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BURDOCK. Fifty thousand pounds of this "worthless" plant are imported annually from Belgium into the United States.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars are sent abroad every year to pay for the dried leaves, seeds and roots of various medicinal plants which grow in abundance in this country, but which are classed by American farmers as weeds and ruthlessly destroyed. This article points out the opportunity for the establishment of a profitable weed farm.-EDITOR.
HROUGH the centuries else and with the word must go, seemman has been consider- ingly for all time, the general impression ing the lilies of the field of worthlessness. If it were not for some to the neglect of the of the weeds, spring would be put back weeds thereof. The lily a month. The early green in many cases bases its claim to con- is the green of the weed and often the sideration on its beauty first flower of the year is the weed's off
and on the scriptural spring. The weeds spread tables for the injunction, and both are potent. The birds in winter. The goldfinch and the weed has a beauty for those who see crossbill feast on the seeds which the tall things aright, but the spoken word has stems hold above the drifted snow, and not been for its consideration, but for its while man may feel as he may, no birdi condemnation. The weed, however, is will despise that which gives it dinner. worthy, though man would banish it, if Recently the Bureau of Plant Industry he could, to the waste places.
of the United States Department of AgEven the nature-lovers of the kind sci- riculture has been giving its attention to entifically bent, refuse to speak of the the weed. Today it is telling the farmer weed as a plant; a weed it is and nothing that that which he has been looking upon as a pest has its uses and that it may There are weeds in this country profit him to consider the weeds. It is against which extermination laws have not a matter of common knowledge that been passed which hold in their leaves, some of the weeds “infesting" the land stems or roots medicinal properties which will produce the crude drugs which have a value in the work of preserv
ing the health of the nation. It is possible in ridding land of weeds in order that crops may be grown, to make of the uprooted “pests” a source of income. Moreover it is possible to maintain upon land given over as worthless for crop growing purposes, a weed plantation, which after the harvest, will prove itself to be not less profitable than some of the tilled fields.
Lobelia (Lobelia inflata) is a poisonous weed which grows abundantly in nearly every section of the country. It has all sorts of local names, be
ing known in different parts of the land as Indian tobacco, wild tobacco, bladder pod, asthma weed,
gagroot, vomitwort, low belia and eyebright. The lobelia sprang into fame—perhaps notoriety were the better word—years upon years ago.
Samuel Thompson, a New Hampshire physician, experimented with the lobelia weed and, it was charged, used it so extensively in his practice that he succeeded in killing several of his patients, the poison of the weed doing the deadly work. It was said that Thompson by the use of lobelia “sweated two children to death." He was accused also of killing a Captain Trickey and a young man named Lovell with over-doses of the weed. The doctor was arrested and tried for murder, but finally was acquitted. His life was one constant warfare with the regular practitioners, and his use of lobelia was the cause of it. The
regulars said that Thompson's theory GOLDEN SEAL.
and practice of medicine was, “I purge 'em, I sweat 'em, and whether
they want to die or not, I let 'em." today, in large part, are obtained by im The leafy stem of the lobelia grows ocportation from abroad. Alice Henkel, an casionally to a height of three feet from assistant of the government's plant indus- a fibrous root. The whole plant contains try bureau, says that the roots, leaves and an acrid milky juice. It flowers from flower of several of the weed species re- July until the frost comes, the blossoms garded as plagues in the United States being pale blue and minute. The leaves are gathered, prepared and cured in and the flowering tops are used in mediEurope, and not only form useful com- cine, for notwithstanding their drastic modities there, but supply to a considera- properties, they are of salutary service in ble extent the demands of foreign lands. Skilled hands. The seeds also are in good demand. The price paid for the leaves ing considered a sovereign remedy for and tops ranges from three to eight sore eyes in many parts of the western cents a pound while the seed brings from country. Further he says “It makes an fifteen to twenty cents a pound. It should excellent mouth wash." be borne in mind that the lobelia is poi- The Indians knew the value of the sonous and it is the intention of the gov- weed which at the first was rejected of ernment's experts who are directing at- . the white man. They used the root as a tention to the value of certain weeds to medicine and the juices of stems and impress upon the minds of the gatherers leaves as a dye for their clothing and a that the medicinal properties of the har- stain for their faces. vest should not be tested at home, but left rather as subjects for the physician's prescription.
Everyone who is drawn beyond the shadow of city walls knows the burdockArctium lappa. If one does not know it by either of the names first given, he probably can pick a familiar name from these : cockle button, beggars' buttons, hurr-bur, stick button, hardock and bardane.
The burdock is unsightly but useful. It has a neighbor, in many places, the skunk cabbage, which most people hold in detestation, but the skunk cabbage is worthy nevertheless. It is the first of the meadow growths to feel the impelling influence of spring, and in the summer when all other creatures avoid it, the Maryland yellow-throat, a birdbeauty above all other bird-beauties, builds its nest in its heart.
