This list will grow as I learn and plant more, I have started with the less culinary herbs and mainly I am trying to list perennial varieties, but culinary medicinal herbs will be added as I have time and there are some other plants and trees listed too. please do feel free to suggest additions.
Growing Conditions: Aloe plants are native to Africa so mostly grown indoors in temperate climates, though they can be kept in a pot outdoors during the warmer months. Aloes grow in poor soil with good drainage. They require full sun for at least six to eight hours per day. They store water in their leaves, so while they do need regular watering, they are also very tolerant of drought conditions for short periods.
Harvest: Choose a thick, large leaf and use a clean, sharp knife to cut it as close to the trunk as possible. Hand picking may cause tissue damage to the leaf and the plant.
Life cycle: Perennial
Part Used: Gel from inside leaves
Uses: Mostly used externally as a remedy for skin conditions, including burns, sunburn, frostbite, psoriasis, cold sores, itching, inflammation, and fever. Internal uses include relief for osteoarthritis and bowel diseases.
Growing Conditions: Grows easily from seeds planted in spring. Thin seedlings to 6 inches apart. The plant tolerates most soils but prefers moist, rich soil and full sun. Many herbalists mix wood chips and sawdust into burdock beds to keep the soil loose, so the roots are easier to harvest.
Harvest: The best time to harvest the root is during the fall of the first year, when the plant has large leaves that are green on top and grayish underneath, or during the spring of the second year.
Life cycle: Biennial
Part Used: Root
Uses: Pretty famous in the area of detoxification in both Chinese and Western herbal medicine. It’s a great herb to try if you have skin problems, such as such as boils, rashes, burns, bruises, herpes, eczema, acne, impetigo, ringworm, bites, etc. The root is used to treat ‘toxic overload’ that results from infections and skin diseases. It’s also a traditional liver tonic. And can be used for treating the irritability associated with premenstrual syndrome. Many herbalists also use burdock to protect against cancer. It also has mild diuretic properties.
Growing conditions: tolerant of most conditions, prefers sun or partial shade. It is easily grown from seed—direct sow or start early in pots; the seedlings are somewhat cold tolerant. Calendula does well as a container plant, hence the common name “pot marigold.” Plant 10-14’’ apart; grows to 18’’ tall.
Life cycle: Calendula will usually self-sow unless you mulch heavily. It is typically grown as an annual, but can be cultivated as a short-lived perennial in warmer clime
Harvest: pick the flowers as soon as they bloom to ensure a longer flowering season, it will continue to produce until the first frosts
Plant part used: Flowers
Uses: The sunshiny yellow-orange flowers are an edible garnish for salads, cakes, and soups. The flowers are also incorporated into oils and salves for healing wounds, rashes, burns, and dry skin. Calendula flowers are used internally in teas, tinctures, and broths as an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, lymphagogue (stimulates the lymphatic system), emmenagogue (stimulates the menses), and digestive anti-inflammatory.
Growing Conditions: Plant seeds or plants in the spring. Plants or divisions are easier to establish than from seeds, but growing from seed is also relatively easy. Chamomile grows best in cool conditions and should be planted in part shade, but will also grow full sun. Like most herbs, chamomile grows best when it is not fussed over; too much fertilizer will result in lots of weakly flavored foliage and few flowers. The soil should be dry; it is drought tolerant and only needs to be watered in times of prolonged drought. (Be careful with self-seeding if you like to keep tight control of what grows in your flower beds—chamomile will happily spread everywhere)
Harvest: Start harvesting chamomile flowers in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before the sun is high. Select the flowers that are nearly open. Pinch the stalk just below the flower head and pop off the bloom.
Life cycle: Perennial
Part Used: Typically, it’s the chamomile flowers you’ll harvest for use in teas, though the leaves are also collected in some parts of the world for therapeutic use.
Uses: It has long been used as a remedy for problems regarding the digestive system. It also has a soothing and calming effect so is used for stress relief and aiding sleep. The entire herb is used to treat common aches like toothache, earache, shoulder pain and neuralgia.
