"A Plant a Day"
Mat Rush, Lomandra (Lomandra longifolia)
Vital bush food. Before I even knew what this plant was, I took one look at it and thought “bush food!” The Lomandra produces clusters of flowers that produce what looks to me look like grain, and indeed this plant is one of the essential bush foods used by Aboriginal people of Australia for thousands of years. The flowers are sweet & edible, but caution needs to be exercised with the spines (which are located at the base of each flower). It is found throughout eastern Australia, and now planted in other countries, such as New Zealand and the USA due to its high drought tolerance. The flowers are fragrant, and also sweet, and they are traditionally soaked for their nectar. Once it seeds, the seeds may be used for making into a flour or ground as a ‘coffee’. The flour is used traditionally to make a rustic bush-cake. The leaf bases are also edible with a refreshing pea-like flavor. As they also contain a high amount of water, they were used by people as a means of hydration. The leaves of Lomandra were also used by the Aboriginal people for woven mats, baskets and fishing tools, as they contain a tough fiber that can be made into a string.
I currently have a client interested in lucid dreaming, so I wanted to take the opportunity to share some information with you all. Dreaming is a mysterious phenomenon that scientists are still exploring, although it’s becoming increasingly clear that dream states serve as critical repositories for problem-solving, directing information from our conscious mind to our subconscious, transforming manual details of our day into automatic processes for our life. This research only scratches the surface of what the human imagination has experienced while sleeping: decoding archetypes, analyzing personal psychology, meeting with ancestors and spirit guides, revelations, premonitions and even astral travel. Dream work is an ancient practice, aided by herbs. Below are a few that fascinate me, and can be ingested as a tea, tincture, an incense, a smoking blend or dream pillow. The herbs may strengthen in effect over time and with consistent practice. Dream work such as lucid dreaming is best achieved in combination with mindfulness practices throughout the day, meditations before sleep, and an active practice of recording dreams upon waking. 🌿MUGWORT: Artemisia vulgaris is a classic dream herb, used for cultivating more vivid dreams and stronger dream recall upon waking. Also traditionally used to ward off evil energies. [Contraindicated in pregnancy.]
🌿SHATAVARI: Asparagus racemosus, referred to as “the flying herb” by Taoist monks, who after taking it reported experiences of flying throughout the cosmos during their dreams.
🌿BLUE WATER LILY: Nymphaea caerulea was used by Egyptians in what archaeologists now believe may have been highly ritualized settings. The flower elicits a soporific and mild altered state of consciousness, often with feelings of euphoria and tranquility. Like Mugwort, it has a noticeable impact on the vividness of dreams and our ability to remember them upon waking. [Not recommended in pregnancy or for long-term use due to possible serotonin-enhancing effects.
Some pretty awesome notebooks from the better half of Reciprocal Roots @kanjogrohman. For all your note-taking, poem writing, thought splatter needs. Get 'em while you can! Available at classes or via meeting us for coffee. You buy.
Yet another highlight of Peru is the amazing and varied cuisine found throughout. One of my favorites is the causa, which is essentially a mashed potato terrine that is often stuffed with ingredients such as tuna, tomato, olive, avocado, and mayo. There are many variations and possibilities though! I decided to try my hand at making some fried purple potato causas, and am pleased to say they turned out pretty darn well! 🤗If you want to try authentic Peruvian food firsthand (and perhaps learn about some plants and visit some ancient sites) consider checking out the upcoming botanical tour to Peru I will be taking with @plantsandhealers this spring! You can find more info on their website, or follow the link up top in my bio 👍🏽🌿✨
"A Plant a Day"
Valley Oak (Quercus lobata)
The largest of the North American Oaks! Though many people think California only has oak trees that are short and scrubby and not tall and robust like Eastern oaks, the Valley Oak proves them wrong! Sadly for the Valley Oak, they were often used by western settlers as an indication of prime agricultural land, and their wood was milled. The Valley Oak—the largest of the North American oaks attaining heights of up to 150 feet or more possibly—is endemic to California and once covered interior valleys and foothills from Siskiyou County to San Diego County. Early botanist explorers poetically wrote of the stately appearance of the Valley Oak, and its miles of park-like habitat. Imagine what California looked like before we cut down all those majestic oaks and redwoods!!! Makes me very sad.
