As we stroll around our backyards, through our woods, and on our farms do we really know the numerous plants that surround us? What is that weed? And what is its purpose? What value does it have for the ecosystem, for wildlife, for us? I've always wanted to have an education center to help people understand more about common plants and weeds. I am always learning, and you will frequently find me walking around with my plant ID app in hand trying to figure out what some plant is! In nature I find it so interesting that where they is a poisonous plant growing, its antidote is very close-by. When our kids were really young and we had just started on our homeschool journey, we played a board game called Wildcraft. The kids LOVED it! It was a cooperative educational game about herbs. The goal was to make it safely to Grandma's house. You had to overcome challenges (such as headaches or sprained ankles) by matching Plant cards to the herbal remedy cards that were pictured on the Trouble/Challenges cards. You could use your Cooperation cards to help other players overcome their own challenges as well. it was a lovely game, and the kids learned a lot!
In my own life, I have used medicinal herbs to overcome various health issues and while I have learned a lot, there is much learning to do. There aren't enough hours in the day! I firmly believe that God placed all of these plants on earth for a purpose. They all serve a function, and are important (poison ivy, really?). While many folks reach for the herbicides when they see dandelions in their sidewalks, there are more and more people that are understanding the value of the common weed. In Vermont, Japanese Knotweed is considered an invasive as it climbs up trees and can choke them. Instead of manually pulling it down, or bringing in a herd of goats who would be happy to rise to the challenge, large areas are sprayed with glyphosate-based herbicides like RoundUp. What people still fail to understand is that by killing these important plants, they are not only creating an imbalance in the ecosystem, but also destroying valuable plant based medicine. Japanese Knotweed is known to be a key part of an herbal cure for Lyme's Disease, and the state of Vermont where this weed is considered to be such a huge nuisance happens to be one of the states with the highest rates of Lyme's infected ticks. Ironic, right? The entire Dandelion is edible and super nutritious. It has been used as herbal medicine to treat a wide range of conditions, including stomach issues, diabetes, liver issues, cuts and scrapes, heart problems, anaemia, respiratory issues, tuberculosis, toothaches, broken bones and sprains, eye issues, and anxiety. It is very important for pollinators as it provides a very rich source of nectar and pollen. Who knew, right? So, you never know what is growing right in your own backyard! Take the time to learn about what plants are growing in your yard, and you might be surprised at what you find. I will be continually documenting plants I find on our Edible Plants page, and I hope to later add info on each one. Perhaps you can find it useful to ID plants around your homestead. Always reverify a plant in several ways to make something is safe to eat before ingesting! Some plants are great for wildlife, but not for humans, to eat.