|Potentilla sp. (Cinquefoil - species unknown)|
Newcomb's Guide lists 12 species of Cinquefoil for this region and I suspect there may be even more. A plant this young can be hard to discern, but I am guessing this is Dwarf Cinquefoil (Potentilla canadensis) due to the fact that it's leaves are toothed only above the middle and not along the entire margin. It is also weak-stemmed and low to the ground. All Cinquefoil are astringent, which makes them helpful in tightening the mucus membranes and tissues in general, and in decreasing inflammation. One can make a tea of the leaves to alleviate diarrhea or to gargle with in the case of a sore throat. On a field trip with my herbal medicine class, we made a strong tea (equal parts plant and water) of Cinquefoil, along with other astringent/anti-inflammatory herbs such as plantain and violet, and applied it topically along with heavy smearing of mud to a student's severe case of poison ivy. His rash had lessened and his symptoms greatly improved by the next day. I in turn used it on my ever swelling and itching bugbites that covered my feet and ankles and was able to actually sleep through the night for the first time in several, without waking up in a scratching frenzy.
|Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens)|
|Rock Tripe Lichen|
|Cladonia cristatella (British Soldier)|
|A mossy rock formation alongside trail in Pinchot Experimental Forest|
But...the woods they are calling. The days are getting longer- I even catch the tail end of a setting sun at the end of my workdays now - and though we are only now approaching February, I can feel spring is on the way. My feet will again be shuffling through the leaf litter of the previous year with my eyes to the budding branches of the season to come. I will continue to be recording my adventures, insights, and findings here. So please, STAY TUNED!
Also, this Saturday, on February 4th, I am heading down to Saxapahaw NC for the annual Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Conference. Here I'll be recognizing all the volunteers that work so hard to make the trail what it is as well as talking a bit about my experience thru-hiking. From here I'll be cruising onto Asheville (by car!) and spending 5 blissful days in the mountains - so if any of my fellow plant/trail lovers are about, please shoot me an email and I'd love to catch up!