Queen of the Meadow
Truly, one of the favored blessings we enjoy is to walk the fields and meadows, sampling the fragrant scents, listening to the birds and the buzz of the insects on the wing. Years back when we had children at home we would take them on “adventure” and “identification” walks. We always took our Field Guides to birds, animals and of course: native plants.
Towering in the marshy or damp low spots is the Queen of the Meadow, a five to seven foot plant of grace and beauty. The stem is stout and straight with mostly incomplete pith. The leaves are oblong and pointed with rough edges. The striking feature is the crown of purple flowers – not deep purple, but sort of red purple in this area. There are more than forty varieties of the plant with some slight differences.
This plan has been grown for its medicinal properties and is often referred to as the Jopi or Joe-pye weed, named from the Native American in the 1700s that reported saved many souls from typhus with medicine made from the plant.
There are other names of course, they include: Trumpet-wee, Gravel root, and Purple Boneset. The Latin name is: Eupatorium purpureum. Always identify by the Latin name in your reference books, since so many plants share common names yet are entirely different in specie and type.
The root was very popular during the Revolutionary Ware era as an aid in reducing kidney and bladder stones. It was used a nervine and diuretic with treatment ranging as a remedy from dropsy, gout and rheumatism. With the advance of more modern medicines, Gravel Root was no longer used. I might add that the preparation of the roots was a long and laborious task undertaken by only experienced herbalists of the day. Usage today without medical supervision could be dangerous and mention of this medical historical fact is for interest reading only.
When we kept milch goats I have found the gathering of the stem and flowers of the Queen, and feeding them to my male goats, had greatly reduced, from my observation – the common problem of urinary calculi in the goats. When calcium deposits form in the male goats urinary tract, they swell up and die. Goat herders for years have been plagued with this problem, with many breed bucks only lasting a couple years, or more. I served two armloads, two weeks apart in the summer months before late summer breeding cycle. I suspect if I had a male goat develop the blockage, and had started to swell up, I would make an infusion of the Gravel Root, and run a hose down his throat, and pour in a half pint. Modern treatment of this problem is not usually successful and is expensive, even if the goat dies. Home remedies in such cases are sometimes worth trying on otherwise lost livestock. Consult your vet first, keeping in mind that modern veterinarians are trained in pets and cattle- rarely having goat training.
Our social history not only in Europe but also in the development of this country is steeped in herbal lore that has helped shape the course of modern medicine for human and animal use. The Queen of the Meadow is truly one of the great plants native to our area that is part of history. Enjoy this plant next time you are a field; take the time to appreciate what our ancestors made of the surroundings and what bounty nature has given us to enjoy.
COPYRIGHT: 2009, Back2theLand, Mark Steel