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  • Tuesday, January 21, 2014 5:20 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    A Bouquet from Costa Rica

    There are so many interesting, amazing, fragrant, useful, unusual, and stunning plants that I actually picked you two bouquets.



    Coatimundi at Cabo Blanco
    This raccoon-like scavenger hangs around the parking lot at Cabo Blanco. While getting out of the car, I set down my bag containing my shoes (just in case) and some Hypericum oil. Don’t know which smelled better, but the coatimundi grabbed the bag and attempted to make off with it! Later, by the water, we saw a wild one, which, while not given to grabbing our bags, was, nonetheless, entirely unconcerned with our presence in its jungle.


    The jungle at Cabo Blanco Reserve.
    Here in the jungle are more than 475 species of plants, more than 950 species of insects, hundreds of species of birds (there always seem to be bird researchers in the park), mammals, and marine species. Vines loop and twist, and monkeys really do swing on them and play in the tree tops.



    Crystal clear waters at Cabo Blanco Reserve.
    The Reserve Absolut includes fresh water streams of amazing clarity. If you sit quietly, tiny little shrimp-like critters find their way to you and give you a pedicure by nibbling daintily on your cuticles and skin. The temperature of the water is slightly cool, the air is warm, wild animals go about their ways with no regard for the people, or if they do regard us, and the monkeys do seem to, it is to throw sticks at us.



    The path at Cabo Blanco Reserve.
    Volcanic activity – which is still ongoing in Costa Rica – has shaped the landscape, both in the jungle and on the beaches, with the unique forms of lava. And lava is not flat, so all paths in Costa Rica go either up or down, often steeply, like this one.


     

     

    ~ Weed Walk 2 ~

  • Tuesday, January 21, 2014 5:11 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Warm green greetings from the wonderfully frigid north.

    It is cold and I am loving it, as I usually do.

    The glitter of moonlight on freshly fallen snow is a sight that never fails to expand my spirit and bring a smile to my heart. Walking on water (frozen) with my granddaughter is another delight restricted to deep winter days, and one that thrills me.

    And how wonderful it will be, in just a few weeks time, when the sap begins to run under the bark of the trees and the buds begin their slow swelling that will culminate in an orgasm of leaf break, and spring, the greening force, veriditas, will be under way once more.

    And soon after that, after the snow drops and crocuses push up and unfold their pretty flowers, new apprentices will arrive, classes will begin, and goats will give birth.

    Speaking of apprentices, there are quite a few wonderful women coming for live-in apprenticeships in 2014, but no one, as yet, has applied to be a live-out apprentice. Live-out apprentices attend every one of my one-day classes (and you have two years to do it), plus they get to spend the Saturday night between classes at Laughing Rock Farm and have dinner with me (and breakfast at their lodging, the Nettle Patch). Live-out apprentices get lots of extras, like an extra free overnight on a Friday so you can attend moonlodge, and like lots of books including a field guide and some of my books, and attendance at any teleseminars or other radio show that I do on those weekends, and two extra weekends: one in April and one in November (one to get acquainted and one to graduate), and lots of love and wild salads and goats too! Check it out and apply now while it’s on your mind. This is one of the most fun, least stressful apprenticeships I offer. You have two full years to complete your commitment.

    On the next pages you will find the second part of the bouquet I brought home for you from Costa Rica. Next week, you get another bouquet from Costa Rica, picked for you by Justine. This week I have some special photos of a special place to share with you. Come with me to the very tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, to Cabo Blanco Nature Preserve.

    This photo of Monica Jean and I, resting after climbing up a steep part of the path, was taken at Cabo Blanco Preserve. Participants in our Healing and Well Being Adventures will spend an enchanted day there in the jungle of Cabo Blanco with Justine, Monica Jean and I, enjoying and delighting in the abundance of Nature, both the verdant plants and the copious and sometimes conspicuous animals. And good news! We have room for one more participant! Will it be you? Place your deposit and hold your place.

    Reports of folks enjoying pomegranate cordial are coming in. Good work. You can still make it, if you didn’t before, or if you want more.

    I had an opportunity to use the juniper berry tincture I made last winter. A small dose of 5 drops, repeated every four hours, worked really well to ward off an incipient infection. You could make some now, if you haven’t yet.

