Octo𝘣𝘦𝘳 5, 2020
I mentioned earlier the Naked Ladies in our mailbox bed were transplanted from Melissa’s grandmother on her father’s side. While these have died back, a second set of lilies have replaced them, the Red Spider lilies (Lycoris radiata). The plant was first introduced into the United States in 1854, when Japanese ports were opened for US trade. Captain William Roberts brought back three bulbs. The bulbs were planted by his niece who found that they do not bloom until after the first good rain in the fall season. Plants have since become naturalized in North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, and many other southern states of the US.
The bulbs we have come from the plants originally cultivated by Melissa’s grandmother on her mother’s side. Her mother was one of the Cherokee people who as an infant was involved in the Trail of Tears during the 1840’s. Her family was moved from Florida and originally settled in Arkansas but were again forced to move to Oklahoma Territory. Melissa’s grandmother was born in Oklahoma and was essentially abandoned. Melissa’s grandfather was in Oklahoma when he met her and brought her back to Arkansas to live with his parents. They were married two years later. She brought the bulbs with her, which the offspring of are now in our bed.
Melissa recalled being told the reason the plant was brought to Arkansas by her grandmother was its perceived medicinal properties in traditional medicine. The bulb was used as a nausea and cough medicine. A decoction of the root was used to counteract poison and was also applied to ulcers and swellings. The bulb can be made into a plaster and was then applied to burns and scalds. The plant is also said to have anticancer properties. This seemed to be something worth saving to her. It rooted her to the traditions of her home.
𝗧𝗛𝗢𝗨𝗚𝗛𝗧𝗦: While much of traditional medicine was denigrated when we entered the era of modern drugs and scientific research, the same science has proven the worth of many remedies. Even without an understanding of germs and viruses people found what did help or even cure our ills. While thing do not magically disappear, there is much that can be learned from our past. Understanding gives us further insight into how we thought and lived. While we do not use the Red Spider lilies medicinally, they do connect Melissa to memories of her grandmother. Our memories ground us to our ancestors. Knowing who you were helps us decide who we want to be. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.