17 June 2008

Crown Vetch and Wild Roses

This pretty and fast spreading plant showed up next to our driveway a couple years ago and now we have this huge patch. It was, years ago, planted around construction areas and near roadways to control erosion but that practice has since died out because of the plants uncontrollable invasiveness. I find myself fascinated by this plant, with blooms that look kinda like a cross between chives blossoms and red clover flowers. Unfortunately, the entire plant is poisonous if ingested as it contains a glycoside called coronillin. However, it turns out that there are some folks who use crown vetch for medicinal purposes.

According Henriette's Herbal Pages: Coronilla varia, prepared from the juice of a plant of southern Europe, was reported by Poulet to act positively as a heart sedative, especially when the irritation was due to a neurosis. Those forms of excitable heart action caused by tobacco, dissipation, and sexual excesses were found to be directly influenced by this remedy. The above is listed under unusual remedies and the information has not been confirmed according to Henriette. And, according to Plants for a Future The whole plant, used either fresh or dried is a cardiotonic[9, 13]. It should be used with extreme caution, see the notes above on toxicity[9]. A decoction of the bark has been used as an emetic[257]. The crushed plant has been rubbed on rheumatic joints and cramps[257]. And it can also be used as an insecticide which leads me to believe that if it can kill insects it can probably kill, or at least seriously sicken, a human if used incorrectly. So, while I find crown vetch interesting I think I'll stay away from it as I'm a beginner and a fairly inexperienced herbalist.

This luscious bush is just a bit past the field line so I had to wade through some pretty tall weeds to get to it but it was worth it. I'm pretty sure these are Dog Roses because of their mostly pale pink and white blooms and subtle scent. I collected plenty of flowers and a few leaves because according to Mrs. Grieve The leaves of the Dog Rose when dried and infused in boiling water have often been used as a substitute for tea and have a grateful smell and sub-astringent taste. The flowers, gathered in the bud and dried, are said to be more astringent than the Red Roses. They contain no honey and are visited by insects only for their pollen. Their scent is not strong enough to be of any practical use for distillation purposes. So, I'll be using my leaves for a light tasty tea and will most likely use the petals in my bath water for a cool, calming soak. I love wild roses even more so than cultured roses. The scent isn't as strong of course but I just prefer the wildness and unique shapes and sizes of the flowers.

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