Page 1

K n o w Yo u r N e i g h b o r h o o d

Wildflowers

a ďŹ eld diary :: Gowanus Canal

R u c h i k a

L o d h a


Wildflowers of Gowanus The field diary reveals the very existent and visible but ignored and overlooked ‘weed’ plant species growing in the nooks, cracks, and crevices in Gowanus. Many of these identified plant species have beneficial qualities besides medicinal, herbal, or edible uses. The wild and invasive character of the plants is often viewed in the negative sense (leading to loss of biodiversity due to colonization, for example) rendering them unwanted or vicious. However, these species are ruderal and adapt in the most unpleasant or unconducive conditions where other species might not thrive, sometimes even improving soil conditions. In the context like Gowanus, where new parks and open spaces are envisioned as amenities (which might end up reproducing the toxicity in the water and soil around the canal), these plants, if included in the process, could ameliorate the toxicity of the soil improving its quality and rendering it useful for future use. By revealing this layer of nature and shifting its narrative, I wish to evoke a conscious awareness of and engagement with the (nonhuman) species that cohabit our environments. I encourage everyone who is reading to stroll around their environments, look for, document, identify, be inspired by and share their experiences in order to create a collective knowledge and conversation about our marginalized neighbors!

Disclaimer: Even though the species described here have edible and medical values, the atmospheric, soil and water conditions in Gowanus are toxic (beyond levels that are safe) for human or animal ingestion. There are many other uses like making pigments, phytoremediation or simply being curious and learning more about the environment. source: A Brief Guide to the Wildflowers of the Gowanus by James Walsh; Projects by Ellie Irons


Illustration of Wildflower

Information window

Colloquial Name Latin Name Information

3

source

Number corresponds to location on map

Field Notes Jot down information like: Characteristics: what does it look like? height, color, leaf size, type, flower or berries Habitat: where did you see it? on or around a fence, on a vacant lot, through a crack in asphalt, concrete, paving Ecology: what did you see around it? butterflies, bees, bugs, birds, rodents, animals You can also click and add photographs or sketches or rub the berry on the paper to make a color palette


American Plantain Plantago major // native to America

1

Plantains may be regarded as a weed, but have a long history of being used as food plants and healing herbs in many diverse cultures. The Native Americans used it to heal wounds, cure fever, and to draw out toxins from stings and bites, including snakebites. Young leaves and seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. Seeds can be ground into a meal and mixed with flour. Dried leaves make a healthy herbal tea. source: Edible Wild Food

Field Notes


Bitter Dock Rumex obtusifolius // native to Europe Flowers are food for caterpillars of Bronze copper butterfly. It has many medicinal uses- leaves are rustic remedy for burns and scalds, dressing blisters, and nettle stings. source: A Brief Guide to the Wildflowers of the Gowanus ~ James Walsh

4

Field Notes


Bittersweet or Deadly Nightshade Solanum dulcamara // native to Eurasia This wildflower is related to the potato, tomato, tobacco, and eggplant family. However, experts are unable to confirm if its poisonous.

6

Field Notes

source: A Brief Guide to the Wildflowers of the Gowanus ~ James Walsh


Black Medick Medicago lupulina // native to Europe Aqueous extracts of the plant have antibacterial properties against micro-organisms. The leaves and seeds are edible, the seed helps with digestion of proteins if eaten before sprouting. It is also a good green manure plant resistant to clover rot.

8

10

Field Notes

source: Plants for A Future


Chickweed Stellaria media Chickweed has been used as a folk remedy for asthma, blood disorders, conjunctivitis, constipation, inflammation, dyspepsia, skin ailments, and obesity. Its extract is used to treat rashes and sores. The young shoots have been used as salad greens. In homeopathy, the plant is used to relieve rheumatic pains and psoriasis.

