Damiana

Botanical Name: Turnera aphrodisiaca, T. diffusa Family: Turneraceae

Common name(s): Damiana, Mexican Holly

GROWING

  • Shrub | Zone 9-11 | 3-6 feet tall | Serrated green leaves, yellow flowers, sweet-smelling fruit
  • 4-6 hours of direct sun/day | Sandy, fast-draining soil

HARVESTING

Harvest leaves and stems while the plant is in flower.

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of the dried herb. Steep for 10-15 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 1-2ml 3x/day

MEDICAL

Constituents: alkaloids, bitter principal, essential oil, flavonoid, hydrocyanic glycoside, resin, tannin

Actions: Aperient, aphrodisiac, diuretic,laxative, mild anti-depressant, nervine, urinary antiseptic, yang tonic

Uses: mild depression/anxiety, libido, mucus congestion, nervous exhaustion

Combinations: Use with oats as a nerve tonic

CHINESE MEDICINE

Spicy, warm

SOURCES 

  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffmann
  • Herbal Remedies, Andrew Chevallier
  • SFGate this & this
  • photo credit: rubyonwheels damiana via photopin (license)

Pretty plant. Doesn’t grow in the northeast unless in a pot that can be brought inside. When I was googling for plant information, I saw that there is a Damiana Tequila!

Blessed Thistle

Botanical Name: Cnicua benedictus Family: Compositae

Common name(s): Blessed thistle, Holy thistle

GROWING

  • Annual; herbaceous | Zone 5-9 | 10-30 inches tall | Hairy leaves and stems. Stems are 5-sided. Yellow flowers with spider-web like hairs in them, April – September
  • Full sun | Dry, stony, waste soil

HARVESTING

Harvest aerial parts while in flower and seeds in the autumn.

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoons of the dried herb. Steep for 10-15 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 1-2ml 3x/day

External: Apply as a poultice to promote wound healing

MEDICAL

Constituents: bitter glycoside (cnicin), essential oil, flavonoids, mucilage, tannin

Actions: Alterative, antibacterial, antiseptic, astringent, bitter, diaphoretic, emetic, emmenagogue, expectorant, galactagogue, hemostatic, stomachic,tonic,stimulant, vulnerary

Uses: stomach and liver issues, appetite stimulant, diarrhea, indigestion, fever, jaundice, hepatitis, blood clots, bleeding, abnormal periods, lactation

Cautions: Large doses may cause vomiting, and it can be used for that purpose

CHINESE MEDICINE

Sweet, bitter, cool

SOURCES 

  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffmann
  • A Modern Herbal, M. Grieve
  • Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs, Foster and Duke
  • photo credit: henna lion blessed thistle via photopin (license)

This is another plant listed for reproductive issues in my herbal studies, but when I researched, only A Modern Herbal mentioned it as one of the best herb for lactation. And The Way of Herbs says since abnormal periods are usually accompanied by liver issues, so it is typically added to reproductive formulas. Seems like one of the major use for this herb outside of lactation is as an appetite stimulant.

Also, other thistles, particularly milk thistle, have similar actions.

PS The actions listed are all the ones mentioned across my sources. There are a lot of them!

Strawberry leaf

Botanical Name: Fragaria vesca and related species Family: Rosaceae

Common name(s): Wild strawberry, Woodland strawberry, Alpine strawberry

GROWING

  • Perennial; herbaceous | Zone 3-10 | 6-12 inches tall | White leaves followed by red fruit in the spring to early summer. The wild strawberry has smaller fruit than the garden variety.
  • Full sun/partial shade | Prefers rich, moist soil but will tolerate dry

HARVESTING

Gather leaves throughout the growing season

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoons of the fresh or dried herb. Steep for 15 minutes. Drink 4-5x/day.

Tincture: 5-15 drops in water 3x/day

External: use a strong decoction on the skin to treat eczema

MEDICAL

Constituents: Essential oil, flavonoids, tannin

Actions: Mild astringent, diuretic

Uses: Diarrhea, dysentery, rheumatism, arthritis, gout, eczema

SOURCES 


I never knew strawberry leaves were medicinal! So much medicine in all plants, it seems! This is in my herbal studies for a reproductive system herb, but I didn’t find any information in my books on it being used for that. And it is not even listed in the two sources I usually use. One book said it isn’t used so much anymore. But it was listed in a recipe for a reproductive tonic, so I expect it contains some nourishing elements.

