They are exposed to the same environment as we are – the same air, water, weather and the same seasons. Because of this, I believe they are uniquely able to nourish and heal us in ways that other plants can’t.
They have something special for you that plants from China or India can never have. Don’t get me wrong; I use plants from other parts of the world and some of them I truly adore. When they are willing and able, I like to grow them in my own garden and get to know them better. But there is something special about a plant that chooses to live in your yard, or is native to your neck of the woods. They are part of your community.
I feel like some of the plants that have moved into my yard and garden have chosen me, because we belong together. Personally, I think weeds have a lot to teach and to offer. The are adaptable and flexible; they take opportunity where they find it. They are survivors.
Is that weird? One of the roads by my home had been re-paved earlier that spring. As I was walking, with my head down (my common posture because I can’t seem to keep my eyes from the plants, especially after a long winter), I found myself staring at one of the most glorious dandelions I have ever seen. It was huge, with multiple, big yellow flowers. It was obviously and happily flourishing.
Not so amazing for a dandelion, I know. But the incredible thing about this plant was that it had come up out of the newly paved road. It looked like a little asphalt explosion had happened all around it. This plant had no access to light or water. Yet it somehow had the knowledge to know it was spring. It had the strength to push up though that new asphalt on the side of the road and celebrate life by merrily blossoming.
I was so impressed, so touched by that dandelion’s tenacity, strength, and well, positive attitude. I want to be more like that glorious plant. Just recalling our meeting gives me hope for life on this amazing planet. That encounter was a gift to me. I carry that memory with me and it reminds me how insistent life can be, even in seemingly impossible situations.
And that example of resilience and fortitude, of making the best of any situation is only one of the many ways that dandelion offers healing. The leaves are extremely nutritive, as only a wild plant can be. They are also an excellent and balanced diuretic, replacing many of the electrolytes lost during urination. The roots are helpful for digestive healing and proper GI functioning. They feed the flora of our gut. In this world of ever increasing toxicity, they offer liver support and gentle cleansing. Tell me that we all couldn’t use a little dandelion in our lives? Maybe that is one of the reasons it grows in so many yards.
I encourage you to go out to your yard, alley or local park. Look around. Look down. Check out the plants that are growing right around you. Make some new friends. Get inspired. Learn how to use those amazing, patient, tenacious plants that grow where you grow.
About the Author:
Elaine Sheff has been studying medicinal plants since 1987. A Clinical Herbalist, she is a graduate of both the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies and the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine. Elaine is a certified instructor of Fertility Awareness and Natural Family Planning, a safe, effective birth control method used to avoid or achieve pregnancy. She has a clinical practice providing herbal consultations for individuals with health concerns. Elaine teaches herb classes throughout the United States and is the original co-founder of Meadowsweet Herbs. She is the co-director of Green Path Herb School in Missoula, Montana. A best selling author, her latest book is called Naked: Botanical Recipes for Healthy Skin. You can often find Elaine in her garden or cooking gluten free.