We Have A Treasure Under Our Noses

For years, I have been amazed at and blessed by these beautiful yellow flowers that cover the hillsides this time of year in the woods where I run most days. Although I see these plants elsewhere, never in such abundance as in the woods adjacent to Upriver Dr. near the dam.Image

I wanted to know about these plants, so I did a little research and got more than I bargained for.

Balsamorhiza sagittata, Arrowleaf Balsamroot:
It is a part of the Aster Family, Asteraceae, a species of the Balsamroot genus, and is a perennial forb (herbaceous plant). It is native to Montana and the Mountain West. A search for ethnobotanical applications turned up 109 uses (http://herb.umd.umich.edu/herb/search.pl?searchstring=Balsamorhiza+sagittata).

This should not be surprising, as plant names often reveal the plant’s characteristics, in this case, the root as supplying balsam: “Balsam is a term used for various pleasantly scented plant products. These are oily or gummy oleoresins, usually containing benzoic acid or cinnamic acid, obtained from the exudates of various trees and shrubs and used as a base for some botanical medicines.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balsam)As to its uses.. holey moley! It’s pretty much a panacea!

This is a summary of uses from the University of Michigan ethnobotany database; its properties classify it as an analgesic, disinfectant, antirheumatic (internal), dermatological aid, venereal aid, gynecological aid, urinary aid, diaphoretic, eye medicine, antidiarrheal, oral/throat aid, burn dressing, cathartic, pulmonary aid, hemostat, tuberculosis remedy, dietary aid, cold remedy, febrifuge (lowers fevers), gastrointestinal aid, panacea, sedative, beverage, candy, food, incense/fragrance, tool/containers, and gathered for trade…

Here’s the long list. (Some of these uses are peculiar to the Native American culture.)
-Root smudge smoke inhaled for body aches.
-Poultice of chewed roots applied to blisters and sores.
-Infusion of leaves, roots and stems taken for stomach pains and headaches.
-Steam of decoction of plant inhaled for headache and used as wash on head.
-Decoction or infusion of leaves, roots and stems taken for stomach pains/stomachache.
-Infusion of leaves, stems and roots taken for colds.
-Decoction of root taken when labor begins, to insure easy delivery.
-Root chewed and saliva allowed to run down throat for sore mouth and throat.
-Root chewed and rubbed over the body for any sickness.
-Root chewed for toothaches.
-Poultice of coarse, large leaves used for burns.
-Infusion of roots taken as a cathartic.
-Infusion of roots taken for whooping cough, tuberculosis, or to increase urine.
-Root sap taken for consumption.
-Poultice of pounded or chewed root paste applied to arrow or gunshot wounds or hemorrhages.
-Chewed roots or pounded root salve applied to fresh wounds.
-Poultice of root infusion used for wounds, cuts and bruises.
-Decoction of ground root cooled and taken for headaches.
-Decoction of root taken to produce profuse perspiration for rheumatism.
-Poultice of dried, powdered leaves applied to severe skin burns.
-Leaves placed on glowing coals and laid on to cause profuse sweating.
-Poultice of mashed root applied to insect bites or swellings.
-Poultice of powdered, dried root applied to syphilitic sores.
-Decoction of root taken over a long period of time for venereal disease.
-Root burned as a fumigant in the sickroom.
-Poultice of root prepared in various ways and applied to painful or bruised areas.
-Pulverized root sprinkled on sores and boils.
-Infusion of root rubbed into hair and scalp to help hair grow.
-Decoction of root used as an eyewash.
-Infusion of leaves used as a wash for poison ivy and running sores.
-Seeds eaten for dysentery.
-Root sucked and chewed for hunger.
-Juice from the stems sucked when thirsty.
-Old, large roots cooked and used for food.
-Young shoots eaten raw or baked in the ground or oven.
-Young shoots, when eaten in great quantities, caused sleepiness like sleeping pills.
-Shoots mixed with chocolate tips and used in the “first roots” ceremony.
-Young shoots chewed while eating fish.
-Young leafstalks, leaves, young budstems and fruits used for food.
-Parched, winnowed, ground seeds made into cakes and eaten without cooking.
-Young, immature flower stems peeled and eaten raw.
-Blooming stems peeled and eaten.
-Young stems and leaves eaten raw as a salad.
-Leaves and petioles boiled and eaten.
-Stalks soaked in water, peeled and eaten raw.
-Crowns chewed or sucked.
-Root crown, with the young undeveloped leaves, used for food.
-Roots pit baked and used for food.
-Roots eaten raw and cooked.
-Roots steamed and eaten.
-Loose or skewered roots cooked overnight in a steaming pit and used for food.
-Dried roots cooked and eaten as a “sort of dessert” after meals.
-Cooked roots hung on strings, dried and then stored on the strings or in baskets.
-Seeds a highly prized source of oil and food.
-Ripe seeds eaten raw.
-Roasted, ground seeds used for food.
-Seeds pounded and flour mixed with other foods.
-Dried seed flour eaten as porridge, especially in times of famine.
-Seeds roasted in baskets with hot stones and eaten.
-Cracked seeds pulverized, winnowed and eaten.
-Roasted seeds ground into a flour.
-Roasted, ground seeds made into flour and used to make mush.
-Roasted, ground seeds made into flour and stored for winter use.
-Seeds mixed with deer fat or grease, boiled, cooled and made into small cakes.
-Powdered seeds eaten alone or mixed with deer grease, pine nuts, saskatoon berries or fir sugar.
-Seeds roasted, ground, grease added and mixture eaten.
-Seeds oven dried for future use.
-Flower bud stems peeled and succulent inner portion eaten raw or boiled.
-Plant heated, fermented and eaten.
-Root pitch chewed as gum.
-Ground seed meal and juniper berries used to make a pudding.
-Leaves used in roasting camas roots.
-Roots used as incense during the preparatory rites for the ceremonial runner.
-Roots used as incense during the Planting ceremonies of the Tobacco Society.
-Roots used as incense for the Crow feather headpiece during the transfer ceremony of Beaver bundle.
-Leaves wrapped around young boy’s feet to practice walking silently and carefully in the woods.
-Leaves used under cleaned and washed salmon.
-Roots strung on long strings and used in trading.
Want more about healthy living and natural healing? See http://b2bwa.com.

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