Peppermint – Herb of the Month

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Maryann Readal

Most of us, gardeners or not, are familiar with mint. But how many of us know that there is a distinctive difference between spearmint and peppermint? The difference between these two mints may be important depending on how you want to use them.

Peppermint, Mentha × piperita, is The Herb Society’s Herb of the Month for July.  Peppermint is really a hybrid of two mints, water mint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata). . Being a hybrid, peppermint does not produce seeds. If you want to propagate it, you must either take cuttings or divide the plant. Like other mints, peppermint is a vigorous grower, so must be contained if you don’t want it growing everywhere in your garden.  It favors growing in rich, moist soil. Peppermint has a narrow, coarse leaf and flowers that are pink-lavender.  Spearmint, on the other hand, is…

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Cooking with Monarda

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Susan Belsinger

(Blogmaster’s note: With Monarda currently in its full glory here in zone 7, we’re posting this recipe so you can take advantage of its unique flavors while it’s still in bloom. Serve these tasty treats at your next summer celebration!)

—————————–Monarda didyma—————————-

Monarda (commonly called bee balm or bergamot) is a native American herb named after a Spanish physician and botanist, N. Monardez, of Seville. Its unusual and ornamental flowers possess a distinctly architectural character with their rather bristly, shaggy-headed colorful appearance. All species attract bees and are good honey plants. Right now, my stands of the various bee balms are abuzz with activity from dawn until dusk. The twelve species of Monarda, all native to North America, offer a wide assortment of flavors and fragrances—from lemon to thyme to pungent oregano to tealike and rose—produced on annual or perennial plants. So sniff and…

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It’s A Lavender Season! Lavender Association of Colorado

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

The cultivar of the Month

Lavender coloradoJune 2020 Cultivar of the Month
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote Pink’

Hidcote Pink is another versatile lavender grown in Colorado.  It is an excellent culinary variety.  It produces an exceptionally sweet oil that several growers use in conjunction with other lavender essential oils to make unique blends.  Planted with purple lavenders, the pink flowers make the purple flowers “pop” in the landscape.
Hidcote Pink is not really good for crafting as in drying it loses its pink color and dries to a brown.
Hidcote Pink plants are 30-40″ tall.  Stems are in the 6-10″ range.  Spacing the plants 36″ apart should allow them to remain separate over the years.
Hidcote Pink was developed by Major Lawrence Johnston in Gloucester, England, and became available around 1958.  It is hardy in zones 5-9.  It blooms once in the spring.

lavender dilution

Dilution The Key To Using Essential Oils Safely

We…

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Botanical Brews – An introductory guide to using tropical specialty ingredients in beer

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Amanda Dix

(Blogmasters’ note: Experiencing craft beer is a high point for many connoisseurs these days. While beer in its various forms has been around for millennia, today’s brew-masters have taken beer to a whole new level by adding unique flavor combinations to their recipes. Capitalizing on that trend, many gardens and arboreta are incorporating special tasting events into their program repertoire that highlight the herbs that make each brew unique. Below are some of horticulturist and brewer Amanda Dix’s suggestions for upping your botanical beer game. Even if you don’t brew yourself, these might inspire you to try new things and understand how herbs are woven into this timeless beverage.)

Many culinary dishes and beverages are abundant with tropical herbs, spices, and fruit. Beer is no exception, and using unique ingredients alongside barley, hops, and yeast is very common these days.

When formulating a beer recipe, be sure…

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Food as Medicine: Moringa (Moringa oleifera, Moringaceae)

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Moringa oleifera is one of the 12 known Moringa species in the horseradish tree family (Moringaceae) that flourish in drier parts of the world.1 Nine species occur in eastern Ethiopia, northern Kenya, and Somalia, of which eight moringa flowersare endemic to Africa, and three species occur in India.1,2 Belonging to the Brassicales order, this plant family is distantly related to cruciferous vegetables like arugula (Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa, Brassicaceae) and broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica, Brassicaceae) and contains many of the same nutrients and sulfurous phytochemicals.1,3 Moringa species grow as stout-stemmed trees or shrubs. Some species are known as bottle trees and have a large root system that enhances water storage and aids the trees’ survival during periods of drought.1 Members of the Moringa genus have corky gray bark and distinct bi- or tri-pinnately compound leaves that have conspicuous swellings, or pulvini, at…

