Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A Solstice Blessing in the Road Field

Rabbit Tobacco is a native annual in the Sunflower family.
Road Field.  Dec. 21, 2018.
Here was an unearned blessing!

"Rabbit Tobacco," aka Gnaphalium obtusifolium, volunteered in our bottomland prairie restoration this year.   

Well over half of the species in the restoration so far are volunteers--from seeds that got here God knows how, not from seeds we planted.    
The seeds (shown lower left) are
attached to milkweed-like plumes.
Road Field, Dec. 21, 2018.

During the growing season
the stems look frosted, but
wooly as the plant dries.
Road Field, Dec. 21, 2018.
European settlers named this species "Sweet Everlasting," for the lovely aroma that persists long after the flowers have dried.  I picked some at the Solstice and gave them away as Christmas and New Year's bouquets.   The maple-syrup-like fragrance comes in bursts, filling a room with a fresh, pleasing smell.  
Native Americans used this plant to heal cuts and soothe coughs, as did the Europeans when they arrived, and both groups used it to sweeten the air inside tipis and cabins.   However, many other meanings accrued to this plant as well, as indicated by the multiple names it has acquired.  In addition to Rabbit Tobacco, common names for Gnaphalium obtusifolium include Poverty Weed, Fussy-Gussy, Cudweed, Border Walker, and Walker between Worlds. 

Clearly, Gnaphalium obtusifolium is a storied plant, though the tales behind the names have been lost to time.  I just wish I knew more about them!  

But I am grateful that Gnaphalium obtusifolium is now part of our story here on McDowell Creek!   

Thank you, Rabbit Tobacco, for walking to our world.

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