Amidst the suburban life that I am living, the highlight of my day today was noticing weeds in bloom on the side of the road!
I noticed flowers of all colors poking their heads out to find the sun, and smiled. I guess it is the little things in life.
Thoughts went through my head, “If only people knew what these weeds could be used for, there would be more of them.” I will be crossing my fingers that they go to seed before the mowers come. “These few plants have a big responsibility to carry on their species and continue their struggle against pollution, development, and environmental degradation.” The roadside weeds are warriors in this world!
My first sighting was cattails standing tall near a drainage pond. I thought of Tom Brown, a native New Jersian, from whose book I first learned about Cattails! These magnificent marshy plants have so many uses, from natural tooth care to food. Just about every inch of this plant is eatable. Native Americans are known to have used the young plant for wounds, sores, boils, inflammation, and more.
Next, I saw Chicory. Little, light blue flowers dispersed on a long thing stalk. The root of this plant is commonly toasted and made into tea as a coffee substitute.
Then, Queen Anne’s Lace stood out to my eye. The umbels of this common weed are in full white flowering beauty, although do not mistake it with poison hemlock, which is in the same family. The Umbelliferae family also contains plants like anise, angelica, osha, parsley, parsnip (and more). Queen Anne’s Lace is also known as wild carrot, the seeds of which are used in natural birth control methods.
Another! Mullein. Which is an expectorant and can be made into a tea or used dried in herbal smoking mixes. The leaves of mullein are soft and broad while the seed stalk is thick and tall.
Finally, two plants I have seen along the roads are red clover and mugwort. Red clover is one of the special female toner herbs, for example it can be used in place of synthetic hormones during menopause.
The wisdom of the plants is littered along the roadside, and they remind me about hope. I will continue to hope for the wellbeing of this plant life because their medicine has a place in all of this.