Growing Conditions: Choose your site carefully – comfrey can live for 20 or more years. It is too vigorous to grow in a pot, but it will grow on most soil types (except the very shallow and chalky), thriving in good soil in the full sun. Allow 60–90 cm between plants. Once established, it needs very little maintenance, however to maximise your comfrey crop, extra feeding with manure and compost or grass clippings will all help to produce more leaves. Remove flowering stems in the first season to gain maximum leaf growth next year.
Harvest: If you plant cuttings in spring you will be getting your first leaf harvest before the end of the growing season. You can cut throughout the season, but not after September to allow a final autumn growth before winter. Cut off the leaves about 5 cms above soil level. Wear gloves, as the stems are covered in stiff hairs that can irritate the skin.
Life cycle: Perennial
Part Used: Leaves
Uses: Comfrey contains allantoin, which speeds up the natural replacement of body cells. It is reputed to have teeth and bone building properties in children. Safer to use externally than internally, comfrey is used to treat a wide variety of ailments ranging from bronchial problems, broken bones, sprains, arthritis, gastric and varicose ulcers, severe burns, acne, cuts, bruises, sprains, sores, eczema, varicose veins
Growing Conditions: a decidedly unfussy plant, withstanding drought, disease and insect infestations. Plant in full sun for the best flower production, 1-2’ apart; grows to 3-4’ tall.
Sow in greenhouse trays or directly in the ground in early spring. Germinates in 2-3 weeks. To improve the germination rate you may cold condition (stratify) the seeds for two weeks prior to planting. It will begin flowering the second year, and will be two or three years old before the roots are ready to harvest. Echinacea seeds are relished by gold finches and will self-sow if left on the plant over winter.
Harvest: The root is the most concentrated medicinally, but harvesting this kills the plant. This is only recommended if you have a sizable stand of Echinacea and can leave enough to continue growing. The flower and leaf can be harvested without affecting growth, especially if you just use the flower petals and allow it to go to seed.
Life cycle: herbaceous perennial
Part Used: roots, seeds, and fresh flowers
Uses: can be made into a tingly tasting, immune-stimulating tea or tincture. Tincturing the fresh plant is highly recommended for getting the most out of the herb. The whole plant can be dried and used as tea, but you’ll lose a lot of the medicinal properties through drying. Plus, it’s not a particularly nice tasting plant and not the best for tea-sipping. A honey or glycerine extract would be a good choice for kids, but a strong alcohol tincture will be more versatile.
Growing Conditions: Prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) well drained soils and requires full sun. Plants will last two years and are self-sowing.
Harvest: The seeds ripen from August to October and should be collected when ripe and pressed for oil. To be effective the seeds should contain 30-40% moisture. Pick the flowers in full bloom, but be quick as they die off the next day. Gather the leaves and stem “bark” when the flowering stems have grown. Dig up the roots in the second year. The seeds and leaves can be dried.
Life cycle: Biannual
Part Used: The leaves, roots, and flowers are edible. It is being increasingly cultivated for
Uses: The young roots can be eaten like a vegetable, or the shoots can be eaten as a salad. Poulticed roots can be applied to piles and bruises. Tea made from the roots has also been used in the treatment of obesity and bowel pains. The seeds are made into oil which contains the essential gamma-linoleinc acid (GLA), a very valuable fatty acid that is not found in many plants and has numerous vital functions in the body. It is known to help prevent hardening of the arteries, heart disease, eczema, cirrhosis, rheumatoid arthritis, menopause, PMS, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, and even suggested for hyperactivity, eczema, acne, and brittle nails.
Growing Conditions: Sow the seed in early spring while the ground is still cool. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil and lightly tamp to make sure they make full contact. Don’t cover the seeds, as they need sunlight to germinate. Water by misting so you don’t wash the seeds away. It should sprout in about 14 days. When the plants are 3 to 5 inches, thin to 15 inches apart.
