I got to accompany Prof. Deb McGrath’s Finding Your Place class, a group of 15 first-year Sewanee students who are participating in this program to investigate the university, the Domain, and the surrounding community to find where their niche will be. This is the first day of class, and these students, along with the others enrolled in FYP, have already been here for more than two weeks. They have hiked all over the Domain, including Dick Cove, Shakerag Hollow, and the Mountain Goat. Today we visited Piney Point on a hike concentrating on medicinal plants of the plateau.
Not so surprisingly there is a large number of plants here with purported medicinal properties. We located several them, then settled down to do journal entries about the experience, each of us concentrating on any one aspect of the outing. I focused on the chestnut oak seedling at my feet. We saw many members of this species all the way out to Piney Point and back. Adapted to life on the drier ridges, it’s very much accustomed to the Piney Point habitat!
Like the other white oaks, chestnut oak contains a fair amount of tannins, which are astringent. As a result, its inner bark has been made into a tea to treat dysentery and sore throat. Externally, it can be used as a wash to treat poison ivy rash. Let’s just hope nobody got any of that today!
This is an energetic group! They biked out the Mountain Goat Trail from campus to hike with me – then hopped on their bikes to pedal back to campus and on to their next adventures.