Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale L.)
Dates, Date Palm, Phoenix dactylifera
Datura, Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium (L.) D. meloides)
Daylily (Hemercallis fulfa L.)
Devil's Club (Oplopanax horridus)
Devil's Claw, Harpagophytum procumbens
Digitalis purpurea L., Foxglove
Dill (Anethum graveolens L.)
Dock, yellow (Rumex crispus L.) and other spp.
Dogwood (Cornus florida L., Cornus officinalis)
Duckweed (Lemna minor L.)
Shrubs and perennials of south and central America. One species in Africa is a proven aphrodisiac.
Medicine: Leaf extraction used to treat sexual dysfunction. Considered an aphrodisiac. Calming herb, digestive aid, used to treat depression, anxiety, impotence.
Chemistry: Volatile oils, cyanogenic glycosides, tannins, resins.
Available in capsules and fluid extracts.
Taraxacum officinale L.
whorl of toothed leaves. Yellow, regular flowers. Common yard
Photo and information. Also see Edible Flowers.
Food: My favorite vitamin and mineral rich salad green. Eat it daily year around. Tear it into small pieces for salad, mix with thyme and fennel, nasturtiums, along with other salad leaves (see recipes). Thyme and fennel balance the bitterness in the dandelions. Make a mineral rich tea from roots and leaves. Gently simmer chopped fresh root for mildly to very bitter tea. COOKING: fresh leaves early in season on salads, as season progresses leaves become more bitter, pour copious amount of water on plant in evening before morning harvest to sweeten leaves. Leaves even when bitter are great in stir fry, try cooking with tofu, meat eaters try oyster oil, cayenne, dandelion and beef strips.Medicine: Commission E approved for dyspepsia, urinary tract infections, gallbladder and liver complaints, appetite loss. Dandelion is one of the most potent diuretics, performance equal to prescription pharmaceutical Furosemide in animal studies. Dandelions are stimulating, a tonic and mild laxative with blood glucose regulating capacity. The bitter taste of dandelion is an appetite stimulant and stimulates entire digestive system (cholagogue) improves appetite and may be helpful treating anorexia. Raises HCL in stomach, improving calcium breakdown and absorption. Spurs bile production. Bile is necessary for fat and cholesterol emulsification, digestion and absorption. Fiber locks up bile thereby preventing emulsification of saturated fat and cholesterol. This causes the liver to make more bile from cholesterol. Thus, dandelion and other bitter high fiber greens can theoretically lower cholesterol in three ways: 1. They stimulate secretion of bile requiring more production of bile from cholesterol. 2. Fiber in the plants locks up bile in the digestive system preventing cholesterol emulsification, thus it cannot be absorbed. 3. Fiber removes bile from body, requiring the liver to break down more cholesterol to make more bile (these factors may effect atherosclerosis, reduce stroke, and lower blood pressure, hypertension). Liver cleansing and tonic. Stimulate liver, may aid digestion, and help cleanse blood. Diuretic that may be helpful for PMS.
Mild laxative. May relieve inflammation and congestion of gall bladder and liver. May lower cholesterol and blood pressure (hypotensive).
Chemistry: Leaves high in cancer fighting antioxidants, vitamin C and Beta Carotene. Root contains inulin, gluten, potassium, taraxacin. White latex like exudate is made up of alcohols, (glycerin) caoutchouc, taraxasterols and acetic and other acids. Essential fats linoleic and linolenic in roots, leaves and seeds. Beta sitosterol in flowers as well as flavonoids, lutein, flavoxanthin...(5) (6)
Wildlife/Veterinarian: Goldfinch like the seeds, another great reason to grow this in your lawn. Dandelion root and dandelion tea is an integral constituent of my pigeon racing formula teas.
Dates, Date Palm
Phoenix dactylifera L.
Food: High fiber fruit, small seeds, skin and flesh provide excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Try this date recipe: slice dates in half, slice pieces of Italian or French bread, press and knead blue cheese until soft (room temperature). Spread the softened cheese over the bread, place date on cheese. Outstanding.
Medicine: Date honey is produced in north Africa. Date honey is used to treat problems of the chest and sub sternum area. In Ayurvedic medicine date palm is used to treat, kidney disease, stomach (gastric complaints), headaches, external wounds and external inflammations, bronchitis, clouding of the cornea (cataracts).
Chemistry: Ten per cent oil, saccharose, inverted sugar, piperidine derivatives.
Datura stramonium L., D. meloides
Description: Datura stramonium is found in bean fields throughout the United States. The trumpet like flower is distinctive. The seed capsule is studded with spines. Flowers white to light violet. Leave are toothed, coarse textured. D. meloides has become a common, showy garden flower throughout the Midwest. (photo, more)
Food: Not used as food, toxic.
