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Father's Day 2023 Plant Walk Recap

Who knew there were so many useful plants around White Pond? A group of explorers found more than a dozen just walking from the Town parking lot on the path to the beach this past Father's Day, June 18. Here's a sample of what's there:

  • Oak trees (Quercus spp) - acorns can be made into flour with proper processing and acorn shells can be boiled into a tannin for dyeing.

  • Pine (Pinus sp) sap - has antimicrobial properties, treatment for burns

  • Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) - bark can used for skin problems, leaves and flowers can be used for stomach issues.

  • Black Birch (Betula lenta) tree bark - makes a fine tea and birch sap can be used for syrup. Wintergreen found in black birch has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, insecticidal, and antioxidant properties.

  • Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) - astringent, anti-inflammatory, a tea for digestive issues. Can burn in a fire or just leave under your pillow at night to produce crazy dreams.

  • Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) - good for skin issues.

  • Elderberry (Sambucus sp) - flowers for non-alcoholic cordial, makes a tea for boosting the immune system (antiviral).

Other plants in the area:

  • Plantain (Plantago spp): edibile, medicinal for skin (insect bites and stings).

  • Clover (Trifolium spp): white and red, edible.

  • Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara): tea or tincture for respiratory conditions, flu, cold, fever.

  • Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana): not ebible, but can make purple ink from berries.

A running theme of the morning was that majority of the knowledge shared about these plants is from Indigenous people (the Nipmuc, Massachusett and Pawtucket around White Pond), who used them historically and in contemporary daily life. What most people know now is a small part of what used to be regular activity for our ancestors, like going to the grocery or drug store for people now.

Many thanks to Ken and Suzanne for leading the walk, and for the 20 early morning adventurers who joined along.

Note: always be 110% sure of any plant before consuming or using as medicine, including consult experts and guides. Do not take more than is needed and leave the majority for other wildlife (unless it is an invasive species). Do not collect from roadsides or where there may be toxins in the soil.

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