Medicinal Trees: Elder – Good Witches Homestead

Elder {Sambucus nigra}

Also, Known As:

  • Bourtree
  • Elder
  • Elder-berry
  • Elder-flower
  • European Elder
  • Pipe Tree

The plant called the elder is used to describe a bushy shrub like plant that can reach a few feet in height as shrub-like forms normally do or it may be referring to a tree reaching up to fifty feet in height – the elderberries which are borne on both types of plants range and differ markedly in the shape and taste. The flowers are usually formed in aromatic clusters of many star-shaped and white colored flowers, which can vary from bunches with flat-topped to the globular types of arrangement. When ripened, these will mature to produce berrylike and limb sagging fruits which can range in color from stark blue to an amber, and even red to a complete black – the variation in the taste of these elderberries is also markedly different.

The long and hollow stems which tend to be very straight were used by the early Native American tribes for making arrow shafts as such stems become woodier with age, such stems were particularly selected during the springtime, they were typically then left to dry with their leaves still on them to be turned into arrows. The native tribes also used the woody stems for other purposes, and they often took out the soft and poisonous pith within the stem using hot sticks, these were sometimes employed as spouts to collect maple sap and the sap of other resinous trees. Such stems were often also bored with holes and fashioned into flutes for making music. One reason, the elder is often called the “tree of music” lies in its use in this role, even though its main uses was as an herbal medication. The elder stems were also turned into animal bugles to pipe elk like sounds and some traditional native hunters still reliant on the old ways of tracking game have often used the stem to bugle elk-thus the elderberry stem whistle has often been employed to successfully lure a handsome elk buck during a hunt. The areas in which the elderberry plant is likely to grow includes very rich and moist soils, especially those soils found in heavily forested areas, the plant also grows well in the soils in rocky slopes and often prefers soils in cool ravines which are heavy in moisture. The plant is considered a native inhabitant of both hemispheres and grows mostly in the temperate and subtropical regions of the world.

The elderberry is actually a drupe which is berrylike in appearance; the elderberry consists of three to five single-seeded nut – lets or stones in the fruiting body. Traditionally, eating too many berries is believed to cause digestive problems and the traditional wisdom suggests that only a few berries can be eaten raw at any one time so as to avoid disrupting the stomach. The taste of the elderberries is not remarkable and the taste is better when they are taken along with other edible berries, raw berries are not preferred by people and in general, the berries are much better to eat in the dried or cooked form. The elderberries are used as a decongestant and in the treatment of some conditions which can induce the excessive accumulation of mucus within the lungs of the affected person. These include disorders such as common asthma, problems such as bronchitis, the common cold, diseases such as influenza. In addition, phlegm production is also induced by smoking or the inhalation of second-hand smoke. The elimination of such accumulated yellow or green mucus from the body is aided by drinking some fresh elderberry juice, particularly the juice of the red drupes – this herbal remedy is excellent for the removal of excess mucus in the respiratory passages.

Plant Parts Used:

Flowers, berries, bark. […]

Source: Medicinal Trees: Elder – Good Witches Homestead

Medicinal Trees: Oak – Good Witches Homestead

Quercus alba

Also, Known As:

  • Gospel Tree
  • Oak
  • Tanner’s Bark

The oak is a mighty and majestic tree that has the aptitude to grow up to a height of 90 feet (30 m), have a circumference of about 33 feet (10 m) and survive for as many as 1000 years! The oak is indigenous to North America where over 80 species of the tree are found. All species of the oak are beautiful deciduous trees having grayish, furrowed barks and shed their leaves during the fall. The roots of the tree are spread over a wide area and a mature oak tree may often dominate lesser locations. The timber of the oak is light brown in color, solid and weighty having a compact grain and are ideal for making furniture and flooring. The leaves of this imposing tree are bifurcated into quite a few curved sections. The fruit of the oak is an even acorn (an ovoid nut) that turns caramel hue when ripe and having a carved cap that wraps almost one-fourth of the fruit. Usually, a healthy oak tree that is about 25 years old is capable of bearing as many as 25,000 acorns annually.

