Written by Juliet Blankespoor with Meghan Gemma
Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor
I try not to foster any regrets in life, but I must confess that I waited too many years to plant hibiscus, thinking the temperate climate unsuitable for its success—and for that, I am sorry. It is, in fact, easy to grow and harvest if you have the right variety and get a head start on the season.
The hibiscus we use medicinally—also called roselle—is made from the calyces (aka sepals) of Hibiscus sabdariffa in the Mallow family (Malvaceae). These deep red calyces are often mistaken for flowers, and may be sold as such. Other notable members of the mallow family include cotton (Gossypium spp.), okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), and marshmallow (Althaea officinalis).
There are other species of hibiscus with edible flowers, but no other species has a similar medicinal and edible calyx. When the petals fall off, the receptacle (flower base) and calyx (sepals) remain as fleshy red crowns. See the picture below of the flower with the petals intact (on the left) and the remaining calyx (on the right).
Ready to keep reading about hibiscus? We discuss its medicinal benefits (heart-healing!), culinary qualities, and cultivation below. We also divulge the recipe for our lusciously red Hibiscus Pomegranate Fire Cider. This is truly one of my must-have healing herbs!
Read complete article at: Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine ~ How To Grow and Use Hibiscus, Plus A Fire Cider Recipes
Written by Meghan Gemma with Juliet Blankespoor
Photography by Juliet Blankespoor (except where credited) with Contributions from Steven Foster
If asked to imagine a garden, I’d bet that most of us would call to mind a sunny patch interplanted with some array of food, flowers, and herbs—the traditional household and homestead arrangement. Yet Indigenous peoples around the world have long understood that any ecosystem can be gently tended as a garden. For those of us fortunate enough to live near forests, the woodland—with its watery seeps, shady hollows, and part-sun edges—presents us with a fertile opportunity to grow a bounty of food and medicine.
Forests, by their own right and design, tend to be inherently rich in medicine—from groundcover plants and understory herbs to overstory canopy trees. Ginseng (Panax ginseng, P. quinquefolius), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), and elderberry (Sambucus nigra, S. canadensis) are just a few of the herbs that can be cultivated within the forest and on its edge.
Woodland cultivation is a way for us to nurture new plant communities as many of our wild forests are being logged, poached, paved, grazed, and otherwise fragmented. By growing woodland herbs, we might add precious medicines to our home apothecaries, but we’re also in service to wild plants—especially those that have been overharvested to supply domestic and foreign markets. Cultivated forest herbs are a sustainable and ethical way for us to both increase woodland diversity and partake of medicines that are otherwise increasingly rare.
Read complete article at: Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine ~ Cultivating Woodland Herbs, Planning a Medicinal Forest Garden