Aloes are indigenous to East and South Africa although they now grow throughout the world in suitable conditions. They are succulent plants which belong to the Lilly family. The parts used are the are the gel encased in the thick green leaf which is used for clear gels and ointments which are applied topically to treat various skin conditions although can be used for other health benefits. Most notably it is used for burns due to its cooling, soothing and moisturising properties.
Angelica is a tall plant 'celery like' in appearance with large flower heads which then offer up large seed heads. All parts of the plant can be used (stems, roots, leaves, seeds) but probably best know for the use of its stems which can be candied and used for cake decorating. The seeds have an aromatic flavour which are used for liqueurs and cordials. Medicinally, the leaves and roots are used for their digestive and expectorant properties.
The leaves have the aroma of aniseed when rubbed and the flowers are rich in nectar so the bees and other wildlife love these plants. Both flowers and leaves can be used to make tea. For medicinal use the plant is used for coughs and colds.
Ashwaghanda is used a lot in Ayurvedic medicine since ancient times for many conditions.
Traditionally, ashwagandha has been prescribed as a nerve tonic and adaptogen—an agent which helps the body adapt to various emotional and physical stressors. It has been used for many conditions such as rheumatism, insomnia, stress and much more. The root is used and is know to have a smell of 'horse sweat' which is apt as in India Ashwaghanda means 'the smell of horse'!
Basil is a very aromatic plant and now hybrids are available such as lemon basil, Thai basil and red basil. The principal use is culinary, a must for any cook with their fragrant leaves which are so prevalent in Italian cooking. Basil can also be used as a tea to aid stomach cramps.
Basil is also a good companion plant for tomatoes and white-fly does not go near it. Basil can be grown in the ground or in pots but does like warmth.
Sacred Basil, also know as Holy Basil or Tulsi. It is used very much in Ayurvedic medicine to aid many conditions. It is considered a tonic for mind, body and sole. The different parts of the plant are used for various conditions and has high nutritional value containing vitamin A & C, iron, zinc and calcium. All parts of Sacred Basil act as an adaptogen, which is a natural substance that helps with anxiety and stress and balancing the body.
It has a slightly hot spicy taste and can be used in teas.
Bay is an evergreen bush/tree and has glossy dark green leaves with a leathery texture and when crushed gives off an aromatic smell. It is much used in culinary dishes especially those of Mediterranean and French origin. Medicinally, the oil is used for rheumatic and stiff joints.
Bergamot (Bee Balm)
This plant genus is named after the Spanish botanist/physician Dr. Nicholas Monardes who documented it in 1571. It is also known as bee balm, and red bergamot and gained its name from Bergamot orange plant as it has a similar flavour. When harvesting the leaves either for tea or medicinal use, it is best done prior to flowering for best flavour and then allow the plant to grow to full height approx. 100cm for flowers to develop before harvesting them. The plant is high in antioxidants, vitamin A and C. It has antiseptic and antibiotic compounds so good for colds and sore throats taken as a tea to ease symptoms. It is a fragrant plant, so wonderful to have in the garden and attractive to bees, hence its name.
This plant has a pretty white or pink flowers with purple dots which looks very attractive in the garden so well worth having, plus it also attracts the bees which is excellent . The young leaves can be harvested to make tea and use in culinary dishes giving a nice lemon flavour.\
This is an interesting plant, it loves growing in a shady moist spot. The plant is quite pretty, a tall herbaceous plant with feathery cluster of white blossom. It is a perennial herb native to North America and Canada . It is also know as Black Snake Root, Rattle Root, Bugbane. It has been used for menstrual and menopause issues and can be taken as a tincture, pill or ground form. The roots are harvested in the autumn.
A very pretty plant to have in your herb garden or even your flower garden. It is a delicate looking plant with five open blue petals and feather like leaves, similar to fennel leaves. The flower heads drop off leaving the seed pods which you leave until they form a papery brown shell before harvesting for the seeds held inside. This herb is used both in culinary and medicinal form and has an aromatic black seed similar to that of poppy seeds which have an aniseed smell with a peppery nutmeg taste when crushed. It is widely used in Islamic and Ayurveda medicine to treat a variety of ailments from inflammation, rheumatoid issues to menstrual problems. It is very popular in Middle Eastern and African cuisine, the seeds are roasted and used in breads, curries, rice and sweet confectionary.