The oak blossoms during the period between April and May and its seeds mature in October. The flowers of the oak are monoecious (each flower has only one sex – male or female) by nature and are usually pollinated by the wind. However, most oak trees are found to bear different flowers having either of the sexes. The oak tree has a preference for loamy or medium and clay (heavy) soils, but they are able to grow in heavy clay soil too. The plant also has a preference for basic (alkaline), acid and neutral soils. The plants need an arid or moist soil and are able to grow in sunlight as well as semi-shade conditions as in the slightly forested areas. Although the oak plant is able to endure strong winds, they do not survive well when exposed to maritime conditions.

The botanical name of the oak – Quercus, is derived from the Celtic terms ‘quer’ denoting ‘good’ and ‘cuez’ meaning tree. In addition, the tree has a common name – chen, meaning beautiful. Long back, the Celts believed the oak to be a sacred symbol. In fact, the Druids harvested mistletoe on the sixth lunar day of December with a gold sickle and heralded the arrival of the New Year chanting ‘To mistletoe, the New Year’. On the other hand, farmers used the acorns to make flour for several years. Even to this day, a number of members of the Berber tribes use the acorns to produce a nourishing breakfast cereal known as ‘racahout’. References of the oak are found in the Greek and Roman mythologies too. While the Greeks related the oak to the ruler of the Greek gods Zeus owing to the might and muscle of the tree, the Romans associated the majestic tree with Jupiter, the Roman god considered to be equivalent to Zeus. In fact, the custom of reveling in ceremonies under the shade of the mighty oak trees persisted even after Christianity was introduced. Therefore, it is not surprising that the oak tree has obtained it English designate ‘the gospel tree’ or ‘the prayer tree’.

The Goths or people inhabiting ancient Germany regarded the oak tree as a mark of might and victory. Hence, the term ‘as strong as an oak’ came into existence and is profoundly establish in people’s memory even to this day. During the Middle Ages as well as the Renaissance, unidentified healers utilized the leaves as well as the bark of the oak internally to treat hemorrhaging, diarrhea, tuberculosis and even rickets. They were used externally as a poultice to heal wounds discharging pus. The powder of the leaves and bark were applied externally to stop bleeding nose, while talc prepared with them were used externally to end the hemorrhaging or uncontrolled loss of blood.

In addition, the bark of the oak tree was frequently blended with iron salt to color textiles black. However, to some extent, people across the globe used this combination to tan hides. The timber obtained from the oak tree is economically very viable and used as a raw material for making furniture, flooring, constructing house frames as well as railroad framework. However, in the ancient time, the most important use of the oak tree was perhaps building ships. In fact, the oak was a natural resource that was extremely desired by the new settlers, especially in North America. Within a span of around two centuries, the English, as well as the French, totally pillaged hundreds and thousands of acres of white oak trees from southern Quebec in Canada.

Plant Parts Used:

Several parts of the oak tree are utilized for different purposes. While the buds and tender leaves of the oak are collected during the early phase of spring, the fruits or the acorns are harvested in fall and the outer bark, as well as the sapwood or inner bark, are utilized during the end of winter. […]

Source: Medicinal Trees: Oak – Good Witches Homestead

Medicinal Trees: Hawthorn – Good Witches Homestead

Crataegus oxyacantha
Crataegus monogyna

Also, Known As:

  • English Hawthorn
  • Haw
  • Hawthorn
  • May
  • May Blossom
  • Maybush
  • May Tree
  • Quick-set
  • Shan-cha
  • Whitethorn

