This past fall I had the incredible, and I still believe once in a lifetime experience, to be an Intern at the United Plant Savers ‘Goldenseal Sanctuary’, in Rutland, Ohio! What an incerdible 6 week journey it was! I came from a gorgeous green summer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to this ‘heaven on earth’ for herbalists to the most diverse area in the country of medicinal plants, and some of the rarest ones still (American Ginseng, Black and Blue Cohosh, and Goldenseal to name a few). The first day was mostly getting settled in, along with still being in awe that this amazing place I read about, via the United Plant Savers Journal, I was at! (The picture below is one main view outside of the back of the barn (ie-where we stayed). Though I’m from the Midwest, and have never been to Ohio except in the airport before, I was very proud of myself for knowing even a couple-dozen of the flora, native or not, of the Southeastern foothills of the Appalachias.
The first day of work and structured learning began soon enough! Sasha White, our ‘intern coordinator’ for the fall started our day with taking a nice hike along the main trail (see 1st picture above), she started showing us many common plants that have become naturalized in the Southeastern region of Ohio we were in. Some of these plants included: Spice Bush, Paw Paw, Sassafras, Yellowbuck- eye.
Spice Bush, is a very not-so-ironically also known as Appalachian Allspice, having a similar taste to the exotic Eastern herb. Spice Bush, botanically known as Lindera benzoin, also being in the Cinnamon family, makes this herb very intersting indeed. Locally, this herb, along with the ever-so-famous Goldenseal, for which is sanctuary was named after (having ALOT of it), is a very good indicator for high quality rich mesic (moist, rich, fertile) soil. Spicebush is a short-woody like shrub, with small oval alternate leaves. Medicinally, Spicebush is used to help with stomach problems, being aromatic in action, helps with dysentary, fevers, coughs, colds and anemia. It’s leaves specifically are useful in treating menstrual symptoms, such as cramps, and heavy bleeding. And a fun, and historical, fact about Spicebush, is that if you rip off a leaf, the part left that looks like a small brush of sorts, is what a famous painter whose name I am totally not finding in my notes right now, used to paint delicate parts of his pieces with. (See right for a picture of Spicebush). To read the full story check out Jennifer’s blog at http://thymesancientremedies.blogspot.com/