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Taxidermist for Kosh Trading Post
It’s been way too long since my last article, and so I thought that I would like to start a series of articles that I have wanted to do for a long time. In these articles I will be discussing different plants that have a history of human use either as food or medicine.
First, let me make clear that unless you can positively identify the different plants and their look alike you must assume they are poison and leave them alone. Also, I will be talking about different ways some of these were used by past cultures for medicine, but please understand that in no way am I making any claims as to their beneficial or harmful effects they may have on any animal or person. I am just giving some ideas as too how they may have once been used (good or bad). I will write this series in the aspect of a past time and past culture, and since some of these were not native to the American continents, I will use the term clan for reference of the people.
The day was quite busy as members of the clan were doing their day to day activities around the village. A group of hunters were in the field looking for game to provide the people with the much needed protein they would need for the upcoming winter. The women of the clan were gathering plants to compliment the meat the hunters would bring home, and the children were playing around the shelters that were made from natural materials that were found close to the village.
As the day passed, the medicine man was taking a nap when one of the young mothers of the clan brought her young daughter to him with a bad cough and possible bronchitis. The old medicine man, after checking the young girl’s symptoms, gave the girl a tea that he brewed from a local plant and told the mother to give her some of this tea as needed for cough. A little while later another mother came to the old medicine man with her son who had gotten into poison ivy. After looking at the rash, the old man began making an ointment made from a local plant to put on the rash with instructions for the mother as to how to repeat the process until the rash dried up. Soon after the old medicine man was just about back to sleep when he heard a child screaming and ran out of his lodge to find another little girl had gotten into a wasp nest and been stung several times. He quickly made a paste using leaves from a local plant and considered even using some of the root as he would for a snake bite but decided the leaf would do for this time.
After all the excitement of the day the old medicine man gave up on his nap and waited for the evening meal. The men of the clan had gotten some squirrels for the meal, and the ladies of the clan had gathered some local plants, some lamb’s quarters, some dandelion leaves, some wood sorrow for flavor, some cat tail shoots and some common (broad leaf) plantain. Some of the greens were still young enough to be used as a salad while others were too old and bitter without being cooked as a potherb.
For the evening drink the women of the clan fixed some tea made from sassafras root. The meal as always was delicious, but as the old medicine man took his first bite of the pot herb he had to smile to himself knowing that the plantain he was eating was the very same herb he had made all his medicines from that day.
The time spent on research on Google about the many medicines and illnesses that plantain has been used for is well worth your time. After the plant gets a little age on it, it does get a little woody and bitter to eat in a salad, but if it goes uncut, new sprouts start all summer, and in this area it grows pretty much year ’round.
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