Medicine: This was big medicine for Native Americans. Whole plant contains alkaloids: atropine and scopolamine. Atropine was used traditionally in eyes to get the Belladonna effect: huge dilated pupils. Scopolamine is used in the motion sickness patch (to treat dizziness). Atropine is sedative to the parasympathetic nerves and has been used in treating Parkinson's disease.
Scopolamine patches used to treat asthma and motion sickness. Traditionally leaves were smoked by Native American to treat asthma and other respiratory conditions. Smoking of leaves may also induce hallucinations. According to Foster and Duke in their book Medicinal Plants, Peterson Field guides, p. 182 licorice (Glycyrrhiza) may be an antidote to toxic properties of the alkaloids in this plant.
Chemistry: Primary substances: alkaloids scopolamine and atropine.
Warning: Many fatalities have been reported from abuse of this plant.
Hemerocallis fulva L.
Description: Yellow tuberous roots; long, narrow, lance like leaves; orange lily like flower. Found wild along roadsides throughout North America. Transplants and proliferates with ease.
Uses: (photo and information)
Food: Novices use this plant only in bloom . Early growth resembles poisonous Iris shoots, other toxic lilies and daffodils. Eat roots judiciously. Younger roots are better than tough older ones. I have not made them a part of my wild food diet because of the danger inherent in eating lily roots (contains cardiac glycosides). Flowers and flower buds have onion like taste and are good in salads. Tear the petals apart and spread throughout the salad. Whole buds may be stir fried with meat and vegetables. Buds may also be batter dipped and cooked tempura style. Try chopping buds and flowers mix with seasoned pork and stuff in won tons...Steam. Dip in Japanese flavor principle (see recipes).
Flowers and buds may be dried in a food dryer. Then placed in the freezer for use in stir fry, etc.
Roots may be baked and boiled, then snip one end and squeeze starch out like paste. Much the same way garlic cloves are used after roasting. This may be risky business, see next.
Warning: Eating young shoots and roots according to Chinese studies may caused the accumulation of toxins leading to damage of the eyes. Should colchicine be present this chemical is toxic.
Medicine: Root tea used in Orient as a diuretic to improve urination, treat jaundice, internal bleeding, excessively bleeding uterus. Root extracts may be antimicrobial, antiparasitic (flukes). In China, flowers are used as a poultice, poultice on hemorrhoids, flowers are astringent
Chemistry: Carotenoids, vitamin C, protein essential fatty acids, bioflavonoids, perhaps colchicine.
Note: Invasive, many varieties almost impossible to start from seeds, seeds rarely viable. Numerous varieties in various colors.
Devil's Claw, Grapple Plant
African plant, traditional medicine there and popular tea in Europe.
Food: Young shoots eaten as a survival food.
Medicine: Roots and tubers harvested, cut and dried. Drug is approved by Commission E for treating rheumatism, appetite stimulant, dyspepsia.
Chemistry: Harpagoside, procumbide, oligosaccharide: stachyose, phenylethanol.
Oplopanax horridus (Sm.) Torr. & Gray ex Miq
Description: Large, erect, spreading plant with plate sized maple shaped leaves. Entangled, spine armed stems. Found in old growth and second growth forests of Northwest. Spiny stems are gruesome, don't walk into them. Club like flower head, a terminal cluster of small whitish flowers (photo, more).
Uses: This is a Warrior Plant, big medicine, a prized herb of First People. Bella Coola used spined sticks used as protective charms. Wood used to make fish lures. Wood used as fish attractant, spines. Scraped bark boiled with grease to make dye. black dye made by mixing water or grease with ashes of Devil's club.
Ashes mixed with grease and used as black face paint, gives warrior supernatural power. Bath in plant assists hunters by removing human odor. Fishing lures carved from light wood.
Food: Not often eaten as food, berries considered inedible. According to Moerman spring buds boiled and eaten by Oweekeno tribe.
Medicine: Native Americans still use this plant in rituals and medicine. Related to ginseng, roots and especially greenish inner bark are used. Chewed raw as purgative, infused or decocted to to treat diabetes, cramps (stomach and bowel) , emetic, arthritis, ulcers and illnesses of the digestive system. Root and stem used as purgative emetic. Root, leaves and stems used in hot baths to treat rheumatism, arthritis. The berries smashed and applied to the hair to treat lice. Cooked and shredded root bark used as a poultice for many skin conditions. Stem decoction used for reducing fever. Tea from inner bark used for treating diabetes, a common ailment in Aboriginal people who eat a carbohydrate rich Western diet. Dried root mixed with tobacco and smoked to treat headache. Inner bark good purgative when taken with hot water. Fresh or dried inner bark used to treat stomach ulcers and stomach pain. Infusion of crushed stems used as a blood purifier. Stem ashes and oil used on skin ailments. Decoction of stem used as a laxative. Decoction ofinner bark used to treat colds.
Chemistry: Root: polysaccharides, phytosterols, steroidal saponins.
