Lately I think the natural world has begun to speak through those of us with the patience to observe, investigate, and understand the complexity that is mother nature. The language of this communication has come in the tireless work of people like Timothy Lee Scott. In his book Invasive Plant Medicine, he provides the validation that invasives like the mustard plant have a vital function in the ecology of forests. He points out that Indian Mustard "has been found in laboratory and field studies to have the potential to remediate heavy metals like nickel, zinc, cadmium, chromium and mercury in toxic soils." (I.P.M. pg. 312) The Garlic mustard, a dynamic accumulator, was found to leave soil "consistently and significantly higher in N, P, Ca, and Mg availability… the soil nutrients that present conditions for optimal plant growth." It was also mentioned that "garlic mustard was found not to release volatile compounds from the roots to affect other plants"( I.P.M. pg. 214) often a big argument for its large-scale removal.
Now this doesn’t even touch on the fact that mustards are edible and medicinal as well. Its a hot plant and so is good for congested type problems. It is an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-hyperglycemic, and can be used as a food preservative, the seed protecting against ecoli! The leaves and flowers can be used in salads, the seed dried and ground just like mustard you find in the store.
All this from one type of plant that so many consider an enemy of the forest, and organize to eradicate. Timothy reintroduces us to a bunch of these vilified plants that do so much to rehabilitate and help us to read the status of forests and fields, as well as heal and nourish us. This book is a necessary read for everyone, especially those ready to head out for the day to pull wild mustard from the floor of their local forest. Buy several copies of this book and give it to your friends, family, and any Sierra club big wigs that you may know- this book is a game changer!
Invasive Plant Medicine, Timothy Lee Scott
I give this book 9 out of 10 acorns.
If you are like me and have ever cursed at invasive plants, reading this book could be an uncomfortable experience. The way we go about controlling invasives is... shamefully inappropriate. I found myself resisting- but some plants have to be bad - all those scientists and gardeners and ecologists can’t be completely wrong, can they? To say it is perspective changing would be an understatement. The truth has been there all along: it’s us, humanity itself we are mad at. It’s the way we destroy the environment, pollute and decimate, and then find it easier to place blame on these enthusiastic, solution oriented species than to to take responsibility, to mourn the losses we have permitted in the name of progress. This book redeems, and (finally) sets the record straight about the so called 'invasive' plants, and after shattering any remaining illusions, brings the reader through to a place of hope and connectivity. It is a powerful and emotional read, and I highly recommend it.