• November 2018 Plant of the Month: Dagga

    Latin name: Leonotis nepetifolia Common names: Dagga, Klip dagga, Lion’s ear, Shandilay Growth: Erect, loosely branched annual that can get 8 ft tall. The stems are starkly square and leaves are smooth, with toothed margins, and oppositely arranged. The flowers are inside ball like clusters, 2-4 in, circling the stem. “The tubular flowers that peek out of the spiny heads are orange and furry, like a lion’s ear, so they say.” (1) Native to subtropical Africa, Leonotis does very well in our Central Florida climate. It has a sister, Leonotis leonurus, that looks very similar and is also heavily planted in Central Florida gardens. L. leonurus has much fuller and…

  • Scorpion Tail

    October 2018 Plant of the Month: Scorpion Tail

    Latin name: Heliotropium angiospermum, Boraginaceae Common names: Scorpion-Tail, Heliotrope   Growth: About 2 feet in height, native to the Central East Coast of Florida, and South Florida, as well as the Caribbean and Central America. In Central Florida Scorpion-Tail is a nice herbaceous garden plant, rarely becoming weedy. The scorpion most likely to be found with Heliotropium angiospermum is Centruroides gracilis. Preparation: Cuba: Dried powder of leaves poured over a moistened burn; Dominican Republic & Haiti: decoction of leaves on sores and cleaning baby’s skin at birth. In the Bahamas and Virgin Islands this plant is sometimes referred to as Eyebright, or Bright-Eye Bush, lending some information to its historical medicinal uses. Primarily,…

  • September 2018 Plant of the Month: Bodhi Tree

    Bodhi Tree the May before Hurricane Irma   Join us on Sunday, September 16th for a tour of the Bodhi Garden! Register here! Latin name: Ficus religiosa, Moraceae Common names: Bodhi, Sacred Fig, Peepal Growth: Semi deciduous in the dry season with heart shaped leaves and fruit that ripens right on the trunk! Can grow to be around 100 feet tall, and is often seen with aerial roots similar to the Banyan Figs in South Florida. Preparation: Decoction of bark used as a gargle or in small doses, dry & powder the fruits and add to honey for coughsThe Sacred Fig has been studied recently for its historical use in…

  • August 2018 Plant of the Month: Ashwagandha

    August’s Plant of the Month: Ashwagandha Latin name: Withania somnifera, Solanaceae  Common names: Ashwagandha, Winter Cherry, Indian Ginseng* Growth: About 2 feet in height, native to India. In Central Florida Ashwagandha is a nice herbaceous garden plant, rarely exceeding 3′ in height. It grows similarly to its cousin, the tomato! The root can be harvest after only one year of growth – a true gift from the plant! Preparation: Root powder used in milk as a nightcap, or in “ninja balls” (2 parts nut or seed butter, 1 part honey or agave, mix with herbal powders), capsules, tincture Ashwagandha is an herb we use in western herbalism in cases of nervous…

  • July 2018 Plant of the Month: Yarrow

    Achillea millefolium Latin name: Achillea millefolium, Asteraceae Common names: Yarrow, Milfoil Growth: In Central Florida can be used as a ground cover, the bipinnate leaves grow low to the ground and appear almost fern like, differing from their growth habit in almost every other location. The composite flowers are showy and require partial to full sun, which shortens the life of the shade loving leaves. The white variety is the only one we use for medicine; you’ll find lovely pink, yellow, orange, and all other colors available at garden centers. Preparation: tea, tincture, potherb, spice, infused oil, salveHistorically used as a leaf vegetable, the young leaves are said to have been…

  • Plant of the Month November 2017: Feverfew

    Tanacetum parthenium Feverfew has a long history in traditional and folk medicine especially used by the Greeks and Europeans. Nicolas Culpepper is the most famous of herbalist that worked with and documented Feverfew. He says that “Venus commands this herb, and has commended it to succour her sisters (women), to be a general strengthener of their wombs…” Feverfew has a long history of supporting women and their reproductive systems. For an advanced and thorough review, head on over to the US National Library of Medicine to read a systematic review. If you’re like me and are curious of magickal ways to practice with feverfew, check out this feverfew potion from Llewellyn Worldwide. Appearance:  a…

  • Materia Medica: Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

        . I still laugh out loud thinking about the Leaves and Roots customer back in the 90s who legally changed her name to “Verbascum” after a long love affair with the plant ally Mullein. We all lovingly called her Verbie for short, and really, who could blame her? This roadside “weed” is abundant in temperate climates and brings such profound medicine with a gentle strength, no wonder she adopted its moniker as her own in homage. . Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a prolific plant of European origin that grows abundantly in disturbed soils, roadsides, and meadows throughout most of the temperate United States. This biennial plant is most easily identified…

  • Rebirth of the Bodhi Garden

    On the very day of its planting ten years before, our beloved Bodhi tree gracefully yielded to Hurricane Irma’s easterly winds. It was as if the tree knew the storm may break it, and laid itself gently to nap through the worst of it. We felt a twinge of shock to see its uprooted end exposed, but quickly saw the humbling gifts it gave us: the tree fell beautifully intact in a form we could preserve to replant, and it didn’t harm a plant, human, house, or the nearby businesses upon falling. After trimming the branches and digging a deeper base for its roots, giving our lovely Ficus religiosa a…

  • Materia Medica: Chaya

    I cringe when I hear the word “superfood” uttered in a mixed crowd. Between GOOP and Dr Oz, health and nutrition fads fill up my Facebook feed daily, and they fade into distant memory as quickly as they come. But many years ago, on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, I was introduced to a plant that may among the few that truly qualify for this acclaimed title! That plant was Chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa or C. aconitifolius) , a hearty cactus-like tree that produces edible leaves. Multiple types of Chaya can now be found on permaculture farms throughout the tropics. Chaya is used throughout Central America as a food staple, especially…

  • Swamp Medicine: Healing Plants of Central Florida

    See notes and slides from Emily’s presentation at this link. Herbalist Emily Ruff presented “Swamp Medicine: Healing Plants of Central Florida” at the 2017 International Herb Symposium, highlighting medicinal plants growing in the subtropical climate surrounding the Orlando area. While unfamiliar to many herbalists in temperate climates, the herbs featured within this presentation are central to the melting pot plant medicine traditions of this bioregion. Many traditions inform herbalism in Central Florida, from days gone by to modern times. Historic cultures using plants include pre-Seminole cultures who embraced the cycads and palms signature to our state, Spanish colonists who brought favorite plant medicines to cultivate within their settlements, migrating tribes…

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