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Local Plants

23 February 2016

Peppercress: An early spring edible

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

Have you seen peppercress yet?

2015.3 darrodils 600 x 450The appearance of daffodils and crocus is certainly one of the lovely heralds of spring. Right around this time, my heart also flutters at my first glimpse of peppercress, poking between the cracks in the pavement or peeking out at the edge of my gardens. In the liminal time between the burrowed, reclusive months of winter and the resurgence of the green, peppercress’ tiny white flowers seem so appropriate: fragile, yet determined. I feel hopeful.

Peppercress is one of the first of the wild edibles to reveal herself to us after the dormant season. She’s a member of a very large and distinguished family—brassicacae, formerly known as cruciferae—that includes distant relatives such as kale, cabbage, broccoli, collards and cauliflower, as well as closer kin, like mustard greens.

03 December 2015

Harvest Dandelion Root

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

And Make a Tincture

2015.10 moonmilk sun lower wide 2When we start to see frosty nights, perennial herbs send their medicine below the ground to store in their roots over the winter—so this time of year, the roots are at peak potency. Time to dig for medicines!~

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is an herb that has been used medicinally for many generations, but has become detested as a weed today. Dandelion is highly nourishing for the liver and, in today’s world, everyone’s liver is challenged by environmental toxins. It’s ironic: we have dandelion offering herself in great abundance in yards and lawns and gardens—where she is largely disposed of or ignored—at a time when we all could use some liver support!

21 November 2015

Grandmother's Wisdom about Poke

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

2015.10 moonmilk sun lower wide 2pokeberriesGrowing up in the Northeast, I loved playing with the purple pokeberries, painting designs on my skin. My parents allowed this, though they made it clear that I shouldn’t eat the berries of this “poisonous, invasive weed.” The huge poke plants were such a bane in their garden that they would actually tie a rope around the roots and use a Jeep to pull them out!

15 November 2015

Winter Plant Allies: A Root, a Berry and a Lichen

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Echinacea, Elderberry and Usnea

Each drop of a tincture contains the life story of the plant - from seed, to bud, to flower. The essence or "medicine" is found in that story. Red Moon Herbs' Immune Blend contains three stories - that of a root, a berry and a lichen. 

ech flower from above 600 x 399Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) - the root - is a common perennial in eastern and central North America, used by Native Americans for centuries.The flower is a large, showy composite with a spiny central disk or "cone" that looks a lot like a hedgehog and blooms from early to late summer. While humans covet the plant for its immune boosting properties and visual interest in winter gardens, the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are drawn to it as a plentiful pollinator and perching structure. The roots are the most concentrated part of the plant medicinally and are one of the most popular herbal tinctures today.

03 November 2015

Immunomodulating Herbs

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

hand of holy basilAs the cold weather sets in, getting a refresher in immune enhancing and supporting herbs can help us all prepare for winter colds and flus. Here are some resources from Juliet Blankespoor's immunity class from the 2014 Herbal Conference. This is part 2 of 3, see also Part 1: Immunostimulating Herbs and Part 3: Immune Tonic Tea

Tonic Herbs

These herbs have been used traditionally as tonic support for the immune system, and are slower acting with a more prolonged effect, as compared to immunostimulants. Also called deep immune tonics, they are used for longer periods of time when necessary and have a more balancing, rather than stimulating effect on the body. As tonics, they are not typically overtly heating or stimulating and match a wide variety of constitutions. We can examine each herb for its traditional usage and constitutional picture to find the remedy with the greatest affinity for each situation.