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Marchpane Cookies for the Rose Queens — Gather Victoria

Marchpane was one of the most popular Tudor confections – at least for those who could afford it. Created from costly ground almonds, sugar and rosewater, moulded into shapes and baked, decorated with coloured glazes, gilded fruit and “comfits”, then assembled into elaborate centrepieces, it was found only on the most aristocratic and royal tables. …

via Marchpane Cookies for the Rose Queens — Gather Victoria

Black Pepper – Herb of the Month

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Maryann Readal

Black pepper, Piper nigrum, is a ubiquitous spice that can be found on tables anywhere in the world where food is served. But what is the story behind this popular spice that is used in kitchens the world over? 

P. nigrum is native to the Malabar Coast of southern India. It is also grown in other parts of the tropical world, including Vietnam, which has taken the lead in production by exporting 287,000 tons of black pepper worth $722 million in 2019. This is about 35% of the world’s black pepper trade. 

pepppercorn drupe from Missouri Botantical Garden Pepppercorn drupes. Photo credit: Missouri Botantical Garden

Black pepper is a perennial vine with heart shaped leaves and pendulous flowers. It is grown for its fruit, which is dried and then used as a seasoning. The black pepper vine grows in my Zone 8b garden; however, it has yet to produce any peppercorns, although…

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Are You A Forager? New Forager Course — Good Witches Homestead

As herbalists, we have a lot of passions, and foraging is top of the list! With spring in full swing and summer inching closer, we are enjoying our foraging forays and plan for even more time in the fields and forests as the green world bursts into a riot of growth! To make the most […]

via Are You A Forager? New Forager Course — Good Witches Homestead

The 10 Best Wild Foods and Medicinals for Beginning Foragers and Wildcrafters

If you’re just picking up a foraging basket for the first time, what a truly special moment. I’m willing to bet that getting to know your local food and medicine plants (and bringing them home to your kitchen and apothecary) will be one of the most meaningful experiences of your life.

When I first began foraging my own food and medicine, I focused on a particular array of plentiful, generous, and nourishing plants—the wild weeds, the common flora, and the invasives. I strongly encourage you to do the same! These plants are some of our most superb medicinal allies and nutrient-dense wild foods. And these feral botanicals continue to be my main squeezes: non-native, “weedy” medicinals and wild foods are the most sustainable options out there.

And to sweeten the deal, they grow prolifically throughout the temperate world, so they are easy to find and befriend. Believe me, making connections with these plants is a bit like working a magic spell—one that reveals a generous landscape literally blooming with food and medicine.

But wait! Before you venture off into paradise, please ready yourself to partake of the cornucopia. You will need a proper set of resources to begin your foraging adventures safely and wisely. Tools, field guides, an ethical conscience, and some education on sustainable wildcrafting are all requisite (or at least very highly recommended). We’ve got you covered on each of these points; just pick and choose as needed from our list of articles below:

Please note that this article is introductory in scope—we won’t be discussing plant identification, and we’re just scratching the surface on medicinal uses and safety information. Depending on where you live, there may be different look-alikes than those that are listed in the article. We’re hoping to whet your appetite with these botanical vignettes—you’ll need to learn more before you can safely harvest these wild foods and medicinals. Therefore, the bulk of the botanical and herbal detective work will be up to you!

Find a couple field guides relevant to your region by searching our book list. Find a local foraging and/or plant identification teacher, if possible. Remember, there are deadly poisonous plants and mushrooms out there: one wrong move could be your last.

Have fun and be safe—which means being 110% sure of any plant’s identification before you nibble or harvest.

Read original article at: Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine ~ The 10 Best Wild Foods and Medicinals for Beginning Foragers

Rudraksha Tree – A Medicinal Tree of India and Nepal — The Herb Society of America Blog

By Maryann Readal Seeing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of strings of what looked to be brown seeds hanging in stores around holy places in India made me extremely curious about this seed. On a recent visit to India and Nepal, it was a very common sight to see hundreds of people walking around Buddhist temples in […]

via Rudraksha Tree – A Medicinal Tree of India and Nepal — The Herb Society of America Blog