Harvest: Harvest in the plant’s second year when the flowers are in full bloom, around mid-July. Harvesting feverfew herbs when in full bloom will produce a higher yield than an earlier harvest. Prior to cutting back feverfew, spray the plant down the evening before. Cut the stems, leaving 4 inches so the plant can regrow for a second harvest later in the season. Don’t cut more than 1/3 of the plant or it might die.
Life cycle: Biennial or short-lived perennial
Part Used: Leaves
Uses: A tea made from the whole plant is used in the treatment of arthritis, colds, fevers etc. It is said to be sedative and to regulate menses. An infusion is used to bathe swollen feet. Applied externally as a tincture, the plant is used in the treatment of bruises. Chewing 1-4 leaves a day has proven to be effective in the treatment of some migraine headaches.
Growing Conditions: Soak the seeds in water overnight and then sow in pots by scattering them over the surface and covering them with a thin 0.5cm (1/4 inch) layer of potting soil. You can plant from spring through to early autumn/fall) but if you’re in a frosty area, wait until after the last frost. Seed germinates quite quickly in 2-7 days and looks a bit like clover when it’s small. It will grow about 60cm (2ft) tall. It prefers a well-drained slightly acid to neutral soil and grows best in full sun. It grows in most climate zones during summer, however in hotter areas, grow fenugreek for its leaves during the cooler months otherwise it will bolt quickly to seed, the leaves will also become bitter after hot days. As fenugreek is a legume, it doesn’t need rich soil and you can also use it as a green manure crop to add nitrogen to the soil, by turning the plants back into the soil after you’ve harvested the seed pods.
Harvest: Within about 3-4 weeks the seedlings are 140mm (6 inches) high and this is when you can harvest them as fenugreek micro-greens or sprouts, by either cutting them or pulling them out by the roots. If you cut them, they will grow back more thickly. By mid-late summer they will produce white-yellow pea flowers and then develop long, narrow bean-like pods (3cm long x 3mm wide) with the fenugreek seeds inside. The seeds are very hard and have pyramidal shape. Remove the seeds from the pods and store them in a dry, dark place.
Life cycle: Annual
Part Used: Mainly seeds, sometimes leaves
Uses: Used for allergies, coughs, colds, flu, inflammations, fevers, dyspepsia, tonic, emphysema, flatulence, headaches, toothache, migraines, menstrual cramps, intestinal inflammation, cystitis, hydrocele of the testicle, pellegra, stomach ulcers, lungs, bronchitis, dropsy, mucous membranes, and tea for sore throat gargle. Acts as a bulk laxative. Reduces fever, lowers cholesterol, and lubricates the intestines. Good for the eyes. Makes poultice of pulverized seeds for gouty pains, neuralgia, scrofula, rickets, anemia, debility, sciatica, swollen glands, wounds, furuncles, abscesses, (grind the seed, mix it with charcoal, and make it into a thick paste for boils, abscesses, wounds, sores), tumors, dandruff, sores, and skin irritation.
Ginseng (Panax not Siberian)
Growing Conditions: Grows best under conditions that simulate its natural habitat. It requires 70% to 90% natural or artificial shade. Ginseng thrives in a climate with 40-50 inches of annual precipitation and an average temperature of 10°C. It generally prefers a loamy, well-drained soil with a high organic content and a pH near 5.5.
Ginseng seeds will only sprout after two years natural storage (stratified seed) so most people plant rootlets which are best planted in spring and fall. Handle roots delicately, taking care not to disturb them.
Harvest: The roots are best when left to maturity for 5-10 years.
Life cycle: Perennial
Part Used: Roots
Uses: One of the most highly regarded medicines in the orient, the ginseng is reputable in its ability to promote health, general body vigor and prolong life. The roots are used to stimulate and relax the nervous system, encourage secretion of hormones, improve stamina, lower blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol levels, increase resistance to disease, treat debility associated with old age, lack of appetite, and insomnia.
