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Local Plants

22 July 2015

Usnea: Immune-Enhancing Lichen

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

UsneaAnyone who has walked through the forests of the southeast has encountered Usnea, but you might not have noticed it. You probably didn’t know that the inconspicuous gray-green fuzzy stuff covering many of the trees is one of the gentlest yet strongest immune tonics in the herb world. Usnea is a lichen; a combination of an algae and a fungus growing together. Also known as Old Man's beard, it grows in little hair-like tufts, with the green algae covering the white string like fungus. The best way to identify Usnea is to pull a string apart and look for this white thread. However, since Usnea is nearly impossible to find in field guides and rarely in herb books, I recommend showing a sample to a knowledgeable person to confirm you've got the right plant.

02 July 2015

Herbs: Fast-acting or Tonic?

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Herbs are used in two distinct ways. One is in acute situations, providing relief for things like an upset tummy or menstrual cramps. The other is to nourish and regulate organs and systems, revitalizing the body's own ability to maintain overall good health.

plantain 1 600 x 405The first way is fast. The second often takes time. A robust herbal medicine chest contains both types of herbal remedies. Herbs like yarrow, skullcap, plantain, wild lettuce, motherwort, and lemon balm are usually used for acute situations. It is best to take them immediately at the on-set of the issue and at regular intervals to have the most desired effect.

29 June 2015

St. Johnswort, Lemon Balm & Motherwort

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

cw in lemon balmLemon Balm, Motherwort, and St Johnswort are three of my favorite herbs to grow. The pleasures of growing these herbs are many. . .

To begin with, in herb gardening, I am partial to perennials and strong self-sowing annuals, which result in more benefit year by year from the original input of labor. Sure, there’s mulching and tending each year but there’s also the advantage that the plants grow bigger and offer more as they grow.

23 June 2015

Lambsquarters Leaves and Seeds

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

cw 2015.5.22  field med res cropped 320 x 346One of my favorite things to do after work on a long, languid afternoon of summer is to gather a fresh, wild salad for the evening meal. I always add plenty of lambsquarters to my basket. Her curvy, velvety leaves create a mild base for other, stronger tasting salad greens like dandelion.

Lambsquarters is abundant during the late spring and summer season. The beguiling, undulating leaves—often tinted with just a touch of magenta—have the appearance of a webbed goosefoot, hence her botanical name, Chenopodium album, which translates as “goose foot powder”. The powder refers to a chalky coating that appears on the underside of the leaves. It’s a good way to identify her and also gives a hint to one of her nutritional benefits; lambsquarters is high in calcium.

chenopodium giganteum2 484 x 324This is a good thing, particularly because lambsquarters is a native ancestor of spinach. She shares many of the same health benefits but, like spinach, contains some oxalic acid. The high level of calcium in lambsquarters helps to neutralize that component. Like spinach, she’s wonderful cooked as well, and her tender leaves make a wonderful dish when sautéed with some garlic and olive oil (to provide healthy fats which increase absorption of the minerals and nutrients).

13 June 2015

Fermented Honey: Mead Making 101

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

Lindsay Wilson's Mead Making Class that the Fall Conference 2014 was a hit. The following is her handout with information about honey and a thorough recipe. In case you are unfamiliar with mead, it is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey. It can be infused with plant matter and used as medicine.

bee on dandelion 450x600Some basics about honey

  • Humans have been gathering honey a very long time ~ rich symbiotic relationship ~ (a coevolution) of flowering plants, humans, and honey bees
  • Nectar of the flower of plants, stored in the stomach of the bee (predigested) and then regurgitated during a process called “food share” which adds enzymes to the nectar and then inserted into hive cells; they then fan their wings until nectar reaches 18.6% moisture content; cap and store honey
  • Bees change sucrose into glucose & fructose
  • 2 million visits to flower = 1 lb of honey
  • Honey bees travel from up to 3-5 miles to collect nectar, pollen, and resin

 

05 June 2015

Edible Flowers

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

Most people are now familiar with the high flavonoids content of berries, but did you know that edible flowers are also good sources of dietary flavonoids? It may be challenging to ingest enough flowers to contribute a substantial amount of flavonoids in the diet, but some edible flowers are quite large and tasty. Examples are daylily, rose of Sharon, and roselle hibiscus. Plus, who doesn’t want to engage in fleuravory every day?

calendula 600x400Edible flowers:
• Calendula (Calendula officinalis, Asteraceae)
• Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva, Xanthorrhoeaceae)
• Rose (Rosa spp., Rosaceae)
• Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus, Malvaceae)
• Roselle hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa, Malvaceae)
• Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans, Lamiaceae)
• Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, Asteraceae)
• Chives (Allium schoenoprasum, Amaryllidaceae)
• Bee Balm (Monarda didyma and other species, Lamiaceae)
• Squash (Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbitaceae)
• Pansy (Viola, various species and hybrids, Violaceae)
• Nasturtium (Tropaeolum, several species, Tropaeolaceae)

19 May 2015

Comfrey: Symphytum officinale

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

2009.6 comfreyWe grow comfrey in every spare nook. This deep-rooted perennial comes from Europe but has naturalized here, and it is one of the first plants to come up vigorously in the spring. Its leaves are large and dark green, and the plant also boasts purple or blue flowers which nod over in clusters. It flowers from May to August and will produce four cuttings through the season.