Borage is hardy annual which grows quite tall and has fury, slightly prickly leaves and has very pretty blue or white star shaped flowers are not only pretty but can be added to salads and drinks. They have a slight cucumber flavour. Both flowers and leaves are used in herbal medicine generally for diuretic purposes. Back in history Borage was reputed for 'uplifting spirits and expelling pensiveness and melancholy'!
Native to the Mediterranean and one of the oldest cultivated flowers going back to Roman times, part of the Asteraceae family and commonly known as Marigold, not to be confused with French or African Marigolds which are not edible. It has bright orange or yellow flowers (orange preferred by herbalists) and hairy long aromatic leaves which can both be used in teas. It is used medicinally for antiviral, anti inflammatory and antibacterial plus some other uses. Excellent in balms, salves, creams and tinctures. Used for gut issues and to help the body fight against viral, fungal and bacterial infections.
Caraway is part of the aromatics family of dill, fennel, cumin and anise. It is used predominantly for culinary uses and in liqueurs. It has been used for medicinal uses in the past and has been thought to assist with colic in babies and flatulence.
This is part of the mint family and originates from England where it grew wild in hedgerows and the edge of fields. It has dense spike form flowers of pinky/blueish/white colour. It has an aromatic aroma. Harvest the flowers at the height of summer when in full bloom and can be used in tea to aid calming, anxiety and induce sleep. It is good when you have cold as while you sleep it makes your perspire without increasing the bodies heat. It should not be taken in large doses as can cause nausea.
Cats seem to love this plant, probably due to the aroma it gives off when they rub up against it. It can grow up to 60cm and become straggly so best to pinch back as soon as flowers appear. The leaves can be harvested and used as above for Catmint.
This plant has grow for centuries in English country gardens for its medicinal uses and it was held in high reverence by the Egyptians for its virtues ! It is the flower head that is used and in particular the central disk of yellow florets. Chamomile flowers can aid stomach pain issue such as gas, upset stomach and indigestion as it is an antispasmodic. It is also a relaxant and can assist with anxiety and stress and thus added to teas to aid sleep.
Chervil is best known for it culinary uses although can be used medicinally. It is particularly favourable in French cuisine and is interchangeable with parsley for flavouring and garnishing. It has a delicate, sweetish, subtle anise flavour but you must use fresh leaves otherwise its delicate flavour will be lost. It works well with peas, beans, asparagus, egg dishes, soups and salads. Medicinally it can be used as an eye wash by steeping the leaves in boiling water and allowing to cool and then applied with a soft cloth or cotton wool to aid conjunctivitis, inflammation etc. It is also known to have diuretic qualities.
A native to the Mediterranean and Middle East is a delicate, aromatic herb. Having feathery, delicate leaves which have a very desiccative aromatic aroma when crushed. It develops small, pretty pinky white flowers which produce the seeds which along with the leaves are used in cooking. It is a great companion plant as it detracts aphids but attracts beneficial insects. The seeds have a sweet spicy flavour and can aid digestion.
Cumin is one of the aromatic spice/herbs and the seed is used in cuisines particularly Indian and Mexican. The plant has small white flowers and grass like leaves and requires a warm growing environment. it is said to help with stomach issues such as bloating and spasms.
Chives are a hardy perennial and the smallest of the onion family. It grows in clumps producing tubular leaves and produces in spring/early summer spherical heads of mauve flowers which contain seed vessels of tiny black seeds. Chives are used to flavour many dishes and especially good in sauces, omelettes, vegetable dishes and any thing you wish to have a light onion flavour. The flowers are especially great in salads giving a great pop of colour. It is not worth drying chives as they loose their flavour although the flowers do keep their vibrant colour.
Comfrey is a native of Europe and Asia and can be seen on river banks and ditches throughout England. It is part of the Borage and Forget-me-knot family (Boraginaceae). It has thick and long fibrous roots and large hairy rough leaves and produces very pretty clusters of drooping creamy yellow/pink/mauve flowers. Comfrey thrives in almost any environment but at its best in shade. If in full sun it does not like to dry out. The roots are high in mucilage and thus good for intestinal issues, thus good for diarrhoea when a decoction is made. There are many other uses which a naturopath or herbalist might use it for. The leaves are used as poultices to help with bruises, sprains and cuts and promotes healing and reduces inflammation. I have used it as a poultice on young trees and bushes when they have been cut/gouged by the lawn mower or spade and due to the high content of allantoin (substance that promotes growth of tissue growth) it has healed the plant. A great plant to have in the garden with many uses.
