Turkey Rhubarb

Botanical Name: Rheum palmatum | Family: Polygonaceae

Common name(s): Turkey Rhubarb, Chinese Rhubarb


  • Perennial | Zones 6-9 | 9 feet tall  | Palmate, roughish leaves. Greenish-white flowers in June/July. Larger than garden rhubarb.
  • Full sun to partial shade | Prefers well-drained, moist soil but will grow in clay soils


Parts used: Root (for medicine), stems for food, leaves are poisonous

Harvest at least 6-year old roots in the fall.


Decoction: Put 1/2 – 1 tsp root in 1 cup of water. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. 2x/day

Tincture: 1-2 ml 3x/day


Constituents: Anthraquinones, calcium oxalate, essential oils, fatty acids, minerals, resins, tannins

Actions: Astringent, bitter], laxative

Uses: at normal doses it treats constipation. At low doses tbe astringent action treats diarrhea.

Cautions: DO NOT EAT THE LEAVES! They are toxic. Avoid during pregnancy. Oxalates can aggravate arthritis and gout. Enhances loss of potassium, which can interfere with certain cardiac drugs.


  • Bitter, cold, dry


I do not have access to turkey rhubarb, but when we were splitting up a 15-yr old garden rhubarb, I dried some of the root. According to A Modern Herbal, it is similar in action to Turkey Rhubarb, only milder. I haven’t used it yet, it sits in my pantry.


Botanical Name: Curcurbit pepo | Family: Cucurbitaceae

Common name(s): Pumpkin


  • Annual vegetable | Zones 3-9 |  | Sprawling vines, orange fruit
  • Full sun | Very rich, nutrient soil


Parts used: Seeds and pulp

Harvest in autumn, when the pumpkin is ripe (turns orange). Use fresh seeds (discard after 30 days).


Infusion: Pour 1 pint of boiling water over 1 ounce of seeds. (Used for urinary complaints.)

Mash: Beat 2 ounces of seeds with sugar/honey and enough water or milk to make a pint. Drink in 3 doses, every two hours, while fasting. Follow a couple of hours later with a dose of castor oil. (Used for internal parasites.)


Constituents: fixed oil, protein, sterols, cucurbitin, vitamin E, beta-carotene, minerals (iron, zinc, selenium).

Actions: Anti-inflammatory, anthelmintic

Uses: internal parasites, enlargement of the prostate gland


Here’s an interesting tidbit. I brought some pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds), which I had spiced up, to my daughter’s house. My son-in-law ate a lot and told me the next day he had the weirdest dreams he’d ever had and asked “what was in those pumpkin seeds?” Come to find out, via google, they can induce vivid dreaming.

Saw Palmetto

SŠgepalmen-FrŸchte.; Saw palmetto fruits.

Botanical Name: Serenoa repens (syn. Seronoa serrulata) Family: Palmaceae

Common name(s): Saw Palmetto, Sabal, Seronoa


  • Palm tree/bush | Zones 8-11 | 7 feet tall/wide | Stems grow along the ground and upright. Green (and sometimes blue) leaves are the shape of a fan blade with sharp, saw-like edges. Fragrant white flowers in the spring followed by dark purple to black berries resembling grapes.
  • Sun/shade to full shade | Most soils | Tolerates draught and salt | Grows year round


The berries are harvested in Autumn, when ripe. They are dried, often with the seeds removed. Be careful when harvesting, the leaf edges can cut skin or fabric!


Decoction: Bring 1/2-1 teaspoon of the berries to a boil in 1 cup water and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 1-2ml 3x/day


Constituents: Essential oil, dextrose, flavonoids, lipids, polysaccharides, resin, steroids

Actions: Antiandrogenic, Anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, diuretic, endocrine agent, urinary antiseptic

Uses: Enlarged prostate, male tonic (tones and strengthens the male reproductive system), gastro-urinary tract infections

Combinations: Horsetail and hydrangea for treating enlarged prostate glands


Pungent, sweet, warm


I just happen to be heading down to South Carolina this year around the time they say the Saw Palmetto berries are ripe. My parents used to live on Fripp Island in the Saw Palmetto neighborhood. It’s been fun learning about this plant because of that. And I hope to gather some berries while I’m down there!


I am not posting a photo of this plant because I can’t find one for officinalis and there are tons of Sarsaparilla varieties. Please see my notes at the bottom of this post for a picture of wild sarsaparilla, which is a different botanical plant (but used medicinally, as well).

Botanical Name: S. officinalis and varieties. S. ornata (Jamaica), considered to be the most medicinal Family: Liliaceae

Common name(s): Sarsaparilla, Greenbrier, Catbrier, Bullbrier, Tramps Trouble


  • Perennial woody climber | Zones 6-9 | 15 feet tall | Broad, ovate leaves, tendrils, , thorny branches, small green and flowers, black-ish berries
  • Grows in forests


The root is harvested throughout the growing season


Decoction: Bring 1-2 teaspoon of the root to a boil in 1 cup water and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: 1-2ml 3x/day


Constituents: Essential oil, glycoside, phytosterols, sapogenins, resin, starch, sugar, fat, minerals

Actions: Alterative, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antipruretic, aphrodisiac, diaphoretic,diuretic, estrogenic, tonic

Uses: Inflammatory conditions (including rheumatism), liver disorders, menstrual issues, skin issues, venereal disease, virility

Combinations: Burdock, yellow dock, and cleavers for psoriasis


Sweet, mild, spicy neutral to cool


  • The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffmann
  • Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier
  • SFGate

Aralia nudicaulis is a plant in northeastern forests that goes by the same name – called Wild Sarsaparilla. I learned that it is often used as a substitute in herbalism for Smilax. And I was actually surprised to learn this because I was taught by a local herbalist that this northern plant was Sarsaparilla and didn’t know that it wasn’t the official variety. Also, there are about 300-350 varieties of Smilax (a.k.a. Sarsaparilla). Confusing, to say the least!

This is a picture of the wild version, from my yard’s forest area:


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

Common name(s): Damiana, Mexican Holly


  • 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


Harvest leaves and stems while the plant is in flower.


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


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


Spicy, warm


  • 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


  • 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


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


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


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


Sweet, bitter, cool


  • 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


  • 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


Gather leaves throughout the growing season


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


Constituents: Essential oil, flavonoids, tannin

Actions: Mild astringent, diuretic

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


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.


Botanical Name: Artemisia Vulgaris Family: Compositae

Common name(s): Mugwort, Moxa, Cronewort


  • 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


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


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


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


Bitter, acrid, slightly warm


  • 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.


Botanical Name: Achillea millifolium Family: Compositae

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


  • 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


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


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.


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).


Warm, bitter, spicy


* 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).


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.