The herb called the hawthorn is one of the best herbal remedies to boost the performance of the heart and the human circulatory system in general. A potent vasodilatory action can be induced in the human body by the flowers, leaves and the berries of the hawthorn. When these parts of the herb are consumed, they open up the arteries to promote circulation and improve the blood supply to all the general tissues in the body. Regular supplementation with this herb can thus help bring some balance blood pressure and it is considered to be an excellent remedy for the treatment of high blood pressure – especially when the condition is connected to hardening in the arteries of the person. Problems such as those connected to poor circulation caused by aging arteries, problems of poor circulation towards the lower body and legs as well as problems like poor memory and confusion induced by a poor blood circulation to the brain can all be remedied by supplementation with the hawthorn herb. The herb also has an effective and remedial effect in angina cases, the hawthorn based remedies can help open the coronary arteries in the heart and by so doing aid in the improvement of blood flow to the heart, and this herb also softens deposits in the arterial system. The vagus nerve which influences the cardiac muscles is also beneficially affected by the hawthorn herbal remedies, the consumption of this herb can thus slow down irregularities in the heart and reduce a rapid or fast heart rate in a patient. It can be said that herbal remedies made from the hawthorn are ideal for most heart conditions affecting people.

Hawthorn-fruitHawthorn berries possess a potent and effective astringent effect – this is very effective in the treatment of problems such as diarrhea and dysentery in patients. The digestive system also benefits due to the relaxant action possessed by the hawthorn leaves, flowers and berries – the herbal remedy also boosts the appetite. At the same time, it acts in relieving abdominal distension and in the removal of stagnation of food in the intestinal tract. Hawthorn herbal remedies also have an effective relaxing effect on the functioning of the nervous system, the herb aids in relieving excessive stress and anxiety, it helps in calming mental agitation, it lessens restlessness and reduces nervous palpitations. The herb also induces sleepiness in people affected by insomnia. The herbal remedies made from the hawthorn also have a diuretic action on the body, it aids in relieving fluid retention in the body and helps dissolve deposits of kidney stones and gravel. The herb is helpful to women in menopause, as it aids in removing debility or night sweats in those affected by them. The hawthorn berries can be made into an herbal decoction, which can be used as an astringent gargle for sore throats as well as an herbal douche for women affected by excessive vaginal discharges.

Hawthorn-flowersThe hawthorn family of herbs is represented by a family of one hundred to two hundred related species of small trees and shrubs, found in the North American continent, with huge populations in the eastern part of the United States of America. This family of related plants has a very confusing and difficult taxonomy. Though no longer used for most, the hawthorn herb was initially divided into many species. At least 1,100 specific names were published, most of which are no longer accepted. At the same time, many different varieties of the plant are recognized, and hybrids of the herb do exist in the wild. The hawthorn family serves as an important source of food for wildlife; these plants also serve as foliage and cover for animals. The many species which bear fruits that can persist over the winter are particularly of great value to different animal communities in the forest. The many varieties of the hawthorn are utilized in environmental plantings in many forestation projects. Hawthorn plants are very hardy and can tolerate conditions in many different sites with a variety of climatic and soil conditions, due to this, the plants have been planted for stabilizing river banks, and have also been used to shelter reverie belts, as well as being used for erosion control of the soil.

Most members of the hawthorn family of plants are characterized by the presence of thorny twigs and branches, while a few species bear no spines whatsoever. Hawthorn plants bear leaves singly on the branches; these are simple leaves that are borne in alternate rows along the axis of the plant – all of them in different degrees of lobing and varying shapes and serration. The hawthorn family is characterized by bearing very conspicuous flowers, these flowers have five creamy coloreds to pinkish blossoms. The hawthorn flowers are an important part of the history and lore of the United States – for example, the Pilgrims’ ship, the Mayflower, is named after hawthorn flower. The hawthorn flowers normally grow in fragrant clusters during the midsummer, thriving in flattish and terminal groups on the branches. Hawthorn also gives out fruit each season, these are small and resemble apples, and they are characteristically tipped with the remnants of the outermost floral leaves. The fruits are really pomes, which is a fleshy reproductive entity of the plant. Hawthorn pomes have five seeds enclosed in the capsules. These pomes also have a thick outer fleshy layer that is markedly different in taste from one shrub or tree to the other – particularly when the pomes are raw. The size of the each pomes or fruiting body is usually less than half an inch in diameter. The color being reddish, though sometimes yellow and rarely bluish, black or purplish. The hawthorn fruits have a high sugar and low protein, as well as low-fat content pulps.