Mugwort

Botanical Name: Artemisia Vulgaris Family: Compositae

Common name(s): Mugwort, Moxa, Cronewort

GROWING

  • Perennial; herbaceous | Zone 4-8 | 4-5 feet tall | Spikes of whitish green flowers on top of purple stems. Green leaves have silver undersides.
  • Full sun/partial shade | Any soil

HARVESTING

Harvest aerial parts any time during the growing season, preferably when blossoming (between July and September)

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb. Steep, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 1-4ml 3x/day

MEDICAL

Constituents: bitter principle, essential oil, inulin, resin, tannin

Actions: Anti-spasmodic, bitter tonic, cholagogue, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, hemostatic, nervine tonic, mild narcotic, stimulant, vermifuge

Uses: Menstruation induction and regulation, menstrual cramps, depression, tension, nervousness, insomnia, liver and stomach disorders,

Cautions: Avoid during pregnancy

CHINESE MEDICINE

Bitter, acrid, slightly warm

SOURCES 

  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffmann
  • Homegrown Herbs, Tammi Hartung
  • photo credit: Hannah Lena Puschnig Mugwort via photopin (license)

Mugwort was used in many interesting ways by other cultures. The Chinese use it as part of a technique called moxabustion, where the herb is placed on acupuncture points and burned down to the skin. The Native Americans use the dry leaves for smudging.

Yarrow

Botanical Name: Achillea millifolium Family: Compositae

Common name(s): Yarrow, Chipmunk’s tail, Soldier’s woundwort, Milfoil, Nosebleed

GROWING

  • Perennial; herbaceous | Zone 3-9 | 2-3 feet tall | White* flowers in mid- to late summer
  • Full sun/partial shade | Disturbed, well-drained, soil | Likes open, grassy areas

HARVESTING

Harvest aerial parts  mid- to late summer, while in flower

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infustion: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb. Steep for 10-15 minutes. Drink hot 3x/day or hourly when feverish.

Tincture: 2-4ml 3x/day

External: Apply the powdered herb directly to wounds to stop the bleeding.

MEDICAL

Constituents: A bitter alkaloid, essential oil,flavonoids, tannins

Actions: Anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antisepticantispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, hemostatic, hypotensive, stomachic

Uses: Cold, flu, fever, hypertension, bleeding, painful menstruation, hemorrhoids, amenorrhea,menorrhagia, leucorrhea

Combinations: Combine equal parts yarrow, elder flowers, lemon balm, and mint for early stages of a cold (drink the tea, get into bed with covers on until sweating occurs, get out of bed and do a cool sponge bath, then hop back into bed).

CHINESE MEDICINE

Warm, bitter, spicy

SOURCES 


* There is a variety of yarrow that has yellow flowers. That kind is not medicinal. There is a rose-colored variety of the medicinal plant, A. millefolium var. rosea, which is also okay to use. So white and shades of pinks/red are good, yellow is not (although it’s probably really pretty…nothing personal, yellow yarrow).

Herbs

We sell freshly cut herbs, dried herbs, and herb plants over the course of the season. Here is a partial list:

Bergamot (bee balm) – the dried herbs and flowers of this plant make a lovely tea and the fresh flowers (and topmost leaves) can be added to raw honey for a delicious spread. This plant also attracts bees and hummingbirds.

Calendula – this is a beautiful medicinal with yellow and orange flowers. It is part of our digestive tea blend. It reseeds itself readily, especially in rich garden soil. We have seeds we harvested from last year’s flowers available for sale.

Catnip – this is a lovely, calming herb.

Chamomile – one of our favorites in tea blends.

Chives – these are one of the earliest herbs to come up for consumption! They go great with our eggs. Try a duck egg and chive omelet!

Comfrey – great for wound healing used externally.

Dandelion – this is the king of herbs! Great for the liver. It’s roasted root makes a nice coffee substitute.

Melissa (lemon balm) – this herb is a nervine and helps relax the nervous system. It can be used fresh or dried and has a lovely lemon flavor.

Motherwort – once you plant this plant, if you let it go to seed you will never have to plant it again! Best to cut it back to 3 inches after harvesting.

Nettle (stinging) – this is the queen of herbs. So much nutrition!

Oregano – this culinary herb has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties!

Parsley – did you know chewing on a fresh sprig of parsley is a great breath freshener? It’s got more goodness in it, too, which you can read if you click on the link to its plant profile.

Peppermint – great for digestion, headaches, and more. Plus it tastes great. I drink a peppermint tea blend in the afternoons for a pick-me-up.

Spearmint – a gentler version of peppermint, medicinally, which makes it a nice, not-to-strong, stimulant to add to tea blends. Plus it’s great added to a pitcher of water in the summer.

Thyme – we have both regular and lemon thyme in our garden.

Tulsi (holy basil) – this annual herb is an adaptogen and the dried leaves make a lovely tea. So good for you!

Valerian – this herb is great for the nervous system and a great sleep aid! If you drive by Dandelion Forest, you will see it in our orchard, which is on the wet side. It’s very happy here. And when it’s in bloom, I just stand next to it and drink it it’s calm.

Yarrow – a great styptic alternative! We powder the herb which can be applied directly to a bleeding wound.

False Unicorn

Botanical Name: Chamaelirium lutem Family: Liliaceae

Common name(s): False Unicorn, Helonias, Colic root, Devil’s bit, Fairy wand, Star grub root, Grub root

GROWING

  • Evergreen herb | Zone 5-8 | 1 foot, 8 inches tall | White flowers in May-June | Male and female plants, only females produce seed.
  • Dappled shade | Moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil

HARVESTING

Harvest the root in autumn and dry for later use.

