Week of August 16, 2016 - Purple & Blue Flowers, Part 1

Monday, August 15, 2016 11:31 AM | Anonymous

Purple & Blue Flowers Invade Our Lives

In the heat of August, it is nice to rest the eye on purple, pink, and blue flowers. And there are plenty of them to enjoy. Plenty, as in lots of different ones, and plenty, as in lots and lots of them.

Unfortunately, there are so many of them because many of these pretty flowers are invasives. Oh dear. They come from far away, and they invade. They grow in dense stands and can crowd out more desirable (for wildlife) native plants.

Invasives are a problem, because they are so . . . invasive.  Some communities spray them with herbicides like Roundup. Some communities organize to pull them out. Universities give seminars in ways to eliminate them. Herbalists use them for medicine (and magic) and do their best to understand how these plants benefit the environment.

Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

There is controversy about how “invasive” Lythrum really is. Claude Lavoie writes: “Purple loosestrife is certainly an invader, and some native species likely suffer from an invasion, but stating that this plant has ‘large negative impacts’ on wetlands is probably exaggerated. . . . There is certainly no evidence that purple loosestrife ‘kills wetlands’ or ‘creates biological deserts.’

In fact, purple loosestrife is one of those remarkable plants known or phytoremediators. These are plants (phyto) that remediate (remove) pollutants (like PCBs) from the wetlands where they grow. Loosestrife don’t just absorb the pollutants, it breaks them down into inert compounds.

Perhaps this is a healing invasion.

Herbalist Jim McDonald points out that purple loosestrife possesses “an admirable balance of astringent and mucilaginous properties.” The flowers, he says, offer more mucilage; the leaves, more astringency. Herbalist David Winston uses purple loosestrife against diarrhea, dysentery, IBS, and leaky gut. He suggests it as a gargle for sore throat, a douche against bacterial vaginosis, and an ointment to soothe bruises and ulcers. Maude Grieves, herbalist and author of A Modern Herbal, recommends it as a superior eyewash and a soother for dry eyes. Plantsman Conrad Richter, of Richter’s Herbal Nursery, tells us that purple loosestrife is hypoglycemic and hepato-protective. Animals whose livers were purposely damaged by exposure to carbon tetrachloride recovered almost completely when given tincture of Lythrum.

Purple loosestrife has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Chewing the stems counters gum disease. Sitz baths and infused oil can be used to eliminate vaginal/genital yeast infections.

The tincture of the flowers has interesting magical uses, especially when combined with chicory.

Chicory (Chichorium intybus)

This photo does not do justice to the sky-blue chicory flowers. I you still have some blooming by you, it isn’t too late to make Third Eye Opening Tincture, which consists of chicory flower tincture (1 part), loosestrife flower tincture (1 part), and cronewort flower tincture (2 parts). So far as I know, chicory is not an invasive plant.

~ Purple & Blue Flowers, Part 2 ~

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