Friday, April 15, 2011

Hamamelis virginiana and Hydrastis canadensis

Plants are everywhere! I found these in the Herb Garden; all their plants are "useful" as herbs, spices, medicinals, dyes, etc. Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis, is widely used and widely collected. It is one member of the herbal pharmacopoeia whose efficacy is undisputed by Science and Medicine. One of the MANY functional constituents is the alkaloid berberine which colors the rhizomes yellow as it does the stems and roots in so many of the Berberidaceae. According to folk-medicine, it can cure a wide spectrum of maladies; it is considered to sit just below Ginseng in the pharmacological heirarchy, and is coveted and sought after nearly as avidly. I remember spending the summers of my youth on Grandma's farm south of Charlottsville, Virginia. She had several hundred acres of rolling fields and forests in a valley between low mountain ridges. Much collecting of both Ginseng and Goldenseal went on the the summers and the Covesville General Store and Post Office, since yuppified, bought both dried. And paid eye-opening rates. Both it and Ginseng are "threatened or endangered" over most of their ranges.

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