Botanical Graphics: Beneficial Plants

This is a series of graphic botanicals of beneficial wildflower plants.

The botanical illustrations in this series feature common wildflowers that have medicinal uses and other beneficial value as food or for agriculture. The illustrations are meant to be sold as fine art prints and posters. The graphic style in my own unique take on the botanical genre and carries over the format of my first series of plants featuring invasive weeds/wildflowers that have beneficial value. 
CLOVER, Beebread

Number seven in my series of graphics of beneficial invasive species. Trifolium repens or common white clover is planted by farmers to restore nitrogen to fields.

Practical Uses From:
 "Leaves of white clover are edible, raw or cooked. The young leaves are best harvested before the plant flowers, and can be used in salads, soups etc. They can be used as a vegetable, cooked like spinach. Flowers and seed pods have been dried, ground into a powder and used as a flour or sprinkled on cooked foods such as boiled rice. The young flowers can also be eaten raw in salads. The root can be eaten if cooked first. A sweet herb tea is made from the fresh or dried flowers. It is considered delicate. The dried leaves impart a vanilla flavor if mixed into cakes etc.  (

Medicinal Uses From:
"White Clover was used for medicinal purposes by the Cherokee, Iroquois, and Mohegan Indians among others. The flowering heads have substances that counteract scrofula, tend to purify and cleanse the blood, cleanse boils, sores, wounds, etc., heal disorders and diseases of the eye, and are tonic. A tea has been used in the treatment of coughs, colds, fevers and leucorrhea. A tincture of the leaves can be applied as an ointment to gout. A tea of the flowers has been used as an eyewash. The Cherokee used a tea of white clover for fevers and "Bright's disease". The Delaware and Algonkian Indians used a tea infusion of dried leaves taken for coughs and colds.  (

Botanical number 10 developed quickly. Echinacea is thought to stimulate the immune system and is used to speed the passage of the common cold. I just like the flower. It has to be the longest lasting in the garden-about three weeks if the weather is right.

Medicinal Uses:
According to Cancer Research UK: "There is no scientific evidence to show that echinacea can help treat, prevent or cure cancer in any way. Some therapists have claimed that echinacea can help relieve side effects from cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but this has not been proved either." While there are many products on the market, "There is no conclusive evidence showing that echinacea products treat or prevent the common cold." (
COREOPSIS, Golden Wave

Coreopsis wasthe last of my 12 botanicals of invasive wildflowers and native beneficial plants. Coreopsis is useful as a substitute for coffee, a tea can be made from the roots. A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers, and lesser known, a whole infusion of the plant without the root has been used by women desiring a female baby. Who knew. 

Practical Uses From:
The Zuni people use the blossoms of the tinctoria variety to make a mahogany red dye for yarn. This variety was formerly used to make a hot beverage until the introduction of coffee by traders.Women also use a infusion of whole plant of this variety, except for the root if they desire female babies.
FOXGLOVE, Digitalis

This is number nine in my plant calendar series. Just three to go. Digitalis is one of those truly beneficial plants. Drugs derived from it have been prescribed for patients in atrial fibrillation. It is also just a beautiful plant. A biennial, it never seems to stay in one place in my garden but moves around from season to season by reseeding itself.

Medicinal Uses:
"The powerful medication digitalis has been derived from the plant to help ailing hearts."

"A group of medicines extracted from foxglove plants are called digitalin. The use of D. purpurea extract containing cardiac glycosides for the treatment of heart conditions was first described in the English-speaking medical literature by William Withering, in 1785,[8][9] which is considered the beginning of modern therapeutics.
It is used to increase cardiac contractility."
SPIDERWORT, Indian Plant (In honor of my friend John Martens)

I photographed the garden at the Congregational Church of Birmingham on Woodward this June and I came away with some excellent images of a batch of Spiderwort. John Martens (a great artist/retoucher and colleague of mine until he passed away in 2012) first told me about this garden back in 2006 and I have been taking pictures of the peonies in June ever since. I miss the great conversations with John about art and painting.

John once told me this great story about how his father and uncle were reunited after the war. His family in Germany had been separated during WWII and John's father emigrated to the US after the war when John was just 12. When John's father went to GM to interview for a job he amazingly encountered his brother waiting to be interviewed for the same job. They had lost track of each other in Germany in the chaos at the end of the war and neither knew if the other had survived. Ironic but true, they ended up working for the same company and living in Warren a few blocks from each other and raising families for the next several decades.

Medicinal Uses From:

"The Cherokee Indians used the plant to make an herbal tea drank for the treatment of "female" type problems such as premenstrual cramps and symptoms and as a laxative to treat issues with the stomach and kidneys. The Lakota Indians made a blue paint using the flowers that was used to decorate clothes, "Indian Paint' is another name for this wildflower. Probably the most important information available is that a poultice can be made by crushing the leaves of the plants to be used as a treatment for insect bites and stings."

I had a really nice shot of this thistle in bloom from at the nature center a few years ago. The sun was shining through the barbs all over the stems and leaves.

Practical Uses From:
"When beaten up or crushed in a mill to destroy the prickles, the leaves of all Thistles have proved excellent food for cattle and horses. This kind of fodder was formerly used to a great extent in Scotland before the introduction of special green crops for the purpose. The young stems of many of the Thistles are also edible, and the seeds of all the species yield a good oil by expression."
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