    May the beauty of winter touch you.
    Green blessings are everywhere.
    Susun


    ~ Weed Walk ~

  • Tuesday, January 14, 2014 2:09 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    A Bouquet for You from Costa Rica, contd.


    Bind weed (Convolvulus species)
    This wild member of the morning glory family profusely covers the roadsides on the way to the ferry to the Nicoya Peninsula. It fades away as we get further from people and closer to the jungle. It likes to play at being wild, but it really prefers to hang out where people disturb the soil. The strong little vines have been used as a natural string. The flowers are unsafe to use; the entire plant is considered a dangerous poison.



    Small yellow flower (Asteraceae)
    This is a classic DYC (darn yellow compositae). The Aster, or sunflower, family is one of the largest in the world, and many of its members have small yellow flowers with rays. Since all plants in the Aster family are generally considered safe to eat and use as medicine, we could experiment with this one, even if we don’t know its name. The yellow flowers suggest a liver energy. If it tastes bitter, the next step would be to make a vinegar or tincture of the flowering top and try it out. When I experiment with a plant, I usually begin with the flowering top, as it is less likely to be poisonous than the root.



    Soterrey, Lantana (Lantana camara)
    Pretty poison, I call her. Enjoy the beautiful flowers and the beautiful butterflies and hummingbirds that love these flowers, and leave it at that. Do not even pick lantana as a cut flower. There are several toxic compounds found throughout this plant, which not only cause nausea, vomiting, and great weakness if ingested, they are also skin irritants. In a rather homeopathic use, though not in a homeopathic dilution, a wash of lantana – also called cinco negritos or bandera espanola – was used traditionally in Costa Rica to counter skin eruptions. I wouldn’t try it.


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  • Tuesday, January 14, 2014 2:01 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    A Bouquet for You from Costa Rica


    Weeds, glorious weeds. Some are the same everywhere, and some are delightfully different. When I can find it, I give you the Costa Rican name of the plant first.



    Amapola, Hibiscus (Hibiscus species)
    Everywhere you go in the tropics, you see hibiscus. This is one of the places where it pays to learn the plants by their families. Hibiscus is in the Malva family, and all plants in this family are all edible and medicinal and quite interchangeable in their uses. So if you know about marshmallow, you already know how to use hibiscus too. Hibiscus flowers are wonderful as a snack or added to salads. They can be dried for tea. The leaves and roots contain soothing substances.



    Escobilla, Strong back (Sida rhombifolia)
    While hibiscus is generally cultivated, and requires so little in care that it may as well be a weed, this little yellow flowered plant is the weedy version of hibiscus. Known as broom weed, or escobilla, in Costa Rica , it is “one of the most common herbs in the neotropics.” I have seen it in Puerto Rica, Jamaica, Florida, and of course, Costa Rica, happily growing on roadsides and in waste places. Like all Malvas, it is an expectorant and demulcent. It is also uses to cool fevers and relieve the pain of herpes.



    Lawn beans
    The legume family, the Fabaceae, has classic pea flowers and leaves in 3s (or any greater odd number), making it easy to recognize. All members of the family work in concert with bacteria to fix nitrogen in the soil. This is especially important in rain forests, where nitrogen is constantly washed away. When vanilla vines are grown on trees in this family, they can be grown organically, without fertilizers. Here are two tiny versions, one in purple-pink, and one in classic yellow. Compare these to the bean family plants in the bouquet I sent you from Miami. Their bean family sisters include not only peas and beans but red clover, alfalfa, and astragalus.


     

    ~ Weed Walk 2 ~

  • Tuesday, January 14, 2014 1:54 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Green greetings and a nourishing New Year to you all.

    I have settled back into my cozy Catskill home, just in time. Our flight out of Costa Rica was one of the last to get out, with the frigid storm vortex just starting to blow in as we landed in New York. As you have heard, temperatures hit all-time lows. Plants can deal with that. But what is really hard on them is for it to get super cold and then thaw suddenly and then freeze again. Yesterday it was 7 degrees Farenheit (-12C) and I was playing with my granddaughter on my frozen pond. Today there is thunder and lightning and torrents of rain, with temperatures in the 40’s. And it will be cold again in a day. It’s hard to adjust quickly if you are a plant!

