|Freshly cut trail in the Milford Experimental Forest|
|The Sawkill Stream leaving the swamp that can be found at the connecting point of the two main trails in the Milford Experimental Forest|
There are, however, few trails through these woods. I usually always followed the course of the Sawkill Stream to keep direction or simply wandered off the gravel road that dissects the property and hoped for the best, either running into the stream or a familiar jumble of rocks or a sideways bending tree that told me where I was. The gas pipeline, as unromantic as that sounds, has always been one established "trail" that could be followed through here as well as a four-wheeler trail that ran alongside it that wasn't officially maintained until about 15 years ago, when Peter Pinchot opened the land up to public use. Before this, it was exclusive property of the Pinchot family, although Peter was always generous with allowing his neighbors to enjoy the land, neverminding my friends and I camping and exploring as we wished, my mother and I taking walks with the dogs, and giving my father permission to hunt turkey.
|A rock cairn marking the trail|
Thank you to the families that attended the plant walk - the children were an absolute delight, so attentive and inquisitive! Also ,thank you to those that visited the Conservancy table and purchased books!
And although I know these woods well, I have even met a new plant face along this trail...
|Water Pennywort (Hydrocotyle Americana)|
|Water Pennywort (Hydrocotyle Americana) growing plentiful amongst various Violets (Viola spp.), False Nettle (Pilea pumila), Rough Bedstraw (Galium asprellum), Northern Willow Herb (Epilobium glandulosum), and Wood Sorrel (Oxalis spp.)|
|Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) flower|
It was once used widely in herbal medicine as a deobstruant (the action of breaking up stagnation/obstructions) and has the unique ability to enhance the actions of other herbs. It also has a history of use by Native Americans as a purgative. Lobeline opens the lungs and respiratory system allowing for deeper breathing, relaxes the nervous system, and can also induce vomiting therefore acting as a detox. When the leaves are chewed it has a similar taste to tobacco and a relaxing effect, therefore it could be used as a tobacco substitute.
And of course, how could I not mention the abundance of Star Chickweed (Stellaria pubera)! To find this delicious edible, you may have to venture left at the fork, heading towards a deer exclosure, just as the Chestnut Trail begins. Here there are abundant communities of this little flower to be found growing in the tall grasses. It seemed so long since I had seen Chickweed in flower, however not yet close enough to Fall to be expecting a second flowering, so I was rather excited to find these healthy beauties. The entire above-ground-parts are edible (leaves, stems, and flowers). Try them tucked into sandwiches and wraps or tossed in salads. They are light and crisp and easy to identify with their opposite leaves, 5 deeply cleft white petals (giving the appearance of 10), and black-tipped conspicuous stamen.
The whole flowering plant may be used as medicine, although the seeds are the most potent. Contraindications are "feeling spacy" or nausea, the latter which can be prevented by taking as tincture as opposed to a tea. As a tincture, use only small amounts (5-15 drops) to treat illness. If this dosage does not affect the individual, then this medicine simply may not be what's needed.
|Star Chickweed (Stellaria pubera)|