NATURES BEAUTY - LILY

Easter is upon us, and no flower is more associated with the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection than the lily. Traditional lore says white lilies emerged where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the earth in his final hours on the cross. The ancient Greeks believed lilies came from the breast milk of Hera, the queen of the gods. In Roman mythology, Venus, the goddess of beauty, was jealous of the flower’s white loveliness. A European legend says if you approach an expectant mother holding a lily….

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NATURES BEAUTY - SQUASH

Is squash a vegetable or a fruit? You would probably call a zucchini squash a vegetable, but you would most likely call a pumpkin a fruit. The definitive answer, from a botanical view, is squash are fruits because they contain the seeds of the plant.  Squash are some of the oldest cultivated crops on earth, believed to have originated in Mexico and Central America more than 10,000 years ago. The word squash comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means…..

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NATURES BEAUTY - CINNAMON

One of the best-loved spices of cooks and food lovers alike is cinnamon. Made from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree, cinnamon has been around since the days of ancient Egypt, where it was used to embalm mummies. The tree is native to the Caribbean, South America and Southeast Asia. Indonesia and China produce three-quarters of the world’s supply of cinnamon today.

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NATURES BEAUTY - SAGEBRUSH

Out West, sagebrush is ubiquitous. These woody, herbaceous, evergreen plants are well-known pieces of the landscape. They are found across large portions of the Great Basin, a range that extends northward through British Columbia’s southern interior, south into Baja California and east into the western Great Plains of New Mexico (where I live now), Colorado, Nebraska and the Dakotas. The various species have wonderful, melodious names: Artemisia scopulorum (alpine), tridentata (basin), bigelow (bigelovii), birdfoot (pedatifida), longleaf (longifolia), michauxiana. They also have colorful names: black, blue, gray, silver, white. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the generic name for sagebrush, Artemisia, comes from the name of the Greek goddess Artemis.


The scent of sagebrush wafts over the land where it is the predominant shrub. It presents gray stems and twigs. Younger twigs are hairy while older twigs are covered in a fragile bark that falls off easily. Many sagebrush trunks are stunted and twisted, but where there is deeper soil and more water, the trunks grow straighter and taller. Drought-resistant big sagebrush is normally about 4 feet tall, but it can grow to about 15 feet tall under the right conditions.


Sagebrush, especially the tridentate variety (the state flower of Nevada), is surprisingly versatile. It was often used as a source of fuel by pioneers heading West and by the Native populations that knew the land so

well. Tea can be made from different parts of the plant. Its bark can be used to make ropes, cloth, mats and baskets. Fiber from the inner bark has been used to make paper. Livestock and wildlife do not generally eat it because its foliage tastes bitter, but sagebrush is a mainstay in the diets of antelope and mule deer, especially in the winter when other food such as prairie grass is covered in snow.


Sagebrush has great medicinal properties as well. Native populations used it for smudging ceremonies, which were performed to purify and cleanse their dwellings. Its vapors are purported to be good for such ailments as rheumatism, headaches, toothaches, coughs and fever. A decoction of the leaves is espoused as being a good treatment for the digestive system. Fresh or dried sagebrush leaves are used to treat pneumonia and bronchitis. It can be used as an antiseptic wash for cuts, wounds and sores. A tea made of the leaves has been used to treat vomiting and diarrhea; it is also used as an antidote for poisoning. Some Native peoples chewed sagebrush leaves to ease stomach gas.


Sagebrush has adapted well to its sometimes harsh conditions of cold desert and sandy soil. A major threat to existing sagebrush ecosystems is wildfire. Cattle farmers burn large areas of sagebrush habitat to make space for their grazing

animals. It is then difficult for sagebrush to re-establish itself in the burned areas. Because many species have become accustomed to its habitat, the burning of the shrubs can lead to species loss and devastation of the ecosystem as a whole. Sagebrush is worth caring for wisely.


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TANYA TYLER





Tanya Tyler is the Editor of Health & Wellness Magazine