28 October 2015

Immunostimulating Herbs

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

spilanthes 400x600As the cold weather sets in, getting a refresher in immune enhancing and supporting herbs can help us all prepare for winter colds and flus. Here are some resources from Juliet Blankespoor's immunity class from the 2014 Herbal Conference. This is part 1 of 3, see also Part 2: Immunomodulating Herbs and Part 3: Immune Tonic Tea

Herbs for acute infections

This group of herbs is typically used to treat short-term, acute infections through the stimulation of immune activity. Immunostimulants help the body to resist infection during the beginning stages of infection, as well as throughout the duration of infectious illness. Many studies have demonstrated shorter periods of infectious illness with the use of herbal immunostimulants, as opposed to placebo. Potential exposure to a contagious pathogen is another indication for immunostimulation. Personally, whenever I fly, I take Spilanthes to help my body effectively cope with the higher concentration and variety of potential pathogens. A good number of these herbs also possess anti-microbial activity, and thus help the body to fight infection by augmenting the immune response, in addition to directly inhibiting the pathogen itself.

13 October 2015

Calendula: Golden Drops of Sunshine

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

By Jessica Godino

Calendula BasketAlthough we haven't had a frost yet, we have had several really cold nights. Many of the plants in the garden are turning yellow and dying back. But my Calendula patch looks happier than ever. In fact, the plants have put out a whole new set of blossoms since I last picked them just a few days ago. These Calendula plants will live well into the fall, surviving until the very deepest of frosts. And although I will miss them when they die, I know in spring babies from some of the flowers I wasn't quick enough to pick will sprout all over the garden, ensuring another years supply.

Calendula is native to Europe but because of its beauty and adaptability gardeners have spread it around the world. The flowers range in color from mild yellow to deep orange, and because of their intensity have been called "golden drops of sunshine."

17 September 2015

Preparing and Eating Acorns

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

The first time I tried roasted acorn meal, I was pleasantly surprised by its rich earthy flavor. Being a wild foods forager I had heard and read about processing and eating acorns, but had always been daunted by the seemingly lengthy and difficult task. After being inspired by their taste, I was ready to try processing them on my own. One crisp fall day the abundant and large chestnut oak acorns called out to my palette; I began to stuff them into my backpack, quite pleased with how quickly I could gather a large cache full. Most of us descend from acorn eating cultures. Historically a staple food in Europe, Asia, North Africa, the Mid- East, and North America, acorns made up half of the diet for many of the Native peoples of California.

chestnut oak acornsAcorns have been a “grain from the tree” for so many Native peoples because of their abundance, nutrition, and sustainability. A mature healthy oak forest can produce as much as 6,000 pounds per acre, requires little to no cultivation, and can grow on and stabilize the steep banks so prevalent in our mountainous terrain. Acorns are variable in their nutritional composition – predominately a carbohydrate source with fat percentages reaching 17% and protein percentages around 4%. Surprisingly, they are also a good source of Vitamins A and C.

10 September 2015

Hawthorn: Little Rose for the Heart

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

hawthorn flowersWhen most of us think of love, the flower that comes to mind is Rose. However, the noble Rose has a humble cousin that is such a gentle yet powerful tonic for the heart that perhaps it should be the symbol of love. This little known relative is Hawthorn (Cratageus sp.), a small tree that loves sunny and windy places. It has beautiful pinkish flowers in the spring that turn into dusky red berries by fall. Unfortunately, no one will ever send you a bouquet of Hawthorn because it is covered in thorns even bigger than the ones on roses!

Hawthorn is well known to herbalists as a restorative tonic for the heart, one that is able to revitalize the whole cardiovascular system. It has been used to regulate heart rhythm in cases of arrhythmia and tachycardia, and helps to slowly rebuild the heart in cases of degenerative heart disease. It is also a wonderful tonic for people with high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis. By helping to dilate the arteries it can improve blood flow to all parts of the body. This little shrub is a good friend to people with poor circulation.

13 August 2015

All About Bees

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

bees honey comb vertAs we reap the harvest of what what has been sown and tended this year, we must also take a moment to honor the honey bee - an amazing arthropod that has helped make this abundance possible!

The bee is a symbol of the potency of nature. Like us, bees are attracted to a plant by its fragrant, colorful flower. In this symbiotic relationship, the flowers blossom, the world is beautified, and the bee gathers nectar from which it creates the sweet elixir of life - honey!

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

 

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