After The Sunflower Flower Dies Does The Plant Dies Herbal Adventures – The Asteraceae – The Star – Family

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Herbal Adventures – The Asteraceae – The Star – Family

Herbal medicine means folk medicine, earth medicine, wild medicine, weed medicine. Weeds are wonderful powerhouses of nutrition, medicine, magic and beauty. They are easy to grow and easy to use. But even novice and experienced herbal users can sometimes feel lost: too many herbs, too many plants, too many weeds to know. How can one feel confident?

A great way to “get” herbal medicine is to learn a little botany. Plants are grouped into botanical families, and plants within the same family often have similar characteristics. In previous columns, we have looked at the Malva (Malvaceae), Rose (Rosaceae) and Buckwheat (Polygonaceae) families. They are about 5000 plants that we are familiar with. But those are just a few compared to the family we’re about to meet: Asteraceae (Aster-a-cee-a).

With 20,000 members, the Asteraceae (“aster” means “star”) family is the largest and most diverse of all plant families. The fossil record suggests that this family evolved very recently (only millions of years ago) and this may explain its size. Some of the most useful and well-known of all herbs in the Asteraceae family are: arnica, burdock, boneset, calendula, chamomile, chicory, mug/crownwort, coltsfoot, dandelion, echinacea, elecampane, feverfew, gravel root, grindelia. , milk thistle, tansy, yarrow, valerian, wormwood and wild lettuce. It gives us delicacies: sunflower seeds, lettuce, true artichoke, sun chook (also known as Jerusalem artichoke), escarole and endive. And, it’s one of landscapers’ favorite families, for many asteraceae — such as chrysanthemums, dahlias, bachelor buttons, daisies, cosmos, coneflowers, goldenrods, sunflowers, zinnias and, of course, asters — bloom for months with colorful hardy flowers. , and many are perennials.

Plants become members of a family when their flower structure is similar. But dandelions and burdock and sunflowers do not look alike. How can they all be in the same family? Asteraceae flowers are much smaller than you think. The flower you see is not the flower a botanist sees. Where you see a single dandelion, a botanist sees hundreds of tiny flowers that look like a single flower.

The old name of this family tells the story more clearly: Compositae. Each flower is made up of hundreds of tiny flowers. With a hand lens, you can look closely at an Asteraceae blossom and see many small flowers clustered together to form a large “flower”.

Look at sunflowers; A picture will do too. You can clearly see the sunflower disk or the many small yellow flowers in the center. Eventually, each of those disc flowers, which are fertile, will form a seed. Now see how you feel about the sunflower petals. Each yellow petal is actually a whole flower, called a ray flower. Sunflower ray flowers are sterile, so they do not produce seeds.

To see a flower of fertile rays, look at a blooming dandelion. Each of the yellow bands forming a thistle “mop” is an individual ray flower; And everyone makes a seed. (Dandelions do not have disk flowers.)

Some Asteraceae have disc flowers, but no ray flowers, such as goldenrod or sagebrush or some varieties of chamomile. The Asteraceae family therefore has three flower patterns: ray and disc flowers combined (echinacea, daisy, black-eyed susans); Only ray flowers (dandelion, lettuce, artichoke); And only disc flowers (wormwood, ragweed).

In general, Asteraceae are considered edible and safely medicinal, but they contain many active ingredients with an exceptional supply of nutrients. Many Asteraceae contain active alkaloids that are medicinal; But that also means they can be harmful. (It is the alkaloids in dandelion, chicory, escarole, endive, and lettuce that give them their bitter taste.) Two useful medicinal Asteraceae—boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) and meadowsweet (E . purpurea) – has a scary sister ( E. rugosum) known as “white snake root”. This sister contains an alkaloid that is ingested by cows and excreted in their milk, which builds up in human milk drinkers and causes their death. Abraham Lincoln’s mother died as a result. Even common garden lettuce contains alkaloids comparable to opium alkaloids; And the juice of wild lettuce has long been used, as opiates are to this day, to relieve chronic pain.

Since the roots and seeds are usually richer in alkaloids than the leaves and flowers, it is safest to first experiment with the flowers of an unfamiliar asteraceae. I read that local women value Senecio aureus so much that they call it “liferoot”. excellent; It grows here. I dig some roots. Then I learned that some Senecios species are considered poisonous to livestock. Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t. Finally, my archaeologist neighbor told me that Senecio flower pollen was found around the oldest known human grave. Aha! Of course! Make a flower tincture. Voila! I have seen a dose of 5-8 drops of Liferoot Flower Tincture, taken daily for at least three cycles from ovulation to menstruation, restore women to the joy of the most painful periods.

Asteraceae pollen from both fresh and dried flowers can cause respiratory problems and allergic reactions in hypersensitive or sensitive individuals. Ragweed (Ambrosia Artemisifolia) is in this family, remember. There have been several close calls of children reacting badly to chamomile and two deaths from echinacea. (Supposedly they sensitized themselves with daily use of echinacea capsules and were shocked when they took high doses. Large doses of echinacea root tincture have had no problems; but I wouldn’t take it every day.)

What asteraceae grow wild around you? What kind of farming do you or your friends do? Whether you use their roots, their leaves, or their flowers for medicine, magic, food, or beauty, the star-studded Asteraceae family shines on you.

Medicinal Asteraceae stars

Arnica (Arnica montana) flowers relieve muscle pain.

Burdock (Arctium lappa) root nourishes deep health.

The herb Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) relieves the flu.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) flowers salve wounds.

Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis or Matricaria chamomile) soothes the baby.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus) root strengthens the liver.

Coltsfoot (Tucilgo farfara) flowers relieve cough.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) herb improves liver function.

Echinacea (Echinacea Augustifolia) root counters bacterial infections.

Elecampane (Inula helenium) root is a favorite lung healer.

Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) prevents migraines.

The herb Grindelia (Grindelia robusta) in flower opens breathing, stops itching.

Liferoot (Senecio aureus) flower tincture relieves severe menstrual cramps.

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) seed tincture prevents liver problems.

The mug/crownwort (Artemisia vulgaris) herb is an old lady’s friend.

Queen of meadow/gravel roots (Eupatorium purpurea) helps the kidneys.

Tansy (Tannacetum vulgare) flowers repel insects.

Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium) flowers heal wounds, prevent colds.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) root induces sleep.

Wormwood (Artemisia absintheum) herb prevents parasites.

Wild lettuce (Lactuca species) juice relieves acute pain.

Legal Disclaimer: This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. None of the instructions given and all herbs listed are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Individual directions and usage should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner with a formula specific to you. All content in this article is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. If you need medical care, contact a reputable healthcare practitioner. Empower yourself by asking for a second opinion.

Susan S. Weed

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