Panaceas to all for 2012

Vital moisture is stored in tissues of trunks and branches

Meet the elephant tree, member of the torchwood family and relative to cherished frankincense and myrrh. Rare, stately, this is a plant with presence that displays a striking dichotomy between massive twisted trunks and airy leaf structure. Busera microphyllia elbows into a space, sprawling and spreading to inhabit its domain on hillsides, between boulders, between the thin desert soil and the arching sky. Paperlike bark peels away from the multiple trunks in creamy curls transmitting sunlight to the chlorophyll-bearing tissues in the stems. In this way the plant survives even when the leaves have dropped due to excessive heat or drought. Crisp green growth spurts from dead looking branches as a stressed plant draws up moisture after winter rains. Oh aromatic! Busera spices the desert air. Pinch a few leaves and release the resins, inhale scents of lemon and pine and hints of turpentine.

Busera was used by indigenous peoples for a variety of medicinal purposes. It was brewed in teas for asthma and used as a poultice for wounds, cuts and lice. In fact the elephant tree is healing in so many ways that the American Indians came to call it a panacea, the most powerful of medicines. The leaves, twigs and sap were kept in the shaman’s secret stash, used only by him.

The definition of a panacea (from wikidictionary) is a remedy believed to cure all diseases and prolong life – that miracle cure sought by alchemists.

The term panacea is also used figuratively as something intended to completely solve a large, multi-faceted problem.

The elephant tree brought me to the concept of panacea, and I’d like to encourage everyone to remember the healing and life-prolonging characteristics to be found in a walk outside, alert to the many miracles of Nature. There’s no reason to give up on the idea of panaceas, heavens knows there’s plenty to be remedied! May 2012 be the year we all remember that Nature does heal herself and will heal us too.


One response to “Panaceas to all for 2012

  1. Wonderful sentiments which I will be reminded of every time I see the elephant tree…what a great connection! Happy New year to you and all of your following.

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