Three early spring wild plants
Dead Nettle Lamium album
Other common names: Archangel, Stingless nettle
Dead nettle is a member of the mint family. It’s easily identifiable with its purplish triangular leaves, square stem, and small whitish-purple flowers. It’s called “dead” because it does not have stinging barbs like its relative, stinging nettle. High in fiber and iron, the flowering tops of dead nettle are edible and can be used in soups, salads and smoothies!
Medicinally, dead nettle has demulcent (a substance that relieves irritation of the mucous membranes by forming a protective film) and astringent (a substance that causes the contraction of body tissues, typically used to protect the skin and to reduce bleeding from minor abrasions.) properties. In traditional medicine, dead nettle has been used as a remedy for diarrhea and menstrual disorders like cramping and heavy bleeding.
Watercress Nasturtium officinale
Other common names: Water Rocket, Water Radish
Watercress is related to its brassica cousins, mustards, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower. Like all brassicas, it’s fast growing and among the titans of nutritional value. Watercress is found along streambanks and in slow moving streams. It is in bloom now, early April 2016, in Whites Road Park, Lansdale, PA. The small oval low-growing leaves are peppery tasting. The hollow stems allow the plant to float.
Watercress is high in Vitamin K and also a good source of Vitamin A and beta carotene.
Watercress is not noted so much for its medicinal properties, but since it’s such a nutrient dense plant, I’d say this is a case where food is great preventative medicine.
Trout Lily Erythronium americanum
Other common names: Yellow dogtooth violet, Adder’s tongue
Trout lily is a member of the lily family and I’m including it here because I never heard about or saw this plant growing up, but I think it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s an emetic (induces vomiting) and emollient (soothes and softens externally)
The yellow flowers contrast beautifully with the mottled green and brown leaves, which look like trout.