Yesterday I came across a gorgeous field full of Dune Evening Primrose, Ambrosia spp. and Orobanche cooperi. While it’s not uncommon to see small stands of Orobanche here and there, I’ve never seen so many in one place. They peeked up from between the taller plants, all beautiful and strange in their purple flowered parasitic glory. Pulled from the ground, they rather resemble a purple tinged asparagus in many ways especially since they have small scales instead of leaves. I use the whole plant, especially the fleshy (and flesh colored) roots. It’s not very common, especially outside the SW, so I follow Michael Moore’s advice and only gather one out every four visible.
This lovely plant goes by a host of sometimes unlovely common names such as broomrape and cancer root. It has a host of traditional uses including for infection, wound treatment and as a lung tonic, nervine and treatment for various reproductive imbalances. Scientific research indicates that a close relative is remarkably active against gram positive bacteria . It has sometimes been used as a potato like food as well. The taste and uses seem to be somewhat dependent on what the plant is parasitizing. In this particular case, they were attached to the abundant Ambrosias populating the riverside meadow. Expect to see lots more on this lovely herb in the near future.
The Evening Primrose are having a wonderful year, and everywhere I turn I spot either a white or yellow flowered variety, especially near the river. It’s been great to have Darcey’s help this August with all the harvesting and processing of plants and I’m sure going to miss her when she heads home this coming Monday.
Somewhere between guests, gatherings, harvest season and my usual manic work-pace I’ve had the rather odd (yet insistent) 5urge to add yet another piece of pie to my plate, so to speak. I’ve taken up the fiddle. Back in the old days, I used to play piano, flute, guitar, pennywhistle and assorted other noise makers. Now I’m teaching Rhiannon the mandolin and myself the violin. I definitely don’t have time for this but it sure is fun anyhow. I’m a sucker for old-timey, traditional american music and while I listen to tons I’ve just finally decided I need to do a little of it myself. Wolf very sweetly (and quickly) found me the perfect (and cheap!) instrument and so I already know a few songs. Well, that’s if Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star counts as a real song and now I’m working on the Aran Boat Song and House of the Rising Sun. I’ve progressed past the killing-the-cat sounds and have moved into the sawing phase. Thankfully it’s a big canyon and so far I haven’t driven the family or interns completely mad While I’m learning, we’ll just watch The Red Violin a lot and remind ourselves what the violin CAN sound like in the hands of a capable musician. And one of these days I hope to get my paws on a five string viola/violin that has the full range of both instruments, from that rich deep lower end all the way up into the soprano sweetness of the high end.
I’m way overdue for the mountains, so we’re hoping to head up that way sometime this weekend if I can work up the nerve to drive the switchbacks in the high mountains. Blackberries are calling me!