• May 2019 Plant of the Month – Bidens

    BidensLatin name: Bidens alba – AsteraceaeCommon name: Spanish needle, beggarticks, shepherd’s needle, butterfly needle, pitchfork weed, ottrancedi, xian feng cao, gui zhen cao Usage: There are approximately 250 species within the genus Bidens, all occurring within the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world, roughly 7 or 8 of which grow in Florida. The all-star of thegenus- Bidens alba– is one of our greatest allies when it comes to working with medicinal herbs within our Central Florida bioregion. The aerial parts of the plant are utilized, in particular the fresh young leaves. The plant contains saponins, so older leaves may be unpleasant to the taste and the tummy. It is best to utilize young tender leaves. Bidens…

  • April 2019 Plant of the Month – FL Betony

    Florida Betony Latin name:  Stachys floridana – Lamiaceae (Mint Family) Common name:  Florida betony, wild radish, rattlesnake weed, Florida hedgenettle Usage:  The tubers of S. floridana are used  as food and have a crisp, sweet taste.  They can be eaten raw in salads and also make a stellar pickle. Harvest the tubers from  late winter until spring. If the season has been dry, the tubers may not be as abundant. Once the weather heats up the  tubers die back and become soft and brown. S. floridana is a relative of Stachys affinis, or crosnes, whose tuber is sold and utilized as a gourmet food. The leaves and flowers are used…

  • March 2019 Plant of the Month: Violet

    March – Violet Latin name: Viola odorata,Viola affinis, Viola sororia, Viola tricolor, (and related species) –  Violaceae   Common name: Violet, sweet violet, common blue violet, common wood violet, heartsease     Usage: There are anywhere between 525 to 600 species within the Viola genus. Identification  of species can be challenging, but according to many sources this is not of great importance, so long as you are positive on the genus – Viola. This beloved garden plant not only delights us with the beautiful purple flowers of its namesake, but also offers us sweet, cooling, anti-inflammatory  medicine. The leaf and flower are both utilized for cooling hot conditions, particularly of…

  • February 2019 Plant of the Month: Spearmint

    Latin name: Mentha spicata (aka M. viridis or M. sativa) Common name: Spearmint, garden mint   Usage: There are hundreds of varieties of cultivars within the mint family, many of which are used for their pleasant taste and medicinal value. One such variety is spearmint; utilized for its stimulant, carminative, antimicrobial and antispasmodic properties, with a long history of use in soothing digestive upset (nausea, gas, bloating). Steven Foster states, “Spearmint…has a much longer history of medicinal use than peppermint. It was so commonly grown and used that it was rarely described in herbals; it is known to have been cultivated in every convent garden in Europe by the nineteenth…

  • 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…

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