Parsley – Herb of the Month and Herb of the Year

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Maryann Readal

The spotlight is shining on parsley this month. Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is The Herb Society of America’s Herb of the Month for January and the International Herb Association’s Herb of the Year for 2021. The three most common varieties of parsley are P. crispum or curly-leaf parsley,  P. crispum var. neapolitanum or flat-leaf Italian parsley, and P. crispum var. tuberosum or turnip-root parsley which is grown for its root and is used in soups and stews.

Parsley has an interesting history dating back to Greek and Roman times. To the Greeks, parsley symbolized death and was not used in cooking. However, according to Homer, the Greeks fed parsley to their chariot horses as they thought it gave them strength. The Greeks believed that parsley sprang from the blood of one of their mythical heroes, Archemorus, whose name means “the beginning of bad…

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Sacred Tree Profile: Devils Walking Stick (Aralia Spinosa)

The Druid's Garden

The mighty Devil’s walking stick in early spring–look at those spikes!

The Druid’s Garden Homestead is located on a 5-acre parcel of land in Western Pennsylvania that is currently regenerating from intense logging. Three years ago, just before we bought the property, the family who owned it logged about three of the five wooded acres.  This has led to a host of possibilities where we can work on forest regeneration, observing the changes in this damaged place as it regrows, and certainly, opportunities for wildtending and creating food forests. As you walk through this regenerating landscape, one of the most striking understory trees is the Devil’s Walking Stick, Aralia spinosa. Looking like a very spiky and menacing walking stick (it has a name fitting of its visage), this tree is also known as Prickly Elder, Prickly Ash, Shotbush, Pigeon Tree, Angelica Tree, or Hercules club. These varied names really…

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The Mirror

secretsoftheserpent

Mirrors reflect light so they reflect the world around us.  Light is symbolic of illumination, awareness and wisdom, so some will say the mirror reflects truth. I have shown in my Ankh post that the Ankh in ancient Egypt was actually a mirror.  The mirror is a threshold between the conscious mind and the unconscious mind.  The mirror is one of the most ancient symbols, so we really need to understand what it means.  

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Readers Choice: Ringing in the Best of Blog Castanea

As we spin forward into 2021 (are we there yet, mom?!?), it’s exciting to reflect on what you—our friends, fans, and phenomenal plant family—went herb-wild for through the seasons.Did you know we serve up a splendid spread of free herbal content on our blog?In 2020, we decked the halls of Blog Castanea with garlands of new articles, and re-polished our most popular blogs from seasons past. We brought in new contributors and the blog officially became a team sport. Are you curious which topics were herbally admired and adored this year? And which plants people felt positively passionate about? Get caught up with our Best of 2020 Roll Call:
Continue reading “Readers Choice: Ringing in the Best of Blog Castanea”

Bayberry Candles

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Katherine K. Schlosser

The season of lights is upon us. During this darkest time of the year, we gravitate to earthly sources of light to keep things merry and bright.

Drupes2_zoomed in to see waxEarly in our history as a country, many were short on money and luxuries such as candles. Livestock numbers were as yet too low to produce the quantity of tallow needed to make candles affordable, so following the lead of Native Americans, householders turned to candlewood to provide light on winter evenings.

We know candlewood as fatwood or pine knots—the resin-impregnated heartwood of pine trees.  Pines that were cut to clear land, build homes, and provide heat for warmth and cooking left stumps in the ground. Those stumps, full of resin, hardened and became rot-resistant…and were an easy source of candlewood. Slim slivers cut from the wood burned hot and bright.

Alice Morse Earle, writing in the 1800s about…

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The Problem is the Solution: Honoring the Journey of the New Year

The Druid's Garden

Sunrise through the mist…the way may be uncertain but the sun will rise again

In Permaculture Design, one of the most challenging principles to enact is “The problem is the solution.” It seems simple on paper: you have a serious problem before you, perhaps seemingly insurmountable or overwhelming.  Instead of reacting negatively to the problem, you look for how the problem presents unique opportunities.  You resee your practices, hone them, make changes, and adapt to the problem so that that adaptation becomes a strength. In other words, you make lemonade from lemons–but more than that, you may actually improve your approach by having to consider new options to overcome obstacles.  A simple example: I have a wet, muddy spot in my yard due to the downspout on my house.  Rather than see this as a problem, I turn it into a lush rain garden, which is not only beautiful but…

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The Ladder

secretsoftheserpent

The ladder is an everyday object but it has esoteric meaning.  It is a symbol of the Freemasons, so it has huge meaning.  Most think it means being initiated into higher levels of their club.  That is the meaning for the muggles.  The meaning of this simple object is very simple.  It is just people who have made it complex.  We always try to make things harder than they actually are.  The ladder is a symbol of the path to enlightenment.   

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Justice

secretsoftheserpent

One of the subjects we all seem to agree upon is the need for justice. Problem is that everyone has a different view of what they think justice means. Whatever moral principal each of us believes is what we call justice. We have social justice warriors today who advocate justice with great passion, but they have no definition. All justice is social. Even Socrates stated….

“justice if only we knew what it was”.  

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This Tree Wins The Award For “Worst Christmas Tree”

Greetings,

Before I share a brand new video with you, I want to provide a reminder that today — Monday, December 21st—  is the last day to register for Foraging Wild Mushrooms.  After today, registration will be closed for the season.

If you want to learn the skills involved in safely and successfully harvesting wild mushrooms with confidence, Foraging Wild Mushrooms can help you achieve that goal.

Click here to register before midnight.

And now onto this week’s brand new video.

The declining temperatures, sunlight, and vitamin D levels have all ushered in the official arrival of winter — a season in which humans enjoy bringing trees indoors.

But not just any tree, of course.  Conifer trees — and more specifically pines, spruces, and firs — are among the most harvested and celebrated trees during the holiday season.

Some of these trees are soft and flexible (e.g., white pine).  Others are lush and aromatic (e.g., balsam fir).  All of them, it goes without saying, are perpetually green.

But there is one conifer tree that has never made the cut, and chances are good that, if you do consider yourself an arboreal celebrant of the holiday season, you’ve never invited this particular tree into your home.

In fact, out of all the trees discussed so far, this one would certainly be labeled “The Worst Christmas Tree.”

During a recent walk through a conifer landscape, I encountered this special tree and decided to film a video in which I attempted to answer several pertinent questions.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the brand new video!

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

Christmas Herbs of Trinidad, Part II

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Amy Forsberg

Trinidad_tobago-esLast week we looked at some of the beverages important to a Trinidad Christmas. Now let’s talk about some of the foods and the special ingredients needed to make them.

So what is on the menu in Trinidad for Christmas? Here is what Ann told me. “Dinner is ham, of course, pastelles, baked chicken, fried rice, pelau, callaloo, macaroni pie…and everybody makes homemade bread. And, of course, sorrel drink and ponché de crème. And you have to have black cake, of course….Everything is homemade, nobody buys anything.” 

Pastelles are the West Indian version of tamales and reflect the Mexican/Aztec heritage in the Caribbean. Making pastelles can be labor intensive, and according to Ann, many families make the work fun by turning it pastelles on leafinto a party and making large quantities assembly-line style. This is part of what makes them such a Christmas treat. Every island has their own…

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