One of the reasons I moved to rural Northwest Indiana 20 years ago was for its natural beauty and unique environmental qualities. Since making my home on a farm in LaPorte, I have immersed myself into a continued course of study of the interdependent relationships of plants, animals and humans within the natural world.
boneset – Eupatorium perfoliatum
common names: thoroughwort, Indian sage, feverweed, sweating plant
Boneset can be identified by its flat topped clusters of dull white flowers that bloom all summer; and by its opposite, crinkly leaves united at their bases enclosing the hairy stem.
The name boneset refers to the plants use as a tea treatment for breakbone fever, characterized by severe pain in the joints. This plant attracts many pollinators and is found along marsh and pond edges.
phragmites – Phragmites australis
common names: reed grass, marsh reed
This easy to recognize reed grows in swamps, marshes, and ditches towering 10 feet in large groupings. Large plume seed heads that are wind pollinated though most of the reproduction is underground through rhizomes extending into large areas creating enormous colonies. The thick growth allows for many insects and animals to make their home and bring up young. This reed has been used for centuries as roof building material and erosion control all over the world. In nature it is know as a land former, building soil levels creating a drier ground in which other species will replace it.
jersalem artichoke – Helianthus tuberosus
This 8-foot tall plant with many 3.5” yellow flowers is visited by numerous pollinators. The leaves are broad and rough like sandpaper. The self seeding plant can be found in field and thickets. Effected immensely by water.
Native Americans made tea from the leaf and stalk or ate the flowers to treat rheumatism. Folk remedies have suggested the tubers, which contain inulin, aid in diabetes.
Early settlers ate the edible tubers and made beer from cultivated plants. Tubers are like and taste close to potatoes, an excellent wild food to consume.
cattail – Typha angustifolia
common names: flag, cat-o-nine-tails, marsh beetle, candlewick
Cattails are among our foremost wetland plants, in terms of both their abundance and their ecological importance as the dominant vegetation in many marshes. Cattails clone from creeping rhizomes. These plants produce prolific seed tightly packed in the spike. Some part of this plant is nourishing at every season. Flower and starch from the rhizomes, pollen from male spikes makes protein rich flour and late in spring immature flower spikes can be boiled and eaten. The Chippewa Tribe bound and trimmed the leaves to make duck decoys. Due to the density of this plant many creatures make their home among the stems.
purple coneflower – Echinacea angustfolia
common names: snakeroot, purple daisy
Science confirms many traditional uses of this highly effective immune booster against virus and bacterial issues in the human body. Plains Indians used this herb more than any other. They used it for snakebites, spider bites, cancers, toothaches, hard to heal sores and burns, colds, and the flu.
Echinacea comes from the Greek term meaning hedgehog relating to the bristly ”cone” of the flower. This plant has numerous pollinators of all sorts and flowers throughout the summer.
jimson weed – Datura wrightii
common names: Sacred datura, devil’s trumpet, Jamestown weed, thornapple, stinkweed, toloache
This plant was first seen outside the colony of Jamestown, Virginia and was mistaken for another plant. Colonists ate the plant and had hallucinations thus named the Jamestown Weed. Through time it became known as Jimson weed. A beautiful poisonous plant with a few medicinal properties, such as Native Americans macerated the root for rattle snakebite cure. A drink made from the roots and seeds was used as a pubescent ceremony for Native American boys. There is a saying; “ The stems and leaves are used for medicine, the roots and seeds for divination, the flowers will drive you mad.”
I carved several blocks to layer texture and color on to the handmade papers. The blocks are rolled with an oil-based ink and pressured is applied using a press.