As part of the VCE-Wise County Internship, I was given the opportunity to present on a few of my personal interests. One of these presentations was about traditional Appalachian medicinal plants. Hundreds of plants in the Appalachian Mountains have historically been used for their medicinal properties. For this post, I want to focus on some common summer weeds you may have around your garden and their traditional medicinal uses 


Traditionally, Cherokee used the roots of this plant to make a tonic that promotes blood health.  Its roots also have also been used to relieve abdomen aches and regulate menses. Although ironweed refers to several species that are difficult to distinguish from one another, there are no toxic look-alikes to this flowering weed. Ironweed is a general name that refers to several different species. Vernola glauca is a species commonly known as Appalachian Ironweed. It begins to flower this month in July. Some identifying features include- Its alternating leaf pattern and their red-violet flattop flowers. 

Common Ragweed

Another plant traditionally used by Cherokee and other Native American groups is Common Ragweed. This weed was to treat various skin conditions. Specifically, its leaves were rubbed on hives, minor infections, and even bug bites. Teas made from its roots have been used to ail many cold, flu, and allergy symptoms including- nausea, fever, and cramping. Although this plant is well known for causing allergies, pollen from ragweed plants is harvested commercially to use in treatments for ragweed allergies. 

Stinging nettle

Lastly, stinging nettle is a weed commonly found in many parts of the world. Several cultures have independently used every part of this plant to treat a variety of conditions. Most notably, its anti-inflammatory properties were used to relieve arthritic pain. To identify this plant, look for its namesake stinging hairs along its stem that grows 3-7ft tall. Its leaves are opposite and have toothed edges that come to a point.