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22 Sep 2014

What do you know about Weeds?

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Humans have cursed, pulled, cut, fought, mowed, poisoned, and — yes — even waxed poetic about weeds for centuries. It seems there are almost as many definitions for a weed as there are actual weeds! Ralph Waldo Emerson questioned, “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” Most herbalists would agree, since knowledge of weeds’ many edible and medicinal uses engenders fondness and deep appreciation for these plants. Fortunately for us, weeds are tough, and persist despite our modern cultural ignorance of their potential benefits.

I particularly like Doug Larson’s definition: “A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except learning how to grow in rows.” Some say the weeds we need most for our own well-being can be found growing outside our own back doors, in sidewalk cracks we pass daily, and throughout our lawns and gardens. You may find this is true for yourself once you learn the benefits of common weeds such as dandelion, burdock, red clover, plantain, and stinging nettle and incorporate them into your diet or use them for first aid. Then you’ll be waxing poetic too!

If you’re interested in learning more about the many uses of weeds, rooting and sprouting herbalists herbalists can start their journey in the Online Introductory Herbal Course, while budding and blossoming herbalists can dive into the Online Intermediate Herbal Course. Both of these courses discuss in depth the nourishment and medicine common weeds offer us. Get ready to foster a new appreciation for the weedy world around you!

Ready to test your knowledge?

Take the Weeds Quiz!

How much do you know about the uses and medicinal properties of common weeds? Take this quiz to test your knowledge!

Think you know herbs? Test your knowledge in the 'Weeds' quiz! #thinkuknowherbs

This plant is one of the most nourishing plants in nature, is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, and can be consumed daily to combat adrenal fatigue and maintain high energy levels:



Think you know herbs? Test your knowledge in the 'Weeds' quiz! #thinkuknowherbs

The leaves, stems, and roots of this plant are great for stimulating digestion and tonifying the liver due to their bitter action:



Think you know herbs? Test your knowledge in the 'Weeds' quiz! #thinkuknowherbs

This plant, beloved by bees, contains high levels of the hormone building blocks called phytosterols and is used by numerous world cultures for cancer treatment:



Think you know herbs? Test your knowledge in the 'Weeds' quiz! #thinkuknowherbs

The ubiquitous yellow flower of goldenrod is unfairly maligned as the cause of allergies although its tea relieves hay fever, while the equally ubiquitous but much less showy blooms of ragweed are the actual culprit.

Think you know herbs? Test your knowledge in the 'Weeds' quiz! #thinkuknowherbs

The deep roots of which plant tap into and retrieve minerals from deep soils and are rich in inulin, a dietary fiber which helps stabilize blood sugar levels?



Think you know herbs? Test your knowledge in the 'Weeds' quiz! #thinkuknowherbs

Plantain is an excellent first aid plant, used as a poultice to alleviate the pain of insect and nettle stings. Which of the following is not a characteristic used to identify plantain?



Think you know herbs? Test your knowledge in the 'Weeds' quiz! #thinkuknowherbs

Which nourishing plant is used to ease grief and dissolve breast lumps and cysts?



Think you know herbs? Test your knowledge in the 'Weeds' quiz! #thinkuknowherbs

The silvery color on the back of this plant’s leaves hints at its affinity for the moon and its magical ability to bring dreams.



Think you know herbs? Test your knowledge in the 'Weeds' quiz! #thinkuknowherbs


The yellow flowers on the tall stems of which plant help relieve ear infections?




Think you know herbs? Test your knowledge in the 'Weeds' quiz! #thinkuknowherbs

Yarrow leaves can be used to stop bleeding in wounds and are antiseptic

 

Let’s Review the Quiz!

Question:

This plant is one of the most nourishing plants in nature, is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, and can be consumed daily to combat adrenal fatigue and maintain high energy levels:

Correct Answer: Stinging Nettle

Additional Information: Stinging Nettle is a wonderful plant! Nettle is rich in calcium and iron and contains potassium, zinc, and copper. Nettle is also rich in B vitamins, and vitamins A, C, D and K. It is a powerhouse of an herb and called “Earth’s green milk” by Susun Weed because of its ability to nourish and restore. Learn about nettle here

Question:

The leaves, stems, and roots of this plant are great for stimulating digestion and tonifying the liver due to their bitter action:

Correct Answer: Dandelion

Additional Information: The bitter taste of dandelion leaves, stems, and root increases the flow of digestive juices in the stomach and stimulates the liver to produce bile and remove toxins. This aids in proper digestion of fats, oils, and proteins, maximizing the nutrition our bodies receive from the food we ingest. Dandelion root also contains inulin, which is a prebiotic that feeds healthy gut bacteria. Read more about the many benefits of dandelion here

Question:

This plant, beloved by bees, contains high levels of the hormone building blocks called phytosterols and is used by numerous world cultures for cancer treatment:

Correct Answer: Red Clover

Additional Information: Red clover contains a type of phytosterol called isoflavones, which can fill the space that could be occupied by the unnatural chemical estrogens we are exposed to in our daily lives. These isoflavones keep our hormonal receptors busy with a safe, natural estrogen. Thirty three world cultures use red clover for cancer treatment! It’s also a powerful alterative (blood cleanser). Read more about red clover here

Question:

The ubiquitous yellow flower of goldenrod is unfairly maligned as the cause of allergies although its tea relieves hay fever, while the equally ubiquitous but much less showy blooms of ragweed are the actual culprit.