    The weather in Costa Rica was breezy at night and sunny and warm all day. Not difficult for the plants to adjust to at all. At dawn the howler monkeys get going and so do most of the people, since work in the heat of the day is almost impossible. Our beat-the-heat trick is to get into the deep jungle where the sun can’t get to us, and we found some wild, and some watery, jungle settings that we are excited to share you virtually and with the first participants in our Health and Well Being Adventures in reality next January.

    Of the many questions we have received about the Adventure, one really stands out for me. “How will what we learn about plants in Costa Rica be useful to me when I am at home?” My answer has several parts. 1. We will be learning about plant families as we learn about plants, so what we learn is applicable all over the world. 2. We will not be focusing on learning a lot of herbal medicine in Costa Rica. 3. Many tropical plants that grow in Costa Rica are sold in your local supermarket, including avocado, banana, papaya, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric, to mention but a few.

    There’s a wealth of plants unique to the tropics to learn about, but I am not focused on teaching about them. I continue to devote myself to the weeds, wherever I find myself. Medicinal Plants of Costa Rica, Ed Bernhardt, Zona Tropical, 2008 includes 92 plants. Most of you are probably using, or are familiar with the uses of, more than half of them! Such as aloe vera, arnica, artemisia, avocado, basil, borage, castor bean, cayenne, chamomile, cilantro, cinnamon, citrus, coconut, cornsilk, dandelion, echinacea, elder, eucalyptus, feverfew, garlic, ginger, gotu kola, plantain, hibiscus, horsetail, lemongrass, mimosa, mint, noni, oregano, papaya, parsley, passion flower, peppermint, pokeweed, prickly pear cactus, rosemary, rue, sage, lantana, stevia, singing nettle, thyme, turmeric, vervain, quassia, epazote, yarrow, yellow dock, and yucca. (That’s 51 plants.)

    And imagine my surprise to find medicinal uses for plants I have only known as house plants, such as wander Jew and sansevieria, that grow wild in Costa Rica!

    I promised you a bouquet, and I did stop to pick one for you. Actually, I picked at least two. Here’s the first, with lots of sparking green blessings for you.

    Susun


    ~ Weed Walk ~

  • Tuesday, December 31, 2013 7:50 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    A Bouquet of Wildflowers for You from Florida, contd.


    More pretty flowers for you that are all new to me. The one with the cluster of red flowers is planted as an ornamental around most of the houses. The little white flowers wowed me with their seed pods which are covered with tiny glands. (Enlarge the photos and you will see them.) The long tips on the petals are great too! I have seen a house plant called “shrimp plant” that looks a lot like this red flower. And then there was this shrub, covered with hundreds of tiny blossoms, each with a yellow throat.



    Orange milkweed. I recollect that some orange milkweeds were used medicinally. Who knows this one? How do you use it?


    This plant is jiggling in my memory. I ought to know what it is, but the name has failed to come to me. Sparassis? It is growing in a wet area. Are those round brown things are its seeds? A rather large plant. It was over a meter tall and the flower is bigger than a quarter.


    This stunning yellow flower reminds me of evening primrose, though I don’t think it is.



    And the last flower in my bouquet to you is strong back, a tiny hibiscus found in lawns.


    Green blessings are everywhere!



  • Tuesday, December 31, 2013 7:35 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    A Bouquet of Wildflowers for You from Florida


    The pea and bean family is represented by a large climbing plant with wonderful yellow flowers and a tiny creeper in the lawn with flowers one can barely see.



    Spanish needles, a member of the aster family, is one of the first edible plants I learned in the Miami area, over thirty years ago. It is easy to recognize, really common, and not bad tasting, though I probably wouldn’t call it a favorite of mine. The seeds, which you can see in the photo, have a forked end which hooks onto clothing. After taking these photos, I had to spend five minutes freeing myself from them.


    Here are some pretty flowers for you. The wind was blowing so hard while I was trying to photograph the purple flower that it came out fuzzy despite my best effort. The plant with the tiny white flowers and round leaves was growing right next to the purple one in a wet ditch. The stunning six-pointed flower is actually a light pink and rather small. It reminds me of the flowers of oxalis, but the leaves are wrong for that. It grows in swaths on lawns just about everywhere I have been, from Miami Beach to the Everglades. Who knows her name? Is she useful? Wish I had the time to sit and get to know her.