Holy Basil (Tulsi)
Growing Conditions: Plant holy basil in full sun in average to moist garden soils.
It is easy to grow from seed, but take care not to plant the seed too deep (it’s tiny) and it will germinate better with bottom heat. If your greenhouse gets too cold at night, tulsi will be slow to sprout, and also slow to grow. Plant outside after the danger of frost has passed. Holy basil may appear puny when you first plant it, leaving you to wonder if it has some botanical failure-to-thrive syndrome—do not go to that dark place of plant parent guilt. When the days grow longer and the nighttime temperatures warm, it will take off!
Harvest: Pick a few leaves as desired. Or for bigger harvests simply cut back the mature plant to 8 inches and it will re-grow quickly. As with culinary basil, cutting back the early flowers helps the plant to fill out and promotes more vegetative growth. Several harvests can be obtained in one year.
Life cycle: Perennial in Zone 10 and warmer, grown elsewhere as an annual
Part Used: leaves and flowers
Uses: used as a medicinal tea for colds, coughs, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, headaches, arthritis, diabetes, stress, and anxiety. Its adaptogenic effect offers an uplifting energy and helps with mental clarity and focus.
Jiaogulan (Southern Ginseng/Sweet Tea Vine)
Growing Conditions: This vine is an easy-to-grow adaptogenic tonic, which contains some of the same compounds (ginsenosides) found in Asian and American ginseng. It grows 4” tall by indefinitely wide; Part shade, moist rich soil; Hardy to 10 degrees F. Jiaogulan will locally spread vigorously by runners and can become a troublesome weed if consumption does not outpace proliferation, making it a beautiful container plant.
Grow from division, as seeds are not readily available. Southern ginseng can be hard to come by, see the resource section below for nurseries that carry it.
Harvest: Refrain from harvesting until the plant is at least 1-1/2 feet tall. Herbs generally have the strongest flavor if collected when in bud, just before the flowers open. Cut the vines into 3- to 5-inch pieces to allow the stems to dry at the same rate as the leaves. Those pieces can then be placed inside a food dehydrator until they are crisp, or they can be spread on screens propped up by sawhorses or other supports in an area protected from sunlight and rain. Store the herb, once it is completely dry, in glass jars with screw-on lids in a cool, dim place such as on a pantry shelf.
Life cycle: herbaceous perennial vine
Part Used: leaves
Uses: As a tonic for longevity and vitality. Brewed into a medicinal tonic tea for anxiety, stress, depression, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Growing Conditions: Plant seedlings indoors in early spring, (6-8 weeks before last frost), or sow seeds on the surface of soil after the last frost of spring. Plant in rich soil where it will receive some shade during the day. It likes rich, moist, but well-drained soil with a pH of 6 to 7. Lemon balm will remain green during mild winters.
Harvest: As needed. It responds well to cutting, growing back twice as thick. Whenever your plant is looking tired due to drought, hail, insects, or other stress, just cut it back and let it rejuvenate itself with fresh, new growth.
Life cycle: Perennial
Part Used: Leaves
Uses: Even pre-Middle Ages, this member of the mint family was used to treat a variety of health conditions. Steeped in wine, lemon balm was used to treat wounds, insect bites and stings, as well as lift the mood. Current medical research is looking into the use of lemon balm as an anti-tumor, antimicrobial, antihistaminic, anti-bacterial, antispasmodic and antioxidant agent. Studies have found that it is an effective aid for herpes, and it holds potential applications for moderate Alzheimer’s disease, mild mood disorders, the stimulation of the immune system, and overall improvements in cognitive function. Multiple studies show that a combination of lemon balm with valerian, hops, and chamomile is an effective remedy for insomnia and nervousness.
Growing Conditions: Does well in most types of soils, especially fertile pastures that have been overgrazed and poorly managed. Prefers sunny or lightly shaded areas.
Sow seeds at a depth of 3mm in early summer or just after the last frost of spring.
