Septembers plant and other news
The Advanced Friction Fire workshop for this weekend is now closed. The next Wilderness Survival workshop will be Oct. 22, 2022 in Fluvanna county at the Pleasant Grove Park in Palmyra ( 22963 ).
I do a monthly utilitarian plant article for our local Master Naturalist newsletter and here's this months column, on the Mullein.
"This month's plant, Mullein, is another one that has many uses. Mullein is not native to North America but it is to Asia, Africa and Europe. It was first brought to this country in the mid-1700's as a fish poison ( more on that later in this column ), but it was widely naturalized by 1800. It is one of those introduced plants that is not an enemy but an amazing plant to have around.
Medicinally, the Mullein has too many uses to list here, but there is so much info online. Personally, I use the dried leaf as part of my 'bad cold' tea cure ( mixed with 1/3 Elderberry flower and 1/3 Yarrow plant ). Many years ago, pre internet, my very young son suffered from chronic, severe ear aches. All the docs wanted to do invasive procedures so we did our homework in all the available books at the time and found a natural cure. Get a small jar and fill it with the yellow Mullein flowers ( fresh or dried ) and top this off with olive oil. Let this sit, ideally for several weeks, but in an emergency overnight does adequately. Strain the olive oil, warm in a pan and then use a dropper and put several drops in each affected ear. It worked within one week, and he had no more ear ache issues.
Looking at the Mullein through the eyes of a primitive technologist, it would be one of the top plants to have around. The dried flower stalk works for the spindle in friction fire. For fishing, the dried seeds, mixed in small dough balls, thrown into the water and digested, will temporarily stun fish. The fish do not die or suffer long term effects, but they are easy to catch by hand for a short period of time. Our DWR would frown on this type of harvesting, but in an emergency.... The stalks w/seed heads can be used as torches, the leaves make insulating inner soles for shoes, and I have read that the leaf actually has a chemical that stimulates foot circulation. Europeans prized the leaves as TP, but I have too much respect for this plant to use it in that manner.
If this plant sounds good to you, just harvest some seeds and broadcast. The new rosettes will appear the first season, and the tall flower stalks/blooms will appear the second year and then the plant dies after seeding out."
Foraging has been good the past few weeks. I have harvested Pawpaws and several mushrooms ; Chicken in the Woods, Golden Chanterelles and Lions Mane. The acorns, hickories and Beeches all seem to have a good crop this year if you want to try them. There are many ways to use nut meats in flour, oils or eating them as they are.
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