Natural Heritage Stories

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Indigenous Plants Located on Wesleyville Property

  • Archaeological Investigation and oral history tell us that three Indigenous societies have used the bountiful land in the Wesleyville area: Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee (neutrals), and most recently the Mississauga. The first two groups were known for being stationary longhouse farmers. The Mississauga were travelers along Lakeshore Rd, migrating here after the 1700’s. After the fur trade multiple exchanges of land occurred. Bay of Quinte used to be traditional lands of Mississauga, but the British crown promoted land surrenders because of soldier relocation and land settlement from the civil war. The closest community to Wesleyville today is the Alderville First Nation Reserve.

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  • Natural materials were sourced by women for clothing: quills, hide, plant fibers, & shell beads. After colonization the material traded became resourceful, clothes became modern versions using glass beads & imported fabrics sourcing flower designs in their products. Each of these groups had their own cultures with ceremonies and masks, festivals through seasons, and uses of plants for medicinal & consumer use. Hopefully you’ll take away some invaluable knowledge attained over thousands of years of trial & error.

Indigenous Marsh Plants Located on Wesleyville Property

  • Narrow-Leaved Cattail (Typha angustifolia)

Roots were crushed by pounding or chewing & applied as a poultice to sores. The Huron bound their children to a piece of wood & wrapped them in furs or skins. Under the child they spread the silk of the cattail to keep them clean and comfortable. Ojibwe women used cattail leaves to produce mats on both sides of the medicine & sweat lodge. The seed fuzz was used to make mattresses & sleeping bags by drying & stripping to make fuzz.

  • Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Flowers were cut, stewed & eaten like preserves. This plant was sometimes eaten before a feast by men so they could consume more.

  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Used for syphilis, a remedy for worms, used as an anthelmintic, & a love potion.

  • Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

A cure for syphilis, venereal disease, & a diuretic in cases of gonorrhea. Was valued as a love medicine, put in food of a quarrelsome pair.

  • Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Fibers used to make wampum belts, cords, fish nets, burden straps, and used for rattlesnake bites.

Indigenous Meadow & Open Woodland Plants on Wesleyville Property

  • New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

Dried leaves of this nitrogen-fixing shrub make an excellent tea that was very popular during the Revolutionary War period 

  • Goldenrod (Solidago Spp.)

Leaves and flowers are made into a tea for intestinal & urinary disorders. A deep yellow dye is produced from the flowers.

  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

The Potawatomi used yarrow for hemorrhages, diarrhea, dysentery, hemotysis, menstrual affections, wounds, cancer,  hemorrhoids, hypochondria, bleeding lungs, leucorrhea, diabetes. Was good as a tea for infusion. Was smudged for 2 reasons: keeping evil spirits away from patients; scent revives patients out of coma.

  • Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Ojibwe people made poultice for snake bites, they made infusions for colds & worms in children.

  • Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron strigosis)

Leaves are edible, Ojibwe used as a perfume for curing headaches. Was used as an insect repellant. 

  • Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Used for treating catarrh & bronchial infection, leaves are used alone or in combination with other plants to make tea. Root was used in decoction, people were to drink several swallows at intervals for stomach & intestine pain.

  • Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)

Flowers & leaves edible, high in vitamin A & C. Used to treat colds & headaches.

  • Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

Causes contact dermatitis, an itchy, painful rash in most people who touch it. The rash is caused by urushiol, a clear liquid in the plant's sap. They are variable in appearance and habit, and despite its common name, it is not a "true" ivy (Hedera), but rather a member of the cashew & pistachio family (Anacardiaceae). Birds eat the seeds, animals eat the plant, it’s a native plant.

  • Common Blue Wood Aster (Aster cordifolius)

Excellent aromatic nervine in epilepsy, spasms, hysterics. Root of this Aster is one of nineteen used to make a smoke or incense when pipe smoked, attracting deer near enough to shoot with a bow & arrow.

  • Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum)

Indigenous who prescribed it to the colonists with Typhus. Also used it to treat genitourinary diseases. Urinary and vesicular lithiasis, Cystitis, urethritis, prostatitis, Rheumatism, gout and lumbago, Strong fevers (flu, malaria, typhus), Febrifuge, sudorific, astringent, Antiseptic, tonic and depurative, Antispasmodic and diuretic.

  • Wild Grape (Vitis spp.)

Indigenous groups used the vine for basketry. Leaves were boiled, grapes usually prepared in a juice, jelly or used to make a violet dye.

  • Yellow Avens (Geum aleppicum)

Made as tincture  or roots flavored for ale. Was put with linens to preserve it from moths, and had a pleasant odor. Was good for bad breath, curing diarrhea, dysenteries, asthma, leucorrhoea, gargle for sore throat & cankers, fever, hemorrhages, gastric irritation & headache.

  • Common Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris)

Whole plant was drunk as an infusion. Treated physical ailments, red eyes, dry cough, boils & dermatitis.

  • Blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis)

Was used as a writing ink, subbed in for black tea during the Civil War & has been used as a diuretic. Blackberry root & the inner bark of bur oak was used in decoction for lung troubles. The root also stopped periods & for pregnant women at risk of having abortions. Was used for treating sore eyes, eye wash & as a poultice. 

  • Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)

Mohawk people gave pregnant cows a mixture of the roots of bracken with the leaves of raspberry & wheat flour while in labor. Indigenous people used this fruit to make jams, made decoction of roots for dysentery, healing of the eye. Berries & water sweetened with maple sugar for drinks, was a refreshment at meetings & making medicine. Young twigs were stripped, placed in boiling water, steeped & sweetened with sugar. Fresh shoots were sometimes peeled & eaten. A decoction of leaves with cream was later found out by white practitioners  to suppress nausea & vomiting.

 

  • Flowering raspberry (Rubus odoratus)

The berries have been used as a diuretic. The leaves are highly astringent, they are used in the treatment of dysentery and diarrhea. The leaves have been used as a wash for old and foul sores, boils, etc. A decoction or infusion of the branches (which do not have thorns) has been used to settle the stomach. A decoction of the leaves and stems has been used to treat kidney complaints. The root is astringent, it has been used in the treatment of toothaches. A decoction of the root or root bark has been used as a treatment for diarrhea and colds.

  • Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum)

A medicine for hemorrhages & rheumatism.

 

  • Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Was drunk for dysentery, decoction of root drunk for stopping urine. Can be used for food, composter, and whole body medicinal herb.

  • Red-Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea)

Infused inner bark to make dye & treat sore eyes, wounds, infections, liver, colds, chest congestion, paralysis. Was mixed with tobacco & smoked.

  • Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

Seeds taste like walnuts, most of the plant should be cooked before consumption. Harvested early spring for salads. Was used to treat poison ivy, oak & sumac, dermatitis, bug bits, cure athletes foot, burns, swelling, joint pain & poisoning from fish. Leaves were steeped for medicinal tea, fresh juice treated headache. Whole plant was used to make a yellow dye.

  • Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Fruit can be made into a lemonade, or a tea for gargle, drink extract can be made into jelly. Leaves & berries have been mixed with tobacco. Everything but roots can dye & be used as mordant. Tannins in berries can improve light fastness. Leaves used to abate diarrhea & urinary problems.

References

  1. Botanical.com

  2. Canada’s First Nations 3rd Edition by Olive Patricia Dickason

  3. Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine by Tammi Hartung

  4. Naivetech.org

  5. Provinces & Territories of Canada Ontario, Yours to Discover by Beckett H

  6. Strength of the Earth, Classic Guide to Ojibwe Uses of Native Plants

  7. SurvivalSuvillian.com

  8. Tom & Brown’s Field Guide

  9. University of Wisconsin Madison Horticulture

  10. Use of Plants for the Past 500 Years by Charlotte Erichsen-Brown

 

Legal liability disclaimer: The application of plant uses described in this article is not endorsed or recommended by the Friends of Wesleyville Village.