At the Heirloom Garden located near the waterwheel on the hill overlooking the lake you can find the following plants in the raised beds. Plants are listed in alphabetical order and may change from year to year or depending on the season.
Buffalo Gourd (Cherokee Nation seed bank) also known as Wild Gourd, Missouri Gourd, Calabazilla Cucurbita foetidissima
Buffalo gourd is a fast-growing perennial that is very drought tolerant. It sends out long vines from a large, underground tuberous root that can be as large as 16 inches in diameter at the ground level. It usually splits into two descending roots that can go as deep as 3 feet. From this tuber, the long vines can extend for hundreds of feet along which large triangular green/gray leaves are produced. The gourd itself is usually 3 to 4 inches in diameter.
This plant has a long history, dating back an estimated 5,000 years as evidenced by seeds found in archaeological digs at the Hinds Cave historic site near the Pecos River. Native Americans valued this plant for a variety of uses. The root was used for medicinal purposes, the seeds are edible and the dried gourd, which turns yellow when mature, was used as a rattle in rituals.
The fetid odor of the crushed leaves acts as an insect repellent and insecticide. The oil can be used in cosmetics and the root, which is rich in a combination of saponins, steroids and sugars, and foams when water is added. It also was used as a shampoo and hand and laundry soap.
A word of caution is in order. The fruit and roots contain high levels of a group of triterpenoid glycosides that can be poisonous in high concentrations. All members of the domestic squash family produce these chemicals, but not in the high concentrations found in this native plant. So, keep children and pets from chewing or tasting them.
An expanded list of uses for this interesting and ancient plant, along with recipes for its use, can be found at the New Mexico State University's website, http://medplant.nmsu.edu/buffalo.shtm
Catmint Nepeta is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae also known as catmints. The genus name is reportedly in reference to Nepete, an ancient Etruscan city. The genus is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa, and has also naturalized in North America. There are about 250 species.
Some Nepeta species are cultivated as ornamental plants. They can be drought tolerant – water conserving, often deer repellent, with long bloom periods from late spring to autumn. Some species also have repellent properties to insect pests, including aphids and squash bugs, when planted in a garden.
Nepeta are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species including Coleophora albitarsella, and as nectar sources for pollinators, such as honeybees and hummingbirds.
Some members of this group are known as catnip or catmint because of their effect on house cats – the nepetalactone contained in some Nepeta species binds to the olfactory receptors of cats, typically resulting in temporary euphoria.
Nepeta is cultivated for its attractive aromatic foliage and masses of blue flowers, as groundcover, border edging, or in pots or rock gardens. It is drought tolerant, and can be deer resistant.
Cherokee Purple Tomato Solanum lycopersicum
Egyptian Walking or Winter Onions
You can find these plants along the fence:
Yellow bedstraw (botanical name, Galium verum) is a perennially growing herb belong to the family Rubiaceae and is indigenous to Asia and Europe. It is native to Europe and Asia and is found all over North America. Generally, yellow bedstraw is harvested when the plant is in bloom during the summer, especially in July.
The yellow bedstraw plant yielded two dyes - a red dye obtained from the roots and a yellow dye extracted from the flowers. Because the roots are so small, this was not a practial way to get red dye. Dating back to the early days of Greece, the plant was primarily used to make cheese. Extracts of the yellow bedstraw leaves and stem can work as a curdling agent. People in dairy farms in Cheshire, England, used the yellow dye to tint cheese. It is said that during the rule of Henry VII (1485-1509), ladies of the court in England made use of the yellow dye to colour their hair blond, and so yellow bedstraw is commonly known as the maid's hair.
Joe Pye Weed