Weedwifery: A Feral Approach to Folk Herbalism

Weedwifery: A Feral Approach to Folk Herbalism

With the current drought here in southwestern New Mexico only getting worse right now, I have never been so grateful for widely available, locally abundant, feral as all hell weeds. So much of the land in every direction is eerily brown and dormant despite the warm weather. There are very few birds or insects compared to a normal May in the canyon. And from photographs, you’d be likely to think it’s Winter right now. The quickest way to get a fix of lush green is to find a perennial waterway like our lovely San Francisco River running just below the mesa our cabins are situation on and…. checking out the weeds in people’s yards, in vacant lots and other disturbed areas. Some of these species are native, some are not, but what unites them...

Redroot: Blood Medicine

Redroot: Blood Medicine

Redroot: Blood Medicine by Kiva Rose Botanical Name: Ceanothus spp. Botanical Family: Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn) Common Names: Redroot, Redshank, Buckbrush, Mountain Lilac, Desert Buckthorn, New Jersey Tea Taste & Impression: Sweet, Aromatic (some species), Astringent Energetics: Neutral-Warm, Dry Vital Actions: Lymphatic Alterative, Astringent, Expectorant, Relaxant, Nervine Used As: Antiinflammatory, antimicrobial, antispasmodic Indications: Fibrocystic breast disease, mastitis, lymphadenitis, tonsillitis, mononucleosis, splenitis, hepatitis, bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis Tissue State Indication: Laxity Parts Used: The red to pink roots. Some herbalists also use the bark of the upper plant but the taste is very different and I haven’t done enough experimenting...

Signs of Life: The Persistance of Green Medicine

Signs of Life: The Persistance of Green Medicine

Yes, it is January here in the mountains of New Mexico. Yes, it does get to less than -10F out there some nights. And why yes, that is a lovely new vivid green leaf from a picture I took just yesterday. Specifically, it is the leaf of a Wax Currant (Ribes cereum) growing down by the river among the Canyon Walnuts and Grape vines. While it will still be quite some time before they flower and fruit, they are well known for their persistence in leafing out even during some of our coldest weather. I greatly appreciate this tenacity, especially as we get to the part of Winter where I feel an increasing longing for green growing plants. ~~~~ Another persistent plant that manages to grow throughout the Winter, and sometimes even flower, is one of our native vervains....

Pantry Medicine: Onion Poultices, Syrups and Tinctures

Pantry Medicine: Onion Poultices, Syrups and Tinctures

Pantry Medicine: Onion Poultices, Syrups & Tinctures by Kiva Rose Botanical Name: Allium cepa Botanical Family: Amaryllidaceae Taste: Spicy, sweet, acrid, diffusive Energetics: Warm, dry Vital Actions: Diaphoretic, diuretic, rubefacient, expectorant, circulatory stimulant, smooth muscle relaxant Therapeutic Effects:  Antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, cough suppressant (not a true suppressant, but does usually reduce frequency and intensity of spasmodic and insistent lingering coughs) As a little girl growing up in both urban and rural areas, I was fascinated by the wild onions that grew in my family’s yard and all in surrounding fields and riversides. I grew up with gardens, but the very idea that a familiar food in the form of a much more smelly feral...

Mending With the Devil’s Darning Needles: The Pain Relieving Properties of Clematis

Mending With the Devil’s Darning Needles: The Pain Relieving Properties of Clematis

Common Name: Virgin’s Bower, Traveler’s Joy, Love Vine, Lady’s Bower, Sugar Bowls, Devil’s Darning Needles, Pepper Vine, Leather Flower, Vasevine Botanical Name: C. neomexican, C. chinensis, C. virginiana  and other related species. Botanical Family: Ranunculaceae Botanical Description: Generally semi-woody climbing vines with opposite leaves, trifoliate. Dioecious flowers with four sepals, no petals and numerous stamen. Achene fruits that look like long, narrow feathers. Parts Used: Leaf, vine, root bark Flavor: Spicy/pungent, salty Impression: Acrid Energetics: Hot, dry Actions: Vascular tonic (vasodilator), relaxant nervine, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory Specific indications: Arthritis worsened by cold, damp conditions or weather. Migraines from vascular...

Wild as the Day is Long: The Restorative Medicine of Avena

Wild as the Day is Long: The Restorative Medicine of Avena

There’s nothing quite like the sound of a warm spring wind rustling through a vibrantly green patch of Oats. Bowed with the weight of their ripening fruit, they nod and toss their heads with each breeze. Their sweet smell and long smooth leaves certainly invite us to sit down and get acquainted with them. In case you can’t tell, Avena is a favorite plant of mine, both as a beautiful living plant and as a primary medicine in my materia medica. Many people think of gruel or porridge when they hear the word Oats. For some, this is a pleasant association of home-cooked food and for others, not so much. Most don’t necessarily connect Oats to medicine or even to a live plant but rather to that flaky brown stuff in the round cardboard container many of...