An introduced perennial herb growing 2-3 ft. Stems erect,
flowers violet blue to mixed
yellow, borne in loose clusters at ends of branches. Seed
pods contain many small kidney-shaped
seeds. Leaves trifoliate, toothed two thirds down from tip.
Cultivated for hay, planted for forage on
foothill ranges throughout the world.
Edible, Medicinal. Fresh green leaves have 8 essential enzymes,
a source of 10 different
vitamins, especially high in A,C,D,B2,B6, K , iron, calcium.
Sprouted seeds for salads or
health drinks. Actions: Appetizer, diuretic, tonic. A tea
of the leaves taken every day is
known to relieve urinary and bowel problems, eliminate retained
water, help with peptic ulcers
and improve appetite.
Not a cactus. Perennial plant, stiff, erect spikes with
clusters of flowers from 2-30 ft.
high. Leaves, long, thick, spiny and fleshy, crowded in
rosettes at base of stem, ending in sharp
point. Leafless stalks bear dense clusters of tube shaped
yellow and red flowers which contain
Medicinal. The gelatinous substance inside stalks are: Emollient,
cell proliferant, purgative, vulnerary. A treatment for
burns, scalds, internal and external ulcers, boils, arthritis,
kidney ailments, psoriasis, bad complexion, skin. Used for
wounds, ringworm, insect bites. Note: When piece of leaf
stalk is broken off, for healing, the part not used will
seal off and keep for several weeks. Use a sandy loam soil,
indoors, keep repotting it to allow growth. Water when transplanted,
wait 3-4 weeks, then once a week. Do not fertilize or over
green amaranth, redroot, pigweed
Coarse, annual weed with stout stems. Numerous species.
red with stout, hairy stem, 2-5 ft. tall. Leaves, dull,
long-pointed wavy edges,
rough to the touch. Greenish flowers grow in clusters on
tall bristly stalks. Black
seeds mature in the fall. A common weed found in wastes
ground, fields, roadsides,
rich cultivated areas from coast to coast below 9000 ft.
Edible, Medicinal. Leaves, stems, seeds. Young plants make
a mild pot-herb,
boiled about 15 min, or raw in salads. Abundant, shiny seeds
make a nutritious flour. Parch
for an hour, then grind. Taken internally as an astringent
it helps in diarrhea, excessive
menstruation, a wash for skin problems, a gargle for mouth
and throat irritations. Take a tea,
cold, 1-2 cups a day or 1/2 to 1 tsp. tincture.
wild archangel, high angelica, purple angelica
A shrub, 8 ft. high. Stem, purplish with 3 toothed leaflets
at tip of each stem. White or greenish flowers occur in
clusters at end of stalk. Has a strong and peculiar, not
unpleasant odor. Found in rich, low ground near streams
and swamps and in gardens throughout the U.S.
Edible, Medicinal. Sharp flavored leaves are cooked with
acidic fruit, shoots in salads, stems and roots as vegetables,
seeds in pastry dishes. Rootstock, in the fall of 2nd year.
The whole plant is: Aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic,
diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant. Roots, 2nd
yr., and seeds when mature used to treat stomach gas, induce
vomiting, perspiration, bronchitis, rheumatism, gout and
fever. Stimulates menstrual flow, helps with heart burn,
colic, general tonic, colds, spleen, liver and in epidemics.
The extracted oil used as a pleasant aromatic and tonic.
Take 3/4 cup of decoction (1 tsp. root with 3/4 cup water)
in 2 equal parts during day.
Stems, from 3-8 ft. high, reddish when young, a dirty gray
pipperidge bush, jaundice berry, European barberry, sowberry
Deciduous shrub. Roots, yellow on outside, bark, bitter.
Leaves, obovate. Bright red, oblong berries grow along spiny,
have an acid but agreeable taste, should only be eaten when
ripe. Found in
Northeastern U.S. in hard, gravely soil, in rich soils in
the western states.
Edible, Medicinal. Berries have acid but agreeable taste,
should only be eaten when ripe, can be preserved, pickled.
Actions: Hepatic, laxative, refrigerant. Bark of root is
hepatic, berries are laxative and refrigerant for reducing
fevers. The fresh juice is used to strengthen gums. A decoction
of either the berries or bark makes a good mouthwash or
gargle for mouth and throat irritations. Stem, bark and
root are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, used to improve
liver action, liver problems including alcohol abuse. Bark
from the stem dilates blood vessels, which lowers blood
pressure. Avoid barberry when pregnant.
wood betony, lousewort, purple betony
Perennial, with a hairy, unbranched or slightly branched,
square stem, 6-24 in. The pungent, scalloped leaves are
opposite, more or less hairy on both sides. Lower leaves
are oblong-cordate, upper, are more lanceolate. Pale magenta
flowers are in spike-like whorls
in gardens, damp or dry meadows, on sunny slopes, forest
Medicinal. Anthelmintic, astringent, calmative, diuretic,
expectorant, vulnerary. The flowering herb is helpful for
asthma, bronchitis, heartburn, bladder, kidney problems,
spitting blood, excessive sweating, varicose veins, worms,
migraine, anxiety, indigestion, drunkenness, difficult labor.
Juice of the plant or a poultice used externally for cuts,
external ulcers, old sores. Steep 1-2 tsp. in 1 cup water,
5-8 min. Slowly drink 1-2 cups through the day. Roots stimulate
the liver, but may cause vomiting and diarrhea.
COHOSH (Cimicifuga racemosa)
bugbane, rattle root, black snake root, squaw root
Perennial shrub, 9 ft. or more. Creeping, underground stem
is gnarled and twisted. Topped with slender spike of small
white or yellowish flowers in feathery racemes 1-3 ft. long,
slender and drooping. Leaves vary from ternate to pinnate,
at times even further divided. Found in eastern, southern
part of U.S. in rich open woods.
Medicinal. Antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue,
expectorant, hormonal, sedative. Rhizomes and roots used
by Native Americans to ease childbirth and as an antidote
for rattlesnake bite. Colonists used it for yellow fever,
bronchitis, coughs, asthma, itching, nervous diseases, uterine
disorders, diarrhea, menstrual cramp, rheumatism, childbirth,
headaches, coughs and asthma. Take 2-3 tbsp. of decoction,
6 times a day, cold, or 10-60 drops tincture. CAUTION: Large
doses can cause symptoms of poisoning, nausea and vomiting.
Deciduous hardwood, 100 ft. tall, with rough furrowed bark.
Alternate, pinnately, compounded leaves have a distinctive
odor when bruised. Male and female flowers grow in separate
catkins. Nut, covered with a green pulp coating while on
the tree, turning black when on ground and stored. Found
in moist well-drained soil throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Medicinal. Anti-fungal, tonic, vermifuge. Inner bark of
tree is a mild laxative. Peel of fruit, useful for treating
parasites, worms in the body, ulcers and syphilis. Juice
of fruit, useful for treating tapeworm, a laxative and as
a gargle. Leaf infusion, used against bedbugs, and decoction
for sores, herpes, eczema, syphilis and worms. Decoction
of the bark, for skin diseases. Oil is effective for tapeworm,
a dressing for leprosy type skin diseases (must be fresh,
rancid oil is detrimental).
THISTLE (Cnicus benedictus)
holy thistle, St. Benedict's thistle
Herbaceous, 2 ft. high, reddish, slender, much branched
and unable to keep upright with weight of its leaves and
flower heads. Long, narrow leaves have prominent pale veins,
irregular teeth ending in spines that clasp the dull green
stem. Flowers, pale yellow. Subtending the flower heads
are green scales tipped with a long, brown bristle. The
whole plant, including leaves, stalks, flower heads are
covered with a thin down. Cultivated in the U.S., occurring
in waste places when escaped.
Medicinal. Diaphoretic, emetic, emmenagogue, galactogogue,
stimulant, tonic. The whole herb is used. When taken in
large doses it acts as a strong emetic producing vomiting
and should be used cautiously. Cold infusions of the plant
(2 tsp.to 1 cup water) in small doses are helpful in weak
conditions of the stomach and for producing an appetite.
A warm infusion is very helpful in fevers of all kinds.
Poultice or tea of the plant, externally for chilblains,
COHOSH (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
beechdrops, blue ginseng, yellow ginseng, blue berry, squaw
root, papoose root
Description: Round, simple, erect, 3 ft. high stem grows
from a knotty rootstock and half way up it bears a large
sessile, tri-pinnate leaf, leaflets, oval, petioled, irregularly
lobed. The 6-petaled yellow-green flowers are borne in a
raceme or panicle. Fruit, a pea-sized, dark blue berry borne
on a fleshy stalk. Eastern and central U.S. in rich woods.
Medicinal. Anthelmintic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, oxytocic,
parturient. Rootstock used to regulate menstrual flow, to
relieve cramps, to induce labor, children's colic. Should
be given with other herbs and used with medical supervision.
CAUTION: Can be irritating to mucous surfaces and cause
dermatitis on contact. Children have been poisoned by the
BLUE VERVAIN (Verbena
verbain, American vervain, false vervain, Indian hyssop
A bristly perennial, with quadrangular stems reaching 2-5
ft. tall. Deeply cut lover leaves, smooth upper leaves oblong-lanceolate,
gradually acuminate, serrate. Dense spikes of small, pale
lilac-pink flowers, arranged in a panicle. Fruit is 4 nutlets.
Eastern, central US in fields and thickets.
Medicinal. Diaphoretic, emetic, expectorant, nervine, tonic,
vermifuge, vulnerary. A warm tea of leaves or flowering
heads, taken often, for a natural tranquilizer, nervous
headaches, depression, colds, coughs, fevers, congestion
in the throat and chest, insomnia, stomach, bowel cramps,
urinary problems, jaunice, menstrual cramps, intestinal
worms, bowel complaints, dysentery. A cold tea acts as a
tonic. Taken externally for healing sores. Root considered
more active than the leaves. Decoction of the leaf for a
hair tonic, eyewash. Tests, also shown, it has heart-strengthening
and antitumor helps.
TEA (Ephedra viridis)
desert tea, squaw tea, joint fir, Mormon tea
Shrub, broom-like, resembling horsetail grass. The jointed
green stems and branches of some species reach the height
of 7 ft. although most are smaller. Two or three scale-like
leaves grow at joints in stem and branches. Male and female
cones appear on different plants, male cones, having yellow
pollen sacs. Found in arid areas of the Northern Hemisphere,
especially deserts of the southwest.
Edible, Medicinal. Most commonly used as a pleasant beverage
by steeping 5 min.
The whole herb is used as a decongestant, and stimulant
to the sympathetic nervous system. Frequent use of the tea
may result in nervousness and restlessness. It should only
be used with medical supervision, particularly if suffering
from high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or thyroid
alder buckthorn, Frangula bark, black dogwood.
Slender, tree-like shrub. Leaves, entire, not toothed, feather
veined arranged alternately on the stem, not opposite to
one another. Flowers, produced from wood of the preceding
year and also on shoots of current year. Spreading, thornless
branches have green bark when young, turning to brownish-gray
when older. Blue and gray berry has
2-3 roundish angular seeds. Bees, very attracted to it.
Grows in woods, mostly free from lime in northern and eastern
Medicinal. Cathartic, laxative, tonic. Only the dried seasoned,1-2
yr. old, bark should be used. The fluid extract is used
as a gentle purgative in cases of chronic constipation.
Liquid from the bark, boiled in ale, can be used for jaundice.
It is more agreeable than the more popular R.purshianus
(cascara sagrada). Wood of this shrub is used in making
charcoal for gun powder makers, thus "black dogwood".
Freshly stripped bark acts as an irritant poison on the
BURDOCK (Arctium lappa)
burr seed, thorny burr, hareburr,
Large, biennial plant. Leaves, on long stalks, many veined,
wavy-edged, resembling rhubarb, growing from a thick tap
toot. Stout stalks, the second year, grow
4-6 ft. tall. Small, magenta pink and white, solitary or
clustered flowers, followed by spherical burrs. Found along
fences, roadsides, waste places walls, populated areas throughout
Edible, Medicinal. Peel roots of young small plants, cut
and cook like carrots. When flower heads start to form,
the rough bloom stalk can be peeled and core eaten raw,
or cooked. Change first cooking water to remove bitter taste.
Actions: Aperient, blood purifier, cholagogue, diaphoretic,
diuretic. Root, in its 2nd yr. is an excellent blood cleanser
which helps in skin diseases, burns, wounds, swellings,
hemorrhoids, canker sores. 1 cup of decoction a day (1 tsp.
root with 1 cup cold water, let stand 5 hrs, bring to boil)
or 10-25 drops in water
3-4 times a day. Fresh bruised leaves, a remedy for poison
ivy, oak. Seeds to be used only with medical supervision.
common camomile, chamomile, Roman chamomile, ground apple,
Low growing creeping or trailing plant with tufts of leaves
and flowers, 1 ft. high. Root, perennial, jointed and fibrous.
Stems, hairy, freely branching, covered with leaves, alternate,
bipinate, finely dissected, downy to glabrous with sweet
apple-scent. Solitary terminal daisy-like flower heads have
a yellow conical center with 18 outer silver-white ray flowers
drooping when in bud. Found throughout US as a common weed
in dry fields, around gardens, cultivated grounds.
Medicinal. Anodyne, antispasmodic, carminative, sedative,
aromatic, tonic, stimulant. Helpful for gas, colic, fevers
and restlessness in children, urinary infections and diaper
rash. Use 2 tbsp. flowers to 2 cups water, heat to just
short of boiling. Soothes toothache, earache, sore nipples
and neuralgia, suppresses nausea, reduces inflammation and
dark shadows under the eyes. As a poultice, to treat eczema
and wounds. An oil, made of the flowers, for swellings,
calluses and painful joints.
catmint, field balm, cat's wort
Erect perennial, 3-5 ft. tall. Erect square branching stem
is hairy and soft. Leaves, pointed, opposite, oblong or
cordate with scalloped edges. Has a long leaf stalk with
top being green and grayish green, whitish hairs underneath.
Flowers, in whorled spikes of two-lipped, white or blue,
spotted with lavender clusters. A native of Europe, now
found throughout the US in fields, on dry banks waste places
and chalky or gravely soil.
Edible, Medicinal. Tender leaves are added to salads, to
flavor meat. Actions: Anodyne, antispasmodic, aromatic,
calmative, carminative, diaphoretic. Root and mint scent
leaf intoxicates cats and repels rats and flea beetles.
A tea from the leaves and flowering tops, 2 cups a day (2
tsp. herb to 1/2 cup boi1ing water, steeped 10 min.) are
used to treat colds, calm upset stomachs, for scalp problems,
to reduce fevers and soothe headaches. Their mild sedative
action soothes babies with colic. Fresh leaves are used
in making a poultice for bruises and are put into cat toys.
CAYENNE (Capsicum frutescens)
American or African pepper, chili pepper red pepper, bird
Perennial in its native tropical America, but annual when
cultivated outside tropical zones, 3 ft. tall or more. Glabrous
stem is woody at the bottom, branched near the top. Leaves
are ovate to lanceolate, entire, and petioled. Drooping
white to yellow flowers grow alone, in pairs or in threes.
Ripe fruit or pepper is a many seeded pod with a leathery
outside in various shades of red or yellow and 2 or 3 fruits
per leaf joint.