Harvest: Cut young flower heads to eat, or wait till they turn brown then cut and store in a paper bag ina dry spot for 38 hours before harvesting the seeds. The leaves can also be cut at any time to eat.
Life cycle: Grown as annuals when started early indoors. Seed sown directly outdoors produce biennial plants in most climates, and will flower their second season.
Part Used: Seeds, leaves and roots.
Uses: It protects and improves the function of the liver. Taken internally, milk thistle helps to treat liver and gall bladder diseases, jaundice, hepatitis, poisoning, high cholesterol levels, insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who also have cirrhosis, the growth of cancer cells (breast, cervical, and prostate), decreases the effects of a hangover.
Growing Conditions: Plant in a damp spot, in full sun. It is quite hardy and thrives in cool to cold areas, where other flowers fail. Since marshmallow is a perennial, you’ll want to put plant it where you want it to grow permanently. It grows to 3 or 4 feet tall if given plenty of water, so plan for its height.
Marshmallow grows easily from root divisions or cuttings. Cuttings root easily in summer if the ground is kept damp. Divide the root in fall, after the plant dies down, or in the Spring before the succulent growth comes up. Marshmallow can also be grown from seed. If you are beginning a new planting of marshmallow from seed, the seeds need to be stratified by exposing them to cold, damp conditions. In mild winter areas you can plant in the fall to get blossoms in the following summer. In harsh winter areas, plant in the early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked. Marshmallow seeds will germinate as the soil warms up.
Harvest: You can harvest the leaves at any time to use as a poultice, but early spring leaves are best for eating. If you are preserving the leaves, or roots: harvest the leaves after flowering. Dry them well. Harvest the root in late fall, before the ground freezes. Clean the roots of root fibers and cork. Chop roots into ½ inch pieces and dry immediately.
Life cycle: Perennial
Part Used: Flowers, leaves, and root are edible.
Uses: Use the leaves and flowers as poultices to soothe skin irritations, bruising, and irritation. Make a tea of the leaves and flowers for bronchitis, and cough. The roots contain more than 30% mucilage that is soothing to mucus membranes and the digestive tract. The leaves make a mild tasting, and healthful salad.
Growing Conditions: Plant in full sun or part shade, it grows to 4’ tall, and 2.5’ wide. Any little piece of the root will take hold, and grow a new plant. A wet meadow, streamside or the edge of a pond are all perfect spots for meadowsweet. If you haven’t such a spot, try planting it in a low dip in the garden and water it during drought. If you live in a southern climate, meadowsweet will be happier with a little afternoon shade and a wet spot to dip its feet during the heat of the day. In cooler climates, meadowsweet will tolerate more sunshine and drier soils, and even regular garden soil will nurture the growth of beautiful healthy plants.
It is much easier to grow from division than seed, which requires a complicated stratification regime.
Harvest: harvested in full flower in mid-summer – hold off until the flowers have developed the strong and distinctive smell of salicylates. Use the aerial herb including the stems, but cut about a third of the way up as the lower stems are of little value and too tough.
Life cycle: hardy perennial
Part Used: leaves and flowers
Uses: has a pleasant wintergreen aroma and flavor, used internally for inflammation, fevers, heartburn, and peptic ulcers. Most people, including finicky children, love the tasty tea. Meadowsweet is a wonderful tonic for arthritis with its anti-inflammatory salicylates.
Growing Conditions: Plant in full sun to part shade. Seed can be sown from late summer to early spring. It prefers moist ground. Hardy to Zone 4. Plant 18-24 inches apart; grows 3 to 5’ tall. In cooler climates, it can take over and become quite weedy, so you may want to plant it where it can be controlled. Motherwort easily transplants.
The seeds can be stratified (placed in damp sand in the refrigerator) for two weeks before planting, and will generally germinate in one week if placed in a warm spot, such as a greenhouse or sunny window.
Harvest: can be harvested 2-3 times from midsummer to frost
Life cycle: Motherwort is a short-lived herbaceous perennial.