Comfrey has long been used medicinally and is most renowned for its ability to heal wounds, stings, sprains, and inflammations of all kinds. Known commonly as “knitbone,” it is used for healing broken bones in people and animals. Probably due to its high mineral content and the phytochemical allantoin, it stimulates cell reproduction.

12 May 2015

Make a Wild Salad

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

2015.4.3 corinna nettles - med cropI know many of you have already been getting out into the garden and woods to harvest the edible wild plants this spring. With so many abundant edible “weeds,” making a wild salad can be a simple, quick dish that delights the eye as well as the palette.

To make an easy wild salad, I usually pick one mild-tasting, wild edible herb for the foundation -- like chickweed, violet, or lambsquarters. Of course, it's fine to mix in some fresh, local spinach or lettuce leaves to get you started.

Then throw in smaller quantities of dandelion leaves, ox-eye daisy leaves, and/or other strong-flavored wild edibles that you’re familiar with. If you have violet or dandelion blossoms blooming nearby, by all means, garnish your salad with those beautiful blossoms!

04 May 2015

Cleavers: Galium aparine

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

cleavers flowerAs children (and adults) we love to make garlands, fairy crowns and corsages out of the abundant, and local Galium aparine, aka Cleavers. The fine hairs of the leaves, stems, and seeds tipped with tiny hooks, allow this lovely plant to attach - or cleave - to clothes, fur, hair and more.

cleavers on wristCleavers is an herbaceous annual with long stems that climbs and sprawls over the ground and other plants. The lanceolate leaves are simple and borne in whorls of six to eight, and the white to greenish flowers are 2-3 mm across with four petals. It flowers in early spring to summer, and each seed is 4-6 mm in diameter. The peak potency for harvesting is when both flower and seeds are present.

 

23 April 2015

Rainbow of Flavonoids

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

Juliet Blankespoor explains all the delicious benefits of a flavonoid-rich diet in this highly informative handout from the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference 2014.

raspberries 400x600Imagine a bowl overflowing with color: garnet cherries aside crimson and golden raspberries, blueberries the color of a summer sky, resting against the blush of rose petals. Juicy and alluring, tempting you with vibrancy that promises fresh sweetness. Our intuition is fine-tuned to spot vitality and nutritional density. Humans are naturally drawn to bright colors in our food—the invention of food coloring testifies to this phenomenon. There are a wide variety of compounds lending their color to food; flavonoids are some of the most researched and widely represented colorful phytochemicals in the plant world. It is refreshing to dive deep into the well of tradition and science, both of which describe the medicinal virtues of these tasty treats.

10 April 2015

Wildcrafting Tips

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

imm out 2015 6 536 cropped lo resWildcrafting is fun and exciting, a bit like a treasure hunt. You'll come home with lots of fresh, edible and medicinal treasures from your bioregion. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Start with a few easily recognized plants, and get to know new plants slowly.

2. Study the poisonous plants that grow in your area, and always know whether the plant you're harvesting has any poisonous look-alikes.

3. Always be sure you have identified a plant correctly, either through the use of a field guide or an experienced harvester.

08 April 2015

Delicious Nettle Recipe

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods, Women's Wellness

The first stinging nettles are starting to pop up! A renowned wild food delicacy, their sting is neutralized by cooking (wear gloves when harvesting!). Here is Corinna's favorite way to bring nettles into her kitchen...

Nettle cream soup 600 x 400Rich Russian Nettle Tonic
from Healing Wise by Susun Weed

4 cups stinging nettle tops
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup sour cream
salt to taste

25 March 2015

Are Standardized Extracts Better?

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Here’s an excerpt from an article by Nancy and Michael Phillips to help address that question.
Green Blessings ~ Corinna

2012.5 hand with red clover top of pagePhilosophy enters deeply into the debate on standardizing herbal preparations. People oriented towards a scientific point of view feel the need to quantify healing possibilities by knowing the concentration of the chosen active principle (constituent) used to achieve proven results. Others view synergy and spirit as working in ways we may not fully comprehend but have certainly observed with whole plant remedies that embrace healing, often in more ways than one.

03 March 2015

Wild Green Garlic Medicine

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

cw facebook profileHungry for a bite of green medicine? One of the most potent wild edibles of the cool season is actually wild garlic, a common volunteer in lawns and gardens. Wild garlic belongs to the same genus, Allium, as both garlic and onion, known for their medicinal benefits--from boosting immunity to tonifying the heart and circulatory system.

Tromping along my favorite walking path, I usually stop to marvel when I reach the cool spot along the path’s edge where the garden meets the woods--poking up through the dead leaves, are oodles of tangled clumps of wild garlic! I grab some of the savory greens to munch on as I walk. If I have a bag handy, I break off a large handful or two to bring back to the kitchen with me.

12 September 2014

Black Walnut: Juglans nigra

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

2012.4.5 corinna purThe black walnut (Juglans nigra) can be hard to miss at this time of year—or to mistake for anything else. There are other regional trees with pinnate leaves that have a similar appearance but as we move toward fall, an abundance of yellowish-green “tennis balls”—the fallen fruits—covers the ground around the base of black walnut trees.

green blk walnutsI adore black walnut’s edible nutmeat—it has a richer, more complex flavor than the supermarket variety European walnut. Nutritionally, black walnuts are dense with proteins and essential fatty acids, wonderful for heart health. But the prized meats are nestled deep inside those greenish balls, and it takes a bit of effort to tease out the nut meat.

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