As long as I have lived here on Roan Creek I have taken great delight in walking our woods and identifying the flora and fauna of our little corner of middle Tennessee.  20 years later I have noted variations, seasons, micro climates, and mini habitats.  My explorations have created a love and appreciation for what my Lord spoke into existenceCome with me and I will share with you some of our bounty... some edible...some medicinal...some useful as dyes or fiber...some purely for the enjoyment of living. 

Passion Flower

(Passiflora Incarnata)

The Official Wildflower of Tennessee, Passion Flower is a vining plant also known as apricot vine,  that grows abundantly in pasture edges, fence rows and roadsides.  It forms a beautiful flower with  lacey  purple petals.   It then gives way to a roundish fruit about the size of a lemon that is light green to yellowish when ripe and the skin is wrinkly. 

Inside is the juice covered seeds.  They are traditionally made into jams or wine or just eaten fresh.
Medicinally arial parts , stems and flowers are dried and used in a tea to aid sleep, stress relief, high bloodpressure, anxiety, nervous disorders and seizures.


     The Wild Hydrangea is native to North America.  It grows abundantly in moist woods to swampy habitat.   The bark has a tendency to peel with each layer being different colors giving it the common name "7 Bark".  It is known to have two resins, gum, sugar, starch, albumen, soda, lime potassa, magnesia, sulphuric and phosphoric acids, a protosalt of iron, and a glucoside, Hydrangin. No tannin has been found, but a fixed oil and a volatile oil have been obtained. From the alcoholic extract of the flowers of H. hortensia, two crystalline substances were isolated, Hydragenol and Hydrangeaic acid, according to Grieves Modern Herbal
     The root was reportedly used by the native Americans to treat kidney stones and infections of the kidney, bladder and urinary tract.

(Hydrastis Canadensis)
 Goldenseal was used widely by the Native Americans for several indications.  It was used to treat inflammatory conditions as well as infections.  It has become one of the most popular herbs sold on the American market and has recently been studied and proven to be a potent herbal antibiotic and immune system enhancer.
Goldenseal's numerous uses are attributed to its antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. Goldenseal contains calcium, iron, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, B-complex, and other nutrients and minerals. The roots and rhizomes of goldenseal contain many isoquinoline alkaloids, including hydrastine, berberine, canadine, canadaline, and l-hydrastine as well as traces of essential oil, fatty oil and resin. The alkaloid berberine  is most likely responsible for Goldenseal's effectiveness against bacteria, protozoa, fungi, Streptococci.     


     Chickweed is a wonderful little plant that grows in waste places and edge places.  It is native to Europe but grows in America as a common weed.  It is commonly used as a topical for skin conditions.  The Arial parts are what is used.  Chickweed is also edible in small amounts.  It contains some natural nitrates though so there is a precautionary caveat to those who are pregnant or nursing, or are allergic to nitrates.

    STINGING NETTLE  is another plant that is truly a wonder.  If you have ever brushed up against one you know how painful their sting can be!  The stem is covered in little hairlike needles that release a very irritating chemical concoction that can leave you blistered and hurting.  However, that is this wonderful plants natural defenses! 
     Stinging Nettle has a long history of being used for everything from yellow dye to arthritis.  The plant has been used since the Bronze Age for it's long fibers to make a yarn that is finer  than hemp and softer than cotton.  The rhizome can be used to make a yellow dye and the leaves can be used to make a greenish yellow dye.  
      Stinging Nettle was picked young in early spring by the Native Americans and eaten in soup or cooked like spinach.  The Nettle is high in magnesium, sulfur and iron making it a very nutritious addition to a spring meal.  Soaking or cooking the Nettle will remove the chemicals that cause the sting.  
      Medicinally the Nettle has many constituents that make it useful for a number of common ailments.  Long used in the spring as a spring tonic to help get rid of the winter sluggishness in many of our bodies systems.  The iron and vitamin K in it helps build the blood and help the liver process proteins and rid the body of toxins.  The high mineral content make it a good choice for women in pregnancy and also who suffer from PMS.  It also contains a good amount of boron which helps the body keep it's calcium thus helping over the long term in cases of arthritis.  It is also a diuretic and helps the body eliminate urine by stimulating the kidney's.  Clairol uses 40 tons of it a year as a hair conditioner.  Russian scientists have found it to be a powerful antibacterial useful in mouthwashes for gingivitis. Many of stinging nettles traditional uses have been proven to have scientific basis.



