If you haven’t read part 1 yet I encourage you to go here first. 🙂
Part 2: In Praise of Weeds
Weeds! Most of us perceive them as an eyesore to the urban landscape and the bane of a farmer’s or gardener’s existence.
But by the time you reach the end of this post, I’m hoping to expand your view.
Did you know that many of the plants you might consider weeds are actually invaluable to the land, the animals and yourself? They enrich and stabilize the soil, constitute a nutrition dense superfood for insects, birds and other animals (including humans) and serve as medicine for all.
Let’s take a look at the humble, sunny Dandelion to start.
Before you grab your weeding tool or toxic herbicide you should get to know this multi-functional beauty! She serves as both food & medicine and all her parts are beneficial.
As a food, dandelion is rich in vitamins A & C and minerals iron & calcium as well as antioxidants like Luteolin.
As a medicine dandelion has been shown to act as a digestive aid, a kidney & liver cleanser, a blood pressure regulator and an inflammation reducer. It also helps stimulate bile in the gallbladder and boost the immune system. There are studies showing promise that it may even slow cancer growth. Wow!
The sap soothes certain skin conditions, such as acne and eczema. You can use the flowers to make a wonderful dandelion wine. The young leaves are great thrown into a salad or smoothie and the root can be dried and made into a medicinal tea.
Isn’t she impressive?!
If you find yourself wanting to know more about dandelion, there’s no shortage of online information on the topic. Here‘s a place you can start.
Chances are you or someone close to you has had an encounter with Poison Ivy. Chances are this encounter didn’t go well and there are hard feelings about it. 😉
Yes, she’s definitely a plant you want to avoid coming into contact with but she does serve well the ecosystem, so perhaps she can earn your redemption?
Poison ivy is an important source of food and shelter for many types of wildlife, including at least 60 species of birds. The berries can last through the winter and provide much-needed nutrients at this time when food is scarce.
Poison ivy root systems act as a stronghold for shorelines and other erosion susceptible areas. It’s salt tolerant and grows well in depleted soil. In fact, it replenishes and feeds the soil.
She’s considered a pioneer plant as she’s often one of the first weeds to rapidly cover and heal a site that’s been assaulted by natural disaster or human exploitation.
I personally think that makes poison ivy an environmental hero!!!
In homeopathic medicine, poison ivy has been helpful, as an anti-inflammatory for skin conditions and in the treatment of arthritis.
Next, let’s examine Goldenrod.
Goldenrod is often confused with ragweed, the true allergen source responsible for many a Hayfever sufferer. Also prolific in the autumn, goldenrod often bears the blame as the culprit but let me assure you, she’s innocent. She can actually be used to combat seasonal allergies. Goldenrod doesn’t release her pollen into the air the way ragweed does. (Ragweed also serves as food and medicine for wildlife and those who are not allergic to it. BTW)
In Europe, many gardeners will cultivate this flower in their borders for her lovely sunny appearance.
Medicinally, goldenrod is a tonic for the immune system, helps support & heal the respiratory tract, soothes & heals skin tissues and works as a general anti-inflammatory & detoxifier.
Energetically goldenrod gifts strength and uplifts the mood.
She can produce a wonderful natural golden-yellow dye for fabric artists.
And again, as with most weeds, goldenrod provides food & shelter for wildlife and stabilizes the soil.
How can you not grow to love her?
If you’re a gardener or a farmer, I understand your frustration and need for action in regard to weeds, but consider learning more about them and what makes them tick. Learn to work with Nature instead of against her. Stop trying to control and tame her. Learn to dance with her. 🙂 Work in harmony with her. She’s very wise. She knows what she’s doing. She will help you. 🙂
The School of Permaculture site provides courses as well as many free videos and articles to help you improve your relationship with Earth.
Weeds are actually all amazing in their own ways. Here‘s a lovely article about embracing weeds I couldn’t help but share. 🙂
In part 3 of this series, I’ll attempt to win your heart for some of the, more often scorned, animals. See you next week. 🙂