September 25, 2009

COA's Unofficial Botany Club

As of yesterday, the Unofficial Botany Club at College of the Atlantic has had their first meeting this fall. It is a club dedicated to fulfilling students' goals of learning about plants. Topics will include things from basic plant collection and pressing, to medicinal and edible plant uses, to botanical outings such as field trips to local bogs. I will update the blog with the cool things we end up doing.

September 16, 2009

Willow Bark?

I hope I don't make a habit out of posting only when I am sick, but yet again I have a cold. I've been
drinking various teas, but I just got some dried White Willow bark (Salix alba) from the local healthfood store. I've heard that willow bark contains Salicin, which Salicylic acid and Aspirin come from. I'm curious to see its effects on me. I was feeling a bit feverish, and now a bit better. Does that mean it worked? I will continue making tea with it, and will let you know.

September 8, 2009

Mullein Tea

Today I yet again experienced the anti-sore-throat properties of Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus). I collected quite a bunch in Missouri, and hung the leaves to dry. The underside of the bunk above mine looked like a tobacco barn with all the leaves hanging to dry!

I was feeling a little rusty in my throat today, and quickly made myself some tea. My throat felt better within an hour of drinking it. I had recently read that it is important to strain the tea through cheese cloth to prevent the hairs on the leaves from irritating your throat. I've never had that problem before, but of course now that I read it, I began to have this problem. Indeed small particles of the leaves would go down my throat and get stuck, causing an annoying irritation. I just drank some water and it went away.

I think Mullein tea has a good flavor.

September 1, 2009

First Fall Harvest

Today I harvested a bunch of Common Plantain (Plantago major) and some needles from a cut-down Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus). Last year in chemistry class we analyzed the Vitamin-C content of various foods. It turned out that one cup of White Pine-needle tea made by boiling roughly a bundle of needles one inch in diameter for a minute or so, yielded as much Vitamin-C as a 1000mg tablet. This was more than 200 times the Vitamin-C content of cheap orange juice.

I plan on saving these needles so that I can have C tea through the winter without having to collect needles early in the morning. For those that have never had pine-needle tea, it is quite a treat. Sweetened with a bit of honey, pine-needle tea has a very pleasant taste. From my experience, I have not come upon the turpentiney taste or smell commonly associated with pines.


A really good friend told me about the "Label" feature. Every plant post will have two labels. One will be "Medicinal", "Edible", etc. and the other will be the plant name. On the right side of the page, all of the labels will be listed alphabetically, and you can just click to see whichever posts contain the label you licked on.