Edible, Medicinal. The small chilies are used to help preserve
food in hot countries.
Crushed chilies make cayenne pepper to flavor foods. Actions:
Appetizer, digestive, irritant, sialogogue, stimulant, tonic.
Stimulates the circulation and gives immediate action to
the heart, without increased pulsation. Helps in sore throat,
headaches, hemorrhaging, indigestion, alcoholism, colic,
low fever, hemorrhoids, eases shingles, swallowing disorders,
cramps and pains in the stomach and bowels.(Use 1/2 to 1
tsp. pepper per cup, boiling water), take warm, 1 tbsp.
at a time. Infused oil for massage to relieve rheumatism,
cold limbs and neuralgia. Put on cuts to stop bleeding,
creosote bush, greasewood, chaparro, dwarf evergreen oak.
Perennial bush, 4-8 ft. Dark green stems, leaves can be
yellowish-green in dry seasons. Strong scented leaves are
opposite, divided into 2 leaflets. Flowers, yellow with
5 petals, only 1/2 inch across appearing in spring and winter.
Fruit, rounded, up to 1/4 inch long, covered with white
hairs. Found in desert areas, alkali soil in south western
part of US Leaves and stems contain gums, resins, protein,
esters, acids, alcohol, small amounts of sterols, sucrose
and volatile oils. No alkaloids are detected and is non-toxic.
Medicinal. Antiseptic, blood purifier, diuretic, expectorant,
tonic. Leaves, stems used to help in acne, styes, skin conditions
of warts and blotches, arthritis, cancer, chronic backache,
hair growth, better eyesight, increases bowel elimination
(not laxative), kidney infection, prostate gland trouble,
throat, bronchial, pulmonary conditions and weight reducing.
Taken in capsules according to directions. American Indians
sharpened the young branches, placed in fire till hot and
inserted into tooth cavities to relieve pain.
adder's mouth, stitchwort, scarwort, satin flower, starweed
Annual or short-lived perennial with creeping or ascending,
succulent stems with a conspicuous line of hairs on one
side. Small leaves are paired, broadly oval, pointed. Numerous,
tiny white flowers, 1/4 in. across, have petals shorter
than the sepals. Found in lawns, gardens and around dwellings
all over the world.
Edible, Medicinal. Raw tender leaves, stems added to salads.
Better when boiled 5 min. and served as greens. Note: debating,
now, on its safety because of the saponin content. The whole
Herb is astringent, carminative, demulcent, emollient, expectorant,
laxative. A decoction is used for a cleansing tonic that
relieves serious constipation, eases pain in hemorrhoids,
cramps and aids in losing weight. 1/2 -1 cup a day (1 tbsp.
herb to 1/2 cup water, steeped). A poultice or ointment
soothes itching skin, eczema, psoriasis and surface veins,
rheumatic joints, draws out splinters and heals wounds.
bruisewort, knitbone, slippery root, gum plant, healing
Perennial with a deep taproot. Plant contains a glutinous
juice. The 3-5 ft. stem is angular and hairy bearing bristly,
oblong, lanceolate leaves, some petioled, some sessile.
White to blue-mauve flowers grow in forked scorpiod racemes
and have a tubular corolla resembling a glove finger. Cultivated
throughout Europe, US, occasionally escaped, thrives in
almost any soil, doing well in moist areas or in shade.
Edible and Medicinal. Young leaves make good greens. Roasted
roots, together with chicory and dandelion roots makes a
coffee substitute. Actions: Anodyne, astringent, cell proliferant,
demulcent, emollient, expectorant, hemostatic, refrigerant,
vulnerary. Contains calcium, potassium, phosphorus and allantoin
which speeds up cell renewal in damaged muscles and broken
bones. Leaf tea helps inflamed, ulcerated digestive tracts
and coughs. Leaf poultices reduces swelling and bruising
around sprains, arthritic joints, speeds healing of cuts,
burns, open sores, eczema. Internal use of large amounts
of roots and leaves should be avoided. Latest research indicates
the whole plant may have anti-cancer properties. Leaves
make excellent manure and fertilizer.
CRAMP BARK (Viburnum
guelder rose, high cranberry, rose elder, snowball tree,
dog rowan tree, black haw
Deciduous, thicket-forming shrub, 12 ft. tall, with smooth
gray branches. Winter buds are scaly. Leaves, maple-like,
pubescent beneath with 3-5 acuminate lobes, coarsely, irregularly
toothed, turns burgundy in autumn.
In early summer, conspicuous, large, nearly flat-topped
heads of snow-white flowers appear. Berries are bright red.
Cultivated and wild throughout US
Edible, Medicinal. Fruit, used as substitute for cranberries,
makes a tart jelly or distilled spirit. Toxic and bitter
if eaten fresh. Bark from the stem is a nerve-sedative,
uterine antispasmodic which reduces muscle cramps in intestinal
spasms. Use 1 tsp. to 1 cup of bark decoction in tablespoon
doses. Native Americans used it to treat mumps. Note:Viburnum
prunifolium bark is used similarly.V.trilobum was used by
the Alberta Cree tribe for many illnesses, especially high
fever and pain relief.
DESERT SAGE (Artemisia
western sagebrush, tall wormwood, basin sagebrush
Description: A shrub, 12 feet tall, much branched, dark
stem. Foliage, aromatic. Flowers, yellow or whitish, in
densely packed heads. Leaves, lanceolate with 3 rounded
(teeth) on the tip of each leaf. Eastern U. S., in New England
on ranges, hillsides, in dry and sandy soil.
Medicinal. Blood purifier, resolvent, tonic. A tea of the
leaves for headaches, stomachaches, vomiting, diarrhea,
sore throat, antidote for poisoning When making a tea, steep
3 times using the same sage but new water each time. Allergic
reaction may result from use. Use with professional supervision.
A hot poultice of steamed herbs used externally for bruises,
rheumatic pains. A wash made for bathing wounds, new born
babies, an excellent hair rinse.
Purple cone flower, black sampson
Perennial plant with stout, bristly stem bearing hairy,
alternate, linear-lanceolate leaves which taper at both
ends. At times, base of leaf is winged; leaf margins are
toothed and the top leaves lack petioles. Distinctive flower
features 12-30 large spreading, dull-purple rays and conical
disk made up of numerous purple, tubular florets. Native
to central US in dry open woods, on prairies, road banks,
Medicinal. Antiseptic, depurative, digestive. The rhizome
is a very effective
immune system stimulant, without toxicity, stimulating the
body's defenses against disease; also antibiotic, antiviral,
restores inflamed connective tissue. Treats fevers, infections,
fevers, promotes digestion and is a blood-purifier which
helps in skin conditions such as eczema, acne and boils
and may reduce allergies. Take 1tbsp, 3-6 times a day of
decoction (1 tsp. granulated root in 2 cup boiling water
for 1/2 hr.) Used externally , combined with myrrh said
to help in typhoid fever. Note: Do not use the rootstock
once it has lost its odor. E.purpurea used similarly.
ELDER (Sambucus caeruleus)
elder berry, blue-berried elder
Large clustered shrub or tree. Opposite leaves, divided
into 5-9 lanceolate leaflets, sharply serrate. Large flat-topped
umbels of small, cream to white flowers. Berry-like fruit
nearly black, with powdery coating gives blue cast. Found
in damp places, woods, valleys throughout North America.
Edible, Medicinal. Flower heads, containing rutin, vitamins,
minerals, oils, can be dipped in batter and fried. Berries,
a rich source of vitamin A, C. Actions: Cathartic, diaphoretic,
diuretic, febrifuge, purgative, stimulant. Juice from green
leaves, used externally alleviates effects of poison oak.
Tea from flowers, for colds, flu, fevers, appendicitis,
sore eyes, skin diseases, internal ulcers. Used with peppermint,
even better. Root bark tea for headache, mucous congestion,
labor in childbirth. Seeds of the red berry elder (S. racemosa)
are toxic. Use only seedless berries in any Elder species,
cook berries before eating.
common evening primrose, fever plant, field primrose, King's
Coarse biennial or annual, with stout, soft and hairy erect
Leaves, alternate, rough-hairy, lanceolate, taper-pointed,
about 3-6 in. long. Yellow, lemon-scented flowers, 1-2 in.
across, open at dusk and grow in spikes. Fruit is an oblong,
hairy capsule. Found in dry meadows, waste places and along
roadsides throughout the US
Edible, Medicinal. The entire plant is edible. Seeds of
different species are gathered in the fall, parched and
ground into flour. Roots, dug in the spring and cooked,
make a good source of food. Actions: Astringent, mucilaginous.
Root tea, used for mental depression, stimulates the liver,
spleen and digestive system. Can be made into an ointment
for rashes and other skin irritations. Roots or tops, boiled
in honey, make a soothing cough syrup. Seed oil is helpful
for the skin, menstrual problems, hyperactivity, schizophrenia,
Parkinson's disease, arthritis, alcoholism, anorexia, nervosa,
lowers blood pressure.
Small annual, 2-8 in. tall, varying in size. Purple or green
stem is erect, wiry. Tiny leaves are oval with scalloped
edges. Flowers are white or purplish with yellow spots and
red veins. Found throughout Europe, North America. Will
not grow readily in a garden if transplanted, unless protected
by grass, because it is semi-parasitic, it relies on part
of its nourishment from the roots of certain grasses found
in poor meadowland.
Edible, Medicinal. Bitter leaves, used in salads. Actions:
Astringent. An infusion of the whole plant or strained juice
from the fresh, crushed stems is a general eye tonic. Useful
as an eye wash for strain, infections and gives a sparkle
to the eye. Bath eyes in warm infusion 3-4 times a day (2
tbsp. fresh herb to 2 cups boiling water). Recommended in
diseases of the sight, weakness of the eyes, eye irritation
and runny nose due to hay fever and sinusitis.
sweet fennel, wild fennel
Biennial or perennial with finely cut feathery foliage.
Finely grooved stems are upright, hollow. Up to 5 ft. tall,
with thin, straight, finely-cut leaves. Flat clusters of
compound umbels of yellow flowers grow at end of the stems
above the foliage. Fruit consists of 2 joined carpels, taking
an oblong form with ribs. Looks like dill but more coarse,
taller. Both leaves, seeds have a licorice flavor. Found
on dry banks, vacant lots, fields or cultivated. Commonly
Use: Edible, Medicinal. Seeds used for flavoring drinks,
breads, fish, pies, sauces and sprouted for salads. Actions:
Antiflatulant, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, diuretic,
expectorant, stimulant. Seeds are chewed to ease indigestion,
to relieve hunger. A steeped tea used for, constipation,
increased breast milk and to regulate menstruation. Take
every half hour in small doses till relieved. Root extract
is detoxifying, diuretic. Helps repair liver after alcohol
damage. Fennel oil should not be used by epileptics or young
An annual long taproot sends up a round stem with few branches.
Leaves are trifoliate, on hairy petioles with obovate leaflets.
Flowers are axillary, yellowish-white. Fruit is a 16 seeded
compressed, malodorous legume. Widely cultivated for culinary
and medicinal uses.
Edible, Medicinal. Ground, roasted seeds used in seasoning
foods, a maple flavor for sweets. Green leaves from sprouted
seeds, rich in iron, added to salads. Mature, larger leaves,
chopped and served fresh or curried. Soaked seeds used in
skin-softening lotions, powdered, added to oil, for a lip
salve or scalp tonic. Actions: Expectorant, mucilaginous,
restorative. Seeds used to strengthen recovery from an illness,
bronchitis, fevers, gargle for sore throat, increases breast
milk, oral contraceptive, restores hair growth, aphrodisiac,
reduces cholesterol and urine sugar in late-onset diabetes.
Add 2 tsp. seed to 1 cup water, let stand 5 hrs, boil 1
min. Take 2-3 cups a day. Poultice of ground seeds for arthritis,
gout, sciatica, swollen glands, tumors, sores, skin irritations
common flax, flax seed, linseed, lint bells, winterlien
Annual. The erect, slender, glabrous stem has few branches,
bears alternate, sessile, simple, entire, lanceolate to
oblong leaves. Each branch has 1-2 blue or violet-blue,
flat, 5 petaled flowers. Fruit is a 10 seeded capsule, seeds
are smooth, flattened, shiny, oily and brown. Cultivated
in the US, mostly northwestern states, found wild along
roadsides, railroad lines, waste places.
Edible, Medicinal. Seeds, mineral-rich, yield cold-pressed
oil for cooking, an essential fatty acid. Hot pressed linseed
oil for artists, industrial uses. Actions: Demulcent, emollient,
purgative. Seeds contain a soothing mucilage. Oil contains
essential fatty acids that help remove heavy metals from
the body, reducing risk of thrombosis. Used for treating
nutritional deficiencies. A decoction of the seeds, used
for coughs, lung and chest problems, digestive, urinary
disorders and to eliminate gall stones. Internal overdoses
may cause poisoning as can the immature seed pods. Use only
GARLIC (Allium sativum)
Perennial, has a clustered bulb made up of several bulblets
(cloves) enclosed in a papery tunic. Single stem, smooth,
round, surrounded at the bottom by tubular leaf sheaths
from which grow the long, flat, linear leaves. Stem, topped
by a rounded umbel of small, white flowers. The entire umbel
is at first enclosed in a teardrop-shaped leaf, which eventually
falls off. Widely cultivated.
Edible, Medicinal. A versatile seasoning which can be used
in just about every dish. Actions: Anthelmintic, antispasmodic,
carminative, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, expectorant,
febrifuge, antifungal. Bulb contains, iron, vitamins and
mildly antibiotic. Taken raw, 2-3 cloves, relieves various
problems with poor digestion, purifies the blood, helps
control acne, reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and clotting.
Helps in candida, cholera, salmonella, dysentery. It clears
phlegm, helps in colds, bronchitis, tuberculosis and whooping
cough. A cold extract used as an enema for intestinal worms,
especially pin worms.
GENTIAN (Gentiana andrewsii)
Perennial with several smooth ascending stems, 3-4 ft. or
more in height.
Lance-shaped leaves are opposite to one another at each
joint. A cluster of crowded, tubular greenish-white to purplish-green
flowers grow at the top of the plant
Eastern , central U. S. in wet areas.
Medicinal actions: Anthelmintic, antiseptic, emmenagogue,
febrifuge, stomachic, tonic. Rhizome and roots collected
in autumn and dried is one of the most useful of the bitter
vegetable tonics. Helps in exhaustion from chronic disease,
to strengthen the human system, female weaknesses, jaundice,
appetite. For dyspeptic complaints it is more effective
than Peruvian Bark.
black ginger, white ginger, African ginger, race ginger
Perennial root which creeps and increases under-ground in
tubular joints. In the spring, sends up, from its roots,
a green reed-like stalk with narrow lanceolate leaves about
2 ft. high, which die down annually. The flowering stalk
rises directly from the root, ending in an oblong scallop
spike. From each spike a white or yellow blossom grows.
Indigenous to tropical Asia and cultivated in tropical areas.
Edible, Medicinal. Rhizome, used fresh, dried, pickled,
preserved. Used in
desserts, drinks, other dishes. Shoots, leaves, flowers,
eaten raw or cooked. Actions: Adjuvant, appetizer, carminative,
diaphoretic, sialogogue, stimulant. Crystallized or infused
ginger suppresses nausea. Steam inhalation treats colds,
lung infections. Ginger tea aids circulation, eases indigestion
and flatulence, reduces fever, cleanses system through perspiration.