Bulgarian medical doctors were reportedly treating patients with coronary heart problems using a fluid extract of the hawthorn according to British newspaper reports from 1969. These doctors treated patients over a period of six weeks, the dosage for each patient was fifteen drops of the extract dropped beneath the tongue two times every day, at least three-quarters of the group of sixty-two patients were said to fully recover from the treatment given to them. The use of the hawthorn berries in the treatment of problems such as heart palpitations, conditions like angina, as well as a problem like a stroke was also given in the report by the Sunday times. The presence of organic compounds such as bioflavonoids, like the compound rutin and hesperidin as well as vitamin C, is believed to be responsible for the beneficial effects.

There are two major ways in which the hawthorn acts on the human body. The dilation it induces in the blood vessels, particularly the coronary vessels, which leads to a reduction in the peripheral resistance and a consequent lowering of the blood pressure is the considered to be the primary action. This action of the hawthorn is believed to be responsible for beginning about a reduction in the tendency to experience sudden attacks of angina. The secondary action that the hawthorn induces is apparently a direct and favorable effect on the functioning of the heart; this action is very evident particularly in cases of heart damage sustained by a patient. The effect of the hawthorn extract is not immediate and the beneficial actions tend to develop very slowly over a period of time. The hawthorn is also known to be toxic only at abnormally high dosages and is safe in low doses as a heart tonic. Hawthorn can be considered as a relatively harmless heart tonic, which yields beneficial results in many cardiac conditions that can be treated with herbal remedies.

The beneficial effects of the hawthorn principally accrue from a mixture of plant organic pigments called flavonoids, these chemicals are present in high quantities in many different parts of the herb body. The greatest chemical and physiological actions seem to be displayed by the compounds known as oligomeric procyanidins – or the dehydrocatechins. A strong sedative action is also displayed by these chemicals which suggest a beneficial action on the central nervous system in general. The various hawthorn’s based herbal preparations said to possess significant therapeutic value has been recently defined by the German commission E. In the year 1994, the German commission published a revised monograph that recognizes an herbal preparation containing fixed combinations of hawthorn flowers, leaves, and fruits, the monogram also recognized herbal preparations made from the leaves and flowers for use in various treatments. These two herbal extracts are both formed from water and alcohol mixtures with the herb to extract ratio at approximately 5-7:1 per volume. These two herbal hawthorn preparations have been calculated to deliver from 4 mg to 20 mg of flavonoids – that is based on the hyperoside content – and from 30 to 160 mg of the oligomeric procyanidins – based on the epicatechin content – in a single daily hawthorn extract dosage amount of 160 to 900 mg. The dosages are pre-determined by the physician after examination of the patient. A usual dosage period of these oral forms are extended for at least six weeks and can be longer on a case by case basis. Though unsupported by any major clinical study, the usage of other hawthorn preparations, including a well-known alcoholic extract made using only the leaves or the flowers may also prove effective and useful in many cases. As the effectiveness or safety of some preparations made from hawthorn leaf, berry, or flowers alone in the form of mono-preparations have not been documented – such therapeutic claims must be ignored till further study.

These findings may be defeated or substantiated by further scientific studies. As the hawthorn remedies are potentially very valuable in the treatment of many disorders and conditions in the body, the need for immediate scientific studies is apparent and urgently needed. All the side effects and potential dangers of using hawthorn medications must be considered by patients till additional research is carried out, this particularly concerns all prospective users of the hawthorn for serious heart and circulation conditions. Most people who self-prescribe their medications tend to do so following self-diagnosis of the symptoms. There is a great deal of danger involved with this practice particularly when the vital systems of the human body such as the heart and the blood vessels are concerned. Therefore, due to such reasons, the use of hawthorn remedies without the diagnosis of a professional clinician is not suggested – there may be a side effect and other dangers.

