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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wooly Lousewort

One of my projects this winter will be compiling and organizing information and photos for a 'Anaktuvuk guide to plants' thing I am putting together, which is going to take me years and years but you have to start some where right?  I do it only for my own sanity!  I thought it would be neat to post some info and a couple photos of various plants I am learning about.  This is not going to be gospel people, I am not a scientist or expert on herbal anything and I m not diagnosing a darn thing. Insert your expected disclaimer here.

This post is about one of the weirdest looking plants that I have seen here.  The Wooly Lousewort, aka: fernweed, bumblebee plant or Pedicularis Kanei or P. Lanata. It was literally the first plant I took pictures of when I moved here, as it looked very alien and intimidating.  The new plants grow with a furry coat that protects them in the early spring from the cold unpredictable weather.  And because of that they are one of the very first plants to start growing.  Once the plant is secured and the sun comes out in the summer in force, the wooly plant starts to grow tiny colorful blooms (here they are a very bright pink).  The whole plant can be used for various things.  The root is a bit like a yellow carrot, and can be fermented with the bloom (like a sauerkraut)  or boiled or just steamed.  I do not pick this plant regularly but I did taste the root a couple of times, it has a pleasant but faint taste, much improved by actually washing the root in water.  You can lick the nectar from the blooms or even use them for garnish for a salad.  The whole top of the plant is a very strong sedative, though if you take too much you can end up lethargic and with temporarily paralyzed legs...scary but not permanent.  I myself have not actually taken the plant as a tea, but I did dry some and stored it.  An adult dose is about one teaspoon, a very small amount.  I think I will actually wait till next year to try the tea as I have been reading about how the plant is actually parasitic and will take some of the chemical attributes on of the plant it attaches itself to.  I plan to observe what plants they like to bond to, before I start experimenting.  In the Fall after being pollinated the flowering parts withers a it then grows a very tall and odd stalk with the seeds.  After drying in the fall the seeds are released.

The newly emerged wooly lousewort with it's fuzzy coat

A pretty pic showing the showy pink blooms
A pic showing the seed stalk empty of seeds
This is actually a non-usable type of lousewort.  But it is very pretty!  probably a red tipped lousewort.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful plant! I hope you post more plant lore in the future... it's one of my favorite subjects. :)