Posts Tagged ‘Endangered’

Lizard Tail – Saururus cernuus

Lizard Tail flowers and leaves
Lizard Tail flowers and leaves

This native of eastern North America is also known as water-dragon and American swamp lily. It is considered Endangered in Connecticut and Rhode Island. It prefers to be in light shade or dappled sun with its feet wet in mucky soil. It can reproduce through spreading runners below ground or by germination of its seeds!


The roots and leaves have been used in medicine in the past. The roots used as infusion was used as a treatment for rheumatism by washing the area with the infusion. The Cherokee roasted the root and then mashed it into a poultice to treat sore breasts. An infusion of the leaves was drunk for the treatment of back and breast pain! …The flowers, leaves and roots have a pleasant citrus smell; yet others refer to the scent as sassafras like.

Cinnamon Fern – Osmunda cinnamomea

Cinnamon Fern
Cinnamon Fern

Cinnamon fern grows brown fertile fronds
in the center of its tall green vase.
These fertile fronds are segmented tubes
that twist and clasp each other as they grow,
a hundred worms stuck to a central spine
and trying to climb. In the end they become alien
organic cannons filled with spores–
tubes break at the tips, spill BBs into breeze.
I looked at them today. The spores are small
and my eyes grow wonder wide
at my new magnifying eyes—the spheres of life
repeat so many times and ways
it spins my mind. I orbit awe.

By John Caddy


This perennial member of the Royal Fern Family is a native to the Western Hemisphere, it occurs throughout South America, Central America and on through to Minnesota in the north and southern New England in the Northeast. If you are thinking of looking for this fern in the wild search out wet, moist habitats like wet woods, the shore of lakes and rivers and in bogs and swamps. Finding it might be tricky as it is considered Endangered or Vulnerable is some places.


Native Americans used this fern in decoction to treat rheumatism, headaches, chills, colds, and snakebite. The Cherokee used a decoction of the root on warmed hands for treatment of arthritis, as a febrifuge, and the chewed root applied to snakebite.


The Cherokee also used the cooked early fronds in spring as a vegetable. The fiddleheads are edible and reportedly taste like a blend of broccoli, asparagus, and artichoke.


In Florida it is a “Commercially Exploited Species.’ This means it cannot be removed, for any reason, from the wild without permit. It is available legally through many native plant nurseries.

Mountain Cactus – Pediocactus simpsonii

Mountain Cactus

This type of cactus is known as ball cactus (although some authorities call it a hedgehog cactus) that is originally from the desert southwest of North America. It grows on dry mountain valleys, rocky ridges. This cactus is listed on the Federal Endangered Species list.

Pediocactus simpsonii was first named by George Engelmann for army engineer James H. Simpson under the name Echinocactus simpsonii. Simpson led an expedition in Colorado, and Engelmann named the species “in honor of the gallant commander” of the expedition

These flowers are born in the center of the cactus and are usually a brilliant pink, but can sometimes be whitish in color.

Saguaro Cactus – Carnegiea gigantea

Sagoro Cactus

It is a large tree sized cactus; it is native to the Sonoran Desert in the US state of Arizona and Mexico. It is the state flower of Arizona. They live for a very long time; taking up to 75 years to form an arm

Harming a saguaro in any manner is illegal by state law in Arizona, and when houses or highways are built, special permits must be obtained to move or destroy any saguaro affected.

The ribs of the saguaro were used for construction and other purposes by Native Americans. The 3-inch, oval, green fruit ripens just before the fall rainy season, splitting open to reveal the bright-red, pulpy flesh, which all desert creatures seem to relish. This fruit was an especially important food source to Native Americans of the region who used the flesh, seeds and juice.

There is a National Park established just to protect the Saguaro Cactus (it was beginning to disappear from the landscape) located in Arizona (Saguaro National Park)

Yellow Pond Lily or Spatterdock – Nuphar lutea

This aquatic plant has large floating leaves, and yellow, globular flowers. It is a perennial which is considered Endangered in Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio.

This lily was a source of food and medicine for the Native Americans. These flowers are reported to have a brandy like scent. Native Americans consumed the starchy rootstocks as boiled or roasted vegetables and harvested the seed for grinding into flour

The roots are anaphrodisiac, anodyne, antiscrofulatic, astringent, cardiotonic, demulcent and sedative. Caution should be exercised because large doses are potentially toxic.

They are very important for the ecosystem since they provide shade for fish and cover from predators. They are a home for tons of tiny creatures, like the bonnet worm, which are then eaten by fish. Also, larger animals like beavers, muskrats, and deer eat different parts of the plants

Indian Pipes – Monotropa uniflora

Indian Pipes

About 1/3 of our acre is left natural. In the woods at the base of a rotted tree stump I found these plants. As ghostly as they look, they need the moist duskiness of the woods to grow. These plant carry many names…Ghost plant, Indian Pipes, Corpse Plant…all of them are very descriptive!

It was on my 59th birthday that Gaia gave me the wonderful gift of sighting these rare beauties. I had learned about these very rare plants back when I was 12 years old and at Girl Scout Camp…. I never really expected to see them. You can imagine my surprise when I found these in my backyard!

This plant lacks chlorophyll. It gains its nutrients from a relationship with a fungus and with a tree. It either takes what it needs from a decaying stump (as mine is) or from a fungus that has attached itself to a tree. Many fungi and trees have this type of relationship — it’s called a “mycorrhizal relationship,” but the introduction of another plant into the chain is unusual.

In the past this plant was eaten, it reportedly tastes like asparagus when cooked, or tasteless when raw. The Cherokee Indians of North America pulverized the root and gave it for the treatment of epilepsy and convulsions. When it is made into a tincture, the color of the tincture is a dark blue, and the smell is like pickling vinegar!

It is not the regular garden plant, but I think I will keep the natural section of the yard for gifts like this one!