Winter 2004
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WOODS OF WISDOM


Winter 2003 & 2004

 

Lenape'hokin, land of my people, how I miss home

Never gather any edible that is closer than 100' to a roadway. The plant absorbs pollution and will transfer it to you when you eat it. Sometimes it is even transferred when you wash with it.
Never take more than 1/3 of a plants resources, i.e.; roots, leaves etc. Never take more than a 6"(yes inch) x 6" piece of tree bark. This is considering it is a tree of at least 3 feet in diameter.
Taking too much bark will band the tree and kill it.
ALWAYS ask the plant for what you want and give the plant a reason for taking it. ALWAYS leave an offering for the plant. You wouldn't go into a grocery store and take what you want then leave! Respect the plant by leaving an offering, usually tobacco.
Here is something I wrote for my groups concerning the Native American Way of gathering. I cannot speak for all Native Americans, but this is the way we do it. It is my feeling that one can never be too careful or respectful when wildcrafting or foraging plants. So here it goes again.

Lenape'hokin, land of my people, how I miss home.
Our thoughts about the land are that it is something you can never possess. It is something sacred and alive. We do not own the land, rather we are a part of it. Whatever we do to this land we do to ourselves. Our mother the earth (Kukna) brings forth everything we need to survive. She nourishes our bodies with plants and animals, she carries all life on her back, she gives us a place to put our feet. We must also take care of her. She is not only ours today but for the generations that follow us.We cannot separate ourselves from the land on which we live. We are just a part of the great circle of life and not superior to other forms of life in

any way. We are dependent on other forms of life for our very existence. Without our other brothers we would cease to exist. They do not need us to exist. We must be thankful and humble for every gift that this great Kukna gives to us.
Plants are our brothers. We have our standing brothers (trees) and our plant brothers. It is respectful to approach this way of thinking when harvesting plant and tree materials. Even if they grow in a garden that you have planted. Everything has a spirit. You refer to flowers as alive or dead right? With life is spirit.

The first part of gathering is knowing what you want to gather and what you will use it for. Go to the plants you want to gather and give an offering to the largest or grandfather plant. We use tobacco. Natural tobacco is best but a pipe blend is also acceptable. I carry my tobacco pouch with me at all times. Never know when you might need a plant or see a feather you want to pick up. After giving the offering ask for some plants and tell the grandfather plant what you are going to use them for. If you tell the plants what you want them to do then the plants will give to you that plant power. Wait for an answer. If you feel a warmth or a warm wind blowing over you, then the answer is yes. If a cold wind appears or you feel chills, move on or quit for the day. The answer is no.

With a yes answer, pass the first 7 plants and gather from then on, but only what you need. Those first 7 plants are reserved for the next 7 generations of people who want to gather. This insures that the species will continue.When harvesting tree materials, go through the asking. When actually taking bark, cut a piece of bark from the tree about 3 ft up, 6 inches wide and 6 inches long. No more. This will allow the tree to heal quickly. Never band a tree! This is to take bark from all the way around the trunk of the tree. It will die. The sap flow will be interrupted and the tree will bleed to death. My people did this when they needed to clear an area of trees. The trees were banded and the next year the dead trees were pulled down.Never take more than 1/3 of a plant or leaves from a plant. You are putting too much stress on the plant to replace that much plant matter and can cause it to die.When taking tree root, ask, then dig a hole 6 inches from the trunk of the tree. Take the root that is there. Another hole can be put on the other side of the tree if needed. Always put tobacco in the hole where the root was taken then cover in the hole. Never dig a tree just for some root.When taking plant root, If the plant is in seed, put some seed in the hole where the root came from. A little offering in the hole and cover it. This will give the plant a chance to grow a new one for the next year.
------------------ Manyfeathers

Dawn Manyfeathers is CEO of Lenapehauken Education and Research Center, dedicated to teaching and sharing the Eastern Woodland ways, providing cultural events (Powwows, Storytellings, Flute playing, Primitive Skills Weekends, etc.), displaying and selling handmade Arts & Crafts, artifact reproductions,

And wild food walks. Her knowledge of the Eastern Woodland ways, her wisdom, and her skills combine very well with her sense of vision and a gentle teaching attitude.

http://www.lenapehauken.org/

 

The Barrens

Soaking up the moon,
I listened to the mice walk,
Breathing heavy vapors,
I listened to the pines talk,

In sands thick and rich,
I said a heartfelt prayer,
Someway, somehow,
It will remain here to share,

Like the land that surrounds you,
You pass by everyday,
The secrets that it holds,
As we go our busy way,

And when pausing for a moment,
The other side awaits,
To help us remember where we came from,
Such a sweet and natural taste,

So " Go forth and multiply",
And " Head west young man",
But never forget to remind them,
We are in debt to this land,

And as another tree falls,
And the machinery belches smoke,
Before a branch reaches ground,
Let a teaching word be spoke.

"If not us, then who?"