Plant Parts Used:

Flowering tops, berries.


Source: Medicinal Trees: Hawthorn – Good Witches Homestead

Medicinal Trees: Prickly Ash – Good Witches Homestead

anthoxylum americanum

Also, Known As:

  • Angelica Tree
  • Prickly Ash
  • Suterberry
  • Toothache Tree

The prickly ash or the Zanthoxylum americanum is a tall shrub that may also be described as a small tree and usually grows up to a height of twenty feet. The shrub is distinguished by its barbed stalks and branches. The leaves of the prickly ash are covered with fine hair-like materials when they are young and as they mature they become smooth and have spots of resins on the outer surface. When the leaves of prickly ash are crushed, they give out a fragrance similar to the lemon. The shrub bears green colored flowers that appear in bunches on old wood prior to the leaves. Next, reddish brown coarse casings appear on the wood. These capsules enclose black seeds of the prickly ash and the seeds are spicy to taste. In fact, the prickly ash shrub may be found in the region ranging from Canada to Virginia and Nebraska.

The natives of North America used the prickly ash to seek relief from toothaches and hence the prickly ash shrub is also known as the toothache tree. In order to get rid of toothaches, the natives of North America chewed the barks of the prickly ash shrub. Many of them even crushed the bark of the prickly ash and pasted it on their gums for relief. Although the Native North Americans vouched the usefulness of the prickly ash in curing toothaches, Constantine Rafinesque, a European herbalist who was studying therapeutic herbs in America around 1830, claimed that the medication did not bring any relief to him. In his documentation, Constantine wrote that he experienced a burning sensation in the mouth when he used the bark of prickly ash. He further wrote that while there was a temporary relief from a toothache owing to the burning sensation, the pain returned as soon as the effect of the bark waned.

In addition to relieving toothache, the prickly ash tree had other benefits for the native North Americans. Gradually, they shared their experiences with the prickly ash with the new settlers in the continent. A poultice prepared with the prickly ash bark blended with bear grease was used to treat external pains. On the other hand, the liquid or infusion obtained by boiling the bark in water was used to treat a wide range of ailments including gonorrhea (a sexually transmitted disease), sore throat as well as rheumatism or stiffness in joints and muscles. The writer of the three-part American Medical Botany (published between 1817 and 1820) Dr. Jacob Bigelow, as far as treating rheumatism is concerned, wrote that there are many medical practitioners who rely heavily on the therapeutic potential of the prickly ash. As a result of this tendency, the medicine finds a place in many drug stores. Significantly, even today, numerous herbal medicine practitioners recommend the usage of prickly ash barks and berries as a medication for rheumatism.

Another intimately associated species of the prickly ash tree known as the Z. clava-herculis or the Hercules’ club is also known to possess similar remedial properties as the original prickly ash tree or Z. americanum. This variety of the tree is also called the Southern prickly ash tree.

Plant Parts Used

Bark, berries.


Source: Medicinal Trees: Prickly Ash – Good Witches Homestead

I Am A Pagan-Buddhist Witch

Medicinal Trees: Linden – Good Witches Homestead

Tilia americana or Tilia Europea or Tilia cordata

Also, Known As:

  • American Basswood
  • American Linden
  • Basswood
  • Bast Tree
  • Common Lime
  • Limeblossom
  • Lime Flowers
  • Lime Tree
  • Linden
  • Linden Flower
  • Spoonwood
  • Wycopy

Linden is a tree belonging to different species of the genus Tilia, also known as lime or basswood tree. This herb has been used in European traditional medicine for long to cure an assortment of health conditions. In fact, the majority of the linden products available commercially are obtained from the species T. platyphyllos Scop. and T. cordata Mill. Linden is basically a huge deciduous tree belonging to the plant family Tiliaceae that generally grows more than 100 feet tall. While T. cordata Mill. is generally denoted as the small-leaved European linden, T. platyphyllos Scop. is generally known as the large-leaved linden. The fragrant flowers of this genus have a whitish or yellowish hue and are collected during the summer. They are dried soon after collection in a shady location. It is important to conserve the dried out linden flowers carefully, as even a little amount of humidity is enough to lessen the aromatic attributes as well as the actions of the flowers.