(Anethum graveolens L.)
Uses: (Photo, more)Food: Sauces, pickling, salads, salad dressings, hot vegetables, stir fry. This is a great addition to a cucumber and rice wine vinegar salad. I like it with salmon and fish soup. It's in all my garden salads. The flowers are edible. Dill combines well with tomatoes, cabbage, salad dressings, eggs, beets and cucumbers. Very good for pickling fish.
Medicine: Slightly stimulating, warming. Dill seed infused in water 1-2 tablespoons to quart of water may settle upset stomach and other digesting organs. May inhibit growth of diarrhea causing bacteria. May settle colic, seeds and leaves improve bad breath, may be synergistic with cold, flu and cough remedies.
Some studies suggest dill improves lactation in nursing mothers when eaten regularly (Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Chevallier, Readers Digest Books).
Chemistry: carvone 5% of volatile oil, also, triterpenes, coumarins, xanthones and flavonoids.
Yellow Dock, Curly dock
Rumex crispus L.
Description: Long, wavy, lance shaped leaves. Common garden nuisance that now becomes your medicine. (photo, more).
Uses: For other useful docks see (Great Swamp Dock)
Food: Young leaves may be steamed, saute, stir fry. Be judicious, leaves may be too bitter. Try steaming the herbs then frying them in olive oil. Inner pulp of stems is eaten after cooking, Squeeze pulp from skin to reduce bitterness. Seeds may be gathered and eaten. You can make mush from the seeds. They are plentiful.
Caution: Restrict the amount of dock leaves you eat because of the high tannin content and oxalic acid content. These chemicals may be harmful to the kidneys when eating in excess.
Medicine: Root was sliced and simmered (decoction) and administered to pregnant women as a source of iron without the resulting constipation from taking elemental iron supplements. The bitter taste of the herb (root and leaves) stimulates digestion: increases hydrochloric acid secretion, increases peristalsis, and improves secretion of other digestive enzymes. Said to cleanse toxins from body (root decoction) and may have a laxative effect. (fights constipation).
Reported to help improve chronic skin problems. Bitter taste stimulates liver activity (blood purifier) and may help in cleansing the liver. may be combined with dandelion root to treat skin problems. Native Americans mashed root to pulp and apply to skin to treat arthritis. Cherokee used the root juice for treating diarrhea. One unusual use was the rubbing of the throat with a crushed leaf to treat sore throat. Seeds were used to stem diarrhea. Dried and powdered root used to stop bleeding (styptic).
(Cornus florida L., Cornus
officinalis) (Oriental or Japanese dogwood)
(C. sericea); (C. canadensis) (bunchberry)
Description: Showy deciduous tree. Large white regular flowers, four petals. Easily spotted in spring blooming profusely. Common yard ornamental. (Photo and information) Bunchberry small sub arboreal plant that produces edible fruit. Six inches tall, with solitary white flower growing out of a whorl of 5 or 6 leaves.
Food: The large flowers may be infused into tea. Flower looks great in tea, but lends little flavor. Make certain to use a flavored tea (green, chamomile, lemon balm) with the dogwood flower. The flower surprises guests but the flavor is a non event. Cornus canadensis (bunch berry) berries are eaten raw and cooked. Freezing these berries for winter use.
Medicinal: Root bark was used as an astringent. Boiled inner bark used by First People to treat diarrhea. Root bark used as a laxative in decoction. Twigs may be chewed until crushed, then used as a tooth brush (traditional chew stick). A tincture of the ripe berries was used as a bitters to improve digestion. Reported that during the civil war root bark extraction was used to treat malaria. Oriental variety (C. officinalis) fruit was decocted as astringent tonic for kidneys and liver. Red osier (C. sericea) was used in folk medicine to treat vomiting, diarrhea and indigestion.
Chemistry: Bark tannins, flowers bioflavonoids, fruit bioflavonoids.
Lemna minor L.
Description: Small floating plant, two leaves like Mickey Mouse ears, thread like root hair takes water and minerals from pond. Sometimes called pond scum, is green covering over stagnant ponds, marshes and swamps. Up close inspection and you can see this hydroponic plant isone of smallest flowering plants (photo, more).
Food: Plant can be dried and made into tea. Fresh or dried plant may be cooked into soups, blended into cream soups. Always cook this plant as the water source may be contaminated. It is virtually tasteless, tough. small snails and other invertebrates may be enmeshed in the tangle of the plants, be careful, use sparingly.
Medicine: In China, the plant is used as a warming agent to treat hypothermia, flatulence, acute kidney infections, inflammation of upper respiratory tract, rheumatism and jaundice. The whole plant is dried and powdered, used in infusion or decoction.
Chemistry: flavonoids: orientin, vitexin, isovitexin, lutonarin, vicenin, isoorientin. Also, prostaglandin like cyclopentane and polysaccharides: apiogalctoronans. Cardiac steroids.