1

5

6

Field Notes

source: Drugs.com


Common Groundsel Senecio vulgaris // native to Eurasia, North Africa Formerly used in the place of hops in brewing beer. However, its medicinal and edible uses today are highly questionable and dangerous for humans and other animals. source: A Brief Guide to the Wildflowers of the Gowanus ~ James Walsh; The Metropolitan Field Guide

1

Field Notes


Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca // native to America The young shoots, stems, flower buds, immature fruits, and roots of milkweed were boiled and eaten as a vegetable by various indigenous groups. An infusion of common milkweed root was used to relieve backaches, stomach aches, the sap to remove warts, for ringworm, and for bee stings. The plant was also used as a laxative.

3

Field Notes

source: USDA NRCS Plant guide


Common Mullelin Verbascum thapsus // native to Europe The common mullelin is food for certain birds and insects. Certain insects also use it as shelter. The plant contains properties that could help suppress muscle spasms, relieve inflammation in lungs, sinus, and healing wounds. source: Survival Sherpa

2

Field Notes


Common Vetch Vicia sativa // native to Europe Common vetch is used as a cover crop, green manure, pasture, silage, and hay. Its high dry matter, nitrogen accumulation, and the absence of hard seeds, make it an excellent winter leguminous cover crop in annual vegetable rotations. When planted alone, it can provide substantial amounts of Nitrogen to the following crop.

6

Field Notes

source: Web Grower


Common Yellow Woodsorell Oxalis stricta // native to North America, Eurasia

10

Small amounts of leaves, flowers, seeds, tubers/roots eaten raw are not dangerous. Tender stems and leaves can be steeped in hot water and had as sour lemonade-type drink, or tea. Add to salads for a lemony taste. Cook with greens to enhance flavors. Use flowers or young seed pods raw in salads or as cooked greens. Wood sorrel is rich in Vitamin C. Historically, it was used to treat scurvy, fevers, urinary infections, mouth sores, nausea and sore throats. source: Wild Flower; Wild Edible

Field Notes


Dandelion Taraxacum Dandelion leaves act as a diuretic, increasing the amount of urine your body makes. The leaves are used to stimulate the appetite and help digestion. Dandelion flower has antioxidant properties. Dandelion may also help improve the immune system. Herbalists use dandelion root to detoxify the liver and gallbladder, and dandelion leaves to help kidney function.

1

Field Notes

source: University of Maryland Medical Centre


3 5th Street 2

4 4th Street

Smith Street 1 Huntington Street

6

2n


11 Degraw Street 9

10

Sackett Street Union Street

8

Carroll Street

7

1st Street

nd Street 5 3rd Street


Dead Nettle Lamium Dead Nettle is considered a diuretic, diaphoretic, astringent, purgative, and styptic. The fresh leaves are helpful for external wounds or cuts. Young leaf shoots are commonly used in salads or smoothies. Tea helps treat chills, promote kidney discharge and perspiration. source: Edible Wild Food

6

Field Notes


Dooryard Knowtweed Polygonum Arenastrum Knotweed is an astringent and diuretic herb. Seeds, young leaves, and plants are edible, raw or cooked. The plants are rich in zinc and can be used in all the ways that buckwheat is used, either whole or dried and ground into a powder for use in pancake or biscuits. The leaves are a tea substitute.

7

Field Notes

source: Plants For A Future


Evening Primrose Oenothera // native America

4

Field Notes

Although Native Americans used the seeds for food and made poultices from the whole plant to heal bruises, evening primrose oil has recently been used as medicine to relieve itchiness caused by skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis, to ease breast tenderness from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and to help manage menopausal symptoms. source: University of Maryland Medical Centre


Fleabane Erigeron // native to America

4

5

Native American tribes used fleabane to make poultice or incense to treat headaches, inflammation of the nose, throat, or skin or head colds. Roots were made into tea or chewed to treat colds, coughs, and break fevers. It was used as an eye medicine to treat dimness of sight; as astringent, diuretic, and aid for kidneys. The roots were boiled to make a drink for menstruation troubles. It was also used for blood clotting, to ease heart trouble and epilepsy. Cows, deer graze this plant for forage; butterflies, bees, moths pollinate the flowers. source: USDA NRCS Plant guide