Dill is part of the aromatics family and looks similar to fennel. It has pale green feathery leaves with a smooth and shiny stem. It has flat umbels of small yellow flowers which form the seeds which we use. These seeds contain an oil that is good for calming and soothing for stomach aches and wind. The seeds should be crushed soaked together with the leaves to make dill water. The name Dill is derived from the Old Norse word ‘Dylla’ - to lull, soothe. It is also has a mild sedative effect so good in sleep/calming teas. Culinary uses for the fresh green leave which have a sweet but slightly sharp flavour and is often teamed with fish especially oily fish as Salmon. The seeds are used in pickling, you will see them in picked gherkins etc.
A very attractive plant to have, also know as Coneflower, well worth having in the garden as it not only looks good with it rich deep pink/purple prickly flower cones, especially if planted in clumps, a great bee attractor as well as other beneficial insects. It is well know for its medicinal use in supporting the bodies immune system in the resistance to infection, flighting off sore throats, colds and flu. The root is used for this purpose. It has a faint aromatic aroma and leaves a tingling sensation in the mouth.
This weedy bush/tree thrives in woodland, hedges etc and very abundant in the English Countryside and gardens and now thrives in the temperate parts of New Zealand. It has many uses and using its bark, leaves, flowers and berries for different applications. Whilst it is not the most attractive of plants it produces masses of fragrant creamy white blossoms which can be harvested for corals and syrups or dried for teas. After these blossoms large bunches of purple black juicy berries form which again can be made into syrups for colds. It a good antiviral properties. For culinary uses the berries can be made into jam and chutney or wine and liquor . it has many other uses to many to mention but worth looking up.
The is a tall striking plant that can grow up to over 1mtr tall. It has large hairy leaves and produces bright yellow that resembles Sunflowers. It grows well in moist shady positions in basic garden soil. It is the root that is used for medicinal purposes and when tasting the root it has a glutinous taste but changes after chewing to an aromatic that is slightly bitter. It is used as a diuretic, antiseptic and a tonic and is used for coughs and chest infections and other respiratory issues. It was very popular in Anglo Saxon England and down the years cultivated in herb and cottage gardens where the root was candied and eaten as a sweetmeat. No longer grown to any extent in England it is cultivated in Holland, Germany and Switzerland for medicinal use. Switzerland use the root in the preparation of Absinthe !
Thought to be a native of North America before arriving in Europe. In England it has been cultivated to be part of 'country gardens' and it also grows in Russia, eastern Asia, South American, Australia and some Pacific islands including New Zealand. It is found in a variety of places from river banks, to waste lands, road sides and even sand dunes. It loves being in full sun and thus is drought tolerant. This plant is well known for its healing oil but the roots can be eaten ideally in spring time when they are young and succulent with the yellow flowers which are fragrant and can be used in salads. The leaves can be harvested in the second year and used. The lovely yellow flowers are generally fertilised by twilight flying insects although later in the summer period this happens throughout the day and are also open early evening hence the name Evening Primrose.
Fennel is considered to be indigenous to the Mediterranean but since found throughout the world. It was well known by the Romans for it aromatics leaves and bulbs and seem to think it was good for strengthening eye sight ! In Mediaeval times it was hung over doors with other herbs to deter evil spirits especially on Midsummer's Eve. The plant is quite striking to have in the herb garden as it grows erect and produces lovely golden yellow flowers which in turn go to seed which you can then collect. In medicinal terms the plant is an antioxidant and thus good for digestion and stomach issues. It is also good for colds as it can assist with sinus and congestion problems. The culinary uses are wide and varied, the bulb can be eaten raw in salads or roasted and grilled and pares well with fish. The seeds can be used as a spice, either ground up or whole and is used in the making of Absinthe.
A perennial plant that has clusters of daisy like flowers and serrated green leaves that have a slightly bitter aroma. This plant can be mixed up with Chamomile but once seen together they are quite different. In history the plant was planted around houses to ward of disease and has been used to help with fevers. It is now used to aid relief of headaches and migraine. Official studies have been completed and have proved that it works well for sufferers.
Garlic now grown throughout the world. A member of the onion family and has long grass like leaves and a bulb that grows to produce many cloves which are enclosed in a pinky white parchment. They are planted in winter and harvested in summer and can be stored in the right conditions for many months. It has been revered by the ancient Egyptians and by the ancient Greeks who deemed it a protective herb. Possibly because of its antibacterial properties that help the immune system. The juice of garlic was used in the World Wars and put into swabs to wounds to stop them getting infected. We take it nowadays medicinally to protect us against colds amongst other various other applications. In culinary terms it has to be one of the most used ingredient in cooking.
