In my yard, a beautiful weed has popped up, White Snakeroot. It got abundant white flower clusters all over and looks just gorgeous! Curious, I began to research it to see if I should harvest.
White Snakeroot, of the Asteraceae family, is native to the Eastern and Central regions of North America. Its properties include: diaphoretic, diuretic, feberfuge, stimulent, tonic. Topically it was used by Native Americans as a remedy for snake bite (hence the name).
But what I also found out, this plant is responsible for the Milk Sickness that killed countless early settlers – perhaps including Abraham Lincoln’s mother! When the cows eat this, the tremetol contained in the plant gets into the milk and in high enough doses it’s toxic. It causes “staggers” in cows and can kill them too.
Apparently this is not as much as issue these days because of the volumes of milk, any tremetol in the milk is diluted to a safe level.
So, for my purposes this goes into my Not Usefull Weeds Category and I won’t harvest it. But I won’t stop looking at how gorgeous it is!