America is the native home of many wondrous edible and medicinal plants. Tomatoes, potatoes, corn (maize), pumpkins, peanuts, chili peppers, chocolate (cacao), vanilla and blueberries had never graced the European palate prior to 1492*, and the healing wonders of arnica, goldenseal, and american ginseng were unknown to western society.
Among all these wonderful native plants, Yaupon held an exalted place among the indigenous people who lived with and understood the plants. Like many of the natural wonders around them, Yaupon was held in high regard. We all know of the Grand Canyon, The Great Lakes, Grand Forks, Grand Rapids. Indigenous people called Yaupon Holly: “Big Medicine”, “The Purifier” and “The Beloved Tree”.
In past days, Yaupon was sought after by tribes outside of its natural range. It was traded to far away tribes, lovingly and carefully transported to their villages. It was even traded to the Mayans in exchange for cacao.
We can’t forget about the natural wonders like the canyons and lakes we all marvel at. So, how did we forget about this magical, healing plant right under our feet? For me, the reasons are a different discussion. Yaupon is here with us now. It is traditional medicine with its own story to discover. Yaupon is revealing its magic to modern society at last after being forgotten for so long. Yaupon knows its time is now. Maybe it knows we need her now more than ever.