Contributed by Wendy Dessler
Today, most home gardeners plant their gardens with wildflower mixtures that grow well and produce vibrant colors in their gardens. While that is perfectly acceptable, it is possible to plant usable flowers in your garden. Many of us like to know what a plant can do for us. Whether or not we use the natural remedies of nature is up to us. But it stands as a great and meaningful conversation about our flower beds.
The American Indian believe that nature provides us with natural remedies for all that makes us sick. They learned which plants were good to eat, by watching animals. This is also how they learned that some plants had medicinal powers. Sick animals would naturally go to the plant that would heal them. It was not until the Indian began sharing this knowledge with the white settlers that records began being written to record them.
Duct Potato or Common Arrowhead
The photo at the top of this page is the Duct Potato aka Common Arrowhead. These plants grow to be about 3 feet tall. The large leaves are shaped like an arrowhead. The tubers were often eaten by ducks.
The American Indian uses these plants as food. The Tubers were dug up and roasted or boiled. It took several days to cook them. They were cooked with deer meat and sweetened with maple sugar. This was a part of their diet that was common because the plant grows well for several months every year.
Photo by Emre Gencer
Partridge Berry or Mitchella
The Partridge Berry plant makes a lovely addition to your garden. The bright red berries It grows low along the ground, providing green coverage. The Native American used the Partridge Berry to brew tea. The tea was consumed to releive women from pain during childbirth. This all-natural painkiller was used for thousands of years.
Echinacea or Purple Coneflower
You can buy drops or powders made from the Echinacea today. The American Indian used this prickly flower as a painkiller and to relieve symptoms of the common cold. It reduces fever, eases body aches, and stiffness.
There were a host of other plants that we know were used by the Medicine Man in the Native American tribes. Ginseng root was used for cough and headaches. Ginger root was chewed for upset stomachs. Mint leaves were made brewed in tea for similar problems.
Bonus Plant – Citronella Plant
While you are planting your garden, let’s not forget to include the Citronella plant. If you live in the south, you know mosquitoes are a problem. You see citronella candles for sale in the department stores. But, if you plant a few of these in your flower beds they will repel mosquitoes. The natural scent will wave by your house, sending the little buzzing insects to the neighbor’s house.
Of course, you seed vendor can help you select plants that will blend well and work well with your special flowers. By taking the time to learn a little about the history of the plant you are putting in your garden, you can impress your family and friends and maybe spark their interest in gardening and the ancient secrets of the founders of this great country.