Garlic chives grow the same as normal chives but obviously have a garlic flavour which can be used in sauces, soups and vinegars.
Thought to be a native of Asia and then introduced to many tropical countries as it requires the warm to grow. Garlic from the West Indies is considered the best. It was taken to Jamaica by the Spanish. It grows from a tuberous rhizome which produces a reed like stem with narrow green leaves. It does produce a white/yellow flowers that have an aromatic aroma. The root is used for culinary and medicinal applications; due to it warming aromatic properties it is often used with honey for a hot drink to aid the symptoms of a cold or flu. It is also a stimulant for circulation and aids the digestive system. In culinary terms it is used for a variety of dishes from jams to curries. Highly priced in Asian cooking for its aromatics.
Globe Artichoke is part of the thistle family and completely different to a Jerusalem Artichoke which is a tuber. A tall plant that offer up head that has many bracts which have a fleshy base which is generally eaten by dipping into a vinaigrette. In the centre of the head is the heart which is much prized in culinary terms (it is covered by what is know as the choke fury florets) these need to be removed and discarded. Artichokes are regarded in French and Italian cookery. Medicinally, they have the compound cynarine, which can improve gall bladder and liver function, plus increase secretion of digestive juices and lower blood cholesterol. The leaves are very bitter.
The plant grows worldwide and grows about 1 metre high with green leaves and golden yellow flowers spires from mid summer. Makes a great boarder plant. The plant has anti inflammatory (Rheumatoid & Osteoarthritis) diuretic (Cystitis, Kidney) anti catarrhal properties. Harvest the flowers and dry . Use in teas, tinctures liniments and bath salts.
Hops are a native of the British Isles now grown throughout the world and synonymous to the beer industry. The plant is perennial that has stringy stems that send out tentacles and needs some form of climbing support. The flowers form leafy catkin like cones called strobiles . These are harvested in late summer when they appear slightly crispy, this is when they are fully developed. They are easily dried and produce a sedative aroma hence being good for sleep and calming uses.
Horseradish has been cultivated since the Middle Ages, with both the leaves and root being used as medicine. It has a long tapering root which can be cut and used to establish other plants. The root is used now in the condiment Horseradish Sauce but is very nice grated into yogurt and lemon juice as a dressing for oily fish. The young leaves can be chopped up into salads and also chopped up and given to dogs (in small amounts) to dispel worms. Medicinally it has antibiotic properties and helps with urinary infections and a strong diuretic. It is a circulatory and metabolic stimulant and aids sinus issues.
The name Hyssop is of Greek origins. It's a very pretty plant having fine pointed leaves and trumpet clusters of delicate blue flowers which produce a highly aromatic scent. Both, leaves, stem and flowers can be used in distillation for an essential oil used by perfumers. It is also used in Chartreuse. This plant brings in the bees and other beneficial insects to the garden, so well worth having just as a plant. The medicinal benefits are being an antiseptic and as an expectorant so will assist coughs, colds, sore throats and bronchial and asthmatic issues. The stem, leaves and flowers are used for tea and can be infused in oil, made in chest balm, syrups and tinctures.
This is a perennial plant that prefers and mild climate and has a thick foliage and beautiful clustering of yellow green flowers. The leaves are so and velvety to the touch slightly kidney in shape with scalloped edges of a mantle (Lady's Cloak) hence the name. The leaves are also able to collect water and retain droplets. Both leaves and flowers are collected and dried and used in tea or tinctures. The medicinal uses are for stopping bleeding wounds and treatment of menstrual pain & irregularities and the leaves can also be used to treat skin as an astringent and anti inflammatory.
Probably one of the most well known herbs/plants . Indigenous to mountainous regions of the western Mediterranean it is now grown in many parts of the world. Grown for its fresh flowers and extract oil much used in the perfume industry which offer up a distinctive aromatic aroma. This aroma is found on all parts of the shrub but the essential oil is only produced from the flowers and flower stalks. There are many varieties of Lavender to grow nowadays. I grow Pacific Blue which is low in camphor and suitable to be used internally. They are used for calming purposes and as an antiseptic and put into essential oil, infused oils, tinctures, ointments, creams, balms, in bath and foot salts.
