A Wildflower Walk with Larry Part I

Larry Yox, Resident Wildflower Aficionado

Larry Yox is one of our longer term Members here at Lost Valley Community. He has a passion for many things but if you want to see his entire body light up — instantly — ask him a question about a wildflower. Any ole question will do. Be prepared to hear a college-level teaching lesson on the general subject, because once you get Larry started, his mind and knowledge just go on a tour of Wildflower World, whether or not you are actually looking at the subject in question. Larry has the flowers distinctly in his mind’s eye, so he is “seeing” everything he is talking about. And if you are willing, you can begin to see them too.

Bottom line: Larry Yox is a walking encyclopedia of botanical information. More specifically, he embodies an immense amount of information about the wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest. Even more specifically, he has the keenest interest in the flowers that appear each year on our 87 acres of woodland forest and Savannah meadows. He is a living library on this topic.

The last week of April, I asked Larry to take me on a tour and talk to me on his favorite topic. He was delighted! We had only walked about 50 feet down the road toward the meadow and already, Larry began to speak about the plants along the way. These were not exactly wildflowers but they were plants that had beauty and value as herbal remedies. One plant in particular he pointed out, because of his early childhood memories associated with his father’s intense dislike for the plant. Larry had grown up maligning teasel, because his father had only negative things to say about it. Much later, Larry began to experience the beauty of this plant in its flowering and reproductive phases. He heard herbalists speak of the value of the plant as a “beneficial.” In addition to having its own healing properties, teasel helps the plants around it to be more healthy. Larry gained a new appreciation for this plant and he couldn’t help but pass that story of his change of mind and heart along to me.

So my first “wildflower” on the tour was not a wildflower at all but a majestic plant with six-foot tall spires that before they die, sport beautiful purple flowers, much like a thistle, although they are not thistles. The plants have a two-year cycle.  The stalk appears in the second year. The leaves at the base of these dead stalks are second-year growth. The first year occurs out of sight, underground. I was fascinated; I’d marveled at these plants for a decade and never had any information about them.

Teasel — Dead Stalks Complete Two-Year Cycle. These are Sometimes Sprayed Gold or Silver and Used in Dried Floral Arrangements

Second Year Teasel. The Plant has Been Growing Underground for a Year before the Leaves Appear. It Will Grow Stalks This Year.


The ‘Lowly” Dandelion — one Totally Beneficial Plant!

We were still walking to the “wildflowers” and already I was learning a whole bunch of information. The next topic was the much-maligned and highly beneficial plant — the Dandelion!

Larry shared that every part of this plant is usable from the flowers (which my neighbor dipped in batter and deep fried into yummy fritters !) the leaves (great in salads or steeped in teas) the stalks (excellent for liver/digestive system health) and the roots (also a liver/digestive tonic when boiled or made into tinctures.) And many other medicinal uses too.

Larry also shared that the dandelion is so prolific (ask anyone who has a lawn and they will verify this) that is can propagate up to three generations of itself in one growing season. Flowers – puffballs – seeds in the wind = next generation plant (repeat). This was amazing to me! I had no idea!

Now, I understood more completely why this humble plant has been singled out by Big Pharma to be eradicated by any means, at any cost — even the cost of poisoning all living beings and our Mother Planet. This understanding has changed my whole attitude about dandelions and now, when I see one along the road — smiling its bright sunny greeting at me — I smile right back and thank it for bringing so much goodness into our world.

“Purple Deadnettle”–Furry Leaves with Purple Flowers and Four Tiny Pinkish Flowers on Each Crown.

We were still walking “to” the wildflowers when Larry noticed a patch of “purple deadnettle” (a member of the mint family) by the side of the road. I had seen these beautiful plants with small furry leaves and sweet purple flowers and mistaken them for a kind of clover. They are not clover (I should have known that from the shape of the leaves.) I had already discovered that this plant is edible, because one day for lunch one of our cooks had made a “wild and edible” salad featuring purple deadnettle. It was a little like eating a caterpillar but otherwise had a very pleasant taste.

Western Buttercup

And finally, we got to the meadow and found our first true wildflower: The Western Buttercup! They grow taller here in Oregon. The ones I had known in California grew closer to the ground. I resisted the temptation to pick one and hold it under my chin, as I had been taught as a child — to see if I liked butter? Who doesn’t like butter? Many of our wildflowers are protected here in Oregon. It is illegal to pick them. Here at Lost Valley, even though we are on private property, we follow the same rule and leave the wildflowers in their natural places, as much as possible.

I will press “pause” for now and continue this walk with Larry in a few days. We spent two hours together and he gave me a college-level “lecture” on so many varieties that I will need to deliver this in a series or risk putting you to sleep.

Western Buttercups along the Path




12 thoughts on “A Wildflower Walk with Larry Part I

  1. So many of my favourites here Alia.. Teasels I collected some in January .. They are in my greenhouse drying out.. I will spray them with glitter paint for Christmas decorations.. Buttercups are another favourite too.. bringing lots of memories as children of holding under the chin 🙂
    And Dandelions.. well the wild flower of all wild flowers.. So many uses, and an excellent Tea.. 🙂 xxx
    Thank you, I took my walk backwards but enjoyed enormously 🙂 xxx LOL

    • Hello Arlene — Trusting you are out of the flood stage now and on to mop up — ugg! You folks have been through a challenging time up there.
      Thanks for refraining from using the harsh pesticides created to exterminate some of these “weeds” that are actually “beneficials.” Dandelions are a great example of how humans were socially engineered (ie mind controlled) to support an agenda of an elite few. If we had been told with full transparency about the benefits of some of these so-called weeds, perhaps we would have cultivated entire gardens of them and learned to prepare the medicinals from them as our ancestors did. Maybe we’d be pulling up the grass instead of the dandelions. lol Thanks for doing your part not to poison the soil — very big contribution, actually.

    • Thanks Jamie, It’s quite a blessing to have such a guide and such an abundance of beauty. Since the tour, everything has burst into full bloom and many new things have appeared since then that I don’t even know what they are. I’ll need another tour soon, Alia

    • Thank you. I almost put the C word in my post but it’s always a bit controversial to start touting herbal remedies for cancer, so I played it safe. But you brought it up so yup — dandelions can even prevent or cure cancer and this is the most important reason for Big Pharma going after these yellow blessings.

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