• October 2019 Plant of the Month – Ashwagandha

    October – Ashwagandha By Salicyna – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61791504 Latin name: Withania somnifera – Solanaceae Common name: Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, winter cherries, asgandh Ashwagandha Properties and Uses Uses: Here in the Western world, the ashwagandha root has recently gained quite a bit of popularity as an adaptogen. However, this plant has been revered for its many medicinal properties for over 3,000 years. The root as well as the aerial parts of the ashwagandha plant have a history of use in the Ayurveda tradition of India.  In Sanskrit, the word ashwagandha means “smell of the horse,” referring to the horse-like smell of the root. Somnifera, in Latin, means…

  • September 2019 Plant of the Month – Sida

    September – Sida Sida rhombifoliaLatin name: Sida rhombifolia, Sida ulmifolia, Sida acuta, Sida cordifolia  – Malvaceae(* A note on S.acuta vs. S.ulmifolia – “ Although S. acuta has often been applied to Florida material, Krapovickas (2003) restricted the use of S. acuta to plants with a glabrous to ciliate calyx and (5-)6(-7) mericarps. Sida ulmifolia is then applied to plants with a stellate-pubescent calyx and 7-12 mericarps, which applies to the specimens common in Florida.” Wunderlin et al, Atlas of FL Plants  2019. According to historic use and research, it can be presumed that these two species may be used interchangeably.)  Common name: Broomweed, wireweed, teaweed, fanpetals, Cuban jute,Indian hemp, bala Sida acuta By J.M.Garg Usage: There are 11 species within the Sida genus that grow…

  • August 2019 Plant of the Month – Spiderwort

    August – Spiderwort Latin name:  Tradescantia ohiensis – Commelinaceae Common name: Spiderwort, bluejacket, Ohio spiderwort, day flower Usage:  Tradescantia ohiensis, or spiderwort, is a Florida native edible and medicinal plant that is tolerant of the intense summer heat. You will find spiderwort blossoming year round in Florida, but the height of its bloom is in the spring. Energetically, spiderwort is a cooling, soothing plant. The fresh leaves and stems can be made into a poultice and used topically  to relieve inflamed skin conditions, similar to Aloe vera. Tradescantia species are used by First Nations people throughout North America. T. virginiana, a species found farther north, is utilized by Cherokee people…

  • June 2019 Plant of the Month – Tulsi

    June: Tulsi, Holy Basil Latin name: Ocimum gratissimum – Lamiaceae, (Other variety – Ocimum sanctum syn. Ocimum tenuiflorum ) Common name: Tulsi, holy basil, sacred basil,Vana tulsi (O. gratissimum) Krishna tulsi (O.sanctum) Rama tulsi (O. sanctum), African basil (O. gratissimum), clove basil(O.gratissimum) Usage:  Within the Ocimum genus there are about 60 different species, all of which are relatives of the common culinary sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum). There are two species of holy basil within the Ocimum genus, O. sanctum and O. gratissimum. Medicinally the two species can be used relatively interchangeably. Here at the Bodhi Garden in Central Florida we see Ocimum gratissimum, or Vana Tulsi, thriving year round. It…

  • 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 Uses: There are approximately 250 species within the genus Bidens. All occur within tropical and warm, temperate climates — roughly 7-8 of which grow in Florida. All-star of the genus — Bidens alba — is one of our greatest Central Florida plant allies. We use the plant’s aerial parts, but the plant’s older leaves contain saponins and are unpleasant in taste and for the tummy. Therefore, the plant’s young tender leaves are ideal for medicinal and nutritional uses. The list of actions for B. alba is vast. Stephen Buhner provides a quick list of…

  • 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…

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