• December 2019 Plant of the Month – Prickly Pear Cactus

    December -Prickly Pear Cactus Latin name:  Opuntia spp. – Cactaceae Common name: Prickly pear, nopales,tuna, Indian fig, many different names by many cultures of people across the regions in which it grows Usage: The usage of the many Opuntia species is great and varied, from food and medicine to dye and water purification. This genus of cactus has historical and modern usage beyond that of nopal tacos (which is one superb way to utilize this spiky plant’s tender pads). Two species of Opuntia have particularly extensive histories of usage and modern science & research is delving in to further support this. O. cochenillifera is a host to the insect Dactylopius…

  • November 2019 Plant of the Month – Bee Balm

    November – Bee Balm Latin name:  Monarda punctata (other species commonly utilized – M.fistulosa, M. didyma, M.citriodora ) – Lamiaceae Common name: Bee balm, horsemint, spotted bee balm, dotted horsemint, bergamot Usage:  The Monarda genus is endemic to North America and contains about twenty species, many of which have a history of medicinal usage. Monarda punctata, or spotted beebalm, is our Florida native species and can be found growing in the Bodhi Garden here in Orlando.  The leaves and flowers of Monarda punctata are utilized both internally and topically, both fresh and dried, to support a range of issues.  Energetically you will find the bee balms to be warming and drying.…

  • 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 Usage: Here in the Western world, 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 3000 years. The root as well as the aerial parts of the ashwagandha plant have a history of use in the Ayurvedic 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 “sleep – inducer”. Ashwagandha root is…

  • 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 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…

  • 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…

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