HSA Webinar: Shedding Light on the Solanaceae: An Exploration of Our Relationship with Nightshades

The Herb Society of America Blog

by Jen Munson, HSA Education Chair

20170811_093151The nightshade family of plants sounds ominous  – how could it not with the use of the words night and shade? The official name of this family is Solanaceae, and these plants are characterized by the shape of the flower, which in some cases feature near perfect pentagrams of petals, sepals, and stamens, and in others the petals are fused to form long tubes.

The Solanaceae features nearly 90 genera and 3,000 species, including some of humanity’s most important plants. You may be surprised to learn that many of our everyday foods fall in the nightshade family. These include hot and bell peppers, potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes. To learn more, join HSA on April 13th at 1pm EDT when National Herb Garden gardener, Erin Holden, joins us for “Shedding Light on the Solanaceae: An Exploration of Our Relationship with Nightshades.” 

Lycopersicon_esculentum_Supersweet_100_0zz by David J StangAlthough many…

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Chervil – Herb of the Month

The Herb Society of America Blog

by Maryann Readal

chervil plantChervil, Anthriscus cerefolium, is similar to parsley but has a milder, anise flavor. It is sometimes called French parsley or garden parsley. The Romans named it cherifoliu, the ‘cheri’ part meaning delight and the ‘folium’ part meaning leaves—the joy of leaves.

Chervil is important in French cuisine, where it is an ingredient in classic sauces such as béarnaise and ravigote. These sauces pair well with fish, veal, or chicken. Along with parsley, chives, and tarragon, chervil is in the French herb combination, herbes fines. Chervil is better used fresh as it loses its flavor when dried. It should be added at the end of cooking to get the most out of its flavor. It is a good addition to omelets and salads and can be sprinkled over fresh fruit. Chervil makes a flavorful and colorful butter. The leaves and flowers can…

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Sensory Herb Gardens for Special Needs Children

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Candace Riddle

IMG_0317Ever since Beatrix Potter wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit,children and gardens have had a special friendship. That friendship is even stronger between children with special needs and special gardens called “sensory gardens.” 

The difference between a sensory garden and a “regular” garden is the human factor— regular display gardens are designed primarily for visual beauty, while a sensory garden is designed to stimulate all the senses: sight, sound, scent, touch, and taste. A display garden is meant to be viewed or seen from either a short or long distance, whereas a sensory garden is meant to be experienced close and personal using all five of the human senses.  

Educators describe a sensory herb garden as peaceful and calming with the ability to draw kids into the moment; even non-verbal kids can show their feelings about their garden experience.

When we use the term “children…

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Our most popular F R E E Online Herbal Course is back

Birdsong Paula,Is spring singing sweetly in your neck of the woods? Here in the southern Appalachians, we’re sitting on the edge of our garden stools, ready to be fully wooed by the season. There’s nothing like the spectacle put on by vernal green beings, whose soft brightness is the ultimate restorative after months of dark and cold—figuratively and literally.As redbuds swell and daffodils nod their sunny heads, we’re feeling more than an emergence from winter. This past year surpassed seasonal hibernation; it was a chrysalis moment. A time of dissolution, solitude, and soul-searching, and for many of us a test of spirit as we mourned the loss of loved ones and faced unparalleled challenges. As the veil of the past 12 months begins to lift, we’re ravenous for the renewal of apple blossoms and robinsong.Throughout the last year, cascades of folks have found health, connection, and resilience through the study of herbal medicine. People have turned out for herbal classes, learned to make their own medicines, and grown gardens for the first time in profound numbers. Do you want to join the movement?Registration has just opened for our most popular FREE Online Herbal Course.
Our HANDCRAFTED HERBALISM FREE ONLINE MINI-COURSE is a foundational introduction to some of the most important subjects herbalists need to learn:
Sustainable Wild Food + Medicine ForagingHerbal Medicine MakingPlant Identification + Herbal BotanyIf you enroll by March 29th, you can join us for four vibrant videos, three downloadable lessons (yours to keep!), review Q+A’s, and a self-graded quiz (so you can tape your herbal report card to the fridge).
Enroll in the Mini-Course

Delectable Native Edibles

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Andrea DeLong-Amaya

tradescantia flowersYou may be one of the growing numbers of home gardeners who have put shovel to soil in the effort to nourish themselves and their families with wholesome, organic, fresh, and ultimately local vegetables and fruits. It is empowering to know exactly where your food comes from. And, while gardening is perfect exercise…it can be a lot of work! What if you could grow food plants that all but took care of themselves? Or better yet simply harvest, with caution of course, from the wild.

