A plant which is capable of feeding us, has nutrients in much higher concentrations than a lot of the foods found in supermarkets, a plant able to cleanse our blood, removing toxins, while providing nutrition.
What would you call such a plant – such a precious gift from our Mother Earth?
It is most commonly referred to as a “weed”. Now let me go into the definition of a weed.
It is “a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.” And “a weed is a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, ‘a plant in the wrong place’.” To remove such a plant, we humans have many means- from spraying toxic chemicals, to cultivation and “weeding” – basically ripping it out without much consideration or care.
How can a nutritious plant, a medicinal plant be undesirable and in the wrong place? Why is it a goal to eradicate them? It is puzzling, right?
The ecological function of those early successional plants is to cover bare, disturbed soil, unlock nutrients in depleted soil, create a lot of organic matter, build soil and grow in such an abundance that we can get nourishment and medicine without depleting this precious gift.
When we receive a gift from someone, we thank them and we also want to give something back. When we start seeing those plants as gift, which they are, we are thankful, we have to give gratitude. Our relationship with the natural world changes. We are no longer consumers, we are receivers of gifts, we become part of the natural world and in this participation we take and more importantly we GIVE.
For children it comes naturally to talk to plants and to give thanks, to acknowledge the gifts that plants make us. It is ingrained in our DNA, it makes who we are.
I don’t know any indigenous culture where giving thanks to plants is not part of their daily life. Māori ask for permission to harvest medicinal and food plants in the bush. Prayers are spoken and songs are sung as a way to give thanks. The spent plant material is returned to the bush. It is part of their culture and it makes who we are as humans. Most of us just need to relearn it.
So the next time you receive a precious gift from our Mother Earth in form of a juicy strawberry, a digestive tonic made from the dandelion plant or an antiviral shot produced by Mother Elder, say “thanks” and receive the gift with gratitude and thinking about a way to give back.
What can you give back? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below.
By learning the names and the amazing healing properties of plants that grow in abundance around us, we start to form a relationship, we connect to the natural world once again and we learn their crucial function in our ecosystem.
Let us take you on a foraging tour, let us take you on a walk you will never forget. Let us be your guide, your bridge to those amazing plants – the Gifts of Mother Earth.
See our website for details on upcoming tours and workshops.