--- Nighthawk

NOTES FROM THE URBAN FOREST

This past growing season has been a mixed bag for trees. All the rain in spring and the first part of the summer stimulated rapid growth. However, the rain coupled with cool temperatures followed by hot dry and humid weather provided ideal conditions for disease causing fungi. Last winter was extremely dry. When the soil is dry and there is no snow cover for insulation, winter deep freezes go to the roots of trees, freeze-drying the vital absorbing roots. As of this writing it looks like we’re having another dry fall. So water your trees, even after leaf fall, to prevent winter root damage.

During the later part of the summer, many trees of various species were showing signs of scorch. This is a non-infectious disease cause by heat and humidity following cool wet conditions.

What’s the best thing we can do for our trees? Basic hygiene comes first. The pruning of dead, diseased and storm-damaged limbs improves both the appearance and longevity of trees. Left unpruned, diseased or damaged limbs provide inroads for rotting fungi and wood boring insects. Remember, correct pruning improves tree health; incorrect pruning hastens tree decline. A Certified Arborist is the best person to determine appropriate pruning.

Speaking of pruning, late fall and winter are excellent times to prune. This is especially true of oak trees. Perhaps you saw the article in the Daily Journal about a disease called oak wilt. This is becoming more and more of a problem in the Kankakee River Valley. Previously this disease has been confined to the south side of the river, but this year I have seen it in and around Kankakee River State Park on the north side. I have even seen it in Bourbonnais subdivisions.

If you’ve got oak trees, you should be concerned about this disease. In red oaks and pin oaks it is usually fatal, often killing the tree within weeks. It is also a problem with white oaks and burr oaks, but usually takes longer to kill the tree. There is a preventative treatment which can be used before signs are showing on red oak but it is usually not effective once symptoms are present. In white oak and burr oak however, the same treatment can be effective even after symptoms are showing.

The symptoms of oak wilt include browning along leaf margins, working inward towards a green center. Also, the outer sapwood shows brown streaking when the outer bark is stripped back. The diagnosis should be made by a certified arborist because there are several less serious diseases that may look similar. Or, you may send samples to the plant clinic at the University of Illinois. Your Kankakee County Extension Agent may be able to help determine the best tactic.

Another tree disease on the increase this past season was verticillium wilt. This soil-born fungus enters through the roots and clogs the vascular system, reducing the ability of the tree to pull moisture from the roots. This does not usually cause the sudden death of the tree, but usually causes scattered limbs to wilt up and die, and sometimes major sections of the crown. Verticillium wilt is a problem primarily in maples and ash in our area, but dozens of other species of trees and shrubs are also susceptible.

There is a treatment for this disease but is only effective if caught early. So check your maples, especially Norway and sugar maples, for wilting in late May/early June of next year.

There is much more that can be said of the plethora of tree diseases, and even more about tree-attacking insects. But I only have time right now to mention one more pest – the Japanese beetle.

Every year they seem to gain in population and last season was no exception. The one consolation, however, is that the damage these insects do by skeletonizing the leaves is not nearly as serious to the health of the tree as it may appear. Currently the best control of Japanese beetles is either to pick them off or spray every ten days while they are present (several weeks). A new treatment is being researched that may allow one treatment for season long control.

Well, that’s all for now. I haven’t meant to accentuate the negative with this article, but I felt it important to get the word out. All too often I get calls to look at trees that could have been saved, but by the time I see them the problem is too far progressed.

Rob Frothingham

Certified Arborist & Landscape Architect

10/8/03

 

"One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast.A part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards."
-- Edward Abbey

 

Plantain

Plantago major

Plantain family is herbs with basal leaves and small flowers growing in spikes or heads. There are 3 genera and about 270 species throughout the world. Growing in waste places, fields and roadside, Common Plantain is found throughout the Eastern United States. One variety with long, narrow leaved variety is known as Buckhorn plantain or English plantain. Considered a common weed, it is a familiar lawn dweller with small flowers growing tightly in a cylindrical greenish-white spike. The plant is from 6 – 18" tall, the leaves of the common plantain are broad with the ribbing prominent. It flowers from June through October.

This plant has a noble history, having been mentioned in the writings of authors in Europe such as Chaucer and Shakespeare. Since this herb spread in this country from wherever the European settlers put their feet, the Native Americans called it "white-man’s foot". But, recognizing its amazing properties, they did not shun its use, also employing it for as wide a variety of applications as the Caucasians did. (Rodale)

Plantain was traditionally used as an alterative (producing gradual beneficial change in the body, usually by improving nutrition), anti-syphilitic (opposes syphilis in the body), antiseptic (inhibits pathogenic or putrefactive bacteria), astringent (contracts tissue, reducing secretions or discharges), demulcent (soothes irritated tissue, particularly mucus membrane), diuretic (increases expulsion of urine), expectorant (promotes discharge of mucus from the lungs), haemostatic (stops bleeding), styptic (stops bleeding by contracting blood vessels), and vulnerary (heals wounds). In other words, it is a veritable pharmacy in itself. Its seeds are known to be high in some of the B vitamins, which may explain its beneficial effects.