    Look at this! A wild poinsettia bush. There were lots of them growing at the Anne Kolb Nature Center. I used to think poinsettia was poisonous until I saw my cat eating it. Turns out it has some medicinal uses. Hmmm.



    ~ Weed Walk 2 ~

  • Tuesday, December 31, 2013 7:30 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)
    Happy Holidays to you all.

    I hope you brought some green inside to remind you that we have passed the darkest day. Now the light grows ever stronger and longer, though the cold gets deeper.

    Bundle up and go outside. Winter days are wonderful for communicating with the plants. Pay attention and see if you can feel their response to the growing light.

    I am writing to you from Miami, en route to Costa Rica. I am not sitting inside writing; I am walking on the beach and visiting nature centers and going out in an airboat. Instead of words, I am sending you a bouquet of colorful flowery blessings from Florida. I don’t know the names of all the weeds I am sending to you. If you want to add a name or a comment, please do. I am eager to learn more about tropical plants and how they are used.

    And look for a bouquet coming your way from Costa Rica, soon!

    Marvelous green blessings to all.
    Susun

    ~ Weed Walk ~
  • Tuesday, December 10, 2013 2:17 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

    Festive Pomegranate Cordial

    It looks good. It tastes good. And it gets the hormones flowing. Watch out party!!


    Freeze one whole ripe pomegranate for 2-3 hours. Cut in half with a sharp knife.

    Then cut in quarters.



    Remove seeds and arils (the red part) and discard the peel and membrane.


    Freezing does make this step much easier but it also makes it juicier, so have a bowl of warm water handy for dipping your hands into, and keep the counter wiped, as pomegranate juice can stain.

    Choose a jar slightly larger than you think you may need for the amount of pomegranate you have. Fill the jar no more than ¾ full with pomegranate arils and seeds. Add 100 proof vodka. Fill it to the level of the pomegranate, no further.



    Then add 9-12 tablespoonfuls of sugar to the pomegranate/vodka mix. I used evaporated organic cane juice. But any sweetener could be used, including maple syrup, agave syrup, rice syrup, or honey. (Probably not molasses or buckwheat honey.)



    Shake shake shake. Shake your cordial. The sugar does not want to combine with the vodka, so shake, shake, shake. Having Kwan Yin bless the brew helps, I am sure. .



    Label and date. Continue to shake every hour or so, until the sugar finally dissolves. This may take several days of effort.



    Your holiday cordial is ready to drink when you are, but the longer it sits, the better it tastes.


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  • Tuesday, December 10, 2013 2:05 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

                                 Pomegranate Lore

    The pomegranate is ripe with symbolism. It is round. It is red. It is glossy. It is filled with seeds that bleed. It sports a crown. It has amazing red flowers. It is a tropical plant, but it can tolerate light frosts. And so, around the world, pomegranates are symbolic.



    To insure fertility, throw a pomegranate against a wall.



    In ancient Persia, their birthplace, pomegranates guaranteed fertility and fecundity.


    In Armenia, the pomegranate represents fertility, family, and abundance.


    A pomegranate, placed on the home altar will attract abundance, fertility, and good luck.


    At Greek weddings, it is traditional to stomp a pomegranate into the ground.




    Many praises . . . on the pomegranate. . . the woman’s beauty is likened to its
    beautiful shape, its many seeds symbolize fertility, its delicious red juice figures as the lovers’ nectar, and so lovely and odorous are its blooming flowers that they stand for

    the awakening of spring and all loveliness.” Exodus 28:33




    Isfandiyar, a mythological Persian being, becomes invincible after eating a pomegranate.


    Grooms eat pomegranates to ensure virility and many children.


    October is pomegranate festival time in Tehran (Iran) and Goychay (Azerbaijan).


    The pomegranate represents the sweetness of heaven. According to the Qu’ran, pomegranates

    grow in the gardens of paradise.



    A pomegranate is a mystical experience.



    In ancient Greece, pomegranates were sometimes “the fruit of the dead,” as they sprung, originally, from the blood of Adonis.


    Pomegranates are favored by a great many Goddesses, including Hera, who holds one as an orb of office, the Earth Goddess Rhea, the moon goddess Cybele, the Ancient Ishtar, and, of course, Persephone.


    In Sri Lanka, the pomegranate is said to be like a woman’s mind: what is sweet is hidden, and it is not easy to know what is within the bitter rind.



    ~Pomegranate Recipe ~

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