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The Green Report

May 14, 2012

The Green Report by Susun Weed


Lungwort (Pulmonaria species) This member of the Borage family is related to comfrey and was formerly used in much the same way, especially, as the name indicates, to resolve lung problems. Poisonous alkaloids are found in the roots, leaves, and flowers of all members of this family. Hybrids of comfrey have been created to avoid this problem. (See plant 16 in this list.)



Frittilary (Fritillaria meleagris) AKA Checkered Lily This was my favorite flower as a child. I walked to my grade school in Dallas, and a garden with this pressed up against the fence was on my way. Perhaps it was here that I first felt the fairies and allowed them to guide my life into green blessings.


Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) This stunning and unusual flower is found wild in shady hollows and forests in Japan and Siberia, making it one hardy beauty in Northern gardens. The wild relatives in my neck of the woods are called Dutchman's breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) and Squirrel-corn (Dicentra canadensis). They are all part of the poppy family, which is perhaps why I have never been tempted to even sample one of the flowers.



Wild yam shoot (Discorea villosa) The root of the wild yam is a valuable source of drugs and widely used in herbal medicine as well. It contains precursors to hormones, including progesterone, but does not contain actual hormones. Whether these precursors are active in the human body is a subject of much debate. United Plant Savers gave me this root, and, to my delight, it has produced a vine that is hardy and quite interesting. I will continue to bring pictures of it to you as it grows.


Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) I live in lilac country. The gardeners around me love forsythia and lilacs. As the last of the yellow forsythia flowers fall, the lilacs burst into scented bloom. My earliest memory is of this. When I asked my mother about it, she was shocked. A large lilac bloomed under the window of the room where I slept for one month, when I was thirteen months old!


Azalea (Rhododendron species) Hundreds of wild rhododendrons and azaleas grow wild in North America, Europe, and Asia. The entire plant, including the flowers and the nectar from the flowers, is poisonous. Bees foraging on these plants are said to get drunk. Honey made from the nectar is said to carry the poisonous compounds.


Tulips (Tulipa greigii)


Tulips (Tulipa hybrid) These edible members of the lily family (which contains some very poisonous groups, like daffodils), bring vivid color to my garden and are a stunning addition to salads. I wait until the tulip petals are drooping before harvesting them to scatter atop my daily wild greens. The darker colored ones are an extra anti-oxidant boost and helpful to the immune system as well.These edible members of the lily family (which contains some very poisonous groups, like daffodils), bring vivid color to my garden and are a stunning addition to salads. I wait until the tulip petals are drooping before harvesting them to scatter atop my daily wild greens. The darker colored ones are an extra anti-oxidant boost and helpful to the immune system as well.


Phlox (Phlox pilosa) "Phlox" means flame, in honor of the many colors this plant flowers in. From matting, creeping plants, to waist-high stalks, there is a phlox for every garden. They require virtually no care once planted, and will continue to give delight for decades. I have never eaten phlox flowers. Have you?


Queen of the night (Hesperis matronalis) AKA Dame's rocket This wildflower is often confused with phlox, for it comes in the same color range and blooms at the same time as the spring blooming phlox. But, as a member of the cabbage/mustard family, Queen of the night has four petals, while phlox has five. I especially enjoy the flowers in my salads. The bigger thrill, however, is to sit by a group of these plants at dusk when they exude a marvelously sweet scent that calls to their pollinator: the hummingbird moth, a moth fully as big as its namesake. Enjoy!



Common blue violet (Viola papilionacea)


Sweet white violet (Viola blanda)


Freckled violet (Viola species)


Broad leafed wood violet (Viola latiuscula) Violets seem to bloom forever where I live. Not only do the individual plants bloom for a long time, there are so many varieties that one picks up as another is winding down. All of the violets pictured are wildflowers, which I have encouraged in my gardens. I've never had to plant them. The freckled one (and there is only one!) is probably a natural hybrid. The colored flowers of the violets are not reproductive, so we may harvest as many as we like without harm to their continuation in our woods, fields, and gardens. (The reproductive flowers are green and hidden beneath the leaves and come later in the season.) There are so many ways to use violets and violet flowers. There is no finer early summer breakfast than a piece of home-baked whole wheat bread spread with butter and piled high with fresh violets. I use violet honey to soften the skin and ease away wrinkles. Of course, they bring antioxidants and sighs of delight to our salads. Violet leaves are also tasty in salads; they provide lavish amounts of vitamins A and C. Violet leaf infusion is a renowned cancer cure; before the price got steep, it was one of my regular infusion herbs. Want more, more, more on violet? Recipes, stories, and medicinal info on violet are all to be found in my green book: Healing Wise.

Rhubarb on top - Comfrey on bottom Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) AKA Pie plant The petioles (leaf stalks) of garden rhubarb are the only part free enough of poisons to be food. Rhubarb root is a powerful cathartic laxative that was an absolute necessity on long ocean voyages of discovery and whaling. Imagine a diet of salted meat and dried beans, where water is strictly rationed, to get an idea of the value of an explosive gut opener. Approach the roots with extreme caution; or do what many herbalists do, and rely on its less aggressive sister, yellow dock, when things need to be moved in the gut. Comfrey (Symphytum uplandica x) Comfrey the comforting is one of the most important healing plants in the world. It strengthens and increases the flexibility of bones (AKA Knit bone), ligaments, tendons, skin, and mucus surfaces, including respiratory, digestive, and reproductive tissues. It also contains proteins used to create short-term memory. I will re-picture comfrey for you when it is flowering and ready to harvest. I have used comfrey leaf infusion as a regular part of my diet for nearly 30 years with no problems. (My liver is very healthy, thank you very much.)

From the Wise Woman Herbal Ezine

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Susun Weed, green witch and wise woman, is an extraordinary teacher with a joyous spirit, a powerful presence, and an encyclopedic knowledge of herbs and health. She is the voice of the Wise Woman Way, where common weeds, simple ceremony, and compassionate listening support and nourish health/wholeness/holiness. She has opened hearts to the magic and medicine of the green nations for three decades. Ms. Weed's four herbal medicine books focus on women's health topics including: menopause, childbearing, and breast health. Visit her site for information on her workshops, apprenticeships, correspondence courses and more! Browse the publishing site online at to learn more about her alternative health books. Venture into the NEW Menopause site to learn all about the Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.


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