Updated: May 6
One of the first wildflowers to bloom in spring in Massachusetts is our state flower, the mayflower. Flowers have a sweet scent and are edible. Mayflower is ancient, having bloomed here since right after the glaciers receded. The plant was used by native people as medicine for kidney and digestive disorders. Mayflower is thought to grow with the assistance of a particular fungus that lives under oak trees in eastern US oak and evergreen forests. For this reason, and because it does not produce seeds annually and depends on ants to distribute its seed, mayflowers have been on the list of endangered plants since the 1920s. Once its habitat has been disturbed by farming, logging, or other types of development, it tends not to grow back.
Sometimes we view the human body mechanistically. If your liver is bad, replace that part with another liver grown in a lab. Cutting edge medicine. Cholesterol high? Lower it with medication. Feeling achy, tired and sad? Take an antidepressant. Or maybe a supplement made with herbs and mushrooms. Brain fog? Maybe that same supplement. What if we were to think of humans as part of nature? It might not be so easy then to understand the proper balance of habitat. What would be the human equivalent of balancing rotting oak and evergreen, fungus, sunlight and shade, water, leaves and needles and ants? What would happen to humans who were removed from their habitat and lost contact with nature? What is your ideal habitat? How do you recognize it?