Day 126/365 - On plant walks

5/6/17

Plants are all around us, if we only look! Even in the streets of urban cities, even in the heart of NYC, they are there, and they love being noticed!

I’m lucky to be part of an herbal program that has occasional field trips and botany classes, where we learn to identify the plants growing around us. Recently we went to the Prospect Park and Botanical Garden in Brooklyn, and discovered a variety of wild and cultivated plants with the help of our field guides (George W.B. Symond’s Tree and Shrub Identification Books, and Newcomb’s Wildflower Field Guide). Using them takes a bit of practice, and when it comes to wildflowers, a lens may be helpful to really look at the petals closely.

As they say, practice makes perfect, and once you’ve pored over the books and identified a plant correctly (it helps if your botany teacher verifies your work) - chances are that you’ll remember it! I can now confidently use these books as tools, and have identified many plants that grow all around us.

How many people know that these plants are in our parks and backyards, and even growing from cracks in the sidewalks? Many of them are medicinal ‘weeds’! Here are some examples that I’ve found:

  • Blackberry
  • Black haw
  • Burdock
  • Cleavers
  • Crimson clover
  • Dandelion
  • Garlic mustard
  • Goutweed
  • Elder
  • Elecampane
  • Hawthorn
  • Mugwort
  • Linden
  • Nettles
  • Oak
  • Plantain
  • Prickly ash
  • Raspberry
  • Shepherd’s Purse
  • Strawberry
  • Sweet cherry
  • Sweet gum
  • Thistle
  • Valerian
  • Witch hazel
  • Yarrow
  • Yellow dock

...and many more!

What’s growing around your area?