Another Part in my series on edible plants in Alaska and the North, eventually i hope to cover about 95% of everything, but to keep it more interesting and easier to read, it will be in small parts!
Maranta and Sagittaria species
Description: The arrowhead is an aquatic plant with arrow-shaped leaves and potatolike tubers in the mud.
Habitat and Distribution: Arrowhead is found worldwide in temperate zones and the tropics. It is found in moist to wet habitats.
Edible Parts: The rootstock is a rich source of high quality starch. Boil the rootstock and eat it as a vegetable.
Description: The arctic willow is a shrub that never exceeds more than 60 centimeters in height and grows in clumps that form dense mats on the tundra.
Habitat and Distribution: The arctic willow is common on tundras in North America. Europe, and Asia. You can also find it in some mountainous areas in temperate regions.
Edible Parts: You can collect the succulent, tender young shoots of the arctic willow in early spring. Strip off the outer bark of the new shoots and eat the inner portion raw. You can also peel and eat raw the young underground shoots of any of the various kinds of arctic willow. Young willow leaves are one of the richest sources of vitamin C, containing 7 to 10 times more than an orange.
Arctium minus & spp.
Description: These large biennial herbs stand 1 – 2.5 m tall and have broad alternate leaves with several flower heads. The leaves are ovate to oblong, even cordate and up to 50 cm long. The flowers are tubular, pink or purplish. The seeds are borne in prickly burrs.
Habitat & Distribution: The plant was introduced from Europe and now grows in waste lands throughout North America.
Edible parts & Uses: The young shoots and leaves are cooked as a green. The inner pith of the stems can be eaten raw. The roots are eaten both boiled and roasted and are often used as a coffee substitute.
An infusion of the roots is used to stimulating bile flow and has a mild laxative effect. The tea or a tincture of the roots has been used for stomach complaints and for a prolapsed uterus. A decoction of the roots is used for gout and rheumatism, to wash sores and traditionally as an antidote after eating poisonous food, especially mushrooms. The powdered seeds have been used as a diuretic. The leaves can be used as a poultice for poison ivy, poison oak, to soothe skin irritations, for impetigo, syphilis, gonorrhea and sunburn.
The seeds are an excellent diuretic. A tincture of the seed has been used as a folk remedy for joint inflammation.
Description: Arnicas are perennial herbs growing from a rootstock 2 – 5 cm long. They have erect stems and stand 15 – 60 cm tall. The leaves are opposite, simple, entire or toothed. The composite flower head is yellow and flowering is from July – August.
Distribution & Habitat: It can be found in mountainous regions throughout the Rocky Mountains. There are many species with similar properties.
Preparation & Uses: Arnica is well known as a stimulant. This herb is almost always used in the form of a tincture. It is one of the best painkillers to use for sprains, fractures, and bruising. It is effective as an external liniment and is extremely fast acting.. It should not be used if the skin is broken and the area is bleeding as it is toxic if it enters the bloodstream.
This herb should not be use internally, except under special conditions, because it can cause, among other effects, blistering of the intestinal tract.