Arkansas Edible & Medicinal Plants

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The bark of the willow tree can be used as a fever reducer and pain reliever.
The bark of the willow tree can be used as a fever reducer and pain reliever. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Back in the days before residents of the Ozark mountains in Arkansas had access to modern medicine, they relied heavily on native plants and herbs for cures to common ailments. Far from being simple folk remedies with no scientific basis, several of these plants and the products of their leaves, bark and berries are still in wide use, having become staples of both traditional and homeopathic medicine.

Willow Tree

If you'd turn your nose up at tea made from the bark of a weeping willow tree to reduce your fever or help your headache, think again. This common native bark contains salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin, and was in use for centuries to relieve common aches and pains before the invention of its over-the-counter counterpart.

Black Walnut

In addition to being delicious in baked goods, the black walnut, another Arkansas native, has several medicinal uses. These include crushing the hull and making a poultice to treat ringworm, chewing the bark to treat toothaches, and steeping it in tea for use as a laxative.

Elderberry

Elderberry leaves were once used as a blood-clotting agent to treat wounds. The berries, which promote sweating, were brewed into wine and taken as a tonic. The plant's flowers, which act as a fever reducer and expectorant, are still in use today as a homeopathic cold and flu remedy in many countries.

Ginseng

Most people associate ginseng with Asia, not Arkansas. But this energy-enhancing plant root is actually native to Arkansas and is in such high demand that it gets shipped to Asia. Unfortunately, the demand for it has been so high that the Arkansas ginseng plant population is becoming depleted.

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