• December 2018 Plant of the Month: Hibiscus

    Latin name: Hibiscus sabdariffa, H. acetosella, Malvaceae Common names: H. sabdariffa: Hibiscus, Jamaica, Roselle, Florida Cranberry, native to India and MalaysiaH. acetosella: Cranberry Hibiscus, Red Maple Leaf Hibiscus, False Roselle, African Rose Mallow Hibiscus, native to South Central AfricaBoth: Sorrel     Parts Used: Leaves are edible, and cooked with chiles and garlic to make a chutney in some Indian and SE Asian cultures. Calyces are collected for a tart beverage. Calyces are a collection of sepals, at the base of the flower. Once the flower has fallen off, the calyx will close and then you can harvest. Inside the calyx is a mucilaginous seed – it’s up to you…

  • 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…

  • Materia Medica: Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides)

    Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is best known for its stunning accent to a wooded landscape, but it is neither moss, nor Spanish. Its species name “usneoides” means that it has an appearance like moss – though is not actually a moss, but rather an epiphytic bromeliad, with long threadlike festoons that can grow several feet in length off of tree limbs. It’s genus name is a nod to physician Elias Tillands, who was so afraid of water that he was known to walk several extra miles around a lake rather than take a boat a few hundred feet across. Contrary to popular belief, Spanish moss is not a parasite and does not actually feed off the tree for nutrients or cause it…

  • 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: Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

    Our local Taxodium, the Bald Cypress, is one really cool tree! Taxodium distichum is our local Bald Cypress, and it’s a deciduous conifer. A conifer is usually (not in this case!) evergreen, and has cones as their reproductive parts instead of a flower- a gymnosperm instead of angiosperm. Marc Williams, of Botany Everyday, does a wonderful job of speaking of these glorious trees in the context of their taxonomy. Deciduous trees drop their leaves in the winter, which is a pretty rare thing for a conifer to do! They grow in the Southeastern US, and are beautifully showcased when growing in swampy areas. Bald Cypress have a feature that we…

  • Materia Medica: Florida Betony

    Florida betony (Stachys floridana also known as Rattlesnake Weed) is a special plant to me. I remember my grandmother pickled the tubers when I was a little girl. I would munch and munch on them not fully knowing even what they were. About 20 years later in Family class with Emily, she discusses Florida Betony and passes it around for us. For lunch that day, one of the students shared her picked betony tubers with me and I was flooded with memory. THIS is what my grandmother gave me all those moons ago.  I hope you become cozy with this plant and feel the abundance Florida carries for us through…

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