Plants Go To War – A Book Review

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Maryann Readal

To quote author Judith Sumner in the preface to her new book, Plants Go to War: A Botanical Plants go to war coverHistory of World War II, “The war could not have been won without rubber, but the same might be said about wheat, cotton, lumber, quinine, and penicillin, all with botanical origins.” In her book, Sumner documents many of the plants that were critical to World War II efforts on all sides of the battlefield. Indeed, her research is exhaustive in that she covers not only the military uses of plants but also civilian uses as well by the major countries involved in the war.

As the war disrupted supplies of plants needed for medicine, food, and manufacturing, governments had to look for alternatives. Some were successful in growing tropical plants and food crops on their own soil; some began to look for chemical alternatives. A chemical synthesis of quinine…

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Raspberry, Herb of the Year and Herb of the Month: History and Lore

The Herb Society of America Blog

HOM Brambles

By Pat Greathead

Raspberry, Rubus spp., is the International Herb Association’s Herb of the YearTM for 2020 and The Herb Society of America’s Herb of the Month for January (Brambles). The genus Rubus includes both the red and black raspberry and the blackberry as well as almost 700 other species. Rubus is in the Rosacea family.

My Wisconsin Unit of The Herb Society each year examines the IHA Herb of the Year.TM In this blog post, I have mainly focused on red raspberry leaf and have used information from many websites in writing this article. I hope you enjoy reading it as this is the year of the raspberry!

Raspberry leaves are among the most pleasant tasting of all the herbal remedies, with a taste much like black tea, without the caffeine. Raspberries are native to Asia and arrived in North America via prehistoric people, with the first…

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The History of the Christmas Tree

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Susan Leigh AnthonyChristmas tree

For the past six years I have worked at a wonderful, high-end garden center.  Among the many seasonal items we sell throughout the holidays are Christmas trees and a wonderful array of cut evergreens. Surrounded by this abundance of holiday décor, I began to wonder about where the idea of bringing the greens inside the home during the winter season originated. Although I had some sense that there was a connection to pagan solstice celebrations, I really didn’t know a whole lot more. I definitely felt compelled to learn more and ended up finding that the notion of decorating with greens reaches back much further than I had realized and there are countless facts and legends associated with the traditional use of evergreens.

The Christmas trees we put up and greens we use to festoon our homes each year evolved from very ancient traditions. The ancient…

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Every Community Needs a Seed Library

The Herb Society of America Blog

by Bevin Cohen

seed catalog

Community seed sharing programs bring people together. So many times, as I’ve stood in front of a crowd at a seed library opening or other similar event, I’ve looked out among the faces and been amazed at the sheer diversity of people in the room: people of all ages, ethnicities, and gender. Seeds are truly a part of everyone’s story; without seeds we simply cannot survive. And with each passing year it seems that more and more people are realizing this and returning to the Earth, to the seeds that feed us all.

When people talk of saving seeds, inevitably they mention the importance of preserving genetic diversity. While genetic and historic preservation, adaptability, and self-reliance are all important aspects of the seed saving movement, it’s community building that is the foundation on which the entire movement stands.

As the movement toward increased food security and localized…

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Roselle Hibiscus– An Herb with Many Names

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Maryann Readal

With its bright red calyces, green leaves, and okra-like flowers, Hibiscus sabdariffa, alsoroselle known as red zinger, red sorrel, sour tea, Florida cranberry, and roselle, makes an unusual and striking accent plant in the garden. On a recent trip to Montreal, I was surprised to see red zinger hibiscus growing at the back of formal garden borders. I thought it was a plant that grew only in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Apparently, it does well in cooler climates as well. We don’t normally think of red zinger hibiscus as a landscape plant, but indeed it can be.

And of course, an interesting side note to this hibiscus is that the whole plant has many uses. The red calyces surrounding the seed can be removed and dried and used to make a refreshing hot or cold tea.  The fresh calyces can be chopped and used in fruit salads…

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Chicory Root

Chicory is the Herb of the Month…

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

You may know the chicory root as a popular coffee substitute. In fact, it was widely used during the Great Depression and World War II when coffee was in short supply or too expensive. Today, it is used around the world and in the US, particularly in New Orleans, as a natural caffeine-free substitute for coffee. However, it’s much more than a rich drink.

Chicory has a long history as a cleansing medicinal herb. In fact, the ancient Egyptians were known to consume large amounts of chicory to purify the liver and blood. Romans were also known to have used the root to help with blood purification. Medieval monks cultivated the plant, and it is widely used in Europe and the Mediterranean where it natively grows.

Called kasni in the Far East, chicory contains tannin phlobaphenes and several forms of sugar. The seeds have carminative and are useful as a…

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Violets are Delicious

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Beth Schreibman-Gehring, Chairman of Education for The Western Reserve Herb Society unit of The Herb Society of America

violet bouquetOne of the loveliest flowers of spring is the Viola odorata or as it is commonly referred to, the “Sweet violet.” Violets have been used in herbal healing remedies for centuries, in fact St. Hildegard of Bingen, the famous 12th century German mystic and healer, was said to have made a healing salve of violet juice, olive oil, and goat tallow for its use as a possible anti-bacterial.

I use violets whenever I can for their healing virtues, and they are also an absolutely delicious ingredient in salads, drinks, and desserts. Back in the day, violet flowers, and leaves mixed into salads were one of my favorite spring remedies for pre-menstrual melancholy. When chopped liberally into extra virgin olive oil with some fresh comfrey leaves, they make a poultice that can…

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Let Us Stroll the Primrose Path of Dalliance

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Kathleen M Hale, Western Reserve Herb Society

20190505_163700The botanical family name of the common or English primrose, Primula, comes from the diminutive of the Latin word for “first.” And the common name “primrose,” derived from prima rosa (“first rose”), is also a reference to the primrose being one of the first flowers of spring. This is not the evening primrose (Oenethera), or any of the other, more ornate, forms of Primula. This is the quintessentially English cottage garden flower.

Of course, it is then described as “vulgaris.” Sounds harsh. But this is not a matter of judgment of the primrose’s character. It’s just that, where the primrose is happy, it is very happy. It grows and spreads in abundance in cool, moist places.

This does not describe the micro-climate in most of our homes when primroses beckon so invitingly from the grocery store aisles shortly after the winter holiday…

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Health Benefits of Moringa

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Moringa oleifera is a plant, which is often called the drumstick tree, the miracle tree, the ben oil tree, or the horseradish tree.

Moringa has been used for centuries due to its medicinal properties and health benefits and has antifungal, antiviral, antidepressant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Facts on Moringa:

  • The tree is native to India but also grows in Asia, Africa, and South America.
  • Moringa contains a variety of proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Moringa oleifera has few known side effects.
  • People taking medication should consult a doctor before taking moringa extract.

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What is in Moringa?

Moringa oleiferaMoringa has medicinal properties and contains many healthful compounds.

Moringa contains many healthful compounds such as:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin), B-6
  • folate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • calcium
  • potassium
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • zinc

It is also extremely low in fats and contains no harmful cholesterol.

What are the benefits?

Moringa is believed to have many…

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