This clumping perennial is native to southern Europe and Western Asia. It is a very easy plant to grow and needs cutting back so it does not get too big, plus the roots tend to creep setting up new plants. It has slightly heart shaped leaves with serrated edges and heavily veined and slightly rough to the feel. When you crush the leaves they give off a lovely lemony aroma. It contains essential oil and its medicinal uses are relaxant, antispasmodic, carminative and antiviral (topically). It is used in infused oils, balms, tinctures and teas. When collecting leaves you need to be very gentle as they bruise easily and go brown. Lemon Balm is also used in cooking adding flavour to sauces and salads and flavouring water.
A native to Asia where it has been used medicinally and for culinary purposes. As the name suggests it has long grass like leaves which have a wonderful lemon aroma growing on a slightly purple tinged stem and grows in clumps. It is a tender plant so will not withstand harder winter temperatures so should either be brought inside or grown every year unless you are in a more tropical climate where it will thrive and grow as it does in Asia as an evergreen plant. It is used widely in Asian cuisine and gives a wonderful lemon flavour to food dishes. Medicinally, the leaves are high in Vitamin B and C and has antiseptic properties so good for colds, coughs and sore throats. It is known to assist in calming stomach issues and has a natural diuretic properties so will help to flush out unwanted toxins from your body.
A native to Argentina and Chilli brought back to Europe where essential oil was extracted and used in perfume and other applications such as soap. A deciduous shrub that has a strong lemon scent to its leaves and can grow very tall so best to keep it trimmed unless you want a large bush. In late summer it produces delicate spikes of pale lavender flowers. The leaves make a great tea and it helps relax and calm mind, body and sole. It also helps digestion and the leaves are great steeped in hot water and left to cool, to make a refreshing drink.
I really like this plant as it has a lovely sweet taste when added to teas. It is a native to Asia and spreading into the Middle East and then southern Europe and into the UK where it has been grown since the time of King Arthur. Benedictine and Dominican Monks used it for medicinal purposes and has been continued down the centuries to be used for many applications but most well known in the UK is 'Pontefract Cakes', little rounds of liquorice sweets. In the early 1700's in Pontefract, Yorkshire(UK) the Dunhill family rented land at Pontefract castle to grow liquorice eventuating in the production of the sweet in numerous factories. The lovely sweet taste comes from glycyrrhizin, a compound known to be up to 50 times sweeter than sugar. Added to other dried herbs, it adds a wonderful sweet taste to teas. Medicinally it works as an anti-inflammatory and may assist with urinary, intestinal and stomach issues and aid heartburn and reflux.
This is a herb that seems to have been around since the Middle Ages and was used by Benedictine monks for its medicinal and culinary properties. Nowadays it is not much seen in gardens but it should be! It has an unusual taste, some say a celery like taste but to me it has a more peppery slightly aniseed flavour with a hint of parsley and celery. Both leaves and young stems are good in soups, stews and the seeds can be used in bread or savoury biscuits and eaten with cheese. It quite strong so be careful although it does deplete in cooking. Medicinally a tea can be made with the root and seeds which is good for digestive, stomach and kidney issues.
A native to Europe, this plant as its name suggests likes damp conditions. Althaea, the botanical name come from the Greek, Altho - 'to cure' which is very apt as the whole plant is used, especially the roots which are rich in mucilage that heals and helps soothe inflammations and soreness, wounds, stings etc. Marshmallow syrups are good for sore throat and coughs. It is used for urinary tact inflammation and stomach issue and is good for indigestion and heart burn.
The slightly sweet gelatinous juice was used by confectioners in paste and lozenges. It is a tall perennial plant (1mtr) which has pretty dappled pink flowers in summer which can be used in salads. The green leaves are covered in soft hairs and pointed with serrated edge. A pretty plant well worth having in the garden and worth looking into for all its great properties.
Marjoram is grown in many parts of the world now, although naturalised in the Mediterranean from North Africa. Also know as Knotted Marjoram due to the shape of the flower buds. It is part of the aromatics family and has a spicy flavour. It grows as a shrub and has little pink or white flowers that come out in late summer, early autumn. When you dry Marjoram it holds its aroma more so that when cooking. It is best to add to a dish at the end of cooking so as not to loose its flavour.
