Studies are being done in the use of red clover for combating AIDS, diabetes and the increased cardiovascular risk associated with menopause. Red clover is a member of the legume (pea) family. These are a group of plants that are able to take nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it biologically available to other plants. Nitrogen fixation is of critical importance in protein production in plants and makes the legumes a critical player in agricultural planning.

St. John’s Wort - St. Johnswort is undoubtedly one of the most heavily researched herbal remedies. People use St. Johnswort in capsule and tea form to elevate their moods. Research has verified its efficacy as an anti-depressant, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. Other studies have shown it as a potent anti-retroviral agent, making it a possible treatment for AIDS. It may also prove to be useful against other viral infections.
White Clover -A member of the Leguminosae family, which includes red clover and other plants such as peas, beans and peanuts that are nitrogen fixers. Native Americans used whole clover plants in salads, and made a white clover leaf tea for coughs and colds. It makes excellent feed, pasture, hay, and silage for livestock and poultry. Once established it serves excellently as a cover crop and in stabilizing soil and reducing erosion.

While it is true that there are some truly unwanted, unloved, and uninviting weeds in the world perhaps we should change our perception a bit. By educating ourselves and identifying noxious, invasive weeds, we might begin to see the beauty (and uses) in some of our wildest flowers.
Until next time...become the change you imagine.


Actve said...

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and encourage your readers to use the Energy Environment Forum and get a link back !
energyenvironmentforum at gmail dot com

TicketMaster Blog said...
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high blood pressure prevention said...

well these are really cute flowers