Campus hosts abundant plant life, gourmet to medicinal needs met

Rose hips (above) and Mullein (below) growing in the LCC Learning Garden have medicinal uses.Photo by: August Frank

Rose hips (above) and Mullein (below) growing in the LCC Learning Garden have medicinal uses.
Photo by: August Frank

Cody Wickman

This is the introductory article in a recurring series about edible and medicinal flora on the LCC campus

Lane Community College and surrounding areas are rich with a wide variety of native medicinal herbs and plants. The Learning Garden, run by Rosie Sweetman, is a great place to learn about these plants.

Sweetman has been gardening and farming in Lane County for the past eight years. She oversees most of what goes on at the Learning Garden and coordinates where all the food grown is distributed. All food is strictly just for the Lane campus community.

“Within our area there are a prolific amount of native medicinal plants,” Sweetman said.

Learning where and how to start collecting herbs can be a challenge. Sweetman says that a good place to start would be to find a trustworthy field guide or talk with someone who is trained in their use. The biggest problem facing new herbalists is having minimal knowledge gained from a book and going into the field unprepared.

Foraging for herbs can pose some real dangers such as picking a deadly look-alike that is mistaken for something edible. Many plants are extremely toxic and novice herbalists should be 100 percent certain that the ones they are picking are the right ones.

When it comes to finding the herbs, the choices in Oregon are almost limitless. Over 3,600 plants are native to the state. Many serve different purposes, many of which are beneficial to health.

For example research shows the Oregon Grape to some common lawn weeds, plants have a wide variety of potential health benefits, including ingestion, relaxation, treating burns, and improving immune function. Chances are that en route to class students pass by a number of plants available to all that could improve their health and that of their families.

For more information regarding collecting herbs and medicinal plants, students are welcome to stop by the Learning Garden anytime.