An herbal tea prepared with dried linden flowers has been employed in the form of a diaphoretic (any medication that stimulates sweating) since the later part of the Middle Ages. In fact, the flowers of linden are prescribed for two opposing purposes – as a nervine (a sedative or medication for the nerves) and also in the form of a stimulant. Apart from these, linden flowers are regarded to be very effective in treating indigestion, headaches, diarrhea and hysteria. There was a time when people believed that linden flowers were so useful in treating epilepsy that any individual enduring this medical condition could be cured just by sitting beneath a linden tree.

Linden flowers enclose several flavonoid compounds, especially derivatives of kaempferol and quercetin accompanied by p-coumaric acid. The effectiveness of linden flowers as a diaphoretic is attributed to these compounds. In other words, these compounds enable the flowers to stimulate perspiration. The flowers also enclose an aromatic volatile oil in conjugation with varied amounts of mucilage and tannin.

Findings of a number of researches undertaken with linden flowers have revealed that the comparative quantities of mucilage and tannin are vital to the flavor of the herbal tea prepared with the flowers. The taste of linden flower tea is important, as people require drinking comparatively large quantities of the tea to promote sweating. Linden flowers containing high tannin content (about 2 percent or more) and comparatively less amount of mucilage help to produce an herbal tea that is high in flavor compared to those prepared with flowers containing a lesser amount of tannin and more quantities of mucilage.

It may be noted that mucilage has a propensity to be somewhat bland and this possibly elucidates the reason behind the blooms of T. platyphyllos and T. cordata being preferred as the main source of this herb. These two species of genus Tilia have comparatively more tannin and less amount of mucilage in comparison to the flowers of other species of the genus, for instance, T. tomentosa Moench – commonly known as silver linden. As a result, herbal teas made with the flowers of T. platyphyllos and T. cordata have a superior flavor. Usually, authorities concur that the herbal tea prepared with linden flower not only has a pleasing flavor, but the beverage is also effective as a diaphoretic. It is advisable that if you desire to have the most excellent flavored linden product, you should opt for the flowers of either T. platyphyllos or T. cordata. It might not be very effortless for any individual to depend on the commercially available supplies of the herb that usually fail to ensure the botanical source. It is essential to store the flowers in a light-resistant and sealed container to conserve their utmost aroma.

It has been reported that very frequent use of the herbal tea prepared with blossoms of linden may harm the heart. While this only happens rarely and owing to drinking the beverage in excess, it is advisable that people having known cardiac disorder would be better off by keeping away from using linden flowers. In effect, the flowers of linden are an excellent medication for treating tension and nervousness. At the same time, they also promote sleep (cure insomnia), alleviate restiveness and excitement in children as well as facilitates in unwinding the tensed muscles. Blossoms of linden are also effective for treating a medical condition related to tension, such as headaches, colic, menstrual pain, and cramps.

The bioflavonoids present in linden flowers have soothing properties, which coupled with their favorable actions on the arteries make them an effective medication to lower high blood pressure as well as treat arteriosclerosis (a degenerating disease of the arteries). In addition, the flowers of linden also comfort/ unwind the arteries of the heart, which make them helpful in treating palpitations and coronary heart ailments.

When taken in the form of a hot infusion, linden flowers promote sweating and improve blood circulation to the skin. The flowers of linden are also an effective medication to reduce fevers, especially in children, to clear catarrhal blocking. When ingested along with elder flowers, the blossoms of linden facilitate in treating colds, coughs as well as flu. When taken in the form of an infusion that is either cool or warm, linden flowers have a diuretic action and facilitate in getting rid of excessive fluid accumulation as well as toxic substances from the body by means of urination.

Plant Parts Used:

Flowers, young leaves, inner bark. […]

Source: Medicinal Trees: Linden – Good Witches Homestead