Part Used: fresh flowering tops and leaves
Uses: It is taken as a tincture or tea to reduce anxiety or stress, and lessen pain, such as: headaches, menstrual cramps, and muscle sprains and aches. It is many women’s ally in menopause for easing hot flashes and hormonal- induced irritability. Motherwort is also used in childbirth to help strengthen contractions. Finally, motherwort fully lives up to its name in helping to increase parental patience. Recommended as a tincture due to it’s bitter taste.
Growing Conditions: Plant 3 feet apart and trellis. Passionflower loves full sun. Plant in well drained to average garden soil. Frost tender.
Scarify the seeds by rubbing them between sandpaper and then place them in damp sand in the refrigerator for one to two months. Be patient, sometimes it may take months for the seeds to sprout, and germination may not happen all at once. Bottom heat, a warm greenhouse, or planting in late spring will all enhance germination.
Life cycle: short-lived, perennial herbaceous vine. you may simply need to replant it after three years or so
Harvest: when the leaves are green and vital
Part Used: leaves, stem, and flower
Uses: The leaves and flowers are an important nervine sedative and are used to help promote sleep and alleviate pain, such as menstrual cramps and headaches.
Growing Conditions: First and foremost, this plant needs lots of water and it is often found naturalized by streams and ponds where the soil is rich and the drainage is good. It won’t tolerate dry conditions. While partial sun is sufficient for peppermint, planting it in full sun will increase the potency of its oils and medicinal qualities. Though not as invasive as some of its mint relatives, no instructions on how to grow peppermint would be complete without mentioning its tendency to take over. Because of this, many gardeners prefer growing peppermint in containers.
Harvest: As needed. Frequent harvesting is the key to keeping mint plants at their best.
Life cycle: Perennial
Part Used: Leaves
Uses: Sometimes regarded as ‘the world’s oldest medicine’, with archaeological evidence placing its use at least as far back as ten thousand years ago. Peppermint is naturally high in manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C. Crushed leaves rubbed on the skin help soothe and relax the muscles. Peppermint leaf infusions are used to reduce irritable bowel syndrome, against upset stomachs, inhibit bacterial growth, treat fevers, flatulence, calm spastic colon, and general indigestion.
Growing Conditions: Will grow almost anywhere, but it provides the tastiest leaf when it receives medium to full sun. Thrives in well-drained, sandy, loamy soil, and it prefers a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Resist the temptation to over-fertilize; the sage might grow a little faster, but its flavor will be less intense.It is a fairly drought-tolerant herb, and even when the leaves look wilted, a little water perks the entire plant right up. Wait until the soil is dry to give it a thorough watering. It grows in a round, bush-like fashion, and individual plants should be spaced 24″ to 36″ apart.
Harvest: During the first year, harvest lightly to ensure that the plant grows fully. After the first year. be sure to leave a few stalks so that the plant can rejuvenate. If fully established, one plant can be harvested up to three times in one season.
Life cycle: Annual or Perennial depending on climate
Part Used: Leaves
Uses: Salvia, the Latin name for sage, means ‘to heal’. Internally, the sage is used for indigestion, flatulence, liver complaints, excessive lactation, excessive perspiration, excessive salivation, anxiety, depression, female sterility, menopausal problems. Externally it is used for insect bites, skin infections, throat infections, mouth infections, gum infections, skin infections, vaginal discharge
Slippery Elm Tree
Growing Conditions: Pant in full sun or partial shade. It likes sufficient water and will grow along stream banks or upslope from water – actually it is pretty adaptable – but its roots don’t like being flooded too much so make sure there’s good drainage. The ideal soil for planting out is described as deep, rich well-drained bottom land soil or limestone soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7, and it likes a leaf mulch. Slippery elms can get up to 50 – 60 feet tall.
