Questions for Wild medicine


Before reading:

     1. Has anyone ever recommended a special food or drink to help you feel better when sick? What was it? Did it have any effect?

During reading:

  1. What medicinal purpose does the mjonso plant have for members of the Tongwe tribe in Tanzania?
  2. Michael Huffman may have been the first university-trained scientist to observe what?
  3. How did the chimpanzee’s feces confirm Huffman’s hunch?
  4. In what way could the chemicals found in the mjonso plant help people?
  5. What are tannins?
  6. What effect do plants rich in tannins have on some intestinal parasites?
  7. Why would penning in livestock limit their ability to medicate themselves?
  8. What’s the trashy nest material source used by some birds in Mexico City?
  9. Provide two possible reasons for why some birds add this material to their nests.
  10. How does OE kill monarch butterflies?
  11. Why do female monarch butterflies infected with OE prefer to lay their eggs on tropical milkweed plants?

After reading:

  1. Dogs sometimes eat grass, only to quickly vomit it back up. What is a possible explanation for this behavior? How would you design an experiment to test your hypothesis?
  2. Scientists say observing how animals use natural medicines can teach people important lessons. Of the examples given in this story, which animal’s use of a medicinal plant may have inspired copycat behavior by people? Provide an explanation to support your answer.


  1. Monarch butterflies in eastern North America migrate south for the winter, traveling on a path that takes them through Texas before reaching central Mexico. Using a map, locate the Mexican states of Mexico and Michoacán, where the butterflies overwinter. About how far would a monarch butterfly travel to reach this location if it flew from Georgia? And from Maine?
  2. Research the origin of aspirin. What ancient natural remedy inspired this modern medicine?