I had the opportunity to get a couple plants from a native plant sale here in town. The beauty of gardening with natives is that they tend to do better and tend to be healthier than non-natives, sometimes. Other times certain species can be hard to start since the plant may require very specific soil types or environment. Over the years I’ve been able to grow a few different kinds, mostly to show off since I enjoy wild harvesting the plants that I use in medicine.
The first plant I got was a Great Blue Lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica, so named because it was originally used as a cure for syphilis. The root was also used by certain Native American tribes as a purgative (a very effective one). In Cherokee traditional medicine the foliage of the plants can be applied externally to help with headaches, sores, and any wound that may be hard to heal. The leaves and flowers have also been used for colds, fevers, and respiratory issues.
The other plant I got was a nicely sized Red Root plant, also called New Jersey Tea, Ceanothus americanus. It’s often called New Jersey Tea because colonists used the leaves to make a pleasant tea-like beverage. It was called Red Root by the indigenous peoples who used the red bark and roots to help upper respiratory issues and infections. The plant can also be used to help treat colds, fever, and has been used in remedies to help treat the lymph system.