I found this native deciduous bush, Sweet Fern, Comptonia peregrina, while out in the rain on Saturday. I stayed close to home in case the heavens were to open up, but only light rain fell on me. As well as picking up this new species, I captured a few species moving through their fall transformations. More on those in the coming week.
Harper's New Monthly Magazine:
Between old Aunt Huldy, with her mania for the simples, and the demand of the village boys, I wonder there is any of it left. But Aunt Huldy has long since died; all her "yarbs" and "yarrer tea" and " paowerful good stimmilants" could not give her the lease of eternal earthly life which she said lurked in the "everlastin' flaowers." She knew every herb that grew, but her great stand-by was sweet-fern. She smoked it, she chewed it, she drank it, and even wore a little bag of it around her neck "to charm away the rheumatiz."
When I was a boy dried sweet fern was in great favor among the young, who did not quite dare essay the weed itself, but whether there was any Indian tradition for the use of this plant I cannot say. Nowadays, apparently, youth needs no substitutes, beginning at a tender age on mamma's cigarettes. Once or twice, being without tobacco on a trip up the mountain, I have hunted a fragrant, sunny clearing of sweet fern, and filled my pipe with the dry, brown leaves always obtainable on some lower twig. But though nothing in the world is more delectable to all the senses than a sunny mountain clearing fragrant with sweet fern, I cannot honestly say that it is an adequate substitute for tobacco in a pipe.
Alden, Henry Mills. Harper's New Monthly Magazine. An Autum Pastoral. Volume 61. New York, 1880. 860. Web. Google Book Search. 3 Oct 2009.
Eaton, Walter Prichard. Fruit of the Earth. Harper's Magazine. Volume 144. New York, London, 1922. 329. Web. Google Book Search. 3 Oct 2009.