Going Gold: Flowers of the Harvest
The colors of the harvest range from rust to brown to magenta, but the most prevalent shade of all is of brilliant, unabashed gold. From the grasslands to the mountains, the Gila wears a glowing mantle for Autumn. The leaves dance back down to the earth and the river sings the slow, hypnotic songs of coming cold. To paraphrase one of my favorite string bands (Elephant Revival): this is not just an ending, it is sweet mystery. The flowers of Fall gather the last bright rays of light into us all as the shadows lengthen.We enter into the seasons of dreaming, Happy Equinox to you all!
And when you’re done reading this little ramble, head over to the Anima blog for one of my wild foods meanderings.
A dear friend in the village gifted me with a basket full of fresh, sticky Calendula flowers from her garden. Half were tinctured and the other half were wilted over a period of 12 hours before being infused into a rich, golden oil for wounds. While I can’t seem to convince the gophers to leave the ones my garden alone, hers did very well indeed.
People ’round here call this little plant Dogweed, Stinking Marigold or Pagué (Dyssodia spp.), I prefer the latter name. After all, it smells wonderfully lemony and doesn’t stink at all in my not so humble opinion. It’s closely related to the little yellow Lemonscent/Limoncillo (Pectis angustafolia) that also grows nearby. Both are what Michael Moore aptly describes as “industrial strength chamomile”, and indeed, it is an excellent calming tea (or tincture) for both the belly and the nerves. It’s especially lovely for colic in babies, stomach ache after semi-bad food or gas pains in general.
This honey scented herb covers thousands upon hundreds of thousands of acres of the Southwest, and is commonly known as Snakeweed or Escoba de la Vibora, botanically it’s a Gutierrezia spp. It’s best known for it’s use externally (as a bath usually) and internally (as a tea, yech) in the treatment of arthritis and related conditions. It’s works very nicely for after you’ve just had the hike of your life and are sore, scratched up and sore some more. It’s intense density of bioflavanoids are partially responsible for this effect, and do a great job of healing all kinds of abrasions, bruises and aches.
Monkeyflower (Mimulus spp.) is one of my dearest allies. It grows on riverbanks, and near springs and seeps. A wonderful, and totally gentle, friend for those with anxiety, a tendency to bouts of hysterical fear and any acute trauma. It also makes a very nice poultice for wounds and contusions. Use the search bar to look up my previous, and considerably more detailed, descriptions of this valuable herb.
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) is a generally fragrant and very common wildflower in North America. It’s most popular for its use in sinus allergies and drippy colds. It has also been used traditionally for all sorts of kidney ailments, and its warming, stimulating energetics are especially useful for those cold natured folks who have a tendency to achy, overtired kidneys. The use I’ve focused on most in my many writings on this plant is the fower infused oil. I specifically use this for all sorts of injuries and problems of the muscles. It works GREAT. I’ve tried to popularize this humble little weed as much as possible, as it’s widely available and wonderfully multifaceted. The oil or salve can also be used as a general salve for wounds, abrasions and so on.
Evening Primrose (Oenthera spp) yet another blissfully common wildflower with a great many uses and also another herb I’ve written about many times before. It’s a gentle nerve tonic and effective antispasmodic, and has a special affinity for the reproductive and digestive systems. I use the whole flowering plant as an infusion for those recovering from eating disorders as well as in the treatment of endometriosis and menstrual cramps, especially for those who experience anxiety and irritability at the end of their cycle. This plant is ~deeply~ nourishing and works very well as a general nourishing infusion. It’s also a GREAT poultice for swellings, bug bites and so on. I sometimes use it together with Peach and Alder.
And this is a lovely Wild Sunflower. So much of her medicine is just in her smile, though she’s got some secrets in her roots too.
Gather the last glowing flowers, turn inward. Celebrate the growing dark and the harvest we’ve been blessed with.
Photos (c) 2008 by Kiva Rose & Jesse Wolf Hardin