We often refer to extremely bright people as “Einsteins.” Toward the end of the life of Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), the Swedish physician and botanist was considered one of Europe’s most brilliant scientists. Perhaps our Revolutionary War-era predecessors would have referred to inventive souls like Benjamin Franklin as being “Linnaeus-like.” This great mind—considered one of the fathers of ecology—introduced the practice of giving plants and animals two-worded scientific names—genus and species. People became members of the Homo sapiens family, with our pet dogs and cats becoming Canis lupus and Felis catus, respectively. This ended a lot of confusion when identifying various living things, since so many plants and animals carry a number of common names. In some quarters, the delicious nannyberry was also referred to as the sheepberry. Not that sheep were drawn to them, but rather because the over-ripe berries were said to bear the odor of the wool of wet sheep!
What does it do?
The juice taken from the nannyberry brings benefit to those suffering from digestive ills. A tea rendered from the tree bark has antispasmodic properties, making it a good choice to relax muscular spasms and cramping. Teas made from the leaves have been used to treat cases of the measles. This versatile brew also heals painful, burning urination (dysuria). As an effective diuretic, nannyberry leaf tea acts on the kidneys to promote the regular flow of urine.
About the herb
Nannyberries are native to southern Canada and the Midwestern and northeastern portions of the United States. Easily found around the Great Lakes, this tasty fruit stands ready to be collected by Hoosiers who have been touched by the pioneering spirit. The nannyberry is also referred to as the wild raisin because it attains its fully ripened state when it appears to be shriveling and drying up. Those berries not scooped up by appreciative summer birds remain on the bush well into the winter. The leaves light up with brilliant colors during fall, not unlike an autumnal Christmas tree. Grow your own nannyberry bushes to form a natural border and to attract numerous birds and honeybees.
To quell nervous irritation, sip a cup of herb tea concocted from nannyberry tree bark. Boil a teaspoon of the dried bark shavings in a cup water for ten minutes, steep for another ten minutes and strain. Once you remove the flat, lentil-shaped seed from the berry, you can dry the fruit for a nutritious year-round snack.