Field Notes


Garlic Mustard Alliaria officinalis // native to Europe Medicinally, it can be used in treating gangrene and ulcers. “Poor people in the country ate leaves of this plant with their bread� (according to an 18th century English writer); today, it can be used as garlic flavored herb rich in vitamin A and C. Additionally, it can be planted for erosion control. source: Columbia.edu

11

Field Notes


Lamb’s Quarter Chenopodium album

3

A purifying plant that helps restore healthy nutrients to poor quality soil. The leaves can be used as a poultice to ease burns, swellings and itching. It is a rich source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamins A, B2, C and Niacin. Although leaves, shoots, seeds, flowers are edible, Saponins in the seeds are potentially toxic and should not be consumed in excess. It contains oxalic acid thus, only small quantities of raw ingestion. Cooking removes this acid. It can be eaten raw in salads, smoothies, juices, or cooked in soups. source: Edible Wild Food; Dig Herbs

Field Notes


Mugwort Artemisia vulgaris // native to Europe Mugwort leaves and roots were used as herbal medicine that preserved wayfarer from fatigue, sunstrokes, even wild beasts and evil spirits. Today it is used as aromatic and bitter condiment, or culinary herb.

1

Field Notes

source: A Brief Guide to the Wildflowers of the Gowanus ~ James Walsh


Rough-fruited Cinquefoil Potentilla recta // native to Europe The whole plant is astringent and anti-inflammatory. A poultice of the pounded leaves and stems can be applied to open sores and wounds. Raw, ripe or cooked fruit is edible. source: Practical Plants

9

Field Notes


Shepherd’s Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris // native to Eurasia

1

4

5

Field Notes

All the above-ground parts are used in herbal medicine, collected in bloom and dried for later use. The herb has been used medicinally since ancient times as an astringent and blood clotting agent. During World War I, it was used by soldiers to stop bleeding. Leaves can be added to salads or cooked. The seed pods have a peppery taste and the seeds have been used as a substitute for mustard seeds. source: The Herbal Resource


Storksbill Erodium cicutarium // native to Eurasia

5

Young leaves and stems, raw or cooked, can be added to salads, sandwiches, soups. The whole plant is astringent and haemostatic. It has been used as a wash on animal bites, skin infections and as a poultice (of root) for sores, rashes. Tea made from the leaves is diaphoretic and diuretic and has been used in treating typhoid fever. Leaves soaked in bath water to treat rheumatism. Seeds contain vitamin K, poultice of them is applied to gouty typhus. source: Plants For A Future

Field Notes


White Clover Trifolium repens // native to Europe

6

7

10

Field Notes

White clover is the most important pasture legume. It is highly palatable, nutritious forage for all classes of livestock. It is food for deer and elk. Grass seedings benefit from the nitrogen produced by white clover included in the seed mixture. Solid stands of white clover form a good erosion controlling cover on moist fertile soils, but stands may be sparse or spotty on dry sites. source: USDA NRCS Plant guide


Wild Madder Rubia peregrina // native to Asia Wild madder was commonly used as a source for dye obtained from the ground-up roots used for cloth. In 1860s, due to the manufacturing of synthetic dye material, the use of wild madder was restricted to artisanal cottage industry. No known edible or medicinal use. source: Britannica

3

Field Notes


Know Your Neighborhood Wildflowers: a field diary of Gowanus Canal is an invitation for people to walk around their neighborhoods and identify wildflowers - their characteristics (color, height, leaf-shape), habitats (fences, cracks within concrete, vacant lots), ecologies (birds, insects, animals attracted to or around the plant). The field diary in not only a field guide that provides information but also prompts curiosity about the wildflowers or invasive species that grow within/around Gowanus Canal. It becomes a personal field diary to note down experiences, ideas, questions, sketches through fieldwork. My vision for this field diary is to motivates curiosity and inclination into actionable engagement through creative fieldwork.

Know Your Neighborhood Wildflowers: a field diary  

A sensorial, exploratory, and experiential exercise to generate curiosity about and engagement with nature by identifying wildflowers in our...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you