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Monday, April 17, 2006

Plant Life in the Mountains

I grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Well, my parents moved here when I was 12, so I'm fairly close to being a native. One of the main reasons I have stayed here is the plant life. Did you know that this area has one of the most diverse plant populations in the world!!

A little over a week ago my family purchased 25 acres of land. I can't tell you how much fun it has been exploring these woods and seeing the green sprouts of life coming out of the ground! I'm like a kid running around, screaming with glee as I learn what plant life is a part of this land. This past weekend, I noticed a section of land where there are raspberry canes everywhere. I know, I know, most of you would say "Get that prickly, brambley stuff out of there!" But my reaction was more along the lines of "Yahooooo!! We have raspberries!" Here's why:

Aside from having a really tastey berry, Raspberry leaves (Rubus idaeus (cultivated), Rubus stigosus (wild)) can be used for so many things, and are considered the herb supreme for women! Raspberry leaves are used widely in pregnancy and childbirth, but can be a wonderful nutritive tonic for all cycles of womanhood. It can help tone and relax the pelvic and uterine muscles in preparation for childbirth and helps to increase and enrich milk flow in new moms. Because of its high vitamin and mineral content, it is a great tonic herb and can be used all 9 months of pregnancy, helping to ease morning sickness, decrease risk of miscarriage, and hemorrhage and decrease pain in labor (because of that well toned uterus!) Raspberry can also be used for excessive or painful menstruation, for healthy bones and teeth, for diarrhea, fever, vomiting (it’s gentle enough to be used with kids, too!), as a mouthwash or gargle for inflammations of the mouth and throat, and as a wash or compress for skin inflammation, ulcers, wounds and hemorrhoids.

American Indians used a tea made from the Raspberry root for sore eyes. 17th Century Europeans made syrup from the berries to stop vomiting and the berries were also used to dissolve tartar on the teeth. In the 18th Century, the berries were considered a remedy for heart disease.

Raspberries aren't just local to WNC either. In fact they can be found in almost all but the most southern states in the US. So, go out there and give your raspberries a little lovin'! For all they give to us, they deserve it.


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