There are various species of mint, I believe up to 25, I grow garden mint for culinary uses and peppermint for medicinal uses. Grown throughout the world they have very aromatic leaves which give off the distinct minty smell and flavour. Mint can spread quickly throughout the garden via its crawling roots so if you want to contain it, best to plant in pots or just pull up roots if they have invaded too much. Essential oils are contained in the leaves and stems. Peppermint is used for its menthol content which has an antispasmodic, antibacterial, anaesthetic,
carminative, decongestant properties. Peppermint tea aids digestion (hence 'after dinner mints') and being an antispasmodic it will help with aliments as stomach cramps or menstrual cramps. The menthol extracted from the plant is used for rubs for sore joints and aching muscles and also found in inhalations as it helps clear sinus and relieves tight chests. If drying mint leaves make sure they are young leaves from new and take care picking and handling as they can bruise and when reconstituted they will look black.
The name Mugwort is said to come from flavouring beer in England before hops were used, 'mug' being the drinking vessel for the beer. Mugwort has been used for menstrual issues and digestive disorders of the stomach and induces an appetite. The leaves are dried as are the roots and used in teas, tinctures, infused oils.
Nasturtium or Indian cress is also related to Watercress. Grown around the world now, it originated in Peru and brought by the Spanish back to Europe where it flourished. The flowers have a slight peppery taste and the leaves have a watercress flavour and can be used in salads. The buds/seeds are known as 'poor mans capers' as they can be pickled and eaten like capers. The flowers are a bright addition in any garden with their orange/yellow/red flowers and I grow them in my asparagus patch as they generally come up after the asparagus has finished and do no harm to their roots but give a good cover crop throughout the summer and autumn. They contain vitamins A, B, C and iron, phosphorus, protein and calcium so good for its antiscorbutic properties (preventive of scurvy)!
Orange balm is in the same family as lemon balm which has an orange fragrance. Grown in the same was as lemon balm, is good for tea infusions, using in baking and makes a fragrant addition to the garden.
Oregano as Marjoram are all part of the same Origanum family. There are various hybrids of oregano with slightly different flavours and colours, from yellow through to deep green. Greek Oregano (Origanum hirtum) which grows wild in the mountains of Greece and now grows throughout the world in the right conditions has a hot spicy flavour.
Parsley is thought to be native to the Mediterranean and since spread around the world. The Greeks held Parsley in high esteem, making wreaths to put on tombs and is still grown by Greek households as a staple in their gardens. There several cultivated varieties best known flat leaf and curly parsley which is not so popular today. Medicinally parsley is considered a good tonic for liver and kidney issues as well as helping digestive problems. Parsley is high in vitamin A, B and C, plus high in iron and calcium. It is used in culinary applications for sauces and flavouring and is a good breath freshener.
Pennyroyal is a member of the mint family and the smallest in the family. It grows on upright stems and produces clusters of lilac flowers up the stem and has an aromatic aroma. It is often found in cottage gardens as it looks pretty and attracts the bees and other beneficial insects. It can be used as a tea as a remedy for colds and menstrual issues. If used it should be used with caution and in consultation with a herbalist/naturopath and pregnant women should not take it as can cause abortion. The Greeks used it to repel fleas but probably best just used as a pretty addition to the cottage garden.
Part of the Salvia family which has hundreds of plants in its family the Pineapple Sage is a very attractive plant. As it name suggests it has a sweet pineapple flavour to both leaves and flowers. Pineapple sage develops a dense, rounded bush and produces numerous green leaves on an erect stems and lateral branches that hold the wonderful striking trumpet like red flowers. It's an interesting plant, as it requires a longer period of darkness and flowers as the days grow shorter so great for autumn colour. Both the flowers and younger leaves can be used in salads , cocktails and it makes a great tea. Definitely a plant worth having in the garden. This plant is a native to Mexico and Guatemala and Hummingbirds love it for its nectar as do bees.
This plant is similar in looks to Chamomile with a pretty daisy like flower. It is use predominantly for the making of insecticide and a useful plant to have around the home as it supposed to repel flies. It attracts beneficial insects in the garden as well as repelling some of the nasty ones. Good to have around the vegetable garden.
We all know and love raspberries which are a soft summer fruit although some varieties fruit in autumn. The leaves as well as the fruit can be harvested and dried for a delicious tea. Medicinally the leaves have astringent properties and can be used as a gargle for sore throats and mouth ulcers. Raspberry leaves contain vitamins A, B, C and E along with calcium and potassium. It a good aid to strengthen the immune system especially when you have a cold or flu.
