Tidewater Flower and Garden Show: February 17 and 18, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. “Dream Plants: the Jamestown settlers fight starvation and disease by getting acquainted with the many uses of the strange and exciting native flora of their New World!”
Marion Lobstein’s program looks at the vast variety of native plants our early settlers came in contact with at Jamestown in 1607. Many of the North American native plants were unknown to the early settlers. Imagine yourself in a “new world” with a large group of new and unknown plants surrounding you. You experience a “learning curve” as to which ones you can eat, which ones are poisonous, or which ones might be used to treat medical conditions. Although the native Indians were of some help, a language barrier existed. The first settlers almost starved to death that first winter, because they ran out of food and did not know which native plants they could eat! Local Indian tribes showed them how to live off the land and which plants & berries could be eaten. Some of these plants had unusual uses – the Indians dried, rolled, chopped up, and set fire to the leaves of one plant, and inhaled the smoke thru a pipe (tobacco)! Dried seeds from another plant when placed in a fire, exploded and expanded, and could be eaten… Moist seeds and their sheaths of the same plant could also be placed in hot coals, cooked, and eaten (ears of corn). When cooked in this manner they did not explode! Green balls the size of basketballs found growing on vines were harvested when they turned orange and cooked in hot coals and eaten (pumpkins). And there are other examples that Marion will talk about! Many native plants we grow, eat, and take for granted today were viewed as bizarre by early the settlers. These plants were quickly carried back to Mother England.