Behold my invaluable stash of Indian Ghost Pipe, Monotropa Uniflora according to the Spirit of Science, or Corpse Plant. "Gold" in the words of Naturopath Maggie Conklin, of Ladyhawk Nutrition and Heirloom Academy of the Healing Arts, leader of last night's summer herb walk. After an hour of walking and talking and identifying various plants and their medicinal (and delectable) properties on a walk down to the Black River, Maggie recognized the dark understory of dense forest around the base of a juggernaut of a Beech Tree on the corner of the front yard as prime ground for the difficult propagation of Ghost Pipe. Then she discovered a significant patch of the delicate, waxy-white ethereal plant, aka "Gold!"
Maggie explained that the herb, unlike most, does not contain chlorophyll, a non-generator of energy from sunlight, hence its white-purple-red hue. Resembling a spine and brain stem, Ghost Pipe is a unique ally in helping human beings modulate sensory input. A tincture of the plant can be used in managing intense physical pain as well as emotional pain. "You pick it with a Mason Jar in your hand, fill the jar, immediately mix it with 100-proof vodka and let it sit for at least a week", the makings of a tincture with mere drops working quickly and dramatically in the face of deep-seated pain - degenerative discs, car accidents, a crushed pelvis and the like. Maggie clarified the mixture is made from harvesting the "aerial" parts of the Pipe, the part of the plant above ground.
Uncovering a cool cache of Indian Ghost Pipe and getting down with botany vernacular were part of the epic close to our first informative wooded walk. Being a new student and easily overwhelmed with information, I appreciated Maggie's intention to focus on six herbs - Dandelion, Yellow Dock, Burdock, Dogwood and Goldenrod. "Focus on six herbs for the next six months", she offered. Then concentrate on another six. Ten years from now you'll have quite the knowledge base." We noted Wild Cherry Bark (good for a soothing cough syrup), three-leaved Sassafras (high mineral content) and Black Walnuts (strong anti-viral properties). I'll definitely be brewing up a batch of Staghorn Sumac tea for visiting relatives this weekend, as I hear through the proverbial grapevine the stuff tastes just like lemonade. Thanks to Maggie and everyone else who came out to make the first Higher Haven Herb Walk a botanical blast. Word has it we'll be gathering together again in September for an early fall mushroom walk and hope you'll join us in finding the clearest way into the Universe through a forest wilderness.