Roses are thought to have originated in Northern Persia and then made their up to Greece and the rest of Europe and then dispersed from there to the rest of the world. The rose has been an object of symbolism throughout time. Petals have been dropped into wine, scattered at feasts and made into garlands. It was customary that a rose should be suspended over the dinner table to show that all conversations held around the table were done so in confidence and to be held sacred. In homes later plasterers ornamented the centre ceiling with what is known as 'the rose'. Roses contain essential oils and the perfume is found in both the flowers and leaves. These oils are highly prized in the perfumery industry and the rose is used medicinally and for culinary uses, all too many to mention here, but worth looking up if you are interested.
When choosing a rose for the purpose of making tea or potpourri make sure it is very fragarant. Many of the heritage varieties are excellent for this purpose.
Rosehips are the fruits of the rose after flowering and can be gathered from early autumn onwards when they are red and plump. Once collected put them in the freezer for about 24 hours then take out, defrost and use. By doing this it brings out the flavour and also the freezing breaks down the cell walls making them more liquid which is what you want when making syrups etc. Rosehips can be dried as they make an excellent tea. The only problem which is easily solved is that they contain little hairs which protect the seeds and can be irritating to some people. Put the dried rosehips in a food processor and whiz up until all are broken down. Then pour into a sieve and shake out the little hairs which fall out easily leaving behind the seeds and broken hip. Put into an air tight jar and use when required. Hips have a lot of Vitamin C in them
and medicinally can be taken for a range of ailments herb today, from headaches, sore throats, infections, rheumatism, stress and nervousness. The rosehips best used for this purpose is from the Dog Rose (Rosa canina) although you can use others.
This plant originates from South Africa before developed in Asia and Europe and now throughout the world. The plant has a distinctive rose aroma which comes from the leaves, flower and stem and distilled to make essential oil. This oil is used in aromatherapy to calm anxiety and nerves and can be both soothing and energising and blends well with other citrus oils. It is great for all skin types as it is soothing and good in creams and serums.
Rosemary is well know as a Mediterranean herb and synonymous to Italian cookery. It is a woody perennial and has narrow pointed leaves and produces small pinky mauve flower heads which the bees love! There are various varieties but any Rosmarinus officinalis are good for making tea, tinctures and culinary uses. Rosemary is an old herb as far as history is concerned, its been around since the middle ages and featured in weddings, a bride would wear a wreath as a symbol of fidelity. It was also used funerals, religious festivals, churches and for banquets. Medicinally it acts as an antiseptic and an anti inflammatory and has vitamins A and C and is high in Calcium. It is used widely in culinary terms, for flavouring in soups, stocks, casseroles and flavouring meat and is widely used in Italian cuisine.
Native to the northern shores of the Mediterranean it has been cultivated for culinary and medicinal uses for centuries and now cultivated throughout the world. It is a hardy perennial shrub which has thick velvety leaves and produces whores of tubular purple flowers. The genus name Salvia comes form the Latin salvere, to be 'saved' which refers to its medicinal reputation of the plants curing properties much revered in ancient times. Its culinary use is to add flavour to meats (especially pork), sauces, soups etc and medicinally it has antiseptic and antibacterial properties so good to use in teas and tinctures for sore throats and mouth infections. It also good for aiding anxiety and sleep so good to mix with other such herbs to make a tea.
This can grow into a tall plant (1mtr) and has large leaves with cerated edges and has a slightly wrinkled look about it and has pretty delicate mauve flowers at the top of the stems. The herb is also known as 'clear eye' due to medical value of the mucilaginous seeds which soaked in water the liquid was used to help clear eyes of grit or the like. It is used now as an essential oil due to its gentle ability to soothe skin.
A native of North America this herb has been considered a sacred, purifying, cleansing plant and is used for making 'smudge sticks' which are burnt for the incense. This is an aromatic plant with abundant dusty grey green foliage which has culinary and medicinal uses. An infusion of the leaves is used as a blood tonic the leaves can be used in bath to aid colds. The flowers are very attractive to bees.
Native to central and southern Europe. It is a perennial plant which has a branched stem with oval leaves and from mid summer produces pale pink, five petaled flowers. The roots and stems are high in saponins which when heated produces a lather, hence the name Soapwort. It has very gentle properties suitable for cleaning delicate fabrics. Good as a mild shampoo or soap.
