Natives, Again!

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (3 leaves) and Goldenseal

HerbDoc just can’t resist the annual native plant sale!

Recently I attended a sale of native and/or rare perennials sponsored by the RI Wild Plant Society.  I hadn’t realized just how many of the plants on my wooded property are natives, but I coveted Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), Jack-in-the- Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) and Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis).  I felt fortunate to pick up the first two, but an entire section of table devoted to Bloodroot was sold out.

Interestingly there were plants for sale which I couldn’t imagine folks buying…goldenrod, celandine, plantain…plants only a true aficionado could love.  Truthfully don’t most gardeners just weed these out of their gardens?

I’ll admit to keeping a couple of celandines as it’s considered to be an herb, but some of those offered for sale are not very pretty and can cause allergic reactions in susceptible people.

I also managed to confuse myself when my brain began to mull these questions.  Is it a native, a wildflower, or an herb?  Could it be all three?

And exactly what distinguishes a weed from a wildflower?  My books on wildflowers and weed charts didn’t help me very much as some plants were listed in both.  Of course many wildflowers and weeds had their beginnings as valued herbs.

In the end I’d say the terminology applied to these plants would be in their value to the collector.  I plan on continuing to add plants that I like to my property even if others consider them to be weeds!


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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14 Responses to Natives, Again!

  1. lazygardener says:

    After spending many hours over many a year weeding out goldenrod, I have decided to reclassify it as a native wildflower so as to justify its presence in my flower beds. Not that I don’t still pull a lot of it, I’ve just abandoned my “zero tolerance” policy. Now you tell me that people will actually buy it, I’ll consider potting it up and selling it. Could be a real money-spinner!


    • dirtynailz says:

      Excellent idea! Next thing we know, they’ll be plugging it on HGTV – along with the water features and Disney characters, of course.


  2. cj wright says:

    Hi, HerbDoc and dirtynailz.

    I love herbs, too, but they’re not all good herbs for cooking. Some are considered “medicinal,” but I grow them just because I love herbs. What do you do with your herbs? Dry them for specific uses other than cooking? I’ve got mounds of catnip (oh, happy kitties!) that ~ amazingly ~ stays green throughout the winter here. But what about other herbs, like lemonbalm for example. Do you dry them for teas or medical purposes?


  3. HerbDoc says:

    I can’t put a number on the multitude of herbs I grow! Some are culinary, but I also grow medicinals, dye plants, a section for the bees, butterflies and hummers and general/historical interest herbs. I dry most of the herbs on screens or hang them to dry, but some can be frozen and will still retain their flavor (try chervil, dill, lemon balm, lovage, sweet marjoram, mints, oregano, parsely, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon and thyme). Basil can be frozen too but it loses its green color which isn’t very appetizing. All you need for freezing are small pint containers. I harvest the herbs as usual and put them into saran “envelopes” and then pop them into labeled pint containers in the freezer for winter use.

    Catnip is a favorite of the bees and butterlies in my garden, and I’ve been known to use it as a tea since it has soothing properties
    in people, if not cats! 🙂 Lemonbalm also makes a very delicious tea and is great in potpourris!

    Got a smile from your comments lazygardener! Besides the goldenrod, I’m always pulling out wild daisies and asters, and it seems that every year I see them sprout and wonder if it’s something I planted!


    • cj wright says:

      Thanks for the tip on the saran envelopes. What a good idea ~ portion ready!

      I’ve never tried the catnip in tea. Do you use the flowers, too? Mine are flowering now and it seems that would make a pretty tea.

      I do love growing herbs just to grow them. I love the scent on my fingers as I touch them. They make a walk through the garden a scentual experience.


  4. HerbDoc says:

    Willing and able! Stay tuned; coming soon.


  5. I have a plantain. One of the Ungardener’s free-spirited plants. I’m not skilled enough tell you why, but I’m sure nature put it here for a reason. When I pull out excess Oxalis I see caterpillars drop, so they are for butterflies. And there was a recent blog post – with a plantain flower ;~)


  6. HerbDoc says:

    This is one herb/weed that I try to limit in my yard of since my husband is highly allergic to it. It has a long history in herbal medicine though and is said to be excellent externally when the leaves are used on any type of skin disorder, including rashes, cuts, blisters, poison ivy etc. It also draws out the venom from insect stings and helps to easily remove splinters. Internally it was taken as a tea to detoxify the body.

    I often think that everything we need to cure the human body was placed here for our use and would still be accessible if we weren’t intent on destroying the environment.


  7. Andy Brown says:

    A section of the yard comes up in pussytoes (a kind of everlasting) and I stopped mowing it because I liked the plant and was happy to let it spread. (How can you not like a plant named pussytoes?) Last summer I identified the pretty little butterflies that were common in the yard as Peck’s skippers, and the description in the book noted that the larval foodplant was pussytoes. I really think it’s those kinds of interrelationships that make having native plants so wonderful. (Today there was a beautiful garter snake sunning herself there – hopefully digesting some of my slug population!)


    • dirtynailz says:

      Yes, let’s hear it for pussytoes – a truly great name. And snakes: I am constantly amazed by people’s revulsion when they encounter them. Here in RI, the venomous snakes are gone, and the ones we have are harmless and beneficial. You’ve got me thinking – maybe I’ll do a snake post soon!


  8. HerbDoc says:

    I love pussytoes too, but they’re not up here in the woods. They do seem to like the beach area where they are a pretty dusky pink.
    Another beach favorite…rabbit’s tobacco, also an everlasting. I’m told the oldtimers smoked rabbit’s tobacco for asthma and lung disorders, but I just use it in fall arrangements.


  9. HerbDoc says:

    There’s no harm in using some of the catnip or catmint flowers for tea, CJ although I prefer the leaves. The flowers might look very pretty in dried potpourri. I love my herb garden too for the butterflies, bees and hummingbirds it attracts, and it (almost) makes weeding a pleasant experience. Like you I can’t resist brushing or pinching them! I havea little ceramic plaque in the front of the garden that says “Please touch the herbs.” If you want a real
    sensual expereince, try growing Mojito Mint…the scent is truly intoxicating. 🙂


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