Chopped fresh pieces or powdered root added to bath helps
relieve sore muscles or pain from a fall etc. Add oil to
massage blend to relieve muscular pain, rheumatism and fatigue.
Glabrous, sparsely branched tree, 120 ft. tall. Leaves,
alternate or in clusters and fan-shaped with parallel veines,
on long slender petioles. Flowers, catkin-like. Fruit, drupe-like,
about 1 in. long, yellowish, with ill-smelling pulp surrounding
the thjn-shelled, creamy-white nut which contains an edible
Native of east China and now cultivated throughout the U.S.
as a street or ornamental tree.
Edible, Medicinal. Kernel (seeds),gathered in the fall,
edible. Actions: Antibiodic, pulmonary, vesicant. Leaves,
seeds have vascular integrity, used in Chinese medicine
for lung problems. Extract from yellow fall leaves strengthens
blood vessels, reduces production of tissue-damaging free
radicals, which reduce clump-forming blood platelets.(remove
toxic flesh from seeds and cook) Said to improve brain efficiency,
cellular energy. Use with medical supervision.
GINSENG (Panax quinquefolium)
American ginseng, five fingers, five-leafed ginseng, redberry
Perennial, a fleshy root, sometimes resembling human form.
Leaves, palmate, divided into 4-5 sharp-toothed, oblong-lance-shaped
leaflets. Whitish flowers are in round umbels. Plant, topped
by a solitary simple umbel of greenish-yellow flowers. Fruit
a small, red, edible, drupe-like berry. Only use roots 5
yrs.old, or older. Found growing wild in eastern North America,
now, mainly under cultivation.
Edible, Medicinal. Red berry is edible. Actions: Demulcent,
panacea, stimulant, stomachic. American and Asiatic ginseng
root have essentially the same constituents. Useful in fevers,
inflammatory illnesses, hemorrhaging and blood diseases.
Helps promote mental and physical vigor, promotes appetite
and digestive problems. Used by women for normalizing menstruation
and easing childbirth. Use root, collected after flowering
and dried. Make into tea to your taste, and as needed.
SEAL (Hydrastis canadensis)
Yellow root, eye balm, ground raspberry, tumeric root, Indian
Small perennial, with a thick knotty, bright yellow rootstock,
sending up a hairy stem, 1 ft. high. Two palmately 5-lobed,
serrate leaves grow near the top
and one solitary radical leaf on a long footstalk about
9 in. across. Stem, topped by a small, solitary, flower,
greenish-white sepals that fall away when flower opens.
Fruit resembles a raspberry, consists of fused, 2-seeded
drupes. Grows in shady woods of eastern U.S., is scarce
today, cultivated for its medicinal purposes throughout
Medicinal. Antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, laxative, tonic.
Prepared root, used for mouth, skin disorders, stomach ailments,
nausea and in combination with capsicum as a remedy for
chronic alcoholism. A strong tonic for mucus membranes,
liver, uterus and venous circulation, mouth wash, eye wash,
vaginal douche, for external skin diseases, to relieve stomach
ailments, nausea during pregnancy and a laxative. Steep
1 tsp. pwd. root to 2 cups boiling water, let stand till
cool . Take 1-2 tsp. 3-6 times a day.
(Crataegus oxyacantha) or species?
Deciduous, thorn shrub or tree, 30 ft. high. Trunk or stems
have hard wood, smooth, ash-gray bark, thorny branches.
Small, shiny, serrated, 3-irregular toothed lobed leaves
are dark green on top, light bluish-green underneath. White
flowers with round petals grow in terminal corymbs. The
fruit or haw, a 2-3 seeded, fleshy pome, scarlet on the
outside, yellowish and pulpy on the inside. Various species
found throughout the world. Note: The 1-5 in. straight or
curved single thorns of the haw are not found on any of
the outer native shrubs or trees on this continent which
makes this genus easy to differentiate.
Medicinal. Astringent, cardiac, diuretic, sedative, tonic,
vasodilator. Leaves, flowers, haws are helpful in treating
heart weakness caused by kidney disease, for irregular heart
beat and artery spasms. It dilates the heart's blood vessels
which controls both high and low blood pressure and nervous
heart. A tea is also good for nervous conditions, particularly
insomnia. Steep 1 tsp. flowers in 1/2 cup water. Take 1-1
1/2 cups a day, mouthful at a time. Use concentrated preparation
under medical direction.
HOPS (Humulus lupulus)
Perennial climbing vine. Stems are rough, generously armed
with small curved prickles. Leaves are rough, opposite,
cordate, serrate, 3-5-lobed. Flowers, yellowish-green, male
flowers arranged in hanging panicles, female in catkins
which develop into scaly, cone-like fruit in pairs with
leafy, imbricated bracts and distinct scent of beer. Pacific
west U.S., in rich, moist land, widely cultivated, mainly
for the brewing industry.
Edible, Medicinal. The young shoots are eaten as a vegetable
and the leaves blanched for soups. The ripe, female flower
cluster, called "strobiles" are added to beer
to flavor, clarify and preserve it. Actions: Anodyne, diuretic,
febrifuge, hypnotic, sedative, tonic. Hop tea is a nerve
tonic, a mild sedative and a muscle relaxant. Pillows made
of muslin and stuffed with dried hops and lavender seemed
to induce sleep, calm the nerves and prevent nightmares.
The estrogen content increases lactation and is an aphrodisiac
for men. The essential oil, used in perfumes and lotions.
It can cause skin allergies.
White horehound, marrubium, hoarhound
Perennial, with a fibrous, spindle-shaped rootstock that
sends up numerous bushy, square, downy stems. Leaves are
opposite, petioled, usually wrinkled, roundish-ovate, rough
on top, wooly underneath. Small, white, two-lipped flowers
have a spiny calyx and grow in axillary whorls. U.S., Canada,
Mexico, Europe in waste places, fields, pastures.
Medicinal. Diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant,
tonic. The prepared herb is an excellent remedy for coughing
and bronchial problems, used for fevers, nervous heart conditions,
to calm heart action, for expelling worms, a liver tonic,
laxative, jaundice, hysteria and externally for earaches.
Known as a soothing syrup and tonic candy, which at one
time could be found in most grocer shops and a favorite
with children. Use 1 tsp. herb in 1/2 cup water. Take 1-1
1/2 cups a day, mouthful at a time.
( Cochlearia Armoracia) or (Armoracia rusticana)?
mountain radish, great raifort, red cole
Perennial, with a long, white, cylindrical or tapering root.
Produces a 2-3 ft. high stem in the second year. Large basal
leaves, lanceolate with scalloped edges. A panicle of numerous,
small, white 4-petaled flowers appear during June, July.
Throughout U.S., usually cultivated.
Edible, Medicinal. Only the fresh root is effective. Can
be preserved in fridge, packed in damp sand for months or
pickled, made into a cream sauce for a condiment. Young
leaves, added to salads. Fresh, grated root clears sinuses.
Has antibiotic properties, a decongestant, stimulates digestion,
circulation, eliminates mucus and waste fluids. For lung
and urinary infections and used in a poultice for bronchitis,
scouring rush, Joint grass, shave grass, bottle brush, pewterwort
Stems spring from a creeping rhizome or root-stock which
produces, at its joints, a number of roots. Two kinds of
stems are produced, fertile and barren. They are erect,
jointed, brittle, grooved, hollow except at the joints.
There are no leaves. Barren horsetail has a single thin
stem which resembles the trunk of a tiny pine with the green
shoots that branch out from it in a series of levels. Fertile
horsetail grows upward in one bare stalk bearing a terminal
cone-like catkin. Canada, northern U.S. to California.
Edible, Medicinal. Young heads are eaten boiled or pickled,
eating the older heads raw can be poisonous. The gritty,
silica-coated surfaces of the older plants were used for
scrubbing pans after an outdoor meal. Actions: The whole
plant is Diuretic, astringent. Barren stems, after the fruiting
stems have died down and used either fresh, which is best,
or dried, in a fluid extract helps in edema, kidney and
bladder problems, bedwetting. Strengthens nails, hair, enriches
the blood, promotes regrowth, elasticity of tissues, arthritis,
ulcers and eczema. Ashes are valuable in helping with acidity
of the stomach, to stop bleeding.
sweet Joe-Pye weed, gravel root , queen-of-the-meadow, purple
Tall, graceful plant with rigid, erect stem, 5-12 ft. tall,
purple above the joints, covered with elongated spots and
lines. Leaves, oblong, pointed, rough above, downy beneath,
in whorls of 4-5 on the stem. Margins are coarsely and unequally
toothed, stalks, either short or merely represented by the
contracted base of leaves. Purple flowers, in dense terminal
inflorescence, heads very numerous. Found in low, swampy
ground in eastern U.S.
Medicinal. Diuretic, nervine. Leaf and root tea is prepared
for a valuable remedy in edema, painful urination, gravel,
gout, rheumatism, chronic renal and cystic troubles, colds,
chills, fevers, diarrhea, liver and kidney problems. The
popular name of Jopi or Joe-pye is taken from an American
Indian who introduced sweating, for typus fever .
juniper berries, juniper bush
Description: Evergreen tree or shrub. Hollow, needle-like
leaves are 3 sided, whitened above, in whorls of 3. Berry-like
cones ripen, in their 2nd or 3rd yr, to blue-black and covered
with a whitish powder. They contain 3 seeds. Throughout
U.S. in dry woods, sterile hills.
Use: Edible, Medicinal. Use crushed, ripe berries for seasoning
veal, roast of lamb, flavoring gin. Yields a brown dye.
Actions: Diuretic, carminative, stimulant. Helps, for gas,
cramps, convulsions, gout, sciatica, edema, nerves, parasites,
kidneys (not when inflamed), ruptures, coughs. The antiseptic,
diuretic, detoxifying oil is used to treat cystitis, acne,
eczema, cellulite, rheumatism. Steep 1 tsp. crushed berries
in 1/2 cup water for 15 min. Take 1 tbsp. 3 times a day
or 10-30 drops of the tincture. Spray room, used by ill
with infectious disease, with a strong solution of the needles.
Also used to destroy fungi.
scopulorum or osteosperma?)
western red cedar, Utah Juniper, cedar berries
Evergreen tree, 35-100 ft. high. Produces leaves of two
kinds; the juvenile sharp, needle-shaped and the adult scale-like,
opposite, acute leaves. Fruit is light blue when mature,
glaucous, often bilobed, and 2 seeded. Found in the Rocky
Mountains of North America, cultivated and wild. Scarcely
distinguished from the Eastern Red Cedar counterpart, J.
Medicinal actions: Alterative, diuretic, pancreatic, alterative.
Primarily a urinary tract herb for cystitis and urethritis,
said to be effective in diabetes. Berries most effective.
Steeped berries for digestion, to ease gas, relieve joint
aches, toothaches, arthritis, fevers. Use 1 tsp. crushed
berries or 1 tsp. leaves, steeped in 1 cup water, for 15
min. Drink 1-3 cups a day. Heated berries were applied to
wounds and sores for antiseptic and healing washes. Poultices
from crushed berries and leaves, used for scalds, burns
KELP (Nereocystis Luetkeana)
bull kelp, bladder wrack, ribbon kelp
A marine algae with long hollow stalks and large gas-filled,
floating bladders. Most fresh, usable kelp is washed ashore
during heavy seas. These plentiful algae flourish throughout
the oceans of the world and along the U. S. sea coasts.
Edible, Medicinal. Part used is the whole algae raw or dried,
the latter being a better flavor. A very nutritious food,
especially high in potassium, calcium, iodine and many trace
minerals.Use in a tea, or chop and add to cooking. Relieves
and helps cure burns and scalds. It has been used to combat
overweight, a blood purifier and an alternative which gradually
changes a condition and brings back health.
Perennial plant with stems, 1-2 ft. tall are gray-green,
angular, with flaking bark. Gray-green leaves are opposite,
sessile, downy, lanceolate to oblong-linear. Lilac colored,
tubular flowers are arranged in successive whorls up the
stem. Cultivated for its aromatic flowers. Grows best on
light soil, sand or gravel, in dry, open, full sun, with
Medicinal actions: Antispasmodic, carminative, chologogue,
diuretic, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic. The leaves
and flowers, used for gas, migraine headache, fainting,
dizziness, bacteria in the intestines, stomach problems,
nausea, vomiting. Normally used in the form of an oil, distilled
with water, from the flowers. A decoction of leaves can
be used, instead. Steep 1 tsp. leaves, gathered before flowers
appear, to 1/2 cup water, 5 min. Take 1/2 -1 cup a day.
bee balm, balm mint, cure all, garden balm, sweet balm,
Bushy perennial with square stems up to 2 ft. tall. Light
to medium green leaves are opposite, oval, round-toothed,
smaller at the top, strongly lemon-scented. Small hooded,
late summer flowers are from white, yellow or pale blue,
growing in whorls. New flowers bloom higher up the stem,
long after older blossoms have matured to seed. Throughout
U.S. in moist, shady places, cultivated in gardens.
Edible, Medicinal. Fresh leaves add flavor to many dishes,
oils, vinegars and liqueurs, potpourri, herb cushions, perfumes
and in closets to deter moths. Actions:
Antispasmodic, calmative, carminative, diaphoretic, sedative.
Relieves cramps, gas, helps in mood swings, chronic fatigue,
nervousness, emotional stress, sleeplessness, headaches,
colds, menstrual cramps, diarrhea, gas pain, herpes, viral
infections. Use 1 tsp. chopped herb or leaves to 1 cup boiling
water, drink warm as needed. Promotes longevity. Attracts
bees, if rubbed on empty hives it encourages new tenants.
licorice root, sweet licorice, sweet wood
Perennial, 2-3 ft. tall. Rootstock, wrinkled, brown on the
outside, yellow inside, sweet to the taste. Stems start
out round at the base, become angular towards the top. Odd-pinnate
leaves have 9-17 ovate, blunt, dark green leaflets. Pale
blue flowers grow in axillary racemes. Pod, glabrous with
3-4 seeded, reddish brown. Central, western U.S. widely
Edible, Medicinal. Rootstock is used in flavoring food,
tobacco, drinks, sweets and medicines. Actions: Adrenal
tonic, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, laxative. Treats
bronchitis, coughs, hoarseness, mucous congestion. Reduces
fevers, allergies, asthma, gastritis, peptic ulcers, bladder
and kidney problems. Strengthens the immune system, stimulates
adrenal gland. A decoction makes a good laxative for children.
Avoid in cases of high blood pressure. Glycyrrhizin in the
roots is 50 times sweeter than sugar. For infusion or decoction
use 1 tsp. rootstock to 1 cup water. Take 1 cup a day.
Indian tobacco, pukeweed , gagroot, asthma weed, bladderpod
Annual, hairy, 1-3 ft. tall. Contains a milky sap, much
branched with an erect, angular, hairy stem. Alternate,
hairy leaves with obvious veins, lanceolate and bluntly
serrate. Pale violet, tubular flowers have a 2-lipped corolla
with 2 erect upper lobes and 3 spreading lower lobes, occurring
rather far apart in loose spike-like racemes. As flowers
mature, an inflated ovoid pod is formed, containing numerous
small brown seeds. Eastern and central U.S. in fields, waste
Medicinal actions: Antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic,
emetic, expectorant, sedative. The whole plant is used to
treat asthma, whooping cough, fevers, sore throats, to induce
vomiting. Used in lozenges, patches and chewing gums to
appease the need for nicotine without addictive effects.
