Long before supermarkets and grocery stores, people had to identify food by more than the price tag above them. Medicine was a similar story; there was no pharmacy or hospital, only the products of a clever forager.
If you’ve ever wanted to explore old-fashioned cures handed down over generations, you can join a hike at Lake Rim Park on Aug. 30, which will teach you how to identify and collect the many medicinal and edible plants native to North Carolina.
This class is not a directory on what plants you should go out into your backyard and chew on, but rather an informative class on the history of the past medical uses of different plants in North Carolina.
“I don’t want people to go out and say ‘Ranger Mike told me to use this for this, I’m going to try it,’” Mike Moralise, the Park Ranger who is leading the expedition explained. It is purely for the sake of knowledge not practicality.
The hike will take place along the mile-long border trail that winds through typical North Carolina wetlands all the way to Bones Creek. It is located in Lake Rim Park where all facilities are generally open to the public.
“It’s an outdoor program, a hike that takes us about a mile down our border trail. It is to teach people about the uses for plants people have had mainly in the past, Native American, colonial and some modern medicinal uses,” said Moralise.
“We have more than 230 plants I’ve identiﬁ ed in the park and a lot of them have had uses prescribed to them at some point in the past. I wouldn’t recommend people to try these things or use them, it’s just an educational class to teach people how they’ve been used in the past,” he continued.
“People used to chew dogwood branches as a precursor to modern tooth brushes. They chewed the ends of the branches and used it to clean their teeth especially in the 1800s and the Civil War era,” he noted.
“Some of them are being researched by doctors and physicians now, but a lot of them, its older historical uses during Native American and Colonial times, and a lot of the reason for that is that they’ve been disproven,” he said. “Before the advent of medical centers and hospitals, people had to rely on the plants and animals around them to get their food and medicines. Some were based on trial and error and some did show to be useful, but a lot of it was just folklore and beliefs. Perhaps someone took it at sometime and they got better, so people just assumed that it was the plant when they may have been getting better on their own,” he concluded.
This is a free activity and registration deadline is Aug. 29. The hike begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 10 a.m., and will follow the Border Trail. All ages are welcome, but it is geared more for adults. Lake Rim Park is located at 2214 Tar Kiln Dr. For more information, call the Lake Rim Park center at 424-6134.
Photo: If you’ve ever wanted to explore old-fashioned cures handed down over generations, you can join a hike at Lake Rim Park on Aug. 30.