Debunking the article “On Ghost Pipe & Respect”

I’ve seen this floating around quite a bit, and it’s created many misconceptions surrounding Monotropa Uniflora, also known as Ghost Pipes or Indian Pipes.

To respect a plant is to tell the truth, not create misconceptions. To honor it. To approach it with both evidence-based information and ancient wisdom. I urge people to respect this plant. I urge people to understand practical use.

On that note, let me debunk some of the statements in this opinion piece with information coming directly from the Wisconsin DNR and the University of Wisconsin Department of Botany.

(Note: Sustainability of this plant will vary from state to state, from country to country. This article reflects information from Wisconsin as well as most parts of the eastern United states. Check with your local DNR/University extension for information on your area.)

Per University of Wisconsin Department of Botany-

Monotropa Uniflora (Ghost pipes or Indian pipes) are NOT endangered, and are abundant in North and Central America. They are widely abundant in Wisconsin. It is not disappearing. It is not rare.

Picking the stems while leaving the roots undisturbed does NOT affect future growth. As with many plants, it is important to leave the roots so that your harvesting is sustainable. It is a traditional Native American medicinal plant, and indeed is useful to humans and has been used for many centuries as a medicine. Medicinal uses are documented, and provide benefits unlike any other plant we know of.

Ethics and conservation are indeed important. ALL medicinal plants deserve respect. Sustainably harvesting a widely abundant plant is no more about ego, objectification, or “plant porn” than harvesting/photographing echinacea, motherwort, St Johns wort, or any other beneficial plant.

Let me give you an example- one of my favorite medicinals, blue vervain, is rare in Wisconsin. I have only one patch I’ve found. I harvest about 25% of the patch every year, leaving the roots intact, as I have done for about 5 years. The patch has grown noticeably over the years.

 

In addition to that, Ghost Pipe does not photosynthesize like a typical plant. As it gets all of its sugars from fungal mycelium, the aerial parts are primarily for reproduction and not necessary to sustain the root. So as long as you leave seed to help spread some, harvesting this plant is actually more sustainable than any perennial plant that needs to photosynthesize to sustain the sugars in the taproot.

In summary, there is no science or evidence behind the claims in this article and I’d like to put that to rest. Respect the facts, respect the evidence, respect our environment and the food and medicine it provides for us, respect and pass on our ancestors wisdom and traditions.

 

Read more about this plant and its distribution here: http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=MOUN3

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I’d So Tap That

Today my dad and I tapped the maple trees in my yard.  This was a first attempt for both of us,  and I’m pretty sure we tapped a tree that wasn’t a maple… but I think we came out pretty good overall!  😉

You can see our process below. 36 gallons of sap will make approximately 1 gallon of syrup.  I already have 2 big producers,  so fingers crossed!  The very last picture is the amount of sap collected from one side of my better trees after about an hour.

Follow my blog to get updates as it is transformed into maple syrup!

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Wild Wisconsin: A Coffee Substitute in Your Backyard

My latest find- horse gentian! Watch the video to learn more about this wild coffee substitute. Below you’ll see a picture of the berries at different stages during the whole process. The final product smells sweet like apple pie, but it’s surprisingly bitter.

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Raw berries

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After roasting

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Roasted, ground, and ready to brew

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Brewed and ready to drink!

Get Even Healthier!
Are you curious about how easy-to-make changes can make a big difference in your health? Would you like help in making healthier food choices and replacing bad habits with good ones? Let’s talk! Schedule a complimentary health consultation with me today – or pass this offer on to someone you care about! Contact me at megan@aayushealth.com, or visit us athttp://www.aayushealth.com

Megan Kerkhoff is a Certified Health Counselor and Certified Family Herbalist at Aayus Holistic Health Services in Neenah, Wisconsin, and resides in Little Chute, Wisconsin.

The Hunt for Wisconsin’s Rarest & Most Delicious Fruit

I posted a contest in my herbal medicine group Megan’s Herbal Apothecary the other day- who could identify this native Wisconsin fruit?

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It took quite a few guesses before someone found it online. This is the delicious, elusive, & highly sought-after Mayapple (Podophyllum), also known as Wild Mandrake. I have been searching for this fruit you see here for TWO years, and I had been tracking this particular plant since spring.

So what’s the hype? Well for starters, it’s difficult to find. The plants are few and far between, and each plant only bears one fruit. The fruits are generally only ripe from the last couple weeks of August to the first week of September.

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Every part of the plant you see above picture is highly poisonous. Until the fruit turns a delicate yellow color and becomes soft, it is toxic. Because the ripe fruits are so tasty, they are a favorite of wildlife and are typically enjoyed before humans ever find them. So even if you DO find these rare plants, and DO visit them during the right time, there are no guarantees you’ll get to enjoy the literal fruit of your labor.

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Wait… do you see what I see??

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Could it be?? A ripe Mayapple! Holy crap! 11888113_10100998573328553_9084070862808076319_n

(My actual face when I found it. The toddler was unimpressed.)

Come to find out, my favorite park for hiking in my hometown of Little Chute is full of Mayapple patches. I located about 15 patches, with dozens of plants. Out of that, I got 2 ripe fruits, and 3 green ones that I’m hoping will ripen on my counter.

