Violets are Delicious

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Beth Schreibman-Gehring, Chairman of Education for The Western Reserve Herb Society unit of The Herb Society of America

violet bouquetOne of the loveliest flowers of spring is the Viola odorata or as it is commonly referred to, the “Sweet violet.” Violets have been used in herbal healing remedies for centuries, in fact St. Hildegard of Bingen, the famous 12th century German mystic and healer, was said to have made a healing salve of violet juice, olive oil, and goat tallow for its use as a possible anti-bacterial.

I use violets whenever I can for their healing virtues, and they are also an absolutely delicious ingredient in salads, drinks, and desserts. Back in the day, violet flowers, and leaves mixed into salads were one of my favorite spring remedies for pre-menstrual melancholy. When chopped liberally into extra virgin olive oil with some fresh comfrey leaves, they make a poultice that can…

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Growing Medicinal Herbs in Pots: 10 Healing Plants for Your Container Garden

By Juliet Blankespoor and Meghan Gemma
Photography by Juliet Blankespoor

You can grow a respectable herbal apothecary in pots. In fact, some of the most beneficial medicinal herbs will positively thrive in containers placed right on your porch or patio.

Many can even double as attractive houseplants, the likes of which may arouse the botanical curiosity of friends and neighbors.

These ten hand-picked herbs will round out any medicine chest and add beauty to your home. Adaptogens, first-aid herbs, digestives, and relaxing remedies are all represented.

We’ve included hearty medicinal tidbits for each plant, alongside the “green thumb” information you need to shower your medicinal herbs with proper TLC.

Need more guidance? For a fleshed-out primer on selecting containers and understanding the sensitivities unique to potted medicinals, visit our blog on Growing Medicinal Herbs in Containers.

Curious where to find herb starts and seedlings? Take a wink at our catalog of Herbal Seed Suppliers and Nurseries.

*Please note that this article’s discussion of medicinal uses is introductory in scope. We’ve provided safety guidelines for each plant, but we recommend that you research any new herb and consult your health care providers for possible drug/herb contraindications and precautions before ingesting.

Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) receiving a harvesting "haircut"

1. Gotu kola (Centella asiatica, Apiaceae)

Parts Used:  Primarily leaves, may include small amounts of stem, flowers, and fruit

Medicinal Preparations: Tea, tincture, infused oil, nibble, infused ghee, milk decoction, powder, broth, poultice, compress, green smoothie, and fresh juice

Herbal Actions:

  • Vulnerary (wound healing)
  • Diuretic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant
  • Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
  • Nervine
  • Antibacterial
  • Alterative
  • Secondary adaptogen*

View remainder of article at: Growing Medicinal Herbs in Pots:
10 Healing Plants for Your Container Garden

Children’s Garden opens at Kew Gardens helping kids to learn about what plants need to grow

Life & Soul Magazine

A new Children’s Garden, which provides an interactive space for kids to learn about the elements and everything a plant needs to grow, is opening at Kew Gardens this weekend [Saturday 18 May].

The garden, set in a natural setting the size of 40 tennis courts wrapped around a 200-year-old oak in the centre, is a space for kids aged 2-12 to learn about the things that plants need to grow – essentially the elements: earth, air, sun and water.

In the Earth Garden children can weave through a living bamboo tunnel, explore a jungle of large leafed palms and slide down ‘worm-hole’ tubes. Through this experience, there’s opportunities to learn about earth science, from germination to plants with interesting roots.

Through a ring of sunflowers and pink candy floss grass, sits the Sun Garden with its windy and twisted paths. Cherry blossoms from a row of cherry trees and hoop frames…

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Let Us Stroll the Primrose Path of Dalliance

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Kathleen M Hale, Western Reserve Herb Society

20190505_163700The botanical family name of the common or English primrose, Primula, comes from the diminutive of the Latin word for “first.” And the common name “primrose,” derived from prima rosa (“first rose”), is also a reference to the primrose being one of the first flowers of spring. This is not the evening primrose (Oenethera), or any of the other, more ornate, forms of Primula. This is the quintessentially English cottage garden flower.

Of course, it is then described as “vulgaris.” Sounds harsh. But this is not a matter of judgment of the primrose’s character. It’s just that, where the primrose is happy, it is very happy. It grows and spreads in abundance in cool, moist places.

