Thursday, September 16, 2010

California Native Plants Botanical Garden

I have lived in Berkeley area for almost 30 years, and it took Master Ken's herb class field trip for me to visit Regional Park's Botanical Garden for the first time. If I was going there on my own, I would probably spend 2-3 hours; however, with Master Ken's detailed introduction to just about every plant, we spent over 6 hours there including a potluck picnic. It was a feast!

Matilija Poppy flowers
These beautiful white Matilija Poppy flowers were outside of the garden entrance and all over the garden. I can see why people assumed all Berkeleyans were stoners. If you know your plants and wild mushrooms, it's quite easy to get high all the time without spending any money. Personally, I feel quite content and exuberant just being out in nature and not confined to a cubicle.

Master Ken spent quite a bit of time telling the class about the big white flower in the picture below. It has medicinal properties for treating asthma, and I wanted to read more about it. I can't remember the name of it though. If you know what it is, leave me a note!  UPDATE: I finally asked Master Ken for the name of the flower below and how it helps relief asthma. It's called Datura wrighti. "It has been smoked for asthma as it has muscle relaxant qualities against the coughing muscles. It contains the same drugs that are also used in anesthesia. Most things that are medicinal are also classified as "toxic" when used in inappropriate quantities. It has also been used as an inebriate or intoxicant which is also why it is considered toxic."
Datura wrightii

The Garden holds weekly plant sales from May to December in addition to an annual plant sale in April. The seeds are available in the Garden's Visitor Center on Sundays and Mondays from 8:30 a.m to 5 p.m. They also offer classes and volunteer opportunities.

There is a creek that runs through the garden, and you can see crayfish from the bridges above the creek. While Master Ken was telling us the story of him getting sick as an university student in Texas, a boy ran up to Master Ken to show him what he found in the creek. After we all had a chance to admire the little crayfish, the boy put it back in the creek. The boy's parents have taught him well.

As the sun was setting, we headed back to the entrance. I left the botanical garden with even more appreciation for nature that day.

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