Harvest: When harvesting for bark, you want to strip it as soon after cutting as possible. Once a limb is cut, the next step is called “rossing,” in which you use a rasp to scrape the outer bark away, being careful not to scrape away any of the white inner bark. Leaving a little of the outer bark is certainly preferable to losing good medicine. Once you’ve rossed the wood, you can peel the inner bark away from the wood. The inner bark when fresh is just slightly whiter than the wood, and once you find the layers, it seems to come pretty easily.
Life cycle: up to 200 years
Part Used: Inner bark
Uses: The inner bark of the slippery elm can be ground into nutrient-rich porridge-like soup that serves as an excellent remedy for sore throats. Other than that, it can be used to soothe the digestive tract. The bark of the slippery elm was used as an abortion tool, moistened with water and inserted into the cervix, before it was banned by certain countries like the UK. Dry the strips of inner bark and chew it like gum, add pieces to your cooking, or powder it to mix into your food or digestive tonic of choice.
Growing Conditions: in average to rich soil and full sun; water during dry spells. It grows to 1’ tall, space 1’ apart. Direct sow after danger of frost has passed or sow in the greenhouse for a head start. Toothache plant easily transplants and will self-sow if you don’t mulch too heavily.
The self-sown sprouts take their time coming up—I don’t usually see them until June here in the southern Appalachians, so you may want to start the seeds fresh every year to get a head start on the season. Protect the plants from slugs, as they will devour it—slug candy, indeed! Spilanthes is one of the easiest to grow medicinal herbs, and kids absolutely love it!
Harvest: You can cut harvest the plants a few times during the growing season—cut the plants back to 6 inches, and if there’s still time left before frost, they will regrow nicely.
Life cycle: grown as an annual
Part Used: All the aboveground parts are medicinal, and can be chewed fresh in moderation or made into a tincture. One to two plants will yield over a quart of tincture.
Uses: one of the strongest sialagogues (saliva-promoters) I know; even a tiny nibble from one of the flowers will set your mouth to drool. The tingly numbing sensation affords relief to toothaches, and is used in many tooth and gum formulas, as it is anti-microbial, stimulating, and acts as an oral anodyne.
Growing Conditions: Prefers rich soil with good moisture content and especially favors the edges of streams or nutrient-dense pastures.
Nettle seeds are tiny, light dependant germinators that can be started indoors or out. However, select your location carefully as nettles are very hardy and can spread quickly with the right conditions.
Harvest: Carefully collect spiny leaves before plant flowers in spring and early summer. Do not harvest when flowering. Place on well-ventilated screen to dry.
Life cycle: Annual
Part Used: Leaves
Uses: Long known as a nutritious addition to the diet and as a herbal remedy, the stinging nettle leaves have been traditionally used to cleanse the blood, treat hay fever, arthritis and anemia, excessive menstruation, hemorrhoids, rheumatism, skin problems like eczema, nettle rash, chicken pox, bruises, burns
Wild Bergamot & Bee Balm
Growing Conditions: grows 3-4’ tall by indefinitely wide. Full sun, average to well-drained soil. Zones 3-8. The seeds are Lilliputian-tiny and must be planted on the surface of the soil and misted or bottom watered (to avoid burying them too deep in the soil). For most gardeners, it’s easier to purchase a plant or divide a bit of the root from a friend’s plant. Wild bergamot spreads vigorously by runners, similar to mint. Plant it where it can go hog wild, or contain it with a rhizome barrier, as you would for mint or bamboo.
Harvest: when desired
Life cycle: herbaceous perennial
Part Used: flowers and leaves
Uses: ItWild bergamot is a close relative to bee balm (Monarda didyma) however, wild bergamot will thrive in hotter and drier conditions as compared to bee balm. Both bee balm and wild bergamot have been important medicines for Native American people. They are used medicinally to treat infections and digestive issues, such as gas and bloating. Wild bergamot is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and diaphoretic (brings on a sweat to break a fever). I like to use the dried leaves and flowers in a steam inhalation to help break up upper and lower respiratory congestion. Wild bergamot has a pungent aroma and flavor and can be enjoyed in tea or prepared as a tincture.