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Summer is upon us once again which means lots of beautiful days and evenings to hike the forests and fields, or to spend sitting by a camp fire listening to the sounds of nature around you. Personally, I like to take my canoe and paddle to a favourite location of mine; an island in Leipsigaek lake which is covered by pine trees and scattered hardwoods. Near that island is a cove, covered with two of my favourite water plants, the cow lily, Nuphar variegatum, and water lily Nymphaea odorata.
I have often taken my canoe and allowed it to drift among those lily plants, reaching out with my hands to touch the soft leaves. The canoe will occasionally become stuck in the leaves, refusing to drift any further, allowing me to lie back, relax, listen to sounds or read a book.
Both the cow lily and water lily were food and medicine plants in Mi'kmaq culture. This is also true for many other Native peoples across North America, wherever the plants are found growing. The roots of the plants were gathered, allowed to dry, pounded, and used as flour. Perhaps blueberries would be added to the flour and the mixture prepared as pancakes.
For medicinal purpose, the roots would be collected, pounded into a mash while they were green and fresh, and applied as a poultice to treat swollen limbs. Arthur Van Wart mentions this in his article, "The Indians of the Maritime Provinces, Their Diseases and Native Cures," in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Vol.59, 1948.
Terry Willard, Ph.D., in his Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rocky Mountains and Neighbouring Territories, page 87, gives a large number of uses for the water lily plant. For example, he notes "The Indians have used this root for generations in all cases of leucorrhea, abrasions of the vagina, inflammation of the womb and ulceration of the womb."
He also mentions (p. 87) that Maud Grieve, the famous English herbalist, "...reports complete cure of uterine cancer by a decoction and a vaginal injection of white pond lily".
Laurie Lacey is not responsible for the misuse of information presented on this homepage (for example, the incorrect prepartion and usage of teas and medicines given herein.) The use of recipes for medicines and teas from this page is strictly the responsibility of each individual.