Native produce? Yes! The plants I’m about to tell you about are all easy to cultivate within their home ranges and, once established, may not require any attention outside of harvest. There are many virtues of raising locally native plants, such as decreased use of water, fertilizers, and pesticides, and promoting regional identity, and providing for wildlife. But those aren’t my main…

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A Spring Equinox Meditation: The Mysteries of the Dandelion and the Three Currents

The Druid's Garden

Fields of dandelion Fields of dandelion

One of the hallmarks of spring is the blooming of the vibrant and colorful dandelion. Emerging as soon as the coldest of the temperatures ease, the blooming of the dandelions affirm that the long, dark winter is indeed over and summer is just around the corner. In today’s post, and in honor of the Spring Equinox and the incredible dandelion, I offer a spring tonic and meditative journey to celebrate the Spring Equinox and learn more about the mysteries of the dandelion. This is one of my monthly AODA-themed posts, so I hope you enjoy it and have a blessed spring equinox!

About the Dandelion

The blooming of the dandelions is a special time of year. For us here in Western PA, dandelions bloom just as the final frosts are easing, and are a sign that we can start planting some of our more tending crops in…

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HSA Webinar: Virtues of Violets

The Herb Society of America Blog

by Jen Munson, Education Chair

Viola_sororia__Freckles__2010A common harbinger of spring is the showy dandelion with its bright yellow flower that pops against newly greening lawns. With dandelion sightings, so the debate begins between those who want the perfectly manicured lawn and environmentalists who see dandelions as an early food source for pollinators and beneficials. The dazzling dandelion outshines another harbinger of spring, and that is the less-assuming violet. 

Join HSA onMarch 23rd at 1pm EDT for the “Virtues of Violets. For guest speaker, Katherine Schlosser, the arrival of violets is one of the happiest times in her garden. While her neighbors are out spraying herbicides on their lawns, you can find her swooning over the tiny botanical treasures, harboring in the joy and knowledge that these plants chose to be present in her yard.

Kathy 2-page-001Little do many of us realize that violets have been sought…

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Cheesy Dandelion Spirals: Serpentine Spring Magic — Gather Victoria

Note: This recipe was originally shared on Gather Victoria on Patreon. It was originally a recipe for Imbolc but for reasons that will soon become apparent- I thought I’d share it here for St. Patricks Day! St. Patrick was said to have driven all of the snakes out of Ireland – which is odd. While…

Cheesy Dandelion Spirals: Serpentine Spring Magic — Gather Victoria

US Lavender Growers Association –

Good Witches Homestead

 

Network with other lavender growers from around the world, learn from expert growers and business leaders in the industry, and access a wealth of resources for your business. New growers will appreciate our intensive, two-part “Start a Farm” series, while more experienced growers will benefit from a wide range of topics on production and business. Through the virtual platform, we will be able to provide networking in small groups, topical discussion opportunities, and a unique Exhibitor Hall experience that will allow you to truly assess the resources available to your farm and your business.

Lavender farms, shops, and festivals are popping up all over the country, and so are legions of lavender lovers. The United States Lavender Growers Association (USLGA) is offering enthusiasts the opportunity to indulge in an inspiring and fun day to discover all about lavender. You’ll be able to “tour” scenic lavender fields, gardens, and shops…

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The Other Side of Yew

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Erin Holden

As an herbalist I’m interested in many aspects of plants – from their use in herbal and conventional medicine, to lore that informs us how those in the past viewed the plant. I knew that Taxol was a cancer drug made from the yew tree, but when a friend mentioned its poisonous aspects, I decided to dig a bit deeper.

Taxol, the well-known cancer treatment, was first isolated and studied in the early 1960s into the late 1970s, and approved as a cancer drug in the early 1990s. Paclitaxel, the common chemical name of Taxol, was initially extracted from the bark of the Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia). It was quickly realized that extracting enough paclitaxel to meet demand would wipe out this species in short order, so scientists turned to its faster-growing cousin, the European yew (Taxus baccata), as an alternative. A precursor…

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