Historical Notes about Cranberries

I think that this information is probably going to surprise some people, but the way we use cranberries for sauces and fermented beverages is a very old practice from Northern Europe.

Vaccinium oxycoccus and Vaccinium microcarpus  are both native species in the British Isles and were used quite widely as food and medicine. The English called them fen berry or moor-berries. The Welsh called them llygaeron and Ceiros-y-waun. Clan Grant in Scotland wore Mùileag as their heraldic emblem into the 19th century.[1] In Ireland you also saw it referred to as monog (peat berry).[2]

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I wrote this article back in 2016, for Natural Herbal Living Magazine but I had to throw it up on the blog today because someone called goldenrod a weed and I felt like sticking up for one of my favorite fall ornamentals. I also wanted to share that you most likely aren’t allergic to goldenrod.  The pollen produced by goldenrod is quite large, heavy and sticky.  It is too heavy to become windblown and relies on insects to spread it.  It’s almost impossible for people to be exposed to the pollen aside from touching the plant. 

Whenever I think of goldenrod, I think of this poem by Clement Wood, that I found when writing my first monograph on the plant many years ago.

Coin of the Year
NOVEMBER, you old alchemist,
Who would have thought
You could turn the high arrogance of golden-rod To still plumes of silver?1

Today it seems odd to think of goldenrod as a plant of “high arrogance,” however thru the early part of the 20th century, our friend was held in much higher esteem. Continue reading