My mountains are filled with tiny little smiles in the form of spring wildflowers. Their numbers seem to double every day. As the Virginia Spring Beauty is one of my favorite Spring flowers I decided to study up on it a little more.
Please remember that Forage Friday is a conversation starter and the information presented is for entertainment purposes.
Always seek a positive ID on the plant before consuming. Medicinal values of the plants are given in a historical context and I am not a doctor or formally trained herbalist.
One of the common names for Virginia Spring Beauty is “Fairy Spud”. The plant does have a corm that resembles a small potato. The corm was eaten both cooked and raw by native Americans and the colonists. In fact the whole plant is edible. The plant us rich in vitamins A and C.
It’s interesting that a lot of the early Spring forage plants are rich in vitamin C. I’ve always believed that God would place what we need the most in the most abundance at the times we need them. In Spring when illness is prevalent the common go to is vitamin C for many people. And while the experts are constantly changing their minds about how effective that is it’s also a common recommend thing to take your vitamins. When those vitamins and minerals are in the form of natural food it’s said that the body is better able to make use of them.
The Native Americans also made a pultice of Virginia Spring Beauty and placed it on the eyes to treat “Eye problems”. The internet research materials are pretty vague about what kind of eye problems. This could be anything from allergies to nearsightedness and there’s no real record of how well it worked. However, Medicinal science does recognize that Vitamin A is important for ocular health. In fact it plays a big role in how well people can see at night. And, according to Google vitamin A absorbs very well topically so the First Nations people just might have been onto something.
The very fine roots that spread out from the crom were also used by the medicine man. They were dried and ground into a powder to treat convulsions in children. Now, I can’t really overstate how dangerous it would be to substitute a modern medicine with Virginia Spring Beauty for the purpose of treating a serious medical condition. I only present that here for the trivia value and that purpose alone.
An unopened Virginia Spring Beauty in the leaf litter shows just how tiny the flow is.
The plant is edible but really small. For foraging purposes a person could conceivably devastate a local population and only have enough for one meal. But there’s an option for those who want to grow it either for food or just to wake up one Spring mornings to find their landscape covered in little pink striped pedals. The seed pod will be tiny and triangular. The seeds will mature in early Summer according to the Lady Bird Johnson website they should be sewn immediately. I have read on a different source that in order to germinate they need to endure 30-40 days of being frozen.
They will require partial shade and acidic soil. They prefer rich humus.
They’re a perennial flower so they’ll come back year after year and they have potential as a cash crop. Currently, this “common” Appalachian Wildflower’s seeds are listed as $200 per ounce on the top listing of the Google search. To put that in perspective, that’s the starting price for an ounce of medical marijuana. If course harvesting an ounce of Virginia Spring Beauty seeds could be pretty labor intensive unless you can figure out a way of automatically catching the seed when they’re ejected from the pod.
Irregardless of the food and medicine from Virginia Spring Beauty it is another welcoming sight for my morning walk in early Spring.
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