Considered toxic. Use only with professional medical advise.
MALLOW (Malva neglecta)
low mallow, dwarf mallow, cheese plant, Malva rotundifolia
Annual or perennial weedy herb. Creeping, branching stems
are 6-24 in. long. Leaves, rounded, crenate, slightly 5-7
lobed, downy, on long petioles. Sessile purplish pink, trumpet-shaped
flowers are small, solitary or clustered in the axils along
the stems. Fruit round, flattened, resembling wheels of
cheese. Whole plant has a slimy sap when crushed. Throughout
U.S. in old disturbed earth, yards, roadsides, gardens,
Edible, Medicinal. Leaves are edible and highly nutritious.
High in vitamin A, B, C. Young flowers used in salads, leaves
and new shoots boiled as a vegetable, plant used to thicken
soup. Demulcent and emollient properties make it useful
in reducing inflammation, pain, soothing to sore throats,
tonsillitis, indigestion and a soothing poultice, Used also
as an expectorant and diuretic. Use 1-2 tsp herb to 1/2
cup cold water. Let stand 8 hrs. Take warm to lukewarm.
(do not boil or steep in hot water)
Shrub, 2-3 ft. tall, or 30ft. tall individuals. Smooth,
matte-finished red bark, twisted branches. Large oval, gray-green
to blue-green leathery leaves are smooth or raspy, pointed-oval,
on short petioles. Flowers form little nodding clusters,
white to pink, urn shaped, maturing into tart, red, orange
or red-brown berries with 4-10 seeds. Pacific west U.S,
most common in california or in foothills and moderately
Edible, Medicinal. Berries, when just ripe and not mealy,
makes a pleasant, tart jelly or cider drink. Actions: Astringent,
demulcent, tonic, vasoconstrictor. A tea or tincture of
the leaves is used for cystitis, urethritis after consuming
large amounts of sugar, grain, starch, fruit or alcohol
binges, to alkalize over acid urine. Alternating with cranberry
juice is also helpful. Drink 1 cup, 3 times a day. Do not
use internally for more than 3 days, nor during pregnancy.
A good sitz bath, after 24 hrs. of birthing. Helps in yeast
infection, genital herpes, venereal, warts urinary infections,
bladder gravel, kidney, water retention.
birdlime, European mistletoe, all-heal
Evergreen, semi-parasitic plant found on branches of deciduous
trees, preferring the soft bark, especially old apple trees.
Roots grow from the wood of the host. Stem is yellowish,
smooth, freely forked, separating, when dead, into bone-like
joints. Yellow-green leaves are opposite, tongue shaped,
very thick, leathery. Pale green flowers appear from March
to May, female developing into sticky white berries. Found
in Europe, cultivated in the U.S.
Medicinal actions: Cardiac, diuretic, nervine, stimulant,
vasodilator. A tea from the leafy young twigs or leaves
acts on the circulatory system, speeding up the pulse, lowering
blood pressure. It also stimulates the digestion. Known
to help in epilepsy and other nervous disorders. Used as
a wash for leg ulcers, varicose veins and chilblains. 00Large
doses have a detrimental effect on the heart. Eating the
berries can be dangerous, especially for children. Use with
care and under medical direction. Kissing beneath it is
an ancient fertility symbolism.
lion's ear, lion's tail, throw-wort
Erect leafy perennial, 5 ft. tall, with rootstocks which
send up several square, hollow, grooved stems, red-violet
in color, at times. Leaves, all stalked, upper, lance-shaped
and 3-lobed, lower, palmately, 3-7 lobed with the lobes
strongly toothed, green above, white-hairy beneath. Small
white or pinkish flowers appear in numerous small whorls
in axils, the upper lip furry. Calyx has 5 sharp teeth.
Throughout U.S. in waste places, vineyards, along fences
Medicinal. Astringent, cardiac, emmenagoue, sedative, stomachic.
Leaves and flowering tops are most commonly used for nervous
heart problems, insomnia and for stomach gas, cramps, to
promote menstruation and regulate menses and help in childbirth
and menopausal problems. Also used for asthma, goiters and
congestion of the respiratory passages. Steep 1 tsp.tops
or leaves in 1/2 cup water. Take 1 cup a day, unsweetened,
mouthful at a time. Cases of contact dermatitis reported,
MULLEIN (Verbascum thapsus)
flannel mullein, great mullein,
Tall, stout, biennial, 1-8 ft. tall with an attractive spike
of yellow flowers the 2nd year, which are sessile, cylindrical.
The 1st year produces a rosette of large, fuzzy, gray-green
leaves which are large, broadly oval, very hairy (felt-like).
Stems winged by decurrent bases. Throughout U.S. in clearings,
fields, pastures, waste places.
Medicinal. Anodyne, antispasmodic, demulcent, diuretic,
expectorant, vulnerary. A tea from the leaves, and flowers,
for an astringent. As a sedative in relief for coughs, respiratory,
and pain. The oil, for earaches, sun burn, rashes, hemorrhoids,
inflammations and bruises. Roots boiled for a decoction,
and taken cold, aided in digestion and nervous problems.
For foot pain, soften a large leaf on hot stone, fold and
bind it to foot, also used as an insole, use soft, dry leaf
for toilet paper, diaper etc. Plant can be cut, placed in
a large bucket of water, flowers will continue to bloom
for many weeks. Place them, as they appear in an oil or
tincture for future use.
stinging nettle, common nettle
Perennial, with stiff, stinging hairs. Square,bristly stems,
2-7 ft. Opposite, cordate, deeply serrated leaves are pointed
and downy underneath. Small, greenish flowers grow in axillary
clusters.Throughout U.S. growing in waste places, gardens,
roadsides, along fences and walls.
Edible, Medicinal, Toxic. Young leaves and shoots, rich
in vitamins A, C, protein, minerals, cooked as greens, brewed
for beer. Pick leaves from the underside, folding top of
leaf inside, using tough part of thumb and forefinger. When
boiled for pot herb, skim nettles from top of liquid. Heating
or drying removes the sting. Actions: anti-inflammatory,
astringent, digestive, diuretic, hemostatic, tonic. Stimulates
circulation and clears uric acid, relieving arthritis, gout
and eczema. Seeds for tuberculosis, to treat lungs after
bronchitis. A decoction of root used externally on scalp
for hair loss CAUTION: Do not eat old plants uncooked. They
can produce kidney damage and symptoms of poisoning.
OAT (Avena sativa)
oat straw, oat grain
Annual grass with a fibrous root, producing a hollow, jointed
stem from 1-4 ft. tall with more or less rough, pale green,
narrow, flat leaves. Flowers, arranged in a loose terminal
panicle, consisting of 2-flowered spikelets, 1 in. long.
Hairy, grooved grain is narrow, with almost parallel sides.
Widely cultivated throughout the world.
Edible, Medicinal. Oats grain, for nutritional value. Rolled
oats for oatmeal, and in diets for convalescents and other
illnesses, fine oatmeal for a body rub, a wash for dry skin.
Actions: Antispasmodic, nervine, stimulant. Oat extract
and tincture, useful as nerve and uterine tonics. Decoction
of ripe plant treats depression, estrogen deficiency, shingles.
Tea from oat straw for chest problems, for baths that help
many ailments. Boil small pieces of oat straw in water,
1 hour. Strain.
OREGON GRAPE (Mahonia
Holly grape, Rocky Mountain grape root, creeping barberry
Evergreen shrub, 3 ft. or more. Leaves, pinnate, darker
above than below,
5-9 leaflets in pairs along a thin but tough stem. Margins,
wavy with prickly edges, turning red in the fall. Fragrant
flowers, in dense, erect terminal often 3-headed clusters,
are bright yellow, bloom early spring, ripening to dusty
dark blue berries that are bitter and slightly sweet. Native
of North America, in the northwestern U.S.
Edible, Medicinal. Berries, when ripe in the fall, for making
jellies, beverage. Actions: Identical to Barberry in that
the root has a hepatic and laxative action, berries are
laxative and a refrigerant; however, Oregon grape is more
effective in cases of liver problems and externally for
staph infections and has a mild stimulating effect on thyroid
PASSION FLOWER (Passiflora
maypop, passion vine, purple passion flower
Strong woody perennial climbing vine. Stems, 10-30 ft. long,
climbing by means of axillary tendrils. Leaves, cleft with
2-3 slightly toothed lobes. Solitary, axillary, white flowers
with a purple, blue or pink calyx crown have numerous threads
radiating from center. Fruits are egg- shaped, size of small
chicken egg. When stepped on they pop. Native to eastern
and central U.S., often cultivated in cooler climates.
Edible, Medicinal. Edible egg-shaped fruit contains a delicious
white pulp, made into refreshing drinks and ice creams.
Actions: Antispasmodic, diuretic, laxative, sedative. The
whole plant is used to treat swollen and irritated eyes,
the root as a general tonic. Leaves for a mild sedative,
insomnia, anxiety, to prevent rapid heartbeat, reduce high
blood pressure, relieves the muscle spasm of asthma, epilepsy
and irritable bowel syndrome. A poultice soothes burns and
skin irritations. H6armful in large amounts. Use professionally
American pennyroyal, mock pennyroyal, mosquito plant, squaw
Annual, aromatic plant. Erect, square, branching stem, 18
in., bears small, opposite, thin, ovate leaves, sparingly
toothed. Axillary clusters of small, tubular, lavender or
purplish flowers are barely visible. Eastern, central U.S.
on dry fields, open woods, widely cultivated. True pennyroyal
Mentha pelegium does not occur in wild America.
Medicinal. Carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, sedative.
The herb, helps in colds, promote menstruation, taken with
brewer's yeast to induce abortion. Helpful against nausea,
should not be taken during pregnancy, nervousness, headaches,
menstrual cramps and pain. Use 1 tsp. herb to 1 cup water.
Take 1-2 cups a day. Use a wash for skin eruptions, rashes
and itching. Repels ants and fleas and mosquitos.
Lamb mint, brandy mint
Perennial hybrid, with menthol or distinct peppermint aroma.
Erect, square, branching stems, tinged with reddish-purple,
coming from connected underground roots. Opposite, dark
green, ovate to lanceolate, serrate leaves, smooth with
few hairs. Flowers pale violet in loose, interrupted terminal
spikes. Mostly cultivated, found wild in moist cool, damp
streams in the lower altitudes, except California.
Edible, Medicinal. Has many culinary uses. Actions: Anodyne,
carminative, refrigerant, tonic. Preparations from leaves,
taken for colds, coughs, fevers, nausea, cramps, indigestion,
gas, stomachaches, headaches, nervous tension, insomnia,
heartburn. It anesthetizes the nerves in the intestinal
tract where Catnip and Angelica have a low-level drug antispasmodic
effect. Steep 2-3 tsp. leaves in 1 cup water. Take 1 1/2-2
cups a day. After 12 days wait a week before resuming. Repels
mice and rats.
Bitter wintergreen, ground holly, prince's pine
Small, perennial evergreen with leathery, bright green,
oblong-obovate leaves, 1-2 in. long, with sharp, serrate
margins, growing in whorls along tough stems, arising from
creeping rootstalks. Pink, flesh or white flowers grow in
small open nodding clusters, Reproductive parts form a broad,
sticky, green cone in the center.Widespread in U.S. especially
in the dry woods of the northern areas. C.maculata has an
almost identical appearance, but with pronounced light spots
on the leaves and found mainly in the western U.S.
Edible, Medicinal. A traditional part of root beer, now
found only in a few brands. Similar in use to Uva Ursi,
Manzanita, Pyrola and Blueberry. Actions: Astringent, diaphoretic,
diuretic. A stronger diuretic action with less irritation
of the intestinal linings. Helpful in kidney weakness, chronic
nephritis or long term skin eruptions. Steep 1 tsp. leaves
(or plant) in 1/2 cup water. Take throughout day, mouthful
at a time. Prolonged use of the leaf tea is said to dissolve
PLANTAIN (Plantago major)
common plantain, broad-leaved plantain, greater plantain,
Common perennial weed. Once identified, easy to remember.
Leaves, broadly ovate, entire or toothed, characterized
by a thick, channeled footstalk. Flower stalks, 6-8 in.,
tipped with long, slender spikes of greenish-white flowers
but overshadowed by the brown sepals and bracts. The leaves
of P. lanceolata are lance leafed, more grass-like, darker
green, stems tipped by a short spike of tiny white flowers.
Both, common around the world in moist waste places, lawns,
stream beds in mountians.
Medicinal. Astringent, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant,
hemostatic. Leaves of the fresh plant makes an excellent
poultice for insect bites. Chew to make a bolus and place
on bite. Leaf tea for thrush in children, hemorrhage, heavy
menstruation, parasites, sore eyes, edema, bladder, lung,
stomachache, stomach ulcers, skin problems, ringworm, toothache,
dysentery, hemorrhoids, stimulates healing process. Steep
1 tsp. fresh or dried leaves in 1/2 cup water. Take 1-1
1/2 cups a day, mouthful at a time.
PLEURISY ROOT (Asclepias
Butterflyweed, colic root, "Immortal"
Perennial, milkweed without milky juice. Fleshy white root
produces several stout, round hairy stems, 3 ft.tall. Leaves,
lance shaped, stem clasping toward the flowers. Many small,
bright orange flowers with backward flaring petals and hooded
crown occur in dense terminal, flat-topped umbels. Pods,
3-4 in long, furry and upright. Common in the Midwest along
Medicinal. Carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant.
The root dried, boiled, chewed or made into a tea has been
useful in pleurisy, pneumonia, tuberculosis, lung problems
and other infectious diseases. Root poultice used for bruises.
CAUTION: fresh root may produce undesirable symptoms.
POISON HEMLOCK (Conium
spotted hemlock, poison parsley
Tall, much-branched plant, parsley-like foliage. At base
of the terminal umbel, of small white flowers, there are
lance-shaped, deflexed bracts. Distinguished by its smooth
stem, marked with red. Has a bitter taste, a mousy or musty
odor. Throughout U.S. along roadsides, stream borders, waste
ground. Deaths caused by mistaking the root of parsnip,
seeds of anise, leaves of the sweet cicely, parsley, fennel,
caraway and wild carrot.
All parts especially seeds and hollow, fleshy, white taproot.
One mouthful of the root will kill an adult. Symptoms begin
quickly, burning in mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhea,
nervousness, trembling dizzy, dilation of pupils, muscular
weakness, paralysis, coldness, weakened and slow heartbeat.
Death occurs through respiratory paralysis
POISON WATER HEMLOCK
cow bane, water parsnip, fool's parsley
Stout, erect, hollow stemmed, branching perennial, 2-6 ft.
tall, from a thick root-stock. Lower leaves, large, long-stalked.
Upper leaves, divided into three leaflets and each again
into three. Small, white flowers spread to a flat-topped
cluster similar to Poison Hemlock. Roots, when cut lengthwise,
reveal air cavities separated by cross sections. Grows in
swamps, marshes and along ditches. Throughout U.S. to Alaska.
CAUTION: do not eat anything with leaves or blossoms resembling
the poison or water hemlock without positive identification.
All parts are poisonous, especially the root. Nausea, salivation,
vomiting, diarrhea, and tremors, followed by extremely violent
seizures, respiratory failure, and cardiac arrest. Pupils
dilated, high temperature. Death can occur
ASH (Zanthoxylum americanum)
toothache bush, yellow wood
Aromatic shrub or tree, 10-25 ft. tall with paired short
spines on the branches. Compound leaves, oval, toothed with
5-11 leaflets, lemon-scented when crushed. Tiny green-yellow
flowers, in axillary clusters before leaves appear. Fruit,
a small, dark berry-like capsule covered with lemon-scented,
gandular dots, containing one or more shiny black seeds.
Eastern, central U.S. in moist woods, thickets
Medicinal. Anodyne, diaphoretic, irritant, stimulant, diuretic.
Bark tea or tincture used by American Indians and herbalists
for chronic rheumatism, dysentery, kidney, heart trouble,
colds, coughs, lung ailments, uterine cramps. Berry tea
given for sore throats. Bark chewed for toothaches. Bark
and berries for digestive and lymphatic system, skin disease,
nervous headaches, varicose veins. Use 1 tsp. dried bark
or berries to 1 cup water. Take 1 cup a day. May have anticancer
Biennial upright shrub with creeping perennial roots. Stems,
smooth, bristly, with or without hooked prickles. Leaves,
alternatae, pinnate with 3-7 oval leaflets. Flowers, white,
cup-shaped. Fruit, red, made up of cohering drupelets. Throughout
North America in thickets, untended field, widely cultivated.
Edible, Medicinal. Fruit berry, delicious food, high in
Vit. C, minerals, a flavoring, red dye. Actions: Anti-nausea,
astringent, laxative. Remedy for diarrhea, nausea, vomiting,
headaches, to prevent miscarriage, increase milk, reduce
labor pains, mild laxative, soothing to kidneys and urinary
tract. Steep 1-2 tbsp.leaves in 1/2 cup water. Take 1 cup
a day. A tea of the leaves, simmered 10 min. is used for
washing sores, ulcers and raw surfaces.
RED CLOVER (Trifolium
trefoil, purple clover
Perennial, with several stems, 1-2 ft. tall, arising from
one root, slightly hairy. Leaves, ternate, leaflets ovate,
entire, nearly smooth, ending in a long point often lighter
colored in the center. Flowers, red to purple, fragrant,
in dense, terminal ovoid or globular heads. Native of Europe
and common in cultivation across the U.S., wild in mountain
meadows, disturbed areas and along stream banks, light sandy
Edible and Medicinal. Indians of California, Arizona and
elsewhere have eaten it and other species, raw or as a salad,
but hard to digest. Actions: Altertative, antispasmodic.
The whole plant is used for treatment of cancer, combined
with other herbs, aids in whooping cough, bronchial troubles,
chronic rheumatism, skin diseases, and syphilis. Poutices
for local application. Tea from the flower drunk daily (1
tsp. to 1 cup water, steeped). Decoction of the roots used
for a blood purifier. A recent medical report from the Mayo
Clinic, states that it contains an effective anticoagulant
that may be helpful in treating coronary thrombosis.
Perennials, that may form thickets, 2-3 ft. tall, or clusters
of large bushes, depending on species and growing conditions.
All wild species have a single row of petals, usually 5,
with many typical yellow stamens, smaller than cultivated
hybrids, color, basically pink. Stems, thorny, slightly
waxy-sticky. Leaves, rose-pinnate with 5-9 leaflets. Flowers
mature into hips, the fruit that turns from green yellow
to orange, after a frost, to dark red. Found at all altitudes,
mostly in mountainous areas, above10,000 ft.
Edible, Medicinal. Aromatic, cosmetic, culinary and craft
uses. Actions: Aperient, astringent, stomachic. Infusion
of dried flowers or buds, taken for diarrhea, headache,
earache, dizziness, heart and nerve tonic, blood purifier,
mouthwash, eyewash. Fruits (rose hips), gathered after the
first frost, make a pleasant, tart tea, high in Vit. C.
An evergreen shrub, with numerous branches, ash-colored,
scaly bark. The needlelike leaves, opposite, leathery, thick,
dark green above, downy white underneath with a prominent
vein in the middle and margins which are rolled down. Flowers,
pale blue or white grow in short axillary racemes. Originated
in the Mediterranean, now widely cultivated.
Edible, Medicinal. Used for its aromatic leaves, kitchen
seasoning. Flowers used fresh, as a garnish, or dried for
decoration and for preserving food. Actions: Antiseptic,
antioxidant, antispasmodic, cholagogue, emmenagogue, stimulant,
stomachic. Aids in digestion of fat, in formula for losing
weight, raises blood pressure, stimulates circulation which
eases aching joints, promotes liver function, production
of bile, digestion. A salve from the oil, for arthritis,
eczema, bruises. A tea of the leaves used for a scalp wash
to prevent baldness, a mouthwash for bad breath. Distilled
oil of the flowering tops is invigorating, antibacterial,
antifungal, stimulates central nervous system. Excessive
amounts taken internally can cause fatal poisoning.
dyer's saffron, american saffron, fake saffron
Perennial, 2-3 ft. high, with a stiff, upright whitish stem,
branching near the top. Leaves, oval, spiny, sharp-pointed,
their bases half-clasping the stem. Fruits are somewhat
4-sided, white, shining, resembling little shells. Not related
to Saffron, although the flowers are used similarly. Cultivated
extensively throughout the world, sometimes escaping.
Edible, Medicinal. Oil from the seeds used for burning and
culinary purposes. Action of the flowers is laxative and
diaphoretic. Used in children[s and infants' problems. such
as measles, fevers, eruptive skin complaints. Steep 1 tsp.
flowers to 2 cups water and take warm.
SAFFRON (Crocus sativus)
Autumn crocus, Spanish saffron
Small, perennial. In springtime, an onion-like corm produces
grass-like, basal, linear leaves which are surrounded, as
a group at the bottom, by cylindrical sheaths. Gray-green
leaves have hairy margins, 1-2 ft. long corms produce a
funnel-shaped mauve, lilac or white flower with 3 protruding
vermillion stigmas. Widely cultivated.
Edible, Medicinal, Poison. The stigmas and style tops flavor
and color drinks as well as many dishes, especially rice.
Actions: Anodyne, antispasmodic, appetizer, emmenagogue,
expectorant, sedative, aphrodisiac (too much may be narcotic).Used
in small doses for, coughs, fevers, cramps, to calm nerves,
insomnia. Made into an ointment for bruises, gout, arthritis.
Saffron contains a poison that acts on the central nervous
system, can damage kidneys. Large doses can have severe
effects. The use in medicine is rare.
SAGE (Salvia officinalis)
A shrubby perennial. The strongly branched root, produces
square, finely hairy stems, woody at the base. Leaves, gray-green,
textured,opposite, downy, entire or finely crenate. Floral
leaves are ovatrte, ovate-lanceolate. Purple, blue or white
two lipped flowers grow in whorls that form terminal racemes.
Commercially cultivated for a kitchen spice. Grows wild
in southern Europe.
Edible, Medicinal. Fresh and dried leaves used to flavor
foods, flowers tossed in salads. Actions: Antihydrotic,
galactophygous, antispasmodic, astringent. Helps reduce
perspiration, stops the flow of mother's milk. Tea also
used for nervous conditions, trembling depression, diarrhea,
a gargle for sore throat, tonsillitis, laryngitis. Steep
1 tsp. leaves in 1/2 cup water, 30 min. Take 1 cup a day,
tablespoon at a time. Extended or excessive use can cause
symptoms of poisoning. Crushed fresh leaves used to put
on insect bites.
JOHN'S WORT (Hypericum perforatum)
Klamath weed, goat weed
Shrubby perennial plant. Woody, branched root produces many
round stems which put out runners from the base. Leaves,
opposite, oblong to linear, covered with transparent oil
glands, giving appearance of holes. Flat-topped cymes of
yellow flowers, petals dotted with black along margins.
Fruit is 3-celled capsule. Plant has turpentine-like odor.
Edible, Medicinal. Leaves are used in salads, liqueurs.
Actions: Antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, expectorant,
sedative, vulnerary. Calming properties of the herb have
been useful in treating bedwetting, insomnia, calms nerves,
treats depression, menstrual difficulties, uterine cramping.
A tea made from the flowers for, headache, insomnia, jaundice.
Steep 1 tsp. dried herb in 1/2 cup water for 5 min., covered.
Take warm 1/2 cup before breakfast, 1/2 cup before going
to bed. Its use may make the skin sensitive to light. The
oil extract , a good external application for burns, wounds,
wild sarsaparrila, american sarsaparrila
Herbaceous perennial with large, fleshy, horizontal, creeping
roots from which grows a large solitary compound leaf. Leaves
twice-divided, each 3 divisions has
3-5 toothed, oval leaflets. Flower stem comes from root,
naked, 1 ft. high, terminating in 3 small, many-flowered
greenish umbels. Eastern, central U.S. in moist woods.
Medicinal. Carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, tonic. Root
tea used for a pleasant tasting beverage for a spring tonic.
The tea or tincture, a blood purifying tonic, for fevers,
coughing, indigestion, gas. Tea used externally for skin
Steep 1 tsp. rootstock in 1 cup water. Take 1-2 cups a day.
cinnamon wood, ague tree
Deciduous tree. Stem, 10-125 ft. tall is covered with rough,
grayish bark. Leaves, alternate, downy on the lower side,
variable from ovate to elliptic, entire or 3-lobed. Small,
yellowish-green flowers grow in racemes, blooming before
leaves appear. Fruit, a pea-sized, yellowish-green drupe.
Toxic, Medicinal. Anodyne, antiseptic, diaphoretic, diuretic,
stimulant. Root bark tea was a famous spring blood tonic
and blood purifier, used for stomachaches, arthritis, high
blood pressure, kidney ailments, colds, fevers, skin problems.
A wash or poultice from the twig pith used for eye problems.
FDA has banned it, safrole, found in the oil, reported to
SAW PALMETTO (Serenoa
Low shrub with thick, branched, creeping or horizontal stems
above ground. At times erect, reaching tree-size. Leaves
stiff, erect, fan-shaped, 1-3 ft. wide with numerous narrow,
bladelike segments. Leafstalks usually longer than blades,
with sawlike teeth on the sides, Leaves are fanlike, with
sword-shaped leaf blades coming from a central point. Fragrant,
ivory white flowers, 3-5 petals, grow in plume like clusters.
Fleshy olive shaped fruits, dark-purple when ripe, surround
1 large seed and grow in large branched clusters. Eastern,
central North America in sandy soils, pine forests, prairies,
Edible, Medicinal. Fruits, edible but bad tasting. The palm
heart, a cooked vegetable or in salads. Actions: Diuretic,
expectorant, tonic. Dried berries, as a tea for colds, asthma,
a tonic to build up strength after illness, could have aphrodisiac
Congestion. Steep 1 tsp. dried berries in 1 cup water. Take
1-2 cups a day.
SENNA (Classia marilandica)
American senna, wild senna, locust plant
Perennial, 3-6 ft. tall. Stems, erect, smooth and round,
slightly hairy, with even, pinnate leaves on long petioles.
Each leaf consists of 8-10 narrow, oblong, pointed leaflets.
Small yellow flowers are in loose clusters at leaf axils.
Seed pod, a legume with joints twice as wide as long. Eastern
U.S. in rich soils.
Medicinal. Cathartic, diuretic, vermifuge. Leaves, gathered
while plant is in bloom.
Since senna is somewhat griping, it is often combined with
other herbs. Powdered leaves or tea, used for fevers, a
strong laxative. Steep 1 tsp. senna leaves, 1 tsp. ground
coriander with 1 cup boiling water for 1/2 hour. Take hot
or cold, slowly, 3 times a day or 1/2 cup before going to
bed. No more than 2 cups a day. A tea of the pods is milder,
slower-acting. Combined with other anthelmintics to get
rid of intestinal worms. A good mouthwash for bad breath.
Shepherd's heart, pick-pocket, toywort
Annual with an erect, simple or branching stem, 6-18 in.tall.
Basal leaves are in a rosette of gray-green, pinnatifid
leaves. Stem leaves are small and clasping. Tiny white flowers
grow in terminal cymes. Fruit is a flattened, heart-shaped
or triangular, notched pod. Common in fields, waste places,
along roadsides everywhere.
Medicinal. Diuretic, styptic, hemostatic. A tea made from
fresh or dried herb (seeds or leaves), stops bleeding, profuse
menstrual bleeding, a styptic against hemorrhage, for diarrhea,
dysentery and as a wash for bruises. Also used to regularize
blood pressure and heart action, high or low, sometimes
used to promote uterine contractions during childbirth.
Blue skullcap, mad-dog-weed, helmet flower
A perennial with fibrous, yellow rootstock producing a branching
stem, 1-3 ft. high, with opposite, ovate, serrate leaves
that come to a point. Axillary, pale purple or blue 2-lipped,
hooded flowers are in 1-sided racemes from leaf axils. Eastern,
central U.S. in
rich woods, moist thickets.
Medicinal. Antispasmodic, diuretic, sedative, tonic. An
infusion of the herb is good for spasms, convulsions, nervous
conditions, such as excitability, insomnia, restlessness,
rheumatism, said to be effective against rabies, thus mad-dog
skullcap. Steep 1 tsp. dried plant in 1 cup of water, 30
min. Take 3-4 times a day.
SKUNK CABBAGE (Symplocarpus
Polecat weed, meadow cabbage, collard, swamp cabbage
A strongly skunk-scented perennial. The large, tuberous
rootstock produces fleshy roots and broad, heart-shaped
cabbage like leaves on thick leafstalks. Numerous small,
purple flowers grow on a small, oval, fleshy spike (spadix)
covered by a purple and yellowish green, hoodlike bract
(spathe) with a clublike organ within. Flowers appear before
leaves. Eastern, central and escaped throughout North America
in rich, wet woods. One of the first spring wildflowers.
Medicinal, toxic. Antispasmodic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant,
slightly narcotic. Rootstocks and roots, used to treat respiratory
ailments, hay fever, asthma, whooping cough, bronchial problems,
congestion. Also for nervous disorders, spasmodic problems,
arthritis. A wash used for stopping external bleeding. Take
1 cup tea a day, tablespoon at a time. Fresh root is toxic
SLIPPERY ELM (Ulmus
A small to medium sized tree. Leaves, rough and sandpapery
above, hairy beneath, sharply double toothed.Twigs rough-hairy.
Older bark grayish, in flat-topped, nearly vertical ridges.
Red flowered stamens. Solitary seed encased in round, waferlike,
smooth surfaced wings. Eastern, central North America in
rich soil, woods.
Edible, Medicinal. The roasted nuts excellent eaten as is,
ground into flour, or candied. Actions: Demulcent, diuretic,
emollient. Inner bark is used for soothing properties, for
sore throat, diarrhea, urinary problems. As a poultice for
inflamed skin and sores. Used to make vaginal suppositories,
enemas, vaginal douche. Steep 2 oz. or more of the inner
bark in 1 quart water, 1 hour or longer, sweeten. Take 1
tsp. every 30 minutes.
Our lady's mint, sage of Bethlehem
Aromatic perennial. Rootstalk. produces erect 2-4 ft. high
bright green aerial, square stems. Side branches emerge
at a 45 degree angle in pairs from the main stem, with subtending
leaves. Leaves, oppostie, lighter green than other mints,
a little hairy. Terminal, lavender-pink flowers form long,
pyramidal spikes, from several to many branches.
Edible, Medicinal. Used to flavor all kinds of foods. Actions:
antispasmodic, antiseptic, diaphoretic, carminative, stimulant.
Herb tea given for common women's complaints, for suppressed
or painful urination. Although not as strong as peppermint,
the pleasant flavor is used for almost any stomach or digestive
problem. It is preferable for nausea, indigestion from a
sick headache or migraine and for acid indigestion from
a nervous stomach. Steep 1 tsp. herb in 1 cup water for
30 min. Take frequently, tablespoon at a time.
SQUAW VINE (Mitchella
partridgeberry, checkerberry, deerberry, winter clover
An evergreen with paired, roundish leavers along a slightly
woody, creeping stem. Leaves, variegated with whitish lines.
Pink or white 4 petaled flowers, in twin-like union terminate
the stem. Fruit is a bright red berry, remain on stem through
the winter. Eastern, central North America in moist or dry
Edible, Medicinal. Berries edible, but dry, seedy and bland.
Added to salads for color. Actions: Diuretic, tonic, astringent.
The dried or fresh leaf or berry tea used mainly for a pregnancy
tonic, delayed, irregular or painful menstruation, to ease
chilbirth, piles, dysentery. As a wash for sore nipples,
swellings, hives, arthritis. Good for uterine complaints,
diarrhea, edema. Used as a substitute for pipsissewa. Use
with medical advise.
SUMAC (Rhus glabra)
Smooth sumac, vinegar tree, scarlet sumac, mountain sumac,
Shrub with straggling branches, pale gray sometimes slightly
red bark, 3-20 ft. tall. Twigs, leafstalks smooth, without
hairs. Leaves, alternate, pinnate with oblong-lanceolate,11-31
serrate toothed leaflets, green on top, whitish underneath,
turning red in fall. Small, greenish white flowers in dense
panicles. Small, sticky bright red fruits with short appressed
hairs grow in clusters. North America in fields and openings.
Not to be confused with Poison Sumac which has white fruits,
toothless leaves, growing in or near swamps.
Edible, Medicinal. Sour berries to make a pink lemonade-like
drink. Actions: Astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge,
refrigerant, tonic. A tea made from sumac bark or leaves,
a gargle for sore throat, diarrhea. Tea of leaves, berries
for urinary problems, bladder. Berry tea or syrup for fevers,
sores, bed wetting. Root chewed for mouth sores. Decoction
of root, branches for gonorrhea. Decoction of fruit as a
wash to stop bleeding after chilbirth. Steep 1 tsp. bark,
leaves or fruit in 1 cup water for 30 min. Take 1-2 cups
a day, mouthful at a time.
CICELY (Myrrhis odorata)
garden myrrh, sweet chervil, anise root
Thin branching stems grow upright from the tap root, 2-3
ft., with several, aromatic, finely-cut, fernlike leaves.
Small, white nectarous flowers appear in terminal clusters,
that ripen into large, narrow fruits. Both seeds, leaves
have a slight anise scent. Seeds take up to 8 months to
germinate. Native of Europe, found in light woodland, grassy
places, moist shade, cultivated in gardens. North American
Sweet Cicely is Osmorhiza longistylis.
Edible, Medicinal. The anise-flavored, green seeds, eaten
raw, sprinkled on fruit salads, to flavor liqueurs. Fresh
leaves, chopped into omelets, soups, stews and cooked with
acid fruits to reduce tartness. Roots, like fennel, grated
into salads, picked or cooked. Actions: antiseptic, carminative,
expectorant, digestive, tonic The whole herb can be used
much like anise. Root tea for gas, mucous congestion, indigestion,
lack of appetite. Leaf tea for anemia in elderly. Roots
crushed into a poultice for boils.
FLAG (Acorus calamus)
calamus root, grass myrtle, sweet rush,
Fleshy rootstocks grow in matted masses, 1-3 ft. long. The
long leaves are sword-shaped. Roots, leaves have a spicy
smell. The three-angled scape is nearly as tall as the leaves,
covered with tiny yellow green flowers. The tapering, fingerlike,
yellow-green spadix juts at an angle from the 3-sided stem,
distinguishing it from the poisonous irises or Blue Flag,
with its dull, blue green, odorless leaves. Pacific West
in swamps, marshy grounds, shallow lakes.
Edible, Medicinal. Leaf buds and tender inner parts of stem
are used in salads, root can be candied. Actions of the
rootstock: Carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge,
dedative, stomachic. Helps in stomach problems, stimulates
appetite, relieves acute and chronic dyspepsia, gastritis.
A Decoction of the rootstock used for a bath additive for
insomnia, tense nerves. Add 1 lb. dried rootstock to 5 qrts.
water. Bring to a boil, steep 5 min. strain. Add to bath.
TURKEY RHUBARB (Rheum
Perennial, conical rootstock, fleshy and yellow inside,
produces large, palmate, somewhat rough, 7-lobed leaves
on thick petioles, 12-18 in. long. The hollow flower stem,
5-10 ft. high also grows from the rootstock, topped by a
leafy panicle of greenish or whitish flowers. Native of
China, cultivated for ornamental purposes.
Medicinal. Appetizer, astringent, purgative, tonic. The
powdered root, used for both a laxative and astringent depending
on amount used. Prolonged use not advisable, especially
during pregnancy and those nursing babies. A tincture used
to stimulate appetite and digestion. The leaf blades, not
the stalks, can cause poisoning.
balmony, turtlebloom, saltrheum weed, snakehead
Smooth perennial with simple, erect, square stems reaching
2-3 ft. The opposite, short-petioled, shining, dark green,
pointed leaves are serrate and oblong-lanceolate. White,
swollen flowers with a strongly arching upper lip, resembling
a turtle's head, is often tinged with pink or magenta and
grow in dense terminal or axillary spikes. Fruit is an ovoid
capsule. Eastern, Central U.S. in moist soils.
Medicinal actions: Anthelmintic, aperient, cholagogue, stimulant,
tonic. Leaf tea for indigestion, constipation, appetite,
worms, fever, jaundice, laxative, liver diseases, fevers,
inflammation. Flowering tops to treat worms, a contraceptive
to prevent pregnancy. Externally, an ointment can be used
for piles, inflamed breasts, painful ulcers, herpes, eczema.
Steep 1 tsp. leaves to 1 cup water for 5 min. Take 1-2 cups
(Arctostaphylos uva-ursi )
bearberry, kinnikinik, pinemat manzanita, mountain cranberry
A low, trailing evergreen shrub that is mat-forming, long
trailing stems with papery reddish bark. Leaves are small,
shiny-leathery, spoon-shaped leaves. Pink or white flowers
are waxy looking, egg-shaped with small lobed mouths in
small, closely-crowded, drooping clusters Fruit is a red
berry. Found in exposed rock or sand throughout the U.S.
in higher elevations. `
Edible, Medicinal. Berries are dry and not particularly
inviting when raw but quite pleasant when cooked, served
with cream and a sweetener. Dried leaves used as a tobacco
substitute. Stems, leaves, picked in the fall, brewed to
treat headaches, to prevent and cure scurvy. As a diuretic
and antibacterial for cystitis and urinary tract disorders
and applied externally for back sprain. Roots have been
used as a dysentery cure. Leaf tea for a soothing and astringent
effect. Of great value in diseases of the bladder and kidneys.
Add 1 tsp.leaves, soaked in alcohol or wine, to 1 cup boiling
water. Drink 3 cups a day, cold. Excessive use, 2-3 days,
can lead to stomach distress. Prolonged use can produce
All-heal, setwell, garden heliotrope, great wild valerian
Valerians have similar appearances. They all form upright
stems, 1-3 ft. with one or more sets of opposite leaves
along the stem. The compound leaves are strongly divided,
pinnate, lower ones, toothed and have a pea pod scent. Pale
pink to rose or whitish flowers have a honey scent and grow
in tight clusters. The calyx, when in flower, becomes a
feathery pappus at the top of the fruit. Found in temperate
parts of the world.
Edible, Medicinal. Musky root used in stews, perfumes. Actions:
Antispasmodic, calminative, nerve tonic, sedative. Root
preparations used to, induce sleep, a calming effect on
stomach spasms, epileptic fits, hypochondria, depression,
nervous headaches, hysterics, restlessness. A tea of the
root,1/2 cup, used in the bath or vapor bath to encourage
restful sleep. Used externally for ulcers, eczema, wounds.
Do not take continuously or in large doses.
A perennial that thrives in cold water and begins its life
cycle in early spring. It is connected to a creeping rootstock,
the hollow branching stem, 1-2 ft. long, extends, with its
leaves, above the water. Smooth, dark green, mustard-flavored
leaves are odd-pinnate with 1-4 pairs of small, oblong or
roundish leafltets. Small white flowers bloom in elongating
terminal racemes. Fruit, a long, curved, linear-cylindric,
partitioned pod. Naturalized in the U.S.
Edible, Medicinal. Leaves used in salads, soups. High in
vit. A, C, iodine, when harvested before blossoms appear.
Actions: Diuretic, expectorant tonic, purgative, stimulant,
stomachic. Leaves, roots, young shoots, used for anemia,
prevention of scurvy, goiters, heart trouble, blood cleanser,
clears skin, respiratory and internal tumors.
Prolonged use, longer than 4 weeks, can lead to kidney problems.
Do not harvest in polluted or stagnant water. Poisoning
may occur if plant has absorbed heavy metals, toxins or
have liver flukes.
OAK (Quercus alba)
A native North American tree, 60-150 ft. Bark is light,
flaky, flat-ridged. Leaves have rounded or finger- shaped
lobes, whitened beneath when mature. Flowering male catkins
appear in the spring. Fruit is an acorn, a common feature
with all Oaks.
Throughout the world in many different species, but an oak
is an oak.
Edible, Medicinal. Acorns are a familiar food, can be roasted
as a coffee substitute. Actions: Astringent, tonic. Used
as a gargle for mouth and throat irritations. An infusion
of the bark, used internally to stop bleeding, reduce fever
or externally for hemorrhoids, rectal problems.(red or black
oak bark can be used in place of white for external uses).
Steep 1 tbsp. bark in 1 pint water, simmering for 10 min.
Take up to 3 cups a day.
POND LILY (Nymphaea ordorata)
sweet water lily, white water lily,
An aquatic perennial, small-branched rootstock produces
large orbicular, entire
leaves that float on the surface of the water, dark green
on top, purplish underneath. Large
many-petaled white flowers bloom above the water only 3
days, in the afternoon each day.
Eastern North America in ponds, slow streams.
Medicinal actions: Antiseptic, astringent, demulcent. A
tea made from the fresh root is used for a gargle, eyewash,
vaginal douche, to heal sores. Root and leaves, made into
poultices for cuts, bruises or into a lotion for smooth,
soft skin. Throughout the world in wet places. Steep 1 tsp.
herb in 1 cup water, 30 min. Take 1/4 cup 3-4 times a day.
Do not mistake for Nymphaea tuberosa, a toxic water lily,
distinguished by its tuberous rootstock and almost odorless
WILD LETTUCE (Lactuca
prickly lettuce, lettuce opium
Annual or biennial, scruffy weed, 2-4 ft., with a milky
sap. Leaves, alternate, pointed, deeply divided, clasp the
stem and twist sideways to become perpendicular with the
ground. Central vein of leaves is thick, riblike, prickly
on one side, lighter green than the plant. A single stem
starts with a small, yellow dandelion-like flowers and seeds,
then divides into many small, thin floral stems. Throughout
the world, most abundant from 4,000 to 6,000 ft. along roadsides
and gravelly, waste places.
Medicinal actions: Analgesic, antispasmodic, narcotic, sedative.
The milky juice,
resembles a feeble opium without the tendency to upset the
digestive system. Safe for children or sensitive adults.
Used to induce sleep, nervous disorders, whooping cough,
cramps. Overuse may cause insomnia. Indian women use the
leaf tea to stimulate milk flow. Some medical people believe
that the dried sap is psychological, because the taste and
appearance is like that of opium poppy.
WILD YAM (Dioscorea villosa)
colic root, rheumatism root
Perennial, twining plant, with long, knotty, crooked root-stocks
with thin, smooth stems. Leaves, alternate, lower ones in
whorls of 3-8 heart-shaped, hairy beneath, veins conspicuous.
Small flowers, greenish-yellow, not showy. Male flowers
in drooping panicles, female in drooping spicate racemes.
Fruit, a three-winged capsule with winged seeds. Eastern,
central U.S. in wet woods, on hedges, fences.
Medicinal actions: Antispasmodic, diuretic, expectorant,
and emetic in large doses. Root tea helps to relieve morning
sickness, labor pains, leg and menstrual cramps, colic,
gas, asthma, soothing to the nerves, neuralgia and pains
in the urinary tract. Contains diosgenin, a precursor of
progeserone used to make contraceptive pills, also yields
cortisone and steroids, antiinflammatories to treat arthritis,
and hydrocortisone creams for eczema.
WILLOW (Salix species)
A tree,75-80 ft. high or a shrub. Deeply fused, dark gray
bark is rough. Twigs, reddish brown. Ashy-gray leaves are
alternate, lanceolate, serrate and silky on both sides.
Male and female flowers occur on separate trees, appearing
in catkins on leafy stalks at the same time as the leaves.
Medicinal actions: Anodyne, antiseptic, astringent, diaphoretic,
diuretic, febrifuge, tonic. Bark, from the new, smooth barked
branches, used to alleviate pain, reduce fever, inflammation,
internal bleeding, heartburn, stomach ailments, food poisoning.
A decoction used as a gargle for gum and tonsil problems,
as a footbath for sweaty feet, remove corns. Soak 1-3 tsp.
bark to 1 cup cold water, 2-5 hours, bring to a boil. Take
1 cup a day, unsweetened, a mouthful at a time.
WORMWOOD (Artemisia absinthium)
Absinthe, green ginger
A woody rootstock produces many bushy stems, 2-4 ft. high,
bearing alternate, bi-tri-pinnate leaves with long, obtuse
leaves. Numerous tiny, yellow-green, rayless flower heads
grow in leafy panicles. Found in rocky hillsides, wastelands.
Medicinal actions: Anthelmintic, antiseptic, antispasmodic,
carminative, cholagogue, febrifuge, stimulant, stomachic.
Leaf tea, used for indigestion, gastric pain, lack of appetite,
heartburn, gas, stimulates liver and gallbladder, improves
circulation. Powdered flowering tops used to expel intestinal
worms. For external uses, sprains, bruises etc. a fomentation
is used. Use wormwood oil with medical assistance, it can
cause poisoning with excessive use. Steep 2 tsp. leaves
or tops in 1 cup water, 5 min.
Take 1/2 cup a day, a teaspoonful at a time.
milfoil, ladies' mantle, thousand leaf
Perennial, forms mats of interconnected roots and feathery
basal leaves. Tall, flowering stalks are topped with flat
umbels of snow-white, tiny daisy-like flowers, tinged with
pink at times. Soft, pungent leaves which clasp the stem
at the base are alternate, bipinnatifid with finely cut
segments. Throughout the world, in waste places, field,
pastures, meadows, roadsides.
Medicinal actions: Diaphoretic, astringent, tonic, hemostatic,
stimulant and mild aromatic. Leaf or flower tea, a remedy
for fevers, colds, to promote sweating, reduce high blood
pressure, for hemorrhoids, nosebleeds, stomach ulcers, menstruation
problems. Flowers treat eczema, catarrh from allergies.
A decoction of the whole plant, used for bleeding piles,
kidney disorders. Should be taken in small doses, Avoid
during pregnancy A poultice of the fresh plant or infusion
for a bath wash, used externally for muscle pain, joint
inflammation. Root, chewed for toothache, gum problems,
especially when steeped in whiskey or rum.
DOCK (Rumex crispus)
dock, curly Dock
Perennial, growing from a deep, yellow root, alternate basal
leaves, wavy edged and blue-green. Leaves on the flower
stalk, similar to those at the base but half the size. Tall
flower spikes of inconspicuous greenish flowers are followed
by 3-winged fruits which turn dark brown in the fall. A
common weed, throughout North America in waste places and
Edible, Medicinal. Parts used are the young leaves for cooked
greens. If bitter, cook in 2 or more changes of water. Rich
in Vitamins A, C. Actions: Astringent, chologogue, tonic.
Leaf tea, for fevers, inflammation, scurvy. Root tea used
for constipation or diarrhea, excessive menstrual bleeding,
skin diseases, arthritis, indigestion, liver congestion,
poor digestion, jaundice, skin eruptions, nervousness, laxative
or mild astringent tonic, blood purifier and skin problems.
Use in small doses.
A blue-green perennial, 2-4 ft. tall. Leaves are in a rosette.
They are stiff, swordlike, rounded on the back with margins
rolled in. Stalks, erect with many, showy bell-like cream
flowers at the tips. Throughout North America in dry soils,
most common in high desert areas.
Edible, Medicinal. Pulpy part of the fruits, a source of
food when baked or boiled. The part that lathers up for
soap is toxic and not used for food, unless washed, parboiled,
crushed etc.to get rid of the saponins. Actions: Antifungal,
antitumor, antiarthritic. American Indians poulticed the
root on inflammations to stop bleeding, as a steam bath
for sprains, broken limbs. Root tea for pain, joint inflammations.
Saponins, in roots possess long-lasting soapin action, for
washing, shampoos for dandruff, baldness. 1 cup chopped
fresh or dried root, boiled in 1 1/2 cups water till suds
form. Root compound, toxic to lower life forms. Use with
BASIC GLOSSARY OF BOTANICAL TERMS
A small, dry, one-seeded fruit which does not regularly
open, such as a seed
pod or anther spontaneously.
Acuminate. Tapering gradually to a point at the apex.
Acute. Coming sharply to a point at the apex
Aggregate. Fruit, formed by the coherence of pistils which
were distinct in the flower
(as in a blackberry)
Alternate. Not opposite to each other.
Annual. Only one years duration.
Anther. The part of the stamen that produces pollen; usually
borne on a slender or flat
Aril. The outer covering or appendage of some seeds.
Ascending. Rising gradually upward from a prostrate base.
Awn. A bristle-like characteristic of the spikelets, as
in some grasses.
Aixil. The angle formed by a stem with a leaf, stalk, branch
or flower stalk growing from
Axillary. Growing from an axil.
Axis. The main stem of a plant, central line of development,
Berry. A stoneless, soft and pulpy fruit and formed from
a single ovary.
Biennial. Of two years duration.
Bilabiate. Two lipped.
Bipinate. A leaf, twice-pinnate, or twice -compound
Blade. The expanded or flat part of the leaf.
Bloom . A powdery or waxy coating on leaves, stems or fruit.
Bract. A small, sometimes scale-like leaf near the base
of a flower or flower cluster or a
Bulb. A thick, rounded, underground organ with fleshy scales
or coats, as in an onion.
Calyx. The outer parts (sepals) of a flower, usually green
and leafy. They may be joined
or separated and form a sup-like or tube-like envelope enclosing
the other parts of the
Capillary. Collected into a head or dense cluster, head-shaped.
Capsule. A dry fruit that opens along two or more lines
then mature, composed of more
than one carpel and arises from a compound pistil, as in
Carpel. The wall of a simple pistil (ovary) or part of the
wall of a compound pistil.
A spike-like flower cluster which bears scaly bracts and
Cauline. Relating to or growing on a stem.
Chartaceous. A papery texture
Circinate. Coiled from the tip downwards.
Clasping. Completely or partly surrounding the stem.
Clavate. Club-shaped; thickened toward the apex.
Cleft. The margin of a leaf indented at least halfway to
the midvein; more deeply
than when it is lobed, but not as deep as when it is divided.
Clustered.Where several leaves grow from a node, or whorled
leaves which are grouped
so close between nodes the pattern is not obvious; fruits
in a cluster of berries.
Compound. Made up of two or more definable parts, joined
Cone. The dry, multiple fruit of pines, firs, etc., that
bear the seeds.
Confluent. Running together; blended into one.
Connivent. Converging or coming together, but not united.
Cordate. Heart-shaped, with the point at the apex (upward)
Corm. A short, thick, solid underground base of a stem.
(often miscalled a bulb).
Corolla. The petals of a flower; inner of two series of
floral leaves; they may be separate
or joined in varying degrees.
Corona. Crown, coronet; any appendage which stands out from
the petals, and together
form a ring around the center of the flower.
Corymb. A generally flat-topped flower cluster with stems
arising at different levels.
Cotyledon. Seed-leaf; the primary leaf or leaves in the
Creeping. Stems which grow flat on or beneath the ground
Crown. See corona.
Cryptogams. Plants which do not bear seeds, such as mosses
Culm. The hollow stem of grasses and bamboos.
Cyme. A usually flat inflorescence whose central or terminal
flower opens first.
Deciduous. Falling off (leaves) at the close of a growing
Decompound. Reclining, but having an ascending tip.
Decumbent. Spontaneously opening and allowing the contents
to be discharged
Dehiscent. Spontaneously opening and allowing the contents
to be discharged.
Dentate. Sharply toothed, with the teeth pointing out straight
from the margin.
Dioecious plants. The male and female parts are found on
In the central head of a composite, which are tubular and
lack a flattened
extension; such as the tiny yellow flowers making up the
center of a sunflower or daisy.
Dissected. Cut or divided into numerous segments.
Divided. A leaf which is cleft to the base or to the midrib.
Drupe. A fleshy fruit containing a single seed in a hard
nut or stone, as a cherry or peach.
Elliptic. Usually narrowly ovate, with the outline of an
Entire. Without divisions, lobes, or teeth.
Filament. The stalk
Floret. A small flower in a flower head or other cluster.
Frond. The leaf of a fern.
Follicle. A dry fruit that opens along one side or lengthwise
line when mature.
Fruit. The seed-bearing part of the plant; ripened ovary.
Funnel-form. A funnel shaped, expanding gradually upward.
Glaborous. Not hairy.
Glandular. Having glands, which secrete sticky substances.
Glaucous. Covered with bloom.
Glabose. Approximately spherical.
Grain. Achene-like fruit, but with seed not loose.
Head. A flower spike or raceme shortened to form a compact,
flattened to globose cluster.
Herb. A plant that has no woody tissue and that dies down
to the ground at the end of a
Herbaceous. A plant organ, non-woody, soft and leafy; also
soft branches before they
become woody; dying down each
Hip. The fruit of the rose; a fleshy receptacle.
Imbricate. Overlapping, like roof shingles.
Incised. Sharply and irregularly cut.
Inflorescence. The way flowers are arranged in a cluster;
a flower cluster.
Involucre. A circle of bracts; always present around the
heads of the composites; often
conspicuous in the parsley family.
Irrregular. A flower in which one or more of the organs
of the same series are unlike the
Keel. The two lover petals, joined. (as in the pea family).
Lanceolate. Widening to a maximum near the base and tapering
to a point at the apex.
Latex. The milky sap of certain plants.
Leaf. A vegetative organ which, when complete, consists
of a flat blade, a petiole or
stalk, and usually two small leafy appendages at the base
of the petiole.
Leaflet. A division or part of a compound leaf.
Linear. Long and very narrow, having nearly parallel sides.
Lip. One of the parts in a corolla or calyx divided into
two unequal parts, like the odd
petal in an orchid.
Lobe. A part or division, especially when rounded, of an
Monoecious plants. Bearing male and female parts in different
flowers but on the same
Node. A joint where a leaf grows or can grow.
Obovate. The broad end upward.
Obtuse. Blunt, or rounded.
Oval. Broadly elliptic.
Ovary. The part of the pistil containing the seeds.
Ovate. Shaped like an egg, with the narrow end at the apex.
Palmate. Compounded, divided, lobed, or ribbed so that the
divisions spread out like
Panicle. A raceme compounded by branching.
Parasitic. Growing on and getting nourishment from another
Parted. Nearly cleft, but not quite, to the base.
Pedicel. The stalk of a single flower in a flower cluster.
Peduncle. The stalk of a flower cluster or a solitary cluster.
Petiole. The leafstalk.
Pinate. A leaf which is compound, with the leaflets arranged
on each side of a common
Pinnatifid. Pinnately cleft.
Pistil. The female reproduction organ of a flower.
Pod. Any dry fruit which splits open.
Pollen. Minute grains, produced in flowering plants in an
anther, which when carried
to an appropriate stigma, stimulate the formation of fruit
Pome. A core fruit, such as an apple.
Procumbent. Growing along the ground without rooting, and
having ascending tips.
Punctate. Having translucent spots or depressions.
Puberulent. Covered with fine, short, almost imperceptible
Pubescent. Hairs, usually soft and downy.
Raceme. An elongated flower cluster or flowers which are
arranged along a common stem,
in many species each growing from the axil of a bract; the
youngest at the top.
Radiate. Composed of many ray flowers
Rayflower. One of the flattened petal-like, usually colored,
outer flowers encircling the
disk, as in petals of a daisy.
Receptacle. The end of the stem or stalk on which the flower
parts are borne.
Revolute. Rolled backward from both sides.
Rhizome. An underground portion of the stem which produces
leaves on the upper side
and roots on the lower; different from a root in that it
has buds, nodes and scaly leaves;
Rootstalk. Rhizome or a root-like stem growing underground
from which regular stems
may grow up into the air.
Rosette. A circular or spiral arrangement of leaves growing
from a center or crown.
Sagittate. Shaped like an arrow head, with lobes pointing
Samara. A winged fruit that does not split spontaneously,
like a maple.
Scale. A small, usually dry leaf that is closely pressed
against another organ.
Scape. A leafless flower stalk that grows from the ground.
Sepal. A leaf or division of the calyx.
Serrate. Saw-toothed, with the teeth pointing toward the
Sessile. Having no stalk.
Sheath. An expanded or tubular structure that partially
encloses a stem or other organ.
Simple. Of one piece. Leaves not compounded; stem, flower
clusters not branched.
Solitary. A thick stem bearing small, crowded, stalkless
flowers; a fleshy spike
Spadix. A fleshy spike.
Spathe. One or two bracts enclosing a flower cluster, especially
Spatulate - A narrow end at the base, like a spoon.
Spike. A flower cluster in which sessile flowers grow along
part of the length of the
Spine. A sharp woody or ridged, outgrowth from the stem,
Spur. A slender, hollow projection from a petal or sepal.
Spurred. Possessing a hollow saclike or tubular extension
of a floral organ.
Stamen. The male or pollen-bearing organ of a flower.
Strobile. A cone or conelike structure.
Style. The slender, elongated part of a pistil.
Taproot. A single main root that grows vertically into the
Terminal. Occurring at or growing from the end opposite
Ternate. Divided or arranged in threes.
Trifoliate. Having three leaves.
Trifoliolate. Having three leaflets.
Tuber. A thick, fleshy part, usually of a rootstock (there
is not a sharp distinction among
rhizome, corm or tuber).
Umbel. A more or less flat-topped flower cluster in which
the pedicels (rays) come from
a common plant.
Undulate. Wavy or wavy-margined.
Verticillate. Arranged in whorls.
Villous. Bearing long, loose, soft hairs.
Whorl. A circular arrangement of three or more leaves, flowers
or other parts at the same
point or level.
Woolly. Having curled hairs which may be tangled together.
Zygomorphic. Irregular, bilaterally symmetric.
OF MEDICAL ACTIONS
- Induces or causes premature expulsion of the fetus.
ACRID - Irritating or pungent to the skin.
ALTERATIVE - Producing a gradual beneficial change in the
body without ?
ANALGESIC - Also called anodyne, a drug which relieves or
takes away pain
ANAPHRODISIAC - Diminishes sexual desire or potency.
ANODYNE - Soothes or relieves pain
ANTHELMINTIC - Also referred to as vermicide or vermifuge.
A medicine that expels worms.
ANTIBIOTIC - Destroying or arresting the growth of micro-organisms.
ANTICOAGULANT - Preventing blood clotting.
ANTIEMETIC - Counteracting nausea and relieving vomiting.
ANTIHYDROTIC - Reducing or suppressing perspiration.
ANTILITHIC - Reducing, suppressing, or dissolving stones.
ANTIONCHOTIC - Reducing swelling.
ANTISEPTIC - Destroying or diminishing bacteria.
ANTISPASMODIC - Relieving or aiding in spasms and cramps.
ANTITUSSIVE - Relieving coughs.
APERIENT - A mild stimulant for bowels; a gentle purgative.
APHRODISIAC - Producing arousing or increasing sexual desire
AROMATIC - A substance having an agreeable odor and stimulating
ASTRINGENT - Contracting organic tissue, reducing secretions
BALSAMIC - A soothing or healing agent from exudations prepared
from various trees.
BITTER TONIC - For temporary loss of appetite and stimulant
of saliva and gastric juices in digestion.
CALMATIVE - A mild sedative or tranquilizing effect.
CARDIAC - Stimulating and affecting the heart.
CARMINITIVE - Expelling gas (flatulence) from the intestines.
CATHARTIC - The emptying of the bowels; laxative.
CAUSTIC - Destroys tissue.
CHOLAGOGUE - Increases flow of bile into the intestines.
COAGULANT - Inducing clotting of the blood.
DEMULCENT - Soothing irritated tissue, particularly the
DEPRESSANT - Lessening the nervous or functional activity;
opposite of stimulant.
DEPURATIVE - Cleansing and purifying the system, especially
DETERGENT -Cleansing wounds and sores of diseased or dead
DIAPHORETIC - Promoting perspiration; sudorific.
DISCUTIENT - Dissolving and removing tumors.
DIURETIC - Increasing the secretion and expulsion of urine.
EMETIC - Produces vomiting.
EMMENAGOGUE - Promoting menstrual flow.
EMOLLIENT - Softening and soothing to inflamed areas.
EXANTHEMATOUS - Relating to skin diseases or eruptions.
EXPECTORANT - Promotes discharge of mucus from the respiratory
FEBRIGUGE - Reducing or eliminating fevers.
- Encourages or increases the secretion of milk.
HEMOSTATIC - Stops bleeding.
HEPATIC - Acting on the liver
LAXATIVE - Promoting evacuation of the bowels; a mild purgative.
MUCILAGINOUS - A gummy or gelatinous substance soothing
to inflamed areas.
NAUSEANT - Producing the inclination to vomit.
NEPHRITIC - Promoting kidney funstion.
NERVINE - Producing a calming or soothing effect on the
nerves and nervous system.
OPTHALMICUM - A remedy for disease of the eye.
OXYTOCIC - Stimulating contraction of the uterine muscle
for speeding up childbirth.
PECTORAL - A remedy for pulmonary or other chest diseases.
PURGATIVE - Promoting vigorous bowel evacuation.
REFRIGERANT - Lowering abnormal body heat.
RESOLVENT - Dissolving and removing of tumors.
RESTORATIVE - Restoring consciousness or normal physiological
RUBIFACIENT - A gentle local irritant that produces reddening
of the skin.
SIALOGOGUE - Stimulating the secretion of saliva.
STIMULANT - Exciting or quickening the activity of physiological
STOMACHIC - Strengthening, stimulating or toning the stomach.
STYPTIC - Arresting hemorrhage and bleeding by contracting
the blood vessels; astringent.
SUDORIFIC - Produces and increases perspiration.
TONIC - Strengthening or invigorating organs.
VASOCONSTRICTOR - Narrowing the blood vessels, to raise
the blood pressure.
VASODILATOR - Widening the blood vessels, to lower blood
VERMICIDE - Destroying of intestinal worms.
VERMIFUGE - Causing the expulsion of intestinal worms.
VESICANT - Produces blisters.
VULNERARY - An application for wounds.
GUIDELINES FOR GATHERING
AND USING WILD EDIBLE PLANTS
A true grass herb always has jointed stems. Their seeds
are always edible; however, do not use if grain heads have
black fungus on them.
· Many nuts are edible including beechnut, butternut,
chestnut, filbert, hazelnut, hickory, pinon, sweet acorn
and walnuts. Avoid eating the nuts and seeds of fruits;
some are poisonous.
· The inner bark of many trees is edible and nutritious.
After removing the outer bark, the inner bark can be stripped
or scraped from the trunk and eaten fresh, dried or cooked.
Best in the spring. Remember, the use of a root or the live
bark of a plant means its destruction, unless it is an annual
or biennial that has had a chance to reproduce.
· A tea of chopped needles from the fir, pine, spruce
or hemlock tree is good and contains Vit.C. Other plants
containing this vitamin: rose hips, violet and strawberry
· In general there is more food value in roots and
tubers than the parts of the plant above; however, some
roots, tubers tend to be toxic when raw. Squeeze out juice,
· ground. Peanuts, below the ground are good raw
· Avoid plants with milky saps except those you are
familiar with, like dandelions, wild figs, mangoes, papaya,
· The succulent parts of all palms are edible. The
young curled shoots of ferns and bamboos are good.
· Avoid plants that resemble beans, cucumbers, melons
or parsnips. Some are very poisonous
· Cattail root and young shoots are excellent eating.
· Plants with red, yellow, orange, dark or soapy-tasting
sap or sap which turns black quickly on exposure to air,
should be avoided.
· No plant resembling dill, parsley, parsnips or
with carrot-like foliage should be eaten
· Most blue and black berries are edible. Sometimes
red berries are but white berries usually are toxic. Berries
resembling strawberries, raspberries, blackberries are good
as are wild figs of any color.
· Avoid gathering herbs near orchards or areas where
insecticides have been used or within 50 feet of roads where
car exhaust has settled on plants.
· Just because an animal eats a plant, does not mean
it is safe and visa versa.
· Do not eat mushrooms unless you are used to eating
them and they are accurately identified. They contain little
food value and can cause agonizing death.
· One hazard of eating raw plants is that some insects
will spend part of their life cycle on the leaves, such
as liver flukes on watercress. Wash thoroughly and inspect
before using. Cook if you are not sure.
· When trying a plant that has not been positively
identified. Place very small amount inside lover lip, taste
for soapy, butter, acid, burning taste for 5 min. Increase
amount every 6-10 hrs. If no ill effects in 24 hrs. it is
safe, cut continue with caution.
Short Guideline When Using Herbs
Be sure identification of plant you are picking is accurate.
· If herb, using, makes you sick, take less or do
· If herb is not helping, use more or eliminate.
· Trust your judgement and use wisdom.
· Stimulating herbs can also irritate. Those that
help, can be painful.
· Just because it's "natural" doesn't mean
it is good for you.
· If you don't get better, seek other medical help.
· Pick only what you need.
IN FIELDS - buttercups; nightshades; jimson weed
PLANTS IN SWAMP OR MOIST AREAS - water hemlock
PLANTS IN WOODED AREAS - jack-in-the-pulpit; moonseed; mayapple
TREES AND SHRUBS - some cherries; oaks; red elderberry;
VEGETABLE, GARDEN PLANTS - potato leaves, rhubarb leaf blade
FLOWER GARDEN PLANTS - larkspur; monkshood; autumn crocus;
star- of-Bethlehem; lily-of-the-valley; iris; foxglove
HOUSE PLANTS - hyacinth, narcissus; daffodil; oleander;
poinsettia; dieffenbachia; elephant ear; rosary pea; castor
ORNAMNENTAL PLANTS - daphne; wisteria; golden chain; laurels;
rhododendron; azaleas; jassamine; lantana; yew
PREPARING HERBS FOR USE
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, remove from heat. Add 1
tablespoon of fresh herb or 1 teaspoon dried or powdered
herb and cover. Let steep 5- 20 minutes or as indicated.
Strain, sweeten with honey, if needed, and give at body
temperature or warmer.
This method extracts the mineral salts and bitter principles
of the herbs.
a. Add desired roots, barks, twigs, seeds, etc. to boiling
water and tightly cover. Gently boil 10-15 minutes as needed.
1 tablespoon of the cut herb or 1 teaspoon of the powdered
herb to 1 cup of water. Remove from heat and let stand 10
b. Add flowers and green leaves to cold water and cover
tightly. Bring to a boil and continue for 3-4 minutes.
Double the amount of herbs normally used for an infusion
or decoction. Cover and allow
to stand for 10-12 hours in a nonmetal container. Strain
Fresh: Crush the fresh herb and apply to the affected part.
Bandage on. Leave several hours or overnight. If a hot poultice
is desired, steep the herb, cover with a dry cloth. Change
as it cools.
Dried: Mix herb with cornmeal or flaxseed to make a thick
paste. Drop into just enough actively boiling water to hold
together. Spread on folded cloth and apply. Cover with dry
flannel. Do not warm over a poultice once used.
Soak a cloth or towel in an infusion or decoction, wring
out the excess and apply as hot as possible to the affected
area. A fomentation has about the same applications as a
poultice but is generally less active in its effect.
Dried herbs: Use 6 oz of cut herb to 1 quart of apple cider
vinegar or everclear brand 100 proof alcohol. Advantage
of using alcohol is that it extracts the properties a great
deal more and preserves longer. Doses are usually only a
Fresh herbs: Pack herb into dark, wide-mouthed bottle and
cover the herbs with either preservative. Whether dried
or fresh herbs, leave in bottle for 10-14 days, shake good
twice a day. Strain, press and put in dark bottle. Seal
Place herb in top of double boiler. Cover with oil (olive
oil best). Cook on low heat, with lid on, for about 3 hours
or until leaves etc. are crisp. Press oil from herb. Bottle
and label. Keep in dark, cool place.
Cover herb with olive oil and place in hot sun for about
1 part powdered herb to 4 parts hot petroleum jelly, lard
or similar substances.
beeswax as needed to get a firm consistency. Melt the
mixture by heating slowly, and stir until completely blended.
A little gum benzoin or a drop of tincture of benzoin
per ounce of fat (when a perishable fat is used as a base)
will help to preserve the ointment.
the Oven: Place chopped herb in oven-ware dish or pan,
cover herbs with melted lard, mutton tallow, goose grease
or any pure grease (not drippings). Mix well and put in
200 degree oven until leaves, flowers, buds etc. are crisp,
about 1-3 hours. Strain through a loose cotton cloth,
sieve or colander. Add beeswax which has been put in oven
to melt so heated temperatures will be approximately the
same. Beeswax is included for the purpose of solidifying
a salve or ointment (about 1 oz to 1 lb lard). When too
much wax is added the salve may set up quite firm, making
it hard to apply on painful sores or scratches. Stir vigorously
or whip with rotary beaters until cool. Beating action
prevents a separation of the wax and fat. Spoon into jars
and store in cool place as the fat will go rancid if kept
the stove: Procedure is the same except the cooking process
is accomplished by placingt on top of stove over low heat.
Need not cover pan. Stir occasionally. Note: aluminum
ware should never be used for salve making.
ORGANIZING CARDS IN A FILE BOX
in the filing of Nature's Medicine Chest plant ID and information
alphabetically according to common name of plant into a
4x6 file chest, using
index tabs (not included).
· Cross reference, to indicate other uses in that
plant, referring back to the photo card.
· Add you own healthful hints to the chest as you
find additional information.
· Keep tract of the nature's herb remedies that especially
helped you or a particular person in the family. For instance
golden seal may help one with congestion where garlic may
help another more effectively. If that information is not
recorded, you may not remember when the problem comes up
again in the future.
If the use of herbs become part of your way of life whether
for tasty teas, flavoring of foods, edible useages? or as
remedies in health problems, you should consider planting
the herbs you plan to be using (as you locate them in nurseries,
meadows, roadsides, etc.) into your garden or home
1. Seeds - Most perennial and annual herbs can be
started from seeds in the fall or after danger of frost
in the spring.
2. Roots - Transplanting the root will be more successful
by keeping as much of the original dirt balled around it
as possible, trying not to injure the fibrous roots. Place
in appropriate size hole. Pat soil firmly around plant and
3. Cuttings - or "slips" can be taken any
time in the spring or summer during the active growing season.
Using a sharp knife, razor blade or shears, cut from a strong
new tip growth about 3-6 inches just below a leaf bud or
node ( a stem that snaps off when bent sharply rather than
one that bends is ideal). Remove foliage from lower half
of stem before planting. Keep cuttings out of sun between
two layers of damp cloth or paper towels to prevent from
drying and wilting until planted. Add sand to soil (2 parts
sand to 1 part soil). If planted in a can or pot be sure
there is drainage.
4. Fertilizing - Herbs will appreciate well balanced
fertilizer in moderation; soil that is poor will produce
foliage that is sparse and has poor flavor. Too rich soil;
will generate lush growth with only small concentrations
of oil in the leaves.
5. Water and Sun - It is best to keep herbs that
require different amounts of water in separate areas. Some
herbs do not require as much sun as others and can be planted
near taller plants which filter direct sunlight to them.
TYPES OF HERBS
a. Annuals - plants that complete their life cycles in a
single growing season or winter annuals which germinate
from seed in the fall or early winter and quickly complete
growth and mature the following spring.
b. Biennials - Plants that require two full growing seasons
to develop flowers and mature seed. During the first season
a short taproot is usually formed and only a rosette of
leaves grow from the root-crown. During the second season,
a leafy stem develops which produces flowers and seed.
c. Perennials - Plants that normally live for more than
two years and usually do not produce seed until the second
year or later. Some perennials produce woody stems which
grow from year to year and consequently develop into shrubs
ROOTS - Annual plants just previous to flowering; biennial
plants soon after leaves have fallen tin the autumn of the
first year; perennial plants after fall of leaves and flowers
in the autumn.
LEAVES - Gather as soon as fully matured. Most potent before
flowers appear or maturing of the fruit. Remember, biennials
do not perfect leaves until second year.
FLOWERS - When about to open from the bud or immediately
upon opening unless the buds are specifically needed, than
gather when nicely formed.
BARK - Gather I n the spring when the sap is rising, or
before flowering, or in the autumn after foliage has fallen.
HERB - Choose a sunny, dry morning just after the dew has
dried from the leaves, but before the sun is hot. Some annuals
may be harvested more than once.
AND FLOWERS - As soon as the seed heads or capsules turn
brown but before they fully ripen and scatter, cut entire
seed head or stem into a paper bag. Do it on a warm, dry
day. Seeds to be used for future planting should be harvested
when seed capsules begin to yellow and are about ready to
drop off. Flowers can be cut with a knife or pruning shears.
Choose newly opened ones that are bright and fresh.
- Dig in late fall or spring. Wash dirt off. Cut in small
pieces with scissors or shears. Let dry thoroughly in paper
bag. Store in closed container.
METHODS FOR DRYING
Any way that exposes leaves, flowers, seeds or roots to
warm, dry air that circulates freely to absorb moisture
in a way that the oil are not destroyed. Sunlight will damage
the leaves and flavor
a. Hang upside down, tie ends of stems together, especially
good for herbs with long stems, 1-2 weeks. Cover with paper
bag if in dusty area.
b. On screens or trays
c. In dehydrator on very low heat or no heat, depending
on thickness of herb
Store dried herbs in airtight containers. Label and date.
Keep in dark, cool place. During first weeks after storing
check to see if any moisture has formed inside the container.
Use a mortar and pest, electric nut or coffee grinder to
grind herbs into powder
SUGGESTIONS ON PRESSING AND PRESERVING
FROM THE FIELD
It is not always necessary to collect the roots, but is
very important to have a sample of the flower and fruit.
As the plant is cut or pulled, place it as soon as possible
into a plastic bag to keep the moisture in or a container
of some kind, if only a box, to keep the specimen intact
as best as you can.
Place the plant inside a folded sheet of newspaper. If the
plant is too long, bend the stem until it fits. When preserving
a specimen such as a cactus slice a thin piece of the plant
horizontally and place it between the newspaper; if you
are in a very damp climate, you may want to use a blotter
type paper. Next, put corrugated cardboard on both sides,
with the direction of the corrugations going the shortest
distance of the piece. This enables better ventilation.
Using a rope, belt or some type of strap to secure the one
or more specimens together, tie around the cardboard. You
may want to put some plywood the same size as the cardboard
to put on either end of the cardboard, before tying, for
more even pressure.
ENTERING YOUR SPECIMEN
When the plant has had sufficient time to dry, remove and
place it on a sheet of paper and secure it with Elmer's
or Mod Podge type glue. Let drops of the glue hit strategic
areas of the plant and it will run through or down the sides
of the plant and on to the paper, drying clear. Write information
concerning the plant in a lower corner of the paper. Your
entered specimen will be accepted at any college herbarium
for their libraries if the data includes: date, county,
state, location and your name.
There are many excellent books on alternative health.
The following are those we are familiar with and have
found to be extremely informative and helpful:
Guide to Edible Wild Plants - Peterson
A Modern Herbal - Grieve
Dr. Mom - Ellis
Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs - Foster, Duke
Edible Wild Plants - Medsger
HART (Herb formulas) - Clemment (Nature's Sunshine Products)
Heal Your Body - Hay
Healthy Healing - Page
Herbs - Bremness
Herbs to the Rescue (Herbal First Aid) - King
Know your Poisonous Plants - James
Medicinal Plants Series - Moore
Mother Nature's CD library - Packard Technologies
Prescription for Nutritional Healing - Balch
School of Natural Healing - Christopher's Publications
The Herb Book - Lust
Wild Edible Plants of the Western U. S. - Kirk