Contributed by volunteer Marti Pizzini
“I got interested in the plants on the margins – the ones that grew up between cracks in the sidewalks, the plants nobody wanted and nobody could name. This curiosity led me to become a certified herbalist,” says Mary Wagner, herbalist, plant enthusiast, and specialist in medicinal plants.
Mary recently led a large group on a hike through the Beverly Shores area to reveal some of the surprising special qualities many of our humblest weeds and escaped ornamentals possess. In a short two hours, Mary pointed out almost fifty plants with medicinal properties in a slow stroll from the train station to Four Corners, barely three blocks away.
Over twenty walkers jotted notes and asked questions which Mary cheerfully and thoughtfully answered. She discussed Chinese medicine, which looks at the body as a whole and notes patterns which are treated with complex individualized preparations. In her own practice, she also will make preparations with a variety of ingredients, either carefully prepared into tinctures herself or using products from recognized reputable sources. She said that preparations using all the natural constituents of a flower, leaf, root, or stem provide benefits that commercial extractions cannot match.
Although the hike was along Broadway street, nature was in full display. Walkers could see huge pink marsh mallows in the wetland to the west. To the east, one saw the restored swampy area where sand hill cranes had returned to nest this spring. One left the hike with a renewed respect for the gifts of our natural world.