Correct Answer: True

Additional Information: Poor goldenrod, but indeed it’s true! Goldenrod contains high levels of the anti-inflammatory constituent quercitin, which, along with its astringent action, can help alleviate the symptoms of allergies. Read about four remedies for allergies, including goldenrod

Question:

The deep roots of which plant tap into and retrieve minerals from deep soils and are rich in inulin, a dietary fiber which helps stabilize blood sugar levels?

Correct Answer: Burdock

Additional Information: Burdock’s tap root can be up several feet long and is rich in iron, magnesium, calcium, thiamine, potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B2 and trace minerals. You can dig the root of first year plants in fall or the second year plant in spring and use the chopped root to make an infusion or add to soups. Just bring a shovel and plenty of patience so you can get the whole thing!

Question:

Plantain is an excellent first aid plant, used as a poultice to alleviate the pain of insect and nettle stings. Which of the following is not a characteristic used to identify plantain?

Correct Answer: Daisy-like flowers

Additional Information: Plantain has five parallel veins that originate from the stem and run parallel to the midrib. If you snap the stem open, you’ll see the vein-like strings that are stretchy like elastic. Plantain’s flower is humble, consisting of a green seedhead that turns brown. Read here for pictures and uses of plantain

Question:

Which nourishing plant is used to ease grief and dissolve breast lumps and cysts?

Correct Answer: Violet

Additional Information: Violet is also known as hearts-ease and is a perfect example of the Doctrine of Signatures with its heart-shaped flowers. Violet has an affinity for the heart and chest, loosening the area to relieve lung congestion, release grief and dissolve lumps, cysts, and growths. The leaves are also very nourishing and contain high levels of Vitamin C and A. Learn more about violet here

Question:

The silvery color on the back of this plant’s leaves hints at its affinity for the moon and its magical ability to bring dreams.

Correct Answer: Mugwort

Additional Information: Next time you see tall mugwort growing by the wayside, take a closer look behind the leaves and you’ll see the silvery color typical of the Artemisia family, named after the ancient moon goddess Artemis. Mugwort is a bitter tonic and a relaxing nerving which stimulates dreaming and strengthens our intuition.

Question:

The yellow flowers on the tall stems of which plant help relieve ear infections?

Correct Answer: Mullein

Additional Information: The fragrant yellow flowers that bloom on mullein’s towering stalks are an excellent remedy for ear infections due to their antibacterial and pain-relieving properties. To make an earache oil, infuse the fresh flowers in oil alone or in combination with garlic for 2-3 weeks and use a few drops in the ear every few hours when earache occurs.

Question:

Yarrow leaves can be used to stop bleeding in wounds and are antiseptic

Correct Answer: True

Additional Information: Yarrow was used from the time of the Ancient Greeks up until the First World War to treat wounds, thus its common names soldiers’ woundwort, staunch weed, nosebleed, woundwort, and carpenter’s weed. To stop bleeding in a wound, apply a poultice of fresh yarrow leaves or sprinkle dry yarrow powder into the wound. Humble yarrow is also a fever breaker, aromatic bitter, blood mover, and is useful for lower urinary tract infections. Learn more about yarrow here

Score your quiz!

0 to 1 correct answers? You are a Rooting Herbalist, your path is just beginning, welcome!

You are just starting out and have taken only a couple steps into your herbal journey. You have used a few herbs like basil and cilantro, adding these culinary herbs to your pasta sauce or salsa. Who knew they can also be used medicinally! Herbalism is a new word in you dictionary, but you are interested in learning more about it and what it means!

1 to 4 correct answers? You are a Sprouting Herbalist!

You are curious about herbs and how to use them for your health, and you often wonder about the plants and weeds that grow in your backyard, but you are unsure how to use them for yourself and family. While you may have tried making your own herbal teas and homemade lotions, you don’t fully understand dosage and formulation. Herbalism might be a new word in your dictionary, but you are definitely eager to jump in and discover this “back to the roots” way of life!

5 to 9 correct answers? You are a Budding Herbalist!

You are truly passionate about herbs and eager to learn more! You have a good understanding of herbs and how to use them for yourself and others. You’ve been studying herbs on your own for some time and may have taken some classes or courses. Your passion rubs off on your family and friends. Herbalism is not just a fad for you, it’s a lifestyle! And your journey is far from over… there’s always more to learn!

10 correct answers? You are a Blossoming Herbalist!

You have a good grasp of herbs and how to use them as medicine. Your library is always expanding with new reading materials and you have been studying herbs since you can remember. Many of your friends and family come to you with questions about their health and wellness, and you are proud to be able to help them. Your passion for herbalism is ever growing andl like so many others with years of experience and education, you are mature enough to recognize that herbalism is a lifelong pursuit… so let the adventure continue!

If you’re interested in learning more about herbalism, rooting and sprouting herbalists can join us in the Online Introductory Herbal Course, while budding and blossoming herbalists can dive into the Online Intermediate Herbal Course.