Sunday, August 30, 2009
Plant of the Week:
Saint Andrew's Cross (Hypericum hypericoides)
There is a little bushy plant that grows at The Cabin Path. Its leaves are soft to the touch, and most of the year, it goes unnoticed. In the fall, there are little yellow "X's" that sprout and bloom. Hence, the name, St. Andrew's Cross. I find that it is a close relative to St. John's Wort. Many of the early herbalists used St. Andrew's Cross for many of the cures of its cousin. One of the earliest cures was for snake bites! It was often boiled in milk, poured on the bite, and the rest was consumed. Other uses include crushed leaves to treat nosebleeds, roots and leaves boiled to treat fevers, colic, sores, and as an eyewash. The bark of the plants was often chewed and packed around an aching tooth. The most interesting remedy using St. Andrew's Cross was used by the Native Americans. The roots were boiled and cooled, and then it was used to bathe the legs of babies that were slow to walk. It was believed to strengthen the legs and make them stronger. Older NA also used it as a treatment for rheumatism. (I may look into this one a little more!)
In researching and learning about wildflowers, I am fascinated by the old remedies. A Cherokee friend once told me that, "the remedies you need will grow in your backyard." I know that the forest was the early pharmacy, and I remember my Grandmother using plants for coughs and colds and everyday scratches. I wish I had paid more attention! I am taking it a plant at a time, and learning a new plant each week that catches my attention... a weekly blog makes me stick to it! I'm blessed to have a big backyard, so it should be a pretty good learning experience!