     Cleavers (Galium aparine)  or "goose grass" as it is also known, has been popular through the ages in folk medicine as well as a tasty addition to a meal.    It can be steamed like spinach.  Native to Eurasia and North America it can be found growing in woods, along ditch banks  and other moist areas in early spring.  It has oblong lance like leaves that array out of the stem in groups of six.  The Stem is square and sticky.  Cleavers is a member of the Bedstraw family.  
             There is some scientific studies to back up the folk medicine claims that Cleavers is a good diuretic, and beneficial to help the lymphatic system move toxins away from a sight.  Physicians from Pliny (23-79a.d.) to modern times have used it for it's ability to help in weight loss.  The fresh juice is used as a tonic herb in spring to help with sluggish lymph conditions.  The herb used as a poultice is useful on insect bites and stings.  Made into a salve it is used for a wide range of skin ailments like scrapes, eczema, psoriasis, and especially burns.
     It is said that Cleavers is an indicator of loam in the soil and it likes the soil ph to be 5.5 to 8.0


American Ginseng is the North American cousin to the more famous Asian Ginseng.  A slow growing perennial with a fleshy root and a one to two foot high stem.  The leaves are divided into three to seven sharp-toothed, lance shaped leaflets.  The fruits are two-seeded red berries.  American Ginseng is found from Maine to Georgia and from Oklahoma to Minnesota in moist woods.  It thrives on rich north facing slopes in partial shade. American Ginseng has been traditionally dug for its roots and sold into the Chinese market.  However lack of good stewardship practices has made it endangered in most of its native habitat. 
One of the most famous herbs, it has been used throughout the centuries as a "tonic herb" or adaptogen.  It is primarily used  for increased mental efficiency, stamina and energy.  It contains ginsenosides that stimulate the immune system and fights fatigue and stress.
American Ginseng supports  the adrenal glands to help the body adapt to different stresses.       



     Joe Pye Weed is a tall weed that grows up to 6-8 foot tall.  Its flowers are light pink to mauve (purple).  The leaves are ovate and are in groups of 4 around the stalk.    The constituents are diuretic, antirheumatic promotes menstruation.     The common name is Gravel Root which is named for its action- diuretic used to cleanse the urinary stones.



Vaccinium Parvifolium 

The Summer Huckleberry or Red Huckleberry is common in the eastern U.S. It is a favorite food of wildlife and edible and good for humans.  Huckleberries are contain anthocyanins in various levels depending on species.   The Indigenous peoples and early settlers gathered Huckleberries as a common food.    They make a great pie or jam - if you can get them before the critters. 


Ocimum Sanctum

Holy Basil is a wonderful herb!  Fantastic tasting and so many medicinal properties!  Holy Basil is an herb that is easily grown in the home garden.  It has a delicious flavor you can add to dishes and that make a pleasing cup of tea.  Used for centuries in Ayurveda (traditional Indian) medicine for treating respiratory disorders, heart disease, and stress.  It has been proven to have germicidal, fungacidal, anti viral and antibiotic properties.  It works especially well on the respiratory system so is good to use on ailments like flu, bronchitis, and asthma.  The essential oils Eugenol, Camphene, and Cineole are responsible for its strong healing power for the respiratory system.
    The high Vitamin C content, Eugenol and other antioxidants help protect the heart from free radical damage and normalize cholesterol levels in the blood.  
     Vitamin C, Camphene , potassium and other antioxidants in this remarkably tasty plant also help to lower stress levels.  It soothes nerves, lowers blood pressure significantly and helps repair damage caused by free radicals. 
      Holy Basil is also effective in destroying 99% of bad bacteria in the mouth.  Reducing bad breath, cavities, and mouth ulcers.  Holy Basil has shown some effectiveness in fighting mouth cancer as well. 
     Holy basil contains essential oils that can even help with the pain of migraines.  All in all it is a wonderful herb to grow and keep in your tea cabinet!

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