15 November 2015
Winter Plant Allies: A Root, a Berry and a Lichen
Echinacea, Elderberry and Usnea
Each drop of a tincture contains the life story of the plant - from seed, to bud, to flower. The essence or "medicine" is found in that story. Red Moon Herbs' Immune Blend contains three stories - that of a root, a berry and a lichen.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) - the root - is a common perennial in eastern and central North America, used by Native Americans for centuries.The flower is a large, showy composite with a spiny central disk or "cone" that looks a lot like a hedgehog and blooms from early to late summer. While humans covet the plant for its immune boosting properties and visual interest in winter gardens, the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are drawn to it as a plentiful pollinator and perching structure. The roots are the most concentrated part of the plant medicinally and are one of the most popular herbal tinctures today.
In contrast - our berry - Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is tinctured from the bittersweet fruit of the Elder bush. You will often see this hardy perennial shrub along roadsides and streambanks. In the spring it produces large flat clusters of small white or cream-colored flowers. In the fall we see beautiful fruit in clusters of small black, blue-black or red berries, which have been harvested for centuries and used in folk medicine for their antiviral and immune boosting properties.
Usnea (Usnea spp.) - the lichen - also has a long history with humans, and has been a deep resource for at least 1000 years! It grows all over the world, mostly up in tree branches, looking a lot like hair. It is neither a flower, a leaf nor a stem. Rather, as a lichen, it is a symbiosis of a fungus and an algae, and can easily be identified by pulling a "string" apart and looking for the white thread. This unique and endearing organism is quite prolific in our Appalachian mountains and contains potent antibiotics that have been used by native people in many acute situations.
There is much to learn about each of our plant allies. As we develop a deeper relationship to their life and the gifts they offer, we invite a deeper healing - to ourselves as well as the planet.