CATNIP: The tea is consumed for colds and flu. Catnip was one of the favorite herbs to treat children's flu and colds.
HENBANE: Used at one time as a preventative and "cure" ( burned in the fireplace) of "curses" and "hexes", now rarely found out in the wild in Tennessee.
COW DUNG: This was ONCE used to make a poultice,of sorts, this poultice was for lung disorders. The dung was boiled in muslin cloth several times, obviously, and placed on the chest. This was supposed to be excellent for "drawing out" pneumonia. This remedy is of the older variety, around the early part of the 20th century and probably began earlier I do believe this remedy is no longer extant, luckily.
DANDELION: This is used as spring tonic, of sorts, the new leaves are eaten in salads in spring. The leaves are "wilted " with bacon fat from the pan and the bacon is added to the leaves, also. The fresh leaves are considered "blood purifiers". The flower heads are made into wine. Children blow the seed heads and make a wish
ELDER: People on the plateau make a delicious wine with the fruit of this bush , which is ripe around midsummer or late summer depending on the condition of the weather.
SASSAFRAS: This is considered one of the Spring tonics/ blood purifiers. People in this region gather the root and this is used to make a tea. What the older people considered blood purifiers may be our "modern" antioxidants. It was considered "bad luck" to burn sassafrass.
GINSENG (SANG): Those with rheumatism and arthritis use this to ease the pain. It is taken as a tea. The plant grows wild on the plateau, but it becoming scarce, due to the high price payed for the root. It is necessary to obtain a permit for picking it in the wild here, I believe.
GARLIC: This is eaten for fever, flu, and other contagious diseases.
RAMP: This strong scented plant is eaten for contagious diseases and used in cookery, as well. A Ramp festival is held in Tennessee each year, which this plant is featured in all the dishes.
POKE: The tiny leaves on the top most part of the plant are eaten. The larger leaves become poisonous. The berries are used to dye cloth and the shade is purplish, but it needs a mordant to fix the color. The Berries can also be used to make "ink", smash them in a cloth, and use the juice, this stains the hands, so if don't want royal purple hands use gloves. The "ink" has to be preserved with alcohol or benzoin.
SUMAC(RHUS spp.): The red fruit of this bush is used to make a tea , sort of a reddish lemonade. The elderly people call it Shumac (shoo - mack and sometimes shoo - mach). There are several different varities of sumac around this area.
GOLDTHREAD: This plant does actually look like thread and has a yellowish appearance, sometimes it has a more orange look. The plant is picked and a wish is made. Then the person making a wish places the plant down in another location and if it grows again, the wish is fulfilled. Goldthread is difficult to find, since it has been picked so much.
"BLOOD THINNING": The older people used these herbs as "spring tonics". This was nescessary after the heavy winter diet of salt pork, smokehouse meats, gravies and few vegetables. Canned and preserved vegetables used to be the normal diet in the winter. The tonic herbs were sassafrass (blood thinning), Dandelion (digestion, minerals and blood thinning), chickweed , turnip tops (greens), etc. Everything came from a local source, except for coffee, sugar and sometimes flour. People had to travel many miles for these things in the 19th century and early part of the 20th. Flour was bought in hundred pound sacks! So using local items was essential.
THOMSONIAN MEDICINE: This was "practiced" by one of our ancestors.
BUCKEYE: The fruit of the tree is carried for good luck and as a preventative of arthritis (rheumatism).
GRAPE LEAVES: Grape leaves are used in pickling cucumbers. Placed at the top of the cucumbers to hold them down in the container and to keep the air off the cucumbers. This way they won't ruin! The leaves also flavour the pickles, somewhat. The vines of the plant are used to make wreaths, as well as Ivy. The vines can also be used to make baskets
WILLOW (SALIX spp.): The bark is used for mild aches and pains. A flexible "Y" shaped branch, can be used for a "water witcher" or a diviner for wells.
HEAL ALL (Prunella vulgaris): Used for problems of the mouth and throat.
PINE 'KNOTS": These formations in the Pine were used for light the way a candle would be used. The Pine "Tar" or sap would flare up brightly. People still used them for this purpose up until the 1930's and 1940's.
FRUIT BEARING TREES: Apple and Peach tree forks are also used to find water in Tennessee.