Please remember that Forage Friday is only intended to be a conversation starter and is only presented as trivia and should not be mistaken for an endorsement of treatment.
Lysimachus stood his ground as the huge beast glared at him. He could taste the dust in the air that had been kicked up by the rampaging ox. Lysimachus spoke in soft calming tones has cautiously stepped over the broken yoke. Easing closer to the angry beast of burden the toe of his sandal caught on a pottery shard causing him to stumble slightly. The ox snorted and lowered his head ready to charge as they locked eyes. Even though the ox’s horns had been bobbed and capped with ornate brass the sheer mass of it’s body meant Lysimachus would be crushed if the bull charged. Lysimachus extended his hand in offering. The bull began sniffing at the bundle of herbs and walked forward. Lysimachus remained as sill as a statue but held tension in his legs so he could dodge out of the way if the bull changed his mind and decided to charge after all. To his relief the bull accepted the free meal. The herbs did the trick and as the sedative took effect Lysimachus took hold of the ring in the bull’s nose and led it safely out of the street. The people were so impressed by the bravery and wisdom of their king that they named the herb Lysimachia. Today we call it Loosestrife.
The above is my version of the legend of how Loosestrife got it’s scientific name. The whole genus is named for Sicilian king who was a healer and supposedly a general of Alexander the great. The species in tonight’s feature image is Lysimachia Ciliata or Fringed Loosestrife. According to Wikipedia it is actually a native species to the Appalachian Mountains.
The cooked leaves are said to be edible however I have not been able to corroborate this with an independent source. The plant is also listed as astringent and diaphoretic. ( makes you sweat. ) So even though isn’t listed as toxic that doesn’t really mean it makes a pleasant meal. The live plant is reported to repel insects and has been used in smudge fires for the same purposes. According to Peterson’s Field Guide Native Americans used it for “female ailments”, kidney trouble, bowel complaints and as an emetic ( causes vomiting). But it’s interesting that none of the references list sedative qualities which what the genus is named for. It’s even listed as an ingredient in “love potions”.
Interestingly enough, the showy flowers don’t really have a strong scent and attract pollenators with oil instead of nectar.
One last word here, the plant known as purple loosestrife is not the same genus or even the same family of plants. Fringed loosestrife is in the Primrose family while purple loosestrife is in the same family as crape myrtles.
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