Mayapple and Resolutions: Sources of Healing for a Hurting World

MAYAPPLE Podophyllum peltatum

MAYAPPLE
Podophyllum peltatum

By Orrin Morris

Many of the resolutions we make for the new year focus on family, economy, and national and global harmony. Resolutions are based on hopes: hope that our sons and daughters will be kept from harm’s way; that we can relate in mutual ways to people whose backgrounds differs from ours; that we become more sympathetic of their struggles in America.   After all, most of us enjoy the delightful taste of their cuisine.  If you have forgotten, may I remind you that only the American Indians are not immigrants.

May the resolutions we make aid in helping peace to be achieved soon, and that it will be worldwide, and may our national economy be robust without the aid of war efforts.

The Christmas season we are completing was foretold in Isaiah. One of the verses said (9:6) “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

The wildflower we examine today thrives in rich moist woods either near a stream or in a bog fed by a spring.  Like many of our resolutions, it is a rich source of healing and hope for those in need.

Mayapple is native to North America and was introduced to the early settlers by the American Indians. It is the only species in the barberry family that grows this far south. Blue cohosh and American barberry, both present in the north Georgia mountains, are kin. Neither of them inhabit the East Metro area.

Each mayapple plant has only one bloom, a nodding white flower that emerges in the split of the stem between two very large deeply lobed umbrella like leaves, as pictured. The flower is about 2 inches in diameter, somewhat larger than the true apple blossom.

The name mayapple is associated with the time of its appearance and its fragrance that is similar to the apple blossom. There are six to nine waxy white petals, and generally, there are twice as many stamens as there are petals.

The plant ranges in height from 12 to 22 inches. The two very large leaves, each about 12 inches wide, shield the bloom as pictured. Mayapples bloom from April to June and require rich woodland soils in damp shady clearings. They often grow in large colonies. A good example of a colony can be observed on the lowest loop of the watershed trail at Panola Park.

The fruits, which appear in August and September, are large lemon-shaped berries that are occasionally gathered to make jelly. But a word of caution — the unripened fruit is poisonous, as are the roots and leaves. Nevertheless, two modern drugs are derived from mayapple: podophyllin and etoposide.

May our resolutions be as healing, our hopes as rich, and our outreach as inspirational.

Bergamot promotes health, peace, and patience

WILD BERGAMOT Monarda fistulosa

WILD BERGAMOT
Monarda fistulosa

By Orrin Morris

There are four Sundays in the Advent season. The first Sunday, last week, focused on hope.

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah wrote words of hope to the Hebrew’s exiled in Babylon:

In those days, and at that time, will cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land” (Jer. 33:15).

Amid the hopelessness of exile, the prophecy assured them that the Messiah of the lineage of David would come to save all who trusted in him.

This Sunday, the second of the Advent season, focuses on peace. John the Baptist’s father was visited by an angel assuring him of a son who would proclaim the coming of the Messiah with these words, “To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79).

The wildflower for today is not very common, so to find it and benefit from its beauty requires patience. In the same but more serious manner, those Hebrews that remember the exile of 600 years that passed from Jeremiah’s prophecy had to be patient for the fulfillment of his proclamation of peace.

Wild bergamot is also known as Monarda and, for obvious reasons, often mistaken for bee balm. Both plants are present throughout the U.S. Both plants have thin, rigid, hairy stems. Both have serrated leaves of similar size and shape. Both have deep green leaves that are affixed as pairs opposite one another up a stem that may be 2 to 3 feet tall. Both have flower heads composed of two-lipped blooms that stand aright.

The flowers of both plants’ colors are in the reddish range; however, the bee balm blooms are bright red while the bergamot blooms range from light pink (nearly white) to a pinkish-lavender.

The bergamot prefers dry sandy soils while the bee balm requires moist soil. The greenish bracts under the flower head flare out and downward for the bergamot, thus creating a cluttered and enlarged effect. The bergamot has a rectangular stem, and starts blooming in June and continues through September.

This part of the mint family was named after Nicholas Monardes, a Spanish physician who published a book on the medicinal values of plants in the New World. Wild bergamot was also called Oswego tea and used as a treatment for chills and fevers. Other American Indian tribes used tea from the leaves for headaches, sore throat, bronchial infection, acne and to soothe bug bites.

Rev. Orrin Morris is an artist and retired Baptist minister.  His weekly column appears in The Rockdale Citizen.

Creeping Clover teaches us about the Truth of the Gospel

CREEPING BUSH CLOVER Lespedeza repens

CREEPING BUSH CLOVER
Lespedeza repens

By Orrin Morris

“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The Apostle John quoted this statement when Jesus was confronted with a moral issue, a woman caught in adultery. The Hebrew Law dictated that she was to be stoned to death.

Jesus used the occasion to position Himself as the “light of the world,” that is, the exclusive and faithful source of knowledge about the will of His Heavenly Father. In essence, Jesus said the moral judgments that He made accurately reflect the way God relates to mankind, that is, in redemptive love. (John 8:32ff)

We can be confident that God deeply desires our eternal redemption. That truth was stated by Jesus many times. Furthermore, we are given assurance that God will provide guidance through the presence of his Spirit (John 16:13).

For the Christian, this is comforting, but in the secular arena it is difficult to know the truth. Who is telling the truth? How can we know that we are being told the truth? When we cannot personally experience or view the facts, we simply choose to trust the opinion of a person upon whom we have come to rely.

One year in late September, as the weeds along the road were dying, I spotted a tiny pinkish-purple bloom amid the tans and browns at ground level. I knelt in the ditch and carefully separated the dead materials from the tiny vine. I had discovered another wildflower that was not in my collection.

After taking field notes about color, size (1/4 inch) and shape of the flower (pea-like); length of the vines (6 to 24 inches); shape, markings and size of the three-part leaves (1/2 inch), I searched my library for an accurate identification.

The three-leaf structure suggested it was a clover, but my University of Georgia source did not include it. My Alabama and Carolina sources provided no help either.

Finally, in the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers I found the creeping bush clover. Rather than being in the genus trifolium, it was in the lespedeza. Is it a clover? I think so and will include it in my list of wildflowers as a clover. Several well respected authorities do not include it in their books.

This brings us back to the question of truth. We live in a very strained time in national and world affairs. We choose whom we will believe. History teaches us that this is dangerous when taken to the extreme, dividing families and friends, nations and alliances.

The truth for the moment, as I see it, is that we need a healing of friendships, political parties, religious leaders and participants in international relationships, to name a few.

Pray with me that as Jesus, the Light of the World, said “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”