The Valley Oak produces acorns in the fall that are food to many animals, and were important foods for the Native Americans. The Native Americans would gather and store them for use in making bread, soup and mush through the year. Acorns need to be soaked so that the tannin content could be leached before being eaten. Typically, this was done by grinding acorns into a flour and then leaching in cold water. The Chumash reportedly used to make an acorn soup that would cure diarrhea.
A Scaevola spinescens sprout, sticking a cotyledon out to wave to the camera.
These are a tangly, wiry shrub from the drier inland parts of Australia, quite different but with the same characteristic "fan-flowers" of their more well-known coastal cousins.
This species has a history of medicinal use by indigenous Australians, and is of interest for its potential in modern medicine.
Lycopodium spores are quick to blow up.
So quick that we use them mostly for their fast and bright ignition in our magic tricks and fiery movie stunts and dragon breathing parades - stemming from roots in flash photography and combustion engines.
We coat our latex goods in the silky dust as a natural powder lubricant.
In physics labs we use it to make unseeable things like sound waves and electrostatic charges visible.
I’ve never used it in any of these ways but I think they’re really cool. I mostly just love how it looks when it crawls all over itself on the forest floor and makes the softest cushion you could ever hope to nap on. It’s not normally something I harvest, but I’m clearing trails for the sugar bush and using most of what I cut to make holiday wreaths and I think these will be really pretty.
"A Plant a Day"
Honeysuckle, Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
How sweet is longevity? The Japanese Honeysuckle vine produces very sweetly fragrant flowers with a vanilla-like scent that start out white, then turn golden in color. This characteristic is why it is commonly also called golden-and-silver honeysuckle, or jīn yín huā (“gold silver flower”) in Chinese. It is a vigorous grower and climber, becoming an invasive species in some areas. Japanese Honeysuckle is often grown in temperate gardens, yet few people in the west know that the flowers are edible! It is used as a food, a tea, to make an oil and also for medicine.
Japanese Honeysuckle is used in traditional Chinese medicine commonly for colds and flu, and also to ease sore throats. Research has found Japanese Honeysuckle to be antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, a febrifuge, and a diuretic. Though research has mostly concentrated on the flowers, some of the effects of the leaves have been found to be stronger than that of flowers and stems, such as antibacterial, including against the bird flu, and as an antioxidant. In a recent 2018 study, Japanese Honeysuckle was found to extend lifespan and also healthspan in Caenorhabditis elegans, one of the key marker organisms for studying aging! So, sit back, add a handful of honeysuckle flowers to boiled water to steep, and with a cup of Honeysuckle tea ponder the sweetness of a potentially long life.
Picea sitchensis. Sitka Spruce. In the Pinaceae family. We Californians are lucky to get a little peek of this magnificent tree as its more common in Canada, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington. Sitka spruce can be found in the Northern Coast and its limit ends at the southeastern tip of Fort Bragg. Despite looking small in my photos Sitka spruce can reach 300 feet tall and live up to 700 years old. But atlas, like many grand trees, Sitka Spruce has fallen to the greed of humankind and has faced devastation due to timer and logging. Sitka Spruce is popular among foragers due to its enchanting flavor and is commonly used in spruce beer. The branches can be boiled to make a scrumptious syrup. *A gentle reminder: Please don’t over harvest Sitka Spruce*. Indigenous tribes used the root bark for basket weaving and native regalia. “The Golden Spruce” was a unique Sitka spruce that had golden foliage and was heavily used by Haida natives but was illegally felled in 1997 by Grand Hadwin (white settler privilege at its finest). To say Sitka Spruce is a special tree is an understatement.
A lovely and lively little town in the heart of the Sacred Valley of Peru, Pisac offers breathtaking views from its archaeological park- complete with ancient temples, plazas, and other unique stone structures. Pisac is also home to a bustling and colorful daily market, gorgeous botanical gardens, and delicious Peruvian food. We’ll be visiting this must-see pueblo this spring on our upcoming botanical tour of Peru. Interested in joining us? 6 spots remain! Check out the link in bio for more details 🌿