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Decoction: Pour 1 – 2 teaspoons of the herbin a 1 cup of water. Bring to the boil and simmer 10-15 minutes. Drink 3x/day or in large amounts for threatened miscarriage.

Tincture: 2-4ml 3x/day

MEDICAL

Constituents: Glycosides, steroidal saponins including chamaelirin, helonin, diosgenin

Actions: Adaptogen, anthelmintic, diureticemetic, estrogenic, uterine tonicvermifuge

Uses: Ovarian cysts, hormonal imbalance, low fertility, menopausal symptoms, internal parasites, threatened miscarriage, nausea during pregnancy

Combinations: A cardiac toxin in large quantities, which may cause nausea and vomiting. Should not be used in pregnancy except under the care of an experienced practitioner.

CHINESE MEDICINE

Bitter, warm

SOURCES 


Aletris farinosa is True Unicorn. False Unicorn is an endangered plant because not too many people are cultivating it and harvesting the rhizome destroys the whole plant. I think I have the right conditions for growing this plant so it may wind up on my property at some point. (I haven’t noticed it on my property growing wild.)

There seem to be some contradictory indications in this materia medica. Used for nausea in pregnancy but can also cause nausea…. 

Squaw Vine

Botanical Name: Mitchella repens Family: Rubiaceae

Common name(s): Squaw Vine, Patridgeberry, Twinberry, Deerberry

GROWING

  • Evergreen herb | Zone 4-9 | 1 foot tall | White flowers in late spring/early summer followed by red berries
  • Partial to full shade| Consistently moist soil

HARVESTING

Harvest the aerial parts and berries in late summer.

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: Pour 1 cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoons of the herb and let sit for  10-15 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 1-2ml 3x/day

MEDICAL

Constituents: Mucilage, saponins. Not very well known but probably also contains alkaloids, glycosides, and tannins

Actions: Astringent, diureticemmenagogue, parturienttonic

Uses: Painful periods (dysmenorrhoea), preparing the uterus for childbirth, absent periods (amenorrhea), colitis, diarrhea

Combinations: Use with raspberry leaves for a parturient tonic.

Cautions: Do not take during the first 6 months of pregnancy.

CHINESE MEDICINE

Bitter, cool energy

SOURCES 


It consistently amazes me when I do one of these materia medica only to find out that it is a plant I know – by sight, not by name. I love connecting the dots! I live in a forest town and see this plant all over the place, and I usually bend a leaf and sniff it to see if it is  wintergreen, a look-alike.

Chicken vs. Duck Eggs


People ask me what the difference is between chicken and duck eggs.

  1. Duck eggs are bigger.
  2. The whites are clear
  3. The shells are a bit harder
  4. The ducks lay them on the ground and step on them. I have to wash them but I don’t scrub off the protective film. So their presentation isn’t as appealing. But crack that egg open and it is beautiful!

They taste the same.

(In the picture above, the egg on the right is a chicken egg – and the white didn’t stay nicely together, but the cloudy white is from the chicken egg. The rest are duck eggs.)

As far as chicken/duck keeping goes…

I am beginning to realize that ducks are easier to keep in New England. They are hardier birds and do better in the cold. When it rains, they actually stay outside to be in the showers. Ducks are messier, but they also don’t dig up gardens like chickens do. However they do eat bugs. And slugs! They are also easier to herd (which is actually pretty fun to do).

Cramp Bark

Botanical Name: Viburnum opulus Family: Caprifoliaceae

Common name(s): Cramp Bark, High Cranberry, Snowball Tree, Guelder Rose, Squaw Bush

GROWING

  • Perennial; shrub | Zone 2-7 | 8-15 feet tall | White flowers in June followed by red berries which can stay on the bush throughout winter
  • Full sun to partial shade| Well-drained, moist soil

HARVESTING

Harvest the bark between spring equinox (March 21) and summer solstice (June 21)

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Decoction: Put 2 teaspoons of the dried bark into a cup of water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for  10-15 minutes. Drink 3x/day while hot.

Tincture: 4-8ml 3x/day

MEDICAL

Constituents: Bitter (viburnin), valerianic acid, salicosides, resin, tannin

Actions: Antispasmodic, astringent, nervinesedative

Uses: Menstrual cramps, PMS, threatened miscarriage, asthma, muscular tension and spasms, heart palpitations, rheumatism

Combinations: Combine with False unicorn root for a female reproductive tonic. Combine 1 part cramp bark, 1 part ginger, 1 part angelica root, and 3 parts chamomile for menstrual cramps, PMS and convulsions.

CHINESE MEDICINE

Bitter, neutral

SOURCES 


I planted a highbush cranberry. Now I have to do some additional research on what variety I am growing. According to the University of Maine source, the berries of the European version are not edible, it is considered an ornamental, as opposed to the American version.

Black haw is a near relative and is considered a more powerful plant than crampbark.