Meeting Beautyberry

American Beautyberry

American Beautyberry

You’ve heard of people who talk to plants. So how do plants talk to people? Flower reading is one of the ways.

You might think herbalists read about healing wild plants in books and then go looking for them in the woods. Often it happens in reverse. You see a plant and something about it looks different or appealing. As Steven Buhner writes, it’s like meeting a special person. Then you read the books.

Beautyberry is this kind of plant. I first noticed its vivid fuschia-colored berries. Callicarpa americana is its botanical name: American Beautyberry. I began working with Beautyberry during wildflower readings with great results. I left offerings to this special plant and tracked its growth cycle. I read books like “Florida Ethnobotany” and discovered that the Creek Indians valued Beautyberry.

I felt a connection to this plant and wondered why.

So last fall, I attended a wild medicinal plants walk with herbalist, Bob Linde. We had examined a few local herbs and briefly stopped next to a large bush with brilliant fuschia berries. It was Beautyberry! Bob plucked one of the leaves, explaining that they made a wonderful natural mosquito and stinging insect repellant. I don’t like commercial insect repellents (including natural products from the health food store) so I eagerly tried rubbing one of the leaves on my bare skin. Beautyberry leaves turned out to be the ideal remedy for my skin, protecting me from insect bites with no side effects.

This taught me something that went beyond studying herbalism in books, as valuable as those books often turn out to be. It showed me that the plants I need the most often communicate to me intuitively long before I learn their uses. The books and teachings clarify and confirm what I am already beginning to sense.

I would never take an herb without receiving instruction from an expert! And it isn’t that flower divination and healing will replace an herbal book; it’s that books might not show you the herb that is right for you. It often takes growing or visiting a plant in the wild, combined with study, to truly start that connection. And flower divination is a fun and easy way to begin.

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