**Note. Click the little slider image to be brought to a full slideshow and taken on a digital Urban Plant Walk**
It’s hard to be away from the forest for long, the quiet expanse of engaging plants and animals that call you to a sense of freedom and primal humanity.
Sometimes though, I find myself in city landscapes, and with the knowing that I will eventually return to the forest, I find myself excited by the hustle and bustle (if not a little trapped), and I also find myself with my nose at my toes checking out all of the city medicine.
Plants thrive everywhere. There is no stopping them. Though I would never harvest the medicine found in a city for therapeutic purposes, I instead use it as a teaching tool. Look! There is medicine at our feet… there is Plantain trying to heal the wounds in the sidewalk, Dandelion working on the toxins in the concrete, Echinacea spilling out from gardens to fortify the boardwalks and call in the honey and bumble bees.
In the city we can learn about the medicine, learn how to identify it, how it works, what it can do, and then we can go out into the wild and find the same medicines. As for the city plants, sometimes I find them useful in medicine pouches, or even just gently rubbed between the fingers. They carry with them the ability to survive such a harsh landscape, full of modern pollution, noise, and light. They may be able to help you deal better with a modern world yourself.
I find the flowers of the city landscape are especially good for flower essences for those who live in these landscapes. Don’t get me wrong, all of my medicine is sourced from organic and sustainable farms and wildscapes that make one confident in the purity of the medicine they offer… however, so many humans don’t live in these pristine environments, and so many humans have no choice on this matter. Plants can help us adapt to our environments, even on an energetic level when given as a flower essence, so perhaps there is more medicine to be found in the city than what first meets the eye.
On this walk today I found:
- Plantain (Plantago major) pretty much everywhere. Healing the wounds of the city.
- Echinacea spp helping to fortify the city.
- Lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album) going to seed. This is a lovely North American/Asian relative of Quinoa, and its grains can be used similarly. A part of me hopes that we will start domesticating it here so that we can stop relying on Peru for Quinoa!
- A lovely urban apple tree bursting out of someone’s front yard.
- An escaped tomato on the sidewalk hoping to get in a few last fruits before fall.
- Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) reaching up towards the steps, trying to send tenants good dreams or dispel bad ones.
- Yellow Wood Sorrel (Oxalis stricta), finished flowering, but still sour and tasty all year long!
- Grapes winding up the staircase to my host’s home, and climbing up entire walls in the city like ivy.
- Rose hips gathered at the footsteps of many houses.
- A Ginko (Ginko biloba), just in the garden of the next house over. I’m hoping I’ll be here long enough to see it turn yellow, which is truly a spectacular vision to behold.
- Greater Celandine (Chalidonium majus), not something I give internally, but the fresh sap can be used topically on warts and skin growths.
- And of course dandelion and clover, working on ridding the streets of toxins.