Fully 50,000 pounds of burdock root are brought into this country annually from Belgium for medicinal use. There is no reason why the native burdock should not be marketed. The seeds are of service in medicine
POKEWEED. also, both roots and seeds being
A valuable remedy for allaying inflammation. used in blood and skin diseases. The leaves have a value in the Like every other thing that grows and fresh state as cooling poultices which are is known to the country folk, the golden applied to certain forms of swelling and seal has a legion of common names, yelulcers. The root of the burdock is worth low-root, yellow puccoon, orange root, from three to eight cents per pound and yellow paint, Indian paint, Indian dye, the seed is worth from five to ten cents. golden root, curcuma, wild turmeric, yel
Golden seal, Hydrastis Canadensis, low eye, jaundice root, ground raspberry, called a weed generally, has been lifted and others, most of which are sugby the scientist into the kingdom of gested by the color of the root, the applants. Lewis and Clark while on their pearance of the fruit or the uses which expedition collected specimens of the the plant serves. golden seal and Lewis wrote of it as be The first general demand for golden
seal was created by the members of the for various diseases of the blood and the eclectic school of practitioners sixty years skin and in certain cases for allaying ago. The root of the plant has occupied a pain and reducing inflammation. The place in the pharmacopoeia of the United useful products of the weed are worth States for forty-seven years. Golden seal five cents a pound in the market. is disappearing in its
There is a big Amerwild state before the
ican woodpecker, Coadvance of civilization.
laptes 'auratus, which It grows in open
has thirty-seven names. woods, and deforesta
In one section of the tion is exterminating
country he bears it. It is a valuable
one name and in drug plant and .
other sections other the Department
names. In the botanof Agriculture is
ical field, the foxglove, now experiment
Digitalis purpurea, ing in its culti
is a close second in the vation with the belief
matter of common that before long it
names to our friend the can be shown that a
woodpecker. It is profitable industry can
probable that persons be maintained in grow
who don't know the ing it upon lands prop
foxglove by the specific erly conditioned for its
appellation given, may thriving.
know it under some of Pokeweed carries in
the following designaits name the word of
tions: thimbles, fairy contumely. It cannot
cap, fairy fingers, fairy escape classification
thimbles, fairy bells, with the supposedly
dog's finger, finger evil things of the field
flower, lady's glove, as long as its second
lady-fingers, la dy's syllable holds its place
thimble, popdock, AapIt is common from the
dock, flopdock, lion's New England states
mouth, rabbit's flower, to Minnesota and from
cottagers, throatwort, the lakes and the St.
and Scotch mercury. Lawrence to the gulf.
The foxglove is a While Americans
handsome flowering spurn the weed, visit
weed which was origiing Europeans some
nally introduced into years ago took a fancy
this country from Euto it, carried it across
rope as a garden plant, the water and gave it
but it has escaped from a place as an orna
the bounds of civilizamental garden plant.
tion and in many parts Pokeweed attains a
of the country is asA member of the aster family, but relegated to height at times of nine.
the weed patch,
suming the character feet. In summer it
of a weed. The foxproduces long clusters of whitish flowers glove occasionally grows to a height of which are followed in the fall by green more than four feet. It flowers in June berries which later ripen and turn to a and its blossoms have a beauty beyond rich purple color. Both the berries and that of most of the flowers of the field the roots are employed in a medicine. and garden. The plant, or weed as you The berries are poisonous and the making will, supplies to the medical world the of remedies therefrom should be left to drug known as digitalis. It is of great the scientist. Root and berry are used value in heart troubles and at least 60,000
pounds of the drug are imported into citizens of the country districts should America from Europe every year. None not make money by plucking them. of the home product ever has been used. The drug known as pinkroot is debut an “assay" has shown that the leaves rived from the underground portion of the wild American
of ihe plant—no weed plant are fully as valua
this—Spigelia marilandible as are those of the
ca, which grows abundfoxglove of Europe.
antly throughout the Both the leaves and the
southern states. For years seed of the jimson weed,
pinkroot as a vermifuge Datura stramonium are
held an important place medicinal Jimson grows
in materia medica. By throughout the entire
and by the plant began to warmer sections of the
lose caste among physiUnited States and in most
cians and within the last places it bears a name by
fifty years its use has which, if it has any feel
greatly decreased. ings in the matter, it
Dr. R. H. True of the probably is in no wise
Government's Bureau of proud to be distinguished
Plant Industry became -stinkweed. Stramonium,
interested in the fact that the product of jimson, is
pinkroot was being drive used principally to relieve
en from the market and asthma. More than 100,
he undertook an investi000 pounds of the leaves
gation to find out the reaof the weed are imported
son for the decline in the into America every year.
drug's reputation for effiand there seems to be no
ciency. He discovered good reason why the home
that an unsuspected subproduct should not be
stitute had crept into the used to supply the de
market and had to a conmand. The leaves of the
siderable degree replaced jimson are poisonous and
the true article. As a rethe country .doctor has
sult of this Washington had many a hurry up call
expert's work, pinkroot as to attend children who
a remedy may come into have put the flowers and
its own again. the seeds of the weed into
There are more wild their mouths. A little
medicinal plants in the of the juice goes a long
United States than are way in the matter of poi
dreamed of by any, save soning.
the doctor, the druggist Boneset, Eupatorium
and the botanist. There perfoliatum, brings up
may be money in weeds memories of drastic child
for an enterprising perhood doses. People call
son, who will take the the weed feverwort,
trouble to write to the sweating plant, teasel and
Bureau of Plant Industry ague weed. Boneset be
LOBELIA, A Poisonous Weed.
in Washington. It will longs to the aster family. The seed is worth 15 to 20 cents a pound. return an answer that it but while the asters, or
is well within the range some of them at least, are reared care- of possibilities may prove the inspirafully in garden spots, the boneset is rele- tion of a profitable and unique business. gated to the wilds of the field. Boneset And the answer of the Bureau will not leaves are worth from two to eight cents be based on theory, for it has successa pound, and as the weed grows abund- fully raised several crops of most of antly, there is no reason why American the weeds mentioned above and has