Lauraceae / Laurel
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Lore: This common tree is know for the tea brewed from the root bark. Once considered so healthful that it was of huge economic importance. In colonial America it was a major export at one time rivaled only by tobacco. Root Beer was once flavored from oil of the root bark but due to health concerns about the safrole it contained being a carcinogen the FDA to banned it in the early 1960s and Root Beer is now flavored artificially.
Medical Uses: Native Americans used the root bark tea for a variety of ailments both externally
and internally. A virtual panacea. Often used as a spring tonic and blood purifier it was also use to treat everything from
colds to kidney problems to skin conditions. It has been shown to be effective for intestinal gas and as a diuretic.
Though it is now banned a can of naturally flavored Root Beer was less carcinogenic than the ethanol in a can or regular
beer.(Foster & Duke)
One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.
This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.
Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves