Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Here it is December, and I'm too lazy to write a new article.  So here is the link to last year's DECEMBER, CHRISTMAS AND WINTER HOLIDAY HERBS.  


Friday, November 18, 2011


OK, this is a repost from November 2010, but with Turkey-Day coming soon, I thought that it might be enjoyed by some readers.


Every year in the U.S.A. we celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November with a dinner consisting of a wonderful array of foods, including turkey, stuffing, corn casseroles, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie to name just a few. Oh, and of course family, friends, parades and FOOTBALL!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Did Ben Franklin bring invasive tallow tree to Texas?

I was reading an article in the Houston Chronicle this morning by Kathy Huber, Gardening in Houston. You might be interested in reading her article Did Ben Franklin bring invasive tallow tree to Texas?

Founding Father Ben Franklin introduced the Chinese tallow tree to this country. But we can’t blame him for the exotic’s invasion — and destruction – of coastal prairie from Florida to Texas.

Science has cleared his name.

Genetic tests on Chinese tallow trees from the United States and China prove the statesman did not import the tallows overrunning habitats along the Gulf Coast. Rice University’s Evan Siemann, co-author of a study in the July issue of the American Journal of Botany, says descendants of Franklin’s trees remain in a few thousand square miles of coastal plain in northern Georgia and southern South Carolina. The majority of troublemakers are linked to seeds brought to this country by federal biologists in the early 1900s.

Franklin, who also introduced soybeans and kale, had no clue of the huge tallow problems ahead. He sent tallow seeds to a farmer friend in Georgia in 1772 to be grown as a cash crop. The waxy white tallow that coats each seed is used to make a cooking oil, soap and candles.

In the early 1900s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture planted tallows in Texas to study their commercial use. In 1949, thousands more were planted along the Gulf as a possible oilseed crop.

Read the rest of the article for more information. Although after reading the article, I still feel that he is probably partially responsible! What do you all think?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wilderness Survival Foods

It turned out I used this as the basis for our next herb club program on November 9th.  You can see what I added at the end of the post.
I ran across this article on a totally unrelated blog I was reading, but being the herbie that I am I had to read it, then of course, to share.
What is the universal edibility test?

What is the universal edibility test?G­etting lost or stranded in the wilderness is serious business, and ­you need to make sound decisions to give yourself the best chance at survival. It also helps to know some basic wilderness survival skills. To make sure you're safe from the elements, you'll need to know how to build a shelter. To provide you with an opportunity to cook food, boil water and send a rescue signal, you should learn how to build a fire without a match or lighter. The other crucial component to survival is finding water in the wild. People can live without food for up to a month, but water is necessary to keep us alive.
But just because you can live without food doesn't mean you should. Going without food will leave you weak and apt to make poor decisions, which could endanger your life. Being able to identify edible plants in the wilderness is a good skill to have under your belt. The problem is, there are more than 700 varieties of poisonous plant in the United States and Canada alone, so unless you have a book that clearly identifies edible species, it's nearly impossible to determine whether or not a plant will make you sick with absolute certainty.
It's dangerous to eat a plant you're unsure of, especially in a survival scenario. It's better to be hungry than to poison yourself. Some poisonous plants look a lot like edible plants. Some plants have parts that are edible and parts that are toxic. Some are only edible for certain periods throughout the year. You can see where mistakes can easily be made.
If you're in a survival situation and you don't have a book on local edible plants, there is a test you can perform to give yourself a good shot at eating the right thing. It's called the universal edibility test, and we'll cover it in this article.

Universal Edibility Test: Separate, Contact, Cook and Taste

The universal edibility test requires breaking down the parts of a plant and testing them individually over a period of 24 hours. In a survival situation, you don't want to go through this trouble if there isn't a lot of the plant you're testing. If there are only a few sprigs of what you think might be the colorful and edible borage, it won't help you much even if you find that it is the cucumber-like herb. Find something near you that's growing in abundance. To prepare for the test, don't eat or drink anything but water for at least eight hours beforehand. If you're lost or stranded in the wild without any food, this should be pretty easy to accomplish. Now it's test time:

Separate - Because only some parts of the plant may be edible, separate it into its five basic parts. These are the leaves, roots, stems, buds and flowers. There may not be buds or flowers. Check out the parts for worms or insects -- you want a clean and fresh plant. Evidence of parasites or worms is a good sign that it's rotting. If you find them, discard the plant and get another of the same variety or choose a different one.

Contact - First you need to perform a contact test. If it's not good for your skin, it's not good for your belly. Crush only one of the plant parts and rub it on the inside of your wrist or elbow for 15 minutes. Now wait for eight hours. If you have a reaction at the point of contact, then you don't want to continue with this part of the plant. A burning sensation, redness, welts and bumps are all bad signs. While you wait, you can drink water, but don't eat anything. If there is no topical reaction after eight hours, move along to the next step.

Cook - Some toxic plants become edible after they're boiled, so get out your apron and start cooking. Your goal is to test it how you would eat it, so if you don't have any means to boil the plant part, test it raw. Once you've boiled it, or if you're going raw, take the plant part and hold it to your lip for three minutes. If you feel any kind of burning or tingling sensation, remove the piece from your lip and start over with a new part. If there's no reaction, press on.

Taste - Pop the same part in your mouth and hold it on your tongue for another 15 minutes. If you experience anything unpleasant, spit it out and wash your mouth with water. You're looking for a similar burning or tingling as you did on your lip. It may not taste great, but that doesn't mean it's toxic.

If there's no adverse reaction in step four, keep on truckin' to the following page for the next steps.

 Now I am not going to copy the whole article, you can read the rest here.   But I will tell you this,
I hope you have some fat on  you cause this is going to take a little time and you will be hungry before the tests are completed.
Also notice it is on the How Stuff Works website. A very interesting place to browse.

 For more information on wilderness survival, please put down that carrot root and click forward to the next page.

Plant Warning Signs

Aside from the universal edibility test, there are a few other tips on what kinds of plants you should avoid. These tips may rule out some plants that are edible, but it's better to do that than to risk getting poisoned.

$            Never eat plants with thorns.
$            Steer clear of plants with shiny leaves.
$            Don't eat mushrooms. Many are safe to eat, but many are highly toxic and even           deadly, so it's not worth the risk.
$            Umbrella‑shaped flowers are a bad sign. Stay away from these plants.
$            Don't eat plants with white or yellow berries.
$            If the plant's sap is milky or discolored, leave it alone.
$            Avoid beans or plants with seeds inside a pod.
$            If it tastes bitter or soapy, spit it out.
$            Avoid anything that smells like almonds.
$            Same as poison ivy, stay away from plants with leaves in groups of three.

Lots More Information  http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/universal‑edibility‑test3.htm
Related HowStuffWorks Articles

    Top 5 Most Poisonous Plants
    How Entomophagy Works
    How Poison Ivy Works
    How Venus Flytraps Work
    How to Survive the Freezing Cold
    Harrowing Survival Stories
    How to Find Water
    How to Build a Shelter
    How does hemp work?
    How can I tell if a bug is edible?
    If I kill an animal, can I eat it raw?

More Great Links
    The Nature Conservancy
    Survival IQ
    The Edible Schoolyard

 "Edibility of Plants." wilderness‑survival.net, 2008. http://www.wilderness‑survival.net/plants‑1.php
   Brill, Steve. "Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants." Harper Collins Publishers, 1994.
Kaplan, Melissa. "Edible Plants List." anapsid.org, April 19, 2007. http://www.anapsid.org/resources/edible.html

Some Plants we know to be edible:

Wild Edible Plants  http://www.wildwoodsurvival.com/survival/food/edibleplants/

$            Blueberry (fruit)
$            Garlic Mustard (green plant)
$            Gooseberries (fruits)
$            Indian Cucumber Root (tubers)
$            Jerusalem Artichoke (tubers)
$            Mayapple (fruit)
$            Nettles (young whole plant) (& cordage)
$            Ostrich Fern (fiddleheads) (young plants)
$            Trout Lily (tubers)
$            Wild Carrot (roots) be careful some toxic plants are lookalikes.
$            Wild Garlic (whole plant)
$            Wild Leeks (whole plant)
$            Agave Root (root)

cattails - The spike or shoots can be harvested from spring until summer. They can be eaten raw or sauteed. We must take the time to identify the plant correctly at this time of the year. In the early spring, it is easier to confuse the plant with poisonous look‑alikes such as Sweet Flag (Acorus Calamus) or Daffodils (Narcissus). It is fairly common to find cattail plants from the previous year still standing. Their cigar shapped fluffly head will help verify that we found the correct plant. Later in spring the stalks will be much larger.

It is important to know the plants in the area and how they grow according to the season. From spring to summer, the plant will start to create pollen. The pollen can be used like flour.

Group: Monocot
Family: Alismataceae
Names: indian potato, wapato, duck potato
Edible Parts: Tubers, buds and fruits of this plant are edible in late summer
Preparation: Can be eaten raw, recommend boiling. We boiled the potato for twenty minutes. If the water source should be treated before drinking it, then any plant that grows near the water source should be boiled.

Note: Arrow Arum has high levels of calcium oxylate. Even after boiling parts of the plant for twenty minutes, the plant will make you sick. Will cause vomiting, sweat, and diarrhea.

The leaves should be studied closely and the tubers look nothing alike. Wapato will also flower during mid summer with a three petaled white flower.

Mulberry (Morus)
It is possible it would be found in this area, not probable.

Kudzu (Pueraria montana) -surprise! It has a use.
Nutritional value: Vitamin C, A, Starch
Pretty much the entire plant is edible and is also known for medicinal values. We were blessed to find this great patch of Kudzu surrounded by Blackberries. The leaves can be eaten raw, steam or boiled. The root can be eaten as well.

Kudzu flower blossoms smell absolutely great ! Unmistakable smell of grape. The flower can be used to make Kudzu Jelly.

Blackberry (Rubus L.)

Prickly Pear Cactus
Both the pads and the fruit can be eaten. Prickly pear jelly is often found in the South‑west states. The pads are supposed to be best if gathered in spring. The fruit here was a little past its best point. The color of the fruit will be a dark wine‑like burgundy.

Acorns (Oak)- Acorns contain carbohydrates, protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and even fat. Although they must be prepared to eat, they are an indispensable part of a wilderness diet. The native Americans would harvest the acorns to help them pass the winters.

Acorns have the advantage of being a food source that can be stored. Acorn fat can cause the acorns to get moldy or rotten.

Preparation: Tannin should be removed from the acorns. Reducing the tannic acid from the acorns by soaking them will make them more palatable and less toxic. Some people soak the acorns a process called leaching. Others grind the acorns into flour and then treating it with hot water. Finally boiling the acorns is suggested for rapid removal of the tannins. We soaked the acorns for three days after peeling the outer shell.

Pine - There are over a hundred different species of pine. Not only can the food be used as a supply of nourishment but, also can be used for medicinal purposes.

Edible parts of the pine include:

* Pine needles
* Inner bark
* Seeds
High in vitamin C content pine needle oil is used by some in aroma therapy for sinus and infections of the respiratory system.

More on Kudzu
As with any foraged food, make sure the plant has not been sprayed with any chemicals and is not growing anywhere that toxic waste is dumped. Try to avoid plants grown too close to the roadways as they tend to contain too much dust and automotive exhaust. Since the vine patches are thick, wear boots and watch out for critters and insects. Also, kudzu looks very similar to poison ivy - be sure you know how to distinguish between the two plants!
Kudzu grows from Florida to New Jersey, and as far west as West Virginia and East Texas. However, a small patch of it has been found in Clackamas County, Oregon. No one is sure where it came from.
The leaves, vine tips, flowers, and roots are edible; the vines are not. The leaves can be used like spinach and eaten raw, chopped up and baked in quiches, cooked like collards, or deep fried. Young kudzu shoots are tender and taste similar to snow peas.
Kudzu also produces beautiful, purple-colored, grape-smelling blossoms that make delicious jelly, candy, and syrup. Some people have used these to make homemade wine. The large potato-like roots are full of protein, iron, fiber, and other nutrients. They are dried and then ground into a powder which is used to coat foods before frying or to thicken sauces.
Kudzu recipes to try:
Click here for some recipes for kudzu jelly, kudzu quiche, and kudzu collard greens.
More kudzu recipes
More recipes, including kudzu wine

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Teas: Sassafras and Sarsaparilla" presented by Pat Baugh

Our Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group program for September 14, 2011 was "Teas: Sassafras and Sarsaparilla" presented by Pat Baugh. She had some good information which I will post along with some websites for more information! Thanks Pat for a great program!

Did you know…?

Sarsaparilla has long been used as a blood purifier and tonic that boosts stamina and energy. Although there is no definitive evidence, many body-builders strongly maintain that Sarsaparilla (or Smilax) helps to build Muscle mass, while avoiding the harmful side effects of anabolic steroids. Sarsaparilla is considered a fine tonic herb, an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, and the herb may even act as an aphrodisiac. Perhaps this is the reason that the "Good Guys" of the Old West, who disdained whiskey in favor of Sarsaparilla, always seemed to have that extra edge.


Sarsaparilla contains vitamins A, B-complex, C and D. Also the minerals iron, manganese, sodium, silicon, sulfur, copper, Zinc, and iodine. It contains the amino acids methionine and cysteine. It also contains diogenin, a saprogen which in turn contains the female hormone progesterone and the male hormone testosterone. Sarsaparilla helps strengthen the nerve fibers and tissues of the brain, spinal cord, lungs, and throat. Sarsaparilla is especially good for removing heavy metallic contaminants from the blood, which are received through the nostrils in the foul, smog-filled air of urban areas. Sarsaparilla root, which contains testosterone, will help hair regrow.


Sarsaparilla is a perennial, climbing vine, native to the rain forests of Central and South America, Jamaica and Caribbean regions, and also grows in other temperate zones such as Southeast Asia and Australia. The root is long and tuberous and supports a ground-trailing evergreen vine that may reach fifty feet in length, and the fragrance of the root (which has been used for centuries in herbal medicine) is spicy-sweet and it has a pleasant taste. Its name is derived from two Spanish words, sarza, meaning "bramble" and parilla, meaning "vine."

The indigenous tribes of Central and South America used Sarsaparilla for centuries for sexual Impotence, rheumatism, skin ailments and as a tonic for physical weakness. New World traders of the 1400s and 1500s soon discovered and adopted the herb and introduced it into European society, where physicians there considered it a fine tonic, blood purifier, diuretic and diaphoretic, as well as a strong remedy for syphilis and other sexually-transmitted diseases. Since that time, Sarsaparilla has gained popularity for its medicinal effects, and it became registered as an official herb in the United States.

Pharmacopoeia as a treatment for syphilis from 1820 to 1910. Some of the constituents included in Sarsaparilla are beta-sitosterol, starch, fatty acids, calcium, cetyl-alcohol, chromium, cobalt, Glucose, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, resin, saponin, silicon, sitosterol-d glucoside, tin, Zinc, B-vitamins and vitamins A, C and D.


Sarsaparilla is considered to be a fine tonic and blood purifier that is said to attack and neutralize toxins (including environmental poisons) in the blood. In addition, the herb also promotes urination and sweating; and that action is believed to further rid the body of toxins through bodily secretions. It also helps to cool the body and break intermittent fevers.

As an antibacterial, Sarsaparilla has been used internally and externally to counteract infections of all kinds. Internally, the herb is said to attack microbial substances in the blood and also counteract Urinary Tract Infections. It was used for centuries as a treatment for syphilis, gonorrhea, and other sexually transmitted diseases, being officially listed in both the United States Pharmacopoeia and the United States Dispensatory for those ailments. Externally, it is said to treat psoriasis, leprosy, boils, abscesses, skin diseases, wounds and Eczema. Conventional medicine recognized Sarsaparilla's value in treating skin conditions in the 1940s, when The New England Journal of Medicine officially praised it for treating psoriasis.

Sarsaparilla is an anti-inflammatory that is believed to ease rheumatism, Arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Because of its diuretic properties, the stimulation of urine production increases the excretion of uric Acid, which also helps to relieve Gout; and although it does not relieve acute cases of Gout, its use may prevent attacks when taken over a period of weeks or months.

There is much mystique and controversy surrounding Sarsaparilla's hormonal properties in both men and women. In men, the herb is said to stimulate production of natural hormones (testosterone), which may help to restore both sexual interest and erectile function. This action is different from many other male aphrodisiacs that act by increasing blood to the Penis, which also carries the risk of creating high Blood pressure. In women, hormonal production is also said to be encouraged, which may not only boost diminished Sex Drive, but may also help to alleviate the symptoms of menopause.

Bodybuilders claim that the natural steroidal glycosides in Sarsaparilla help to build Muscle mass, while avoiding the harmful side effects of anabolic steroids, although there are no clinical results to prove this. Additionally, they maintain that use of the herb boosts energy and stamina, and eases the inflammatory conditions brought about by strenuous exercise.

Sarsaparilla is said to be a fine tonic and "alterative," an agent that may favorably alter an unhealthy condition of the body with the tendency to restore normal bodily function. The herb is also thought to help keep the glandular system in balance.

Courtesy of website: http://www.herbalist.com/wiki.details/82/category/11/start/0/

Here are some more websites to check out:

A Guide to Wild Edible Plants for Parents and Teachers to Use with Children http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Sassafras.html

Texas Native Plants

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Tree ID from Virginia Tech





Monday, September 19, 2011


From an old newsletter!

Hello Herbies! At our March 9 meeting, we discussed "Planting Herbs for Butterflies and Hummingbirds". The program was presented by Linda Collins and Pat Baugh.

Pat presented the following information regarding butterflies which was in Michael Womack’s column in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, March 15, 2003, and I have added a couple more herbs myself.

Eastern Black Swallowtails feed on fennel, parsley, dill, carrot, parsnip, and rue.

Gulf Fritillary and Zebra Longwings are common on passion vine.

Male Gulf Fritillary on passion flower.

Monarch butterflies love plants in the butterfly weed family and fennel.

Monarch butterfly caterpillar feasting on butterfly weed! 

Monarch butterfly chrysalis. 

Monarch butterfly chrysalis almost ready to hatch a butterfly! 

Newley hatched Monarch butterfly! 

Queen butterflies also munch on the milkweeds.

The Giant Swallowtail prefers citrus and rue.

This Giant Swallowtail is on one of my roses. 

Painted Lady larvae love borage and members of the thistle family and sunflower.

Pat also presented some valuable information which she obtained from The Butterfly Book: An Easy Guide to Butterfly Gardening, Identification, and Behavior by Donald and Lillian Stokes and Ernest Williams.

Pat reported that that the favorite colors of butterflies in order are:

• Purple
• White
• Yellow
• Pink
• True blue
• Red

And the top ten nectar plants for butterflies are:

• Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.)
• Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium spp.)
• Liatris (Liatris spp.)
• Corespsis (Corespsis spp.)
• Pentas (Pentas Lanceolata)
• Aster (Aster spp.)
• Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
• Lantana (Lantanca camara)
• Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
• Butterfly bush (Buddlea spp.)

Butterfly and Hummingbird Herbs
by Juli Kight

Create a healing space using herbs which attract butterflies and hummingbirds. This can be a space in your garden or a space created by a container herb garden. A few years ago while living in Minnesota I had been planting various and unusual herbs, roses and growing geraniums into standards. We had two warm seasons and had been seeing a lot of unusual life in the garden that I normally had not seen including hummingbirds. One early morning after putting the dog out, I stood on the porch among the plants and saw what I thought was a really unusual hummingbird. Then I noticed the antenna, and really had to look closer to make sure that is what I was seeing, and was captivated. Apparently we were being visited by some sort of hummingbird or Sphinx Moth and I have not seen one since. Now that I live in Central Texas and still very much a novice at this, I have noticed huge amounts of butterflies and moths as well as hummingbirds and have decided to add more plants to attract them.

Butterfly plants provide nectar for adult butterflies and food for the offspring. It is important to learn how to garden organically to make it a safe haven and supporting area for these little life forms. Many nectar plants are shared by both the butterfly and hummingbird. According to http://hummingbirds.net/, hummingbirds lack the sense of smell and go by "visibility and nectar production". I had noticed they seem attracted to reds especially.

Find out which butterflies and moths are native to your area. You can do this by going to the http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/ website. This site offers distribution maps, butterfly and moth identification by region and information on the species. For hummingbirds visit Hummingbirds.net Species list by state.

For selecting plants for butterflies, visit the Butterfly Website which offers a list by species, then gives both nectar and host plant suggestions. Some easy herb selections include:

• Lavenders
• Thyme
• Sassafras
• Savory
• Yarrow
• Nasturtiums
• Catmint
• Sages
• Oregano
• Echinacea
• Hyacinth Bean Vine
• Bee balm
• Joe Pye Weed
• Goldenrod
• Nettle
• Fennel
• Parsley
• Hypericum frondosum (Golden St. John's Wort)
• Cilantro


• Bee Balm
• Nasturtiums
• Salvias
• Digitalis (Foxgloves)
• Yucca
• Hamelia patens (firebush, scarlet bush, hummingbird bush)

Male ruby-throat hummingbird!

Butterflies and hummers also like:

• Hibiscus coccineus 'Texas Star'
• Cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit)
• Almond verbena (Aloysia virgata)
• Trumpet Vine
• Cape Honeysuckle
• Bottlebrush Plant
• Lavender
• Rosemary
• Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
• Lion's Ear (Leonotis nepetifolia)
• Mints, especially Purple Horse Mint (Monarda punctata )
• *Salvias (Sages) especially Hummingbird Sage (Salvia guaranitica), Autumn Sage (Salvia Greggii) and Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) which is a good substitute for Scarlet Sage, a/k/a Texas Sage (Salvia coccinea) which can be rather invasive.

And I’ll add my "recipe of the month" for hummingbirds:

Feeders can be easily purchased and kept full with a sugar water solution. Glass feeders last longer and are more easily cleaned. You should never use a dye to the solution because it can make the birds sick. The red color of the feeder is enough to attract the birds. The solution for the feeders is 1 part sugar to 4 parts of water. Boil the water and then add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Let it cool before placing it in the feeders. While extra solution can be kept in the refrigerator for two weeks, it is best to make smaller amounts more often. The feeders should be cleaned with hot water (no soap) every three days in hot weather. The feeder should be placed in an open, shady spot where the hummers will have easy access. Every now and then when the feeders get really dirty, clean them with a bleach water mixture of one part bleach to ten parts water and let soak, rinse with lots of fresh water and let dry thoroughly before refilling.

And the most important thing is to keep your feeders clean. In Texas, where it is so hot, do not allow your solution to be in the feeder for more than three days. A fungus will start to grow in the solution which causes for the hummers to get a chronic respiratory infection. The hummers do not know that the fungus is in the solution and will continue to feed from it. So make sure you keep your feeders clean.

A leucistic hummingbird down in Copano Village in September 2010.

Until next month, great gardening!!


For butterflies check out The Cockrell Butterfly Center at website  http://www.hmns.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=56&Itemid=8, the Texas Butterfly Ranch http://www.texasbutterflyranch.com/, and the Florida website for Butterfly Plants.

Stan, Agatha and Linda (me a/k/a Herbie) checking out some of my hummingbirds at the 2006 Rockport Hummer/Bird Celebration! 

All photos except for the Painted Lady Butterfly and the above photo taken by Linda T. Collins! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Our Next meeting is Sept. 14th!

Hey Herbies!

Rockport Herb & Rose Study Group program for Wednesday, September 14, 2011 will be "Teas: Sassafras and Sarsaparilla" presented by Pat Baugh. We will meet at 10:00 a.m. at our usual location, i.e. ACISD Maintenance Department (Formerly Rockport Elementary), 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport, Texas. 

Hope to see everyone there! If you have any questions, give me or Pat a call! Also, we are keeping our blog updated, so check it for lots of great information!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rose named Herb of the Year for 2012

Here is a link to lots of info about the Rose, Herb of the Year for 2012.


We need to dust off our pruners and rose gloves and do some programs on the rose- its uses, growing info, etc.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

FDA moves closer to criminalizing herbs, vitamins, and minerals!

Ruth just posted this on her Facebook account, and I think that we need to spread the word. It's really scary what the government is trying to do to us. My feelings are that "Big Brother is alive, well and stronger than ever"! It is from the blog Friends Eat.

FDA moves closer to criminalizing herbs, vitamins, and minerals
As of April 2011, herbal medicines will require full licensing throughout the European Union. And in any European country after this date it will be illegal to sell or supply any herbal medicine that has not been licensed.

Of the hundreds of herbal remedies under threat of being classified as a controllable medicinal herb are Cascara bark, Pau D’Arco, winter cherry, Skullcap, Meadowsweet, Horny goat weed, and even peppermint.

Read FDA moves closer to criminalizing herbs, vitamins, and minerals for the rest of the article!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Herbal IQ Program August 10, 2011

This is basically from the website What Grandma Knew, but links are given to all the other sites quoted in the answers.

Saffron comes from Western Asia and most likely Persia. The crocus was cultivated in ancient Europe. The Mongols took saffron from Persia to India. In ancient time saffron was used medicinally and as well as for food and as a dye.
How To Buy and Store Saffron
Unless you use saffron frequently it is best to purchase in small amounts like .5 or 1 gram at a time. You can view the chart below to see equivalents and about how much is used in common recipes.  If you use saffron frequently then you may want to invest in a one ounce tin. (See Where to Buy)

Threads vs Powder
Like most all spices and herbs, "whole" is more powerful than ground. Whole saffron must be prepared before use, sometimes soaked, sometimes toasted and ground.  If that's too much fuss for you then you may want to purchase ground. Buy ground saffron in small amounts and use within 3 to 6 months.  Purchase saffron from a reliable shop and be particularly careful when buying powdered saffron as it can be "cut" or diluted with turmeric or other additives.

Saffron must be stored in a cool dark place.  It is customary to wrap saffron in foil and place in a tin or jar with a tight fitting lid.

Properly stored you can keep saffron for minimally three years.  It won't "go bad" but the flavor will diminish as it ages.

Coriander is a spice made from the seed of the Cilantro  plant. The plant, which is also called the Coriander plant or Chinese Parsley, is a member of the carrot and parsley family. The seeds are small and round, with a brown or yellowish-brown color.
Both the seeds and leaves of the Cilantro plants are edible, but they have very distinct flavors and uses. Coriander has a light and fresh flavor, tinged with lemon. It is commonly used in curries or in other Asian cuisines and is often combined with ginger. Coriander is also used to flavor sausages and is even used in manufacturing some cigarettes. Cilantro leaves have a very pungent flavor; people generally love or hate the taste of Cilantro.
The Cilantro plant has been grown in India, China and Egypt for thousands of years. Coriander is believed to be one of the earliest spices used by man. There are references to the spice in early Sanskrit documents, the Bible and ancient Chinese and Middle Eastern stories. It gained an early reputation as both an aphrodisiac and an appetite stimulant. More recently, it has gained popularity in Western and Southwestern cuisine. Today, Spain and Morocco are some of the leading producers of coriander.
Cilantro is easy to grow and it develops quickly. It can be grown indoors or in most warm climates, but it is especially suited for environments with dry, hot summers. The coriander seeds usually ripen in late summer and should be dried thoroughly before they are used. Dry the seeds by cutting the stems and hanging the plant cuttings upside down. Do not use hot air to dry the seeds since it will detract from the delicate flavor of the spice.
Coriander seeds can be used whole or ground. One unit of ground coriander can be substituted for one unit of coriander seeds in many recipes. Try sprinkling the whole seeds over salads or roasting meats. The ground spice is ideal for creating spicy rubs and is often used in marinades.
Goldenseal root http://wondrousroots.com/goldenseal.html
Also known as
Hydrastis canadensis, Orange Root, Yellow Root, Yellow Puccoon. Ground Raspberry. Wild Curcuma. Turmeric Root. Indian Dye. Eye Root. Eye Balm. Indian Paint. Jaundice Root, and Warnera.

Goldenseal root has a long history of medicinal use among Native American tribes of the northeast, its native habitat. The plant was first described to the outside world in the 1700s and was greeted with such enthusiasm as a virtual cure-all that exports of the native American plant reached 200,000 to 300,000 pounds annually. Among the maladies that goldenseal root was said to be an effective treatment for were upper respiratory infections, catarrh, intestinal infections, infections of the mucous membranes, diabetes, yeast infections and thrush. Recent research has isolated constituents in goldenseal which have broad spectrum antibiotic properties, as well as astringent and anti-inflammatory actions, giving credence to many of the traditional uses of the herb.

Hydrastine, Berberine, berberastine, canadine, candaline, and hydrastinine, fatty acids, resin, polyphenolic acids, meconin, chlorogenic acid, phytosterins and a small amount of volatile oil

Parts Used

Typical Preparations
In tea as an infusion or decoction, in capsules, as a poultice and in liquid extract form.

Goldenseal root is considered to be an effective broad spectrum antibiotic, and is very much in demand worldwide. Its antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties have led researchers to study goldenseal root as a possible alternative to chemical antibiotics. Goldenseal also appears to promote healthy glandular function, and may have a tonic and detoxifying effect on the entire system.

Because berberine can stimulate contractions, goldenseal root should not be used by pregnant women. Goldenseal may raise blood pressure and should not be used for extended periods of time by those with heart conditions.
4.What herbal liqueur has been credited for the birth of the Impressionist art movement?

  It is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from herbs, including the flowers and leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, commonly referred to as "grande wormwood", together with green anise and sweet fennel. Absinthe traditionally has a natural green colour but can also be colourless. It is commonly referred to in historical literature as "la fée verte" (the "green fairy" in French).
Although it is sometimes mistakenly called a liqueur, absinthe is not bottled with added sugar and is therefore classified as a spirit.[5] Absinthe has a very high level of alcohol by volume but is normally diluted with water when consumed.
5. Which herb provides the salicylic acid from which aspirin was originally synthesized?
 White Willow Bark   http://wondrousroots.com/whitewillow.html
Also known as- Salix alba, Willow and Willow bark.

Native to North America, northern Asia, and much of Africa, the white willow is a low-growing deciduous tree bearing long, green, tapering leaves and catkins in spring. Bark is tripped from young trees in the spring for use in herbal medicines.
Willow bark is the grandmother of aspirin and many other medications for arthritis and rheumatism. Almost two thousand years ago, the Greek physician Dioscorides used willow bark to sooth the pain of inflamed joints. Native American healers used willow bark long before Columbus„or the Vikings„landed.
The conversion of willow bark to aspirin began in 1828 when a German chemist isolated the active ingredient and named it salicin. In 1899, the Bayer company began manufacturing and selling a modified form of the willow bark chemical acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin. This first of the modern miracle medicines has been a mainstay in the treatment of joint pain ever since. Willow bark is a proven painkiller appropriate for colds, fevers, minor infections, headache, arthritis, and pain caused by inflammation.

Salicin, tannins.

Parts Used

Typical Preparations
Most commonly used in tea preparations, and equally convenient as a capsule or extract. Also used to make lozenges, and salicin tablets.

The analgesic action of willow bark depends on symbiotic or "friendly" intestinal bacteria to digest is components into painkilling forms. Aspirin does not require digestion by intestinal bacteria, and works more quickly. Willow bark, on the other hand, continues to provide pain relief longer than aspirin.
Unlike aspirin, the salicylates in willow bark do not increase the risk of bleeding. They do not usually irritate the lining of the stomach. For these reasons, willow bark may be useful for people who have chronic joint pain but cannot take NSAIDs or COX-2 inhibitors.

Native American herbal medicine used willow bark to diminish sexual desire. Long-term, daily use of willow bark will reduce sexual desire, although it will not alter sexual performance in either men or women. Do not use willow bark if you are allergic to aspirin, and do not give willow bark to a child under sixteen years of age who has symptoms of any kind of viral infection, especially flu or chickenpox.ow bark
Alternate names: Maidenhair tree, Kew tree, Japanese silver apricot
Ginkgo is one of the oldest living tree species. The extract of ginkgo leaves is used medicinally in North America, where it's one of the most popular medicinal herbs, and many other countries around the world. In traditional Chinese medicine, the seeds of the ginkgo tree are used.

Why Do People Use Ginkgo?

  • To improve mental function
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Age-related memory loss
  • Macular degeneration
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • To enhance blood circulation
Ginkgo leaves are believed to contain compounds that thin blood and help to improve muscle tone in the walls of blood vessels. This may enhance blood flow.

What are the Safety Concerns?

Constituents in ginkgo leaves may affect blood clotting, so ginkgo leaf extracts shouldn't be used by people with bleeding disorders. People with epilepsy (or anyone with a history of seizures) should avoid ginkgo, because it may increase the frequency of seizures.
Ginkgo leaf products may affect blood sugar levels, so people with diabetes should only be used under the supervision of a health care provider.
The safety of ginkgo in pregnant or nursing women and children isn't known.

What are the Side Effects of Ginkgo?

Side effects of ginkgo leaf include excessive bleeding. Rarely, seizures have been reported in people using either the ginkgo leaf or seed. Other side effects include digestive problems, headaches, allergic skin reactions, or muscle weakness.
People should not consume fresh ginkgo seeds. Roasted ginkgo seeds may cause diarrhea, nausea, indigestion, vomiting, or allergic skin reactions. Side effects of fresh ginkgo seeds or over 10 roasted ginkgo seeds may include difficulty breathing, seizures, unconsciousness and death.

Possible Drug Interactions

Ginkgo can increase the effect of blood-thinners (antiplatelet or anti-clotting drugs), such as clopidogrel, ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), heparin, and aspirin, which may result in uncontrolled bleeding or hemorrhage. Certain herbs, such as danshen, devil's claw, eleuthero, garlic, ginger, horse chestnut, papain, red clover, and saw palmetto, can also increase the risk of bleeding if combined with ginkgo.
Ginkgo has been found to interfere with the metabolism of drugs processed by an enzyme called cyp3A4. Ask your doctor to check if you are taking medications of this type.
Ginkgo may increase the risk of seizures if combined with other drugs or herbs that do the same, such as antidepressants, bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban), certain antibiotics such as penicillin and cephalosporins, Corticosteroids, fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic), theophylline, methylphenidate (e.g. Concerta, Ritalin), drugs that suppress the immune system, such as azathioprine and cyclosporine, borage, evening primrose, and wormwood.
Ginkgo shouldn't be used with the drug cyclosporine (used to suppress the immune system), because it has been found to decrease the effect of that drug. Theoretically, ginkgo may have the same effect with other immunosuppressant drugs.
Ginkgo may interact with insulin and other drugs for diabetes, such as metformin (Glucophage), glyburide (Glynase), glimepiride (Amaryl), and glipizide (Glucotrol XL). It shouldn't be used with medications to prevent seizures.
There have been some cases of high blood pressure in people taking ginkgo and thiazide diuretics, such as chlorothiazide, chlorthalidone, hydrochlorothiazide, metolazone, and polythiazide.


  • Arbor Vitae
  • Buttons
  • Hineheel
  • Scented Fern
  • Stinking Willie
  • Tansy
Known to botanists as Tanacetum vulgare L., family Asteraceae, tansy has a long history of use in folk medicine. This strongly aromatic herb, which reaches a height of up to 3 feet and produces bright yellow flowers, is native to Europe but is naturalized and widely cultivated in the United States.
The dried leaves and flowering tops of tansy have been employed, usually in the form of a tea, as an anthelmintic (expels worms), tonic, stimulant, and emmenagogue (promotes menstrual flow-often a euphemism for promoting abortion). Tansy also makes a flavoring in cakes and puddings, especially those eaten at Easter. And it enjoys a considerable reputation as an insect repellent, especially for flies.
Thujone is a relatively toxic compound, capable of inducing both convulsions and psychotic effects in human beings. There are far more effective and much safer medicines than the thujone-containing tansy for expelling and destroying intestinal worms - the principal use of the plant in folk medicine. In this enlightened era, there is absolutely no reason to utilize a potentially dangerous, toxic material of this sort as an emmenagogue-abortifacient. As a matter of fact, since more effective insect repellents are readily available, there is no real reason to use tansy for anything. Well, perhaps there is just one. Tansy is used as a flavoring agent in certain alcoholic beverages, including Chartreuse, but the resulting product must be thujone-free.
The very name tansy, herbalists declare, is a corruption of the Greek word for immortality - athanasia.
Because of its strong smell, tansy is a natural insect repellent. In the Middle Ages dried tansy was one of the "strewing herbs" scattered across floors to keep pests away. Housewives also hung it from rafters, packed it between bed sheets and mattresses, and rubbed it on meat to discourage lice, flies, and other vermin. In more recent times, they have used tansy to repel moths and get rid of fleas.
Tansy also has a long history as a seasoning and medicinal plant. In England, the leaves were once used to flavor small tansy cakes eaten during Lent - their bitter taste symbolized Christ's suffering. A tea from the leaves was once commonly taken for colds, stomachaches, and intestinal worms. Folk healers also made a poultice from the leaves to place on cuts and bruises.
Tansy has been used in the past as a carminative to aid digestion. However it is not used much today because of its potential toxicity. When the plant is taken, it is chiefly in order to expel intestinal worms and to help stimulate menstrual bleeding. Tansy may be used externally to kill scabies, fleas, and lice, but even external application of tansy preparations carries the risk of toxicity.


Tansy contains volatile oil containing thujone; bitter glycosides; sesquiterpene lactones; terpenoids; flavonoids; tannin.


Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb and leave to infuse for  10 - 15 minutes. This should be drunk twice a day.
Tincture: take 1 - 2 ml of the tincture three times a day.


The leaves and flowers are collected during the flowering time between June and September.


For intestinal worms tansy may be used with wormwood and a carminative such as chamomile in conjunction with a purgative like senna.

8. Other than catnip, what is the other herb that sends cats into pure ecstasy?
Valerian Root  http://whatgrandmaknew.weebly.com/a8-valerian.html

Also known as- Valeriana officinalis. Common Valerian, European Valerian, Valeriana and Allheal.

Valerian is a perennial plant native to northern Europe and central Asia. Growing four feet (120 cm) tall, it ears pin-like leaves and pink flower heads.
Valerian root is used in herbal healing. The root must be dried at temperatures below 105 degrees F (40 degrees C) for its medicinally active compounds to form. In teas, it tastes sweet and spicy if somewhat bitter, but its odor is unpleasant. Ancient medical texts acknowledge the odor of the herb by calling the plant phu.

Acetic acid, ascorbic acid, beta-ionone, calcium, caffeic acid, magnesium, manganese, quercitin, valeric acid.

Parts Used

Dried root.

Typical Preparations
Teas, tinctures and capsules. The chopped herb is combined with St. JohnÍs wort. Valerian powder is mixed with hops and/or lemon balm. Because of its often expressed unpleasant taste, most prefer to take it as a capsule or extract.

Valerian is a calmative and tranquilizer. It has been used at least since the time of Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.E.) for treating headaches, insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, menstrual problems, nervous stomach, and hysteria.

Clinical trials have confirmed the use of valerian for treating insomnia, especially the insomnia that accompanies menopause. The advantage of valerian over tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax is that it reduces sleep latency, the time required to fall asleep, without a period of bedtime drowsiness and without creating a "hangover" or grogginess the next morning.
Valerian has greatest effect in treating chronic insomnia, rather than short-term sleeplessness. It also soothes the digestive system and may prevent cramping caused by irritable bowel syndrome.

If you use valerian for several months, you may experience withdrawal symptoms (headache, insomnia, racing heart, and general grouchiness) if you stop using the herb abruptly. Reduce dosage of a period of about a week if you wish to discontinue using the herb. Valerian itself does not cause side effects, but it may increase the side effects of some of the older medications for insomnia, such as Ativan (lorazepam), Valium, (diazempam), or Xanax (alprazolam).

9. What herb comes from the pimiento plant?
 ALLSPICE  http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_allspice.htm

Pimenta dioica, Pimenta officinalis

10. The Aztecs made hot chocolate using powdered Cacao beans, and which spice?
CHILI PEPPERS  http://whatgrandmaknew.weebly.com/a10-chilis.html

 Also known as- Capsicum annum, Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum spp, Sweet Pepper, African Pepper, Hot Pepper

PLEASE NOTE! Cayenne and Chili are the same thing and contrary to popular myth, the difference in their names has nothing to do with either their heat units or origins.

The Capsicum family includes bell peppers, red peppers, paprika, and pimento, but the most famous medicinal members of the family are cayenne and chile. The tasty hot peppers have long been used in many of the world's cuisines, but their greatest use in health comes from, surprisingly, conventional medicine.

1,8-cineole, 2-octanone, alanine, alpha-carotene, alpha-linoleic acid, alpha-phellandrene, arginine, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, betaine, campesterol, capsaicin, capsanthin, carvone, fiber, folacin, glutamic acid, hesperidin, isoleucine, isovaleric acid, kaempferol, manganese, myrcene, p-coumaric acid, potassium, proline, quercetin, scopoletin, solanine, thiamin, thujone, tryptophan, valine, zeaxanthin, zinc.

Parts Used
The fruit, fresh or dried, chopped or powdered.

Typical Preparations
Widely used in cooking. Most often compounded as a cream for external use, rarely brewed into a tea for internal use.

The burning sensation of hot peppers is a reaction of the central nervous system to capsaicin; unlike horseradish, wasabi, garlic, ginger, and mustard, capsaicin only causes the sensation of damage, not real damage to tissues. This sensation of pain, however, depletes a chemical called substance P, and when substance P is used up, the ongoing tissue damage of arthritis, shingles, cluster headaches, fibromyalgia, or lower back injury does not result in pain.
Eating hot peppers can also deplete pain chemicals in the stomach. Peppers do not actually cause heartburn or ulcers. They merely cause the sensation of pain, depleting substance P, so other conditions cannot cause pain. Eating foods seasoned with cayenne or chile may even protect the stomach against damage by aspirin, ibuprofen, or other NSAID pain relief medications.
Capsaicin creams can also reduce itching in psoriasis.

Don't touch your eyes with your hands after you have handled capsaicin cream. Excessive use internally may result in gastro-intestinal upset.