The beautiful flowers of this specimen and the days perfect conditions made this days adventure particularly enjoyable. It inspired the following.(Spring/Summer of 2019)
When we treat our environment with respect, extending the 'Golden Rule' to all life realizing that the nonhuman entities deserve the same courtesies as you would extend to your neighbor, it's fitting that you'd want to learn a bit about them. This is the philosophy I live by and my life has been greatly enriched through it and the knowledge I've gained.
Every atom within the whole of the universe is symbiotic with one another. Having this in mind, it's reasonable to look for this same symbiosis at the macro level. This nature of being is undeniable when you become knowledgeable about what each entity around you is capable of offering to each other.
I take walks daily, mostly along the same five mile path where all the elements are available. Everytime I stop to meet a new plant that is showing off in some way to get my attention, I learn it has something to offer and is inviting me to share with it. Nature has a way of using beauty to either warn us of danger or draw us to something that is offering it's fruits.
Indian Bean or Cigar Tree
The entity in todays image is one of those offering an abundance of benefits, mostly medicinal. Meet the Indian Bean or Catalpa bignonioides - Walter. You really want to meet and become friends with the Indian Bean, because it treats quite a few common ailments. This being offers its benefits freely as long as you leave its roots be. It tells you so, because they are highly toxic, but the leaves, flowers, pods and bark offers a potent medicine.
The bark has been used as a topical antiseptic, to rid the intestines of parasites, it helps to treat malaria and is used as an anti-venom to treat snake bites. Talk about useful, but that isn't all. The bark also has a mild narcotic effect, which can help treat insomnia and muscle spasms that accompanies illnesses like asthma and whooping cough.
Then of course there's the leaves, pods and seeds, which have some of these same effects and are typically used as a poltice or tea. The flowers and young seeds are edible, but not rated as such because they are quite bitter, requiring you to wash and boil them before they are palatable. In a pinch they'll do the trick, but again never mess with the roots.
Where Can You Find Paw Paw
There are four varieties of Catulpa. Two of which grow in China and two in the United States. In China both tree's grow in zones 5-9, but in America one grows in the South and the other the North. The Catulpa Bignonioides is the Southern variety, growing in USDA Zones 5-8. The Northern variety is not considered edible or medicinal and is commonly used to produced utility poles, because it's more hardy and the shape is more symmetrical. It's the only variety with no known edible or medicinal uses, but is the most ornamental.
You can find the Indian Bean growing in most habitats in the Southeastern U.S. and are common shade trees in yards, but can grow along the Coastlines just as easily. They simply need a deep well draining soil and full to partial sun. They are abundant where I live in Omaha, Nebraska and propagate quite easily. They aren't recommended if you like a well groomed lawn, because the flowers and resulting seed pods are numerous and make a huge mess.
Indian Bean Identification
If it's the right time of year after the bloom the most notable sign you have found an Indian Bean are the long slim woody bean pods. It is this feature that also earned it the nickname "Cigar Tree" and they can be up to 8 inches long.
The bloom itself is orchid like that are a bright white with deep maroon or burgandy markings. The flowers also grow in clusters and can be yellow on other varieties. For this reason, they are popular for their ornamental value.
The reason they make great shade trees is the exceptionally broad heart shaped leaves. On other varieties the leaves have three lobes. The canopy is so thick, that if the tree is healthy, no light penetrates to the ground. So, while these are great yard tree's, they are not so good to plant near your garden. Further reasoning for not planting it near your garden is that it doesn't do well in soil with high nitrogen levels.
I have made a tea from the bark and leaves of a young Indian Bean and did not experience the narcotic effect claimed by herbalists. The flavor wasn't very strong nor distinct, but it wasn't bad either. This summer I'll be experimenting with this specimen a bit more using the flowers, bark and seeds. The flowers had expired by the time I identified it and I didn't harvest any of the seeds.
My experiments will include different doses of teas, testing it's healing properties as a poltice and maybe even making a tincture. I will definitely publish a follow up article later in the summer.
I am not a professional and this article is for educational purposes only, not medical advice. Always research any information through multiple sources, make sure of the identification, understand the preparation requirements and know the proper dosages. Many naturally growing plants are easily as powerful if not more so than pharmaceuticals and require accurate detailed information to use properly. Always err on the side of caution.
Every new experience adds to the respect, wonder and awe I feel when bonding with this living entity we call 🌎.
Please make sure to take the time to get outside and bond with your environment. Your health will thank you at every level of your being and please share your experiences with the world. Personal communal knowledge is beneficial to us all, because this interaction is essential to our evolution.
Thank you and I hope your day unfolds on your terms.
All image's and text are property of the author- All Right's Reserved
Join The Best Natural Health Community on Hive