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Now this is what blows my mind- a hundred years ago, everyone knew what these plants were. Everyone knew how to walk into their backyard and prepare a salad, pick dessert, or season their dinners. This particular park is full of food and medicine, and wild foods always have more nutrition than anything you could ever buy or even grow yourself. I have prepared dozens of medicinal tinctures from the plants I harvest here, and prepared countless (free!) meals. Imagine how our perception of the environment would change, how our health would change, how our grocery bills would go down, how our stress levels would be dramatically reduced- if only we reconnected with this ancient and innate wisdom and basked in the beauty of it?

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Mayapple plants (on the left) growing right next to the walking path. Hundreds of people pass by them each year, not realizing it’s food.

Well, anyways enough of my tangent- but do consider learning how to identify and use wild plants- it’s an incredible experience!!

So anyways, my first bite of this mysterious and elusive deliciousness.

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The Mayapple has an intoxicatingly deep fruity, perfumey scent. The flesh has the consistency and flavor of banana, paired with the flavor of a very ripe pear and hints of tangerine & lemon. The tender skins have a stronger hint of lemon to them, with a sweetly pleasant tang. The membranes surrounding the seeds in the middle are even sweeter- a deep, perfumy essence with a touch of vanilla. But don’t be fooled by it’s alluring flavor- the seeds are poisonous. I sucked the middle part until I got as much of the membranes off as I could, and spit out the seeds in the woods in the hopes they will become another Mayapple patch next year. (Word of caution- eating too many Mayapples can cause digestive upset. Likely why nature was wise enough to have only one fruit per plant, and make multiple fruits so hard to find!)

What an incredible experience! I know herbalists who have gone years without ever getting to experience the delight of finding and enjoying this delicious Wisconsin treat.

So if you’re out and about this time of year- do watch for the Mayapples!

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One last shot of Heesaker Park. (Ooh, what is that in the bottom corner??) 😉

Get Even Healthier!
Are you curious about how easy-to-make changes can make a big difference in your health? Would you like help in making healthier food choices and replacing bad habits with good ones? Let’s talk! Schedule a complimentary health consultation with me today – or pass this offer on to someone you care about! Contact me at megan@aayushealth.com, or visit us at http://www.aayushealth.com

Megan Kerkhoff is a Certified Health Counselor and Certified Family Herbalist at Aayus Holistic Health Services in Neenah, Wisconsin, and resides in Little Chute, Wisconsin.

Real food in the Fox Cities- it’s right around the corner!

Tonight I had the pleasure of trying out the Fox Cities’ newest “real food” restaurant- Kangaroost, in the building that was formerly Plum Hill in Kaukauna, Wi. I’ve been enjoying their food truck cuisine, Kangaroostraurant, for a few years now and I’m always delighted with their dedication to delicious, local, and quality whole food.

First off, the place has really fantastic energy. This restaurant is run by a bunch of folks that are doing a great thing by promoting local and organic foods, and put tons of love into their work. Not many people understand the importance of buying local and organic quite yet, and it’s so very vital for us to be able to live in a healthy, thriving community.

Local=
• Supporting your friends & neighbors instead of supporting corporate factory farms
• Your food is 4-7 days fresher than non-local foods
• Environmentally friendly: non-local food is shipped from all over the country and world, wasting precious natural resources (non-local food travels 1,500 miles to get to your plate, on average)

Organic=
• No cancer-causing pesticides & herbicides on your plate
• No genetically modified franken-foods
• No antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones, or irradiation

My husband and I started our meal with a salad- quite honestly, it’s the first REAL salad I’ve ever had at a restaurant. Dark green, flavorful, and chemical-free. I immediately recognized the organic sunflower sprouts as being from Good Grief Gardens in Kaukauna. I’ve met a couple of the growers from this small organic farm at a farmers market, and they put SO much joy into what they do. These microgreens have a sunny, lovely flavor to them. The rest of the organic salad greens came from Growing Power in Milwaukee.

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My main dish was absolutely to die for. It featured organic roast turkey from Nami Moon Farms in Custer, Wi, topped with a honey mustard glaze made with local honey from Sunset Apiaries in Waldo, Wi. It came with a side of roasted organic heirloom purple carrots and organic “dirty” herbed mashed potatoes from Malek Family Stewardship Farm in Rosholt, Wi. The dairy used to make the restaurant’s dishes comes from Pine River Dairy of Manitowoc and Red Barn Family Farms of Appleton, which are rBGH free and certified humane.

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To the average portion-distorted American eyes it might not look like a ton of food, but they really were ideal portions. We left feeling very satisfied, but not overly stuffed. I noticed they had quite a few gluten-free options, which is great for those with food restrictions.

Oh, yes, and then there’s my gluten-free chocolate zucchini muffin… I took a few too many bites before I remembered to take a picture for you!
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That of course, looks & sounds delicious enough, but I think the K-Roo Crew’s special ingredient is what takes it from just eating good food to creating an absolutely lovely experience: lots of LOVE! A big thanks to the owners Kelly & Jay for bringing together great, local food to the Fox Cities for us.

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