This does not describe the micro-climate in most of our homes when primroses beckon so invitingly from the grocery store aisles shortly after the winter holiday…

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Herbs for Your Windowsill

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Like the idea of growing your own medicinal plants? Look no further than your windowsill or patio garden for these four standbys of ours: lemon balm, sage thyme, and peppermint. These herbs are familiar to us from grandma’s recipes and as lyrics in songs, but they may be less familiar as medicine. Lemon balm, also known as “hearts delight” and the “gladdening” herb, has long been treasured for its ability to soothe the nerves and uplift the spirit. An old Arabian proverb says that “balm makes the heart merry and joyful.” From ancient times, though, sage was used for digestive troubles, heartburn, depression, and even dementia. Thyme is excellent for treating sore throats and bronchitis. Make thyme tea with honey to soothe those colds and coughs. And women listen up, for bloating and digestive issues associated with our monthly cycle thyme is an excellent soother and diuretic. Another great herb for digestion…

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Lemon Balm Infused Oil

Wylde and Green

Lemon Balm, or you may know this herb as Melissa, is an easy plant to grow. It likes a sunny spot, and if it can be watered every now and again it will reward you with a big bushy plant very quickly – in fact a little too quickly at times – and it is also fantastically good for the bees.

My Lemon Balm is one of the oldest plants I have planted myself in the garden at around 10 years old, it is next to my Tess of the D’Urbervilles Rose (planted for my Daughter Tess), and in the summer provides a good contrast to the deepest pink of the rose with its fresh bright green leaves. Both plants magically are associated with Love, so they make a good companion planting combination. It does, however, get a little too big for its boots at times, and I need to…

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The Business of Herbalism

Good Witches Homestead

Botanical medicine, the art, and science of collecting, preparing, and utilizing plants for healing, is one of the oldest healing methods in human history. The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of the world’s population presently uses herbal medicine for some aspect of primary healthcare.

There is a wide range, however, in what is marketed as herbal medicine. The effectiveness of botanical medicine necessarily depends on the quality and vitality of the original plant material and on the care and attention brought to harvesting, processing, and storage. These issues are crucial to the quality of any product we consume; they are especially important when we use remedies as medicine for healing.

As the natural products industry has grown—it was measured to be $5 billion in the United States alone in 2009—compromises have been made along the chain of production that undermine the integrity and efficacy of the medicines produced…

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Native foods including rare strains of corn, beans and squash making a comeback

Life & Soul Magazine

Native foods – including rare strains of corn, beans, and squash – are being brought back from extinction thanks to the preservation and conservation efforts of indigenous tribes and a seed-lending library.

Members of the Potawatomi and Ojibwe tribes in Hopkins, Michigan have teamed up with the Jijak Foundation to help these rare strains of vegetables make a comeback. These vegetables are now being used in traditional ceremonies.

In Hopkins, Michigan, Native Americans of the Pottawatomi and Ojibwe tribes are bringing rare strains of vegetables back from the dead.

Farmers are receiving help from the Jijak Foundation, which describes itself as a “nonprofit organisation of the Gun Lake Band of Pottawatomi Indians dedicated to enriching our community through education, preservation, and perpetuation of our Tribe’s rich culture, arts, history, and living traditions”. The foundation’s seed-lending library is at the centre of the comeback story. Tribes around the Great Lakes region are…

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Druidry for the 21st Century: Plant-Based Spiritual Supplies and Global Demand

The Druid's Garden

Can you even imagine druidry without plants or trees?  Plants and trees are some of our strongest allies for the work that we do, and are often connected to almost everything that we do spiritually. Plant spirits are teachers, guides, and allies.  From before we had recorded history in any culture, the plant spirits were there, growing with us, guiding us, healing us, and supporting us on our journey. Today’s modern druid practice continues that tradition: we burn plants for smoke cleansing, clearing, and helping to energize spaces. We use trees as part of divination and sacred rites. We use plants as healers, for magical healing and physical healing, and to connect with on deep levels.  Plants have long been friends of humans–and have long walked beside us, hand in hand, as we do our sacred work.  And today, we’ll explore ways we can offer that same kind of honor…

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Medicinal and Culinary Uses for the Shy Violet

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

While violets’ delicate blossoms are a treat only for the observant, the plant has enjoyed a long history of medicinal and culinary use.

Leigh Hunt, an English Romantic essayist, and poet is the first known author of the phrase “shrinking violet.” In 1820, he published a passage describing a bit of woodland in The Indicator, a poetry magazine: “There was the buttercup, struggling from a white to a dirty yellow; and a faint-colored poppy; and here and there by the thorny underwood a shrinking violet.”

Hunt was almost certainly referring to the native English, or sweet, violet (Viola odorata). This shy plant can often go unremarked underfoot, and it carries its small, slightly recurved flowers level with or just below its leaves. The phrase “shrinking violet” took a few decades to catch on — but when it did, it spread rapidly, much as its parent plant does…

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