This plant is a member of the Dock family and has slender green leaves that have a slightly bitter lemon flavour and can be used as spinach and also good as a pestos or vinegar. It is very hardy but can seed easily, so you just chop it back and it will regrow very quickly. It was used by the Romans, French and in old English recipes for its slightly sour, acidic flavour to balance rich food.
St John Wort
A herbaceous perennial with spreading runners has an erect stem and pale green leaves and have translucent oil glands. It produces bright yellow flowers which have black dots which as also oil glands. The whole plant is very aromatic. When crushed red pigment comes out of the flower petals so when making infusions the mixture turns red. There are various superstitions around this herb, the name Hypericum comes from the Greek and means 'over an apparition', suggesting that it would ward off evil spirts due to its fragrance. It's also associated with St John the Baptist as the plant was reputed to bleed on the anniversary of his beheading! It is used in liniments, tinctures, syrups as it has anti inflammatory and anti catarrhal properties.
This is a tender shrub which has rounded leaves and produces small white flowers. The leaves of the plant are much sweeter than sugar cane giving an intense sweetness to the taste buds. Stevia contains no calories and will not increase blood sugar levels so diabetics can take it. Once dried it has a more intense sweetness so good to add to other dried herbs they may have a slight bitterness. It can be added to many things for sweetness. Best if dried leaves are left whole and then whizzed up in a coffee grinder as you need the ground leaves.
A native to the Mediterranean it is now widely cultivated as a culinary herb. It is a very aromatic herb which grows in a branching formation, having long oblong leaves being a greenish purple colour. It produces small whitey pink flower. There is also Winter Savory which is a hardy perennial and is considered slightly inferior. Summer Savory is often mixed with theme and marjoram to season white meat and fish. It enhances any bean (broad bean, runner, french etc) dish. Just chop add the leaf to the cooking pot or finely chop and add to melted but and coat the beans.
A hardy perennial which grows erect stems up to a metre in length. It has alternate fern like leaves. It produces clusters of golden yellow button like flowers. The plant gives off a Camphor like smell. I hang bunches of it in my chicken coop in summer to ward off flies and mights. It has been used as a tincture to expel worms by herbalists.
One of the best know herbs, native to Europe and now grown throughout the world. There are many varieties, broad leaf, narrow leaf and variegated. Some are more aromatic than others and the fragrant Lemon Thyme is ideal for use in teas. Thyme has a woody stem and produces small aromatic leaves which grow on opposite sides of the stem. In summer it produces clusters of pinkish flowers that form at the tip of the plant. It has antibacterial properties and was used in World War 1 as an antiseptic and thus is good today used as a gargle or in cough mixtures and medicinal oils. It is a favourite of Italian and Greek cooking and used world wide in culinary dishes.
Turmeric is part of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) and grows in a very similar manner. It is grown from oblong tubers which are orange in colour. It grows an erect green grass like spikes and produces the tubers we harvest which can be used fresh or dried. It has a slightly bitter taste but warming. Very prominent in Asian cuisine, particularly in curries. It is used a dye due to the strong yellow colour that is produced when boiled in water. It has been used in Asia for thousands for years especially in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. It has anti inflammatory properties and acts as an antioxidant among other uses.
Native to Asia and Europe now naturalised in North America and grown worldwide in the right conditions. It is a tall plant with dark green pinnate leaves and produces clusters of pale pink flowers. It likes damp growing conditions but will grow in dryer beds. There are various suggestions to its name one of them is from the Latin word valerie - 'to be in health'. It is the root that is used in decoctions and considered a good remedy for anxiety and insomnia.
Native to the Mediterranean and then introduced to North America and naturalised in temperate zones. Wormwood is a spreading shrub know to grow wild on waste ground and roadsides. A perennial spreading shrub with an aromatic aroma, it has dark green leaves with a soft downy underside, producing yellow green flowers from mid summer. As suggested by the plants name absinthium, it is used in the French in the distilled drink Absinthe. Wormwood is used to aid stomach ailments and the leaves are also used to rheumatic joints and to help with circulation. Due to its bitter taste is has been used prior to hops in the brewing of beer.
This is a plant that grows any where and everywhere. It has an angular stem and feathery leaves and flowers from early summer producing white to a tinge of lilac flowers which look like tiny daisies. It has been used as a healing herb due to its anti-hemorrhagic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory amongst others so good for making healing salves, ointments, tinctures and teas. Yarrow has been used in various wars throughout the ages to treat soldiers wounds. Native Americans also used the herb for cut and wounds and bruises and made tea to aid fevers.