Jethro Kloss, in his book Back to Eden, recommends that every contemporary family would do well to keep it on hand at all times, since it may be used to heal such a wide variety of conditions. The entire plant is used, whether the broad or the narrow leaf. It is applied topically to wounds, to stop bleeding, to end the pain of burns and scalds, to still eczema, to cure piles or hemorrhoids. Either a strong tea is applied to the affected area or the leaves pounded to a paste and applied topically.

According to Jethro Kloss, inflamed eyes may be washed with the tea. It gets rid of internal or external parasites. The tea will ease pain in the bowls as well as clear the head of mucus. A tea of the boiled seeds will reduce water in the tissues as in dropsy or edema. The mashed-up leaves applied as a poultice aids insect bites, boils and tumors.

In his book The Herb Book, John Lust, notes that it is helpful for internal discomfort such as bladder or gastrointestinal infection. Chewing the root or pounding it to a pulp and applying it in the mouth will offer temporary relief from toothache. This plant may be juiced and taken internally or applied on the skin.

------------------ By F.C. English

A word of caution: Be careful to gather herbs in areas where there is no danger of herbicides or pesticides having been used in their vicinity. Herbal teas and poultices are a supplement to, not a replacement for proper medical care.

 

Top Ten Household Contaminants

Obtained from: United States Government, Environmental Protection Agency Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, Washington DC 20660. Replace these with non toxic household cleaners, especially when children, elderly or ill persons are in the household. Environmental toxins are considered to be a factor in increasingly common auto-immune disorders.

Air Fresheners: interfere with your ability to small by releasing a nerve-deadening agent. Known toxic chemicals found in an air freshener: Formaldehyde: highly toxic, known carcinogen. Phenol: when phenol touches your skin it can cause it to swell, burn, peel, and break out in hives. Even a small amount of this commonly used cleaning agent can cause severe reactions. It is very damaging to the eyes, respiratory tract and skin. Bleach: strong corrosive, which irritates the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. Vapors can cause fluid in the lungs. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other acids, even vinegar; the mixture causes deadly fumes.

Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo: designed to overpower the stain, they accomplish the task by using highly toxic substances. Some include: Perchloroethylene: known carcinogen, damages liver, kidney and nervous system. Ammonium hydroxide: corrosive, extremely irritable to eyes, skin and respiratory passages.

Dishwasher detergents: most products contain chlorine in a dry form that is highly concentrated; it is the #1 cause of child poisonings (poison control statistics).

Drain cleaners: most drain cleaners contain lye, hydrochloric acid or trichloroethane. Lye: caustic, burns the skin and eyes. If ingested it will damage esophagus, stomach. Hydrochloric acid: corrosive; eye and skin irritant, damages kidneys, liver and digestive tract. Trichloroethane: eye and skin irritant, nervous system depressant; damages liver and kidneys.

Furniture polish: petroleum distillates which are highly flammable, can cause skin and lung cancer. Phenol: see air fresheners). Nitrobenzene: this chemical, easily absorbed through the skin, is extremely toxic. Known reaction to skin contact can cause skin discoloration, shallow breathing, and vomiting. Repeated exposure can cause birth defects, cancer, and damage to liver, kidney, heart and central nervous system. It continues to give off fumes into the household air circulation after application.

Oven cleaners; next to drain cleaners, oven cleaners are some of the most toxic chemicals in your kitchen. Its lingering effects can sometimes be smelled for days or even weeks after use, including on the food cooked in the oven. Sodium or Potassium hydroxide (lye); a strong irritant which burns both skin and eyes. It inhibits reflexes, will cause severe tissue damage if swallowed. These products come in aerosol spray containers which send thousands of tiny droplets of ammonia or lye into the air that land on skin and eyes as well as being inhaled.

Laundry room products: sodium or calcium hypocrite; highly corrosive, irritating to the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. May cause pulmonary edema, vomiting or coma if ingested. Contact with other chemicals may cause chlorine fumes. Linear alkylate sulfonate: absorbed through the skin, it has been shown to cause liver ailments in test animals at comparatively low dosages. Sodium tripoluphosphate: irritating to skin and mucous membranes & causes vomiting. Most of these chemicals are easily absorbed through the skin. As we continue to wash our clothes in these products, residue builds up in the fibers; as we wear our clothing these rub against our skin and the toxic chemicals are absorbed.

Toilet bowl cleaners: hydrochloric acid is highly corrosive irritant to both skin and eyes, damages kidneys and liver. Hydrochloride bleach; corrosive, irritates or burns eyes, skin and respiratory tract.

 

Eighty Four Years on the Sandy Loam

Eighty-four years on the sandy loam

Is not a long time when you know that you’re home

 

Eighty-four years of planting trees

By calloused hand, now the farmer sees

His bounty spring forth from the river sand

Red pines dancing across the land

Angus growing fat on the sun sweetened blades

Artesian spring in the white oak’s shade

Asparagus growing between ancient peaches

Shagbark hickory and the patience it teaches

Eighty-four years on the sandy loam

Is not a long time when you know that you’re home

----Rob Frothingham

 

 

 

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last updated on August 26, 2013