Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Valeriana dioica

[amazon_link asins=’B00DL0I7NI,B015J7ORPC,B00N47E26E’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6ee955bd-4690-11e7-968a-cf0f4d9ff058′]

[amazon_link asins=’B01M0WJHD2,B01E91KN7U,B01BJ4C4H2,B071VY586W,B015J7ORPC,B00DL0I7NI,B007R22TLC,B009ZV07B2′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9db418f4-4690-11e7-b0d0-9d26bbbbc90b’]

Botanical Name : Valeriana dioica
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Subfamily: Valerianoideae
Genus: Valeriana
Species: Valeriana dioica
Phylum: Tracheophyta
Class: Equisetopsida
Order: Dipsacales

Common Names: Marsh Valerian, Woods valerian

Habitat:Valeriana dioica is native to Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to N. Spain, N. Italy and central Russia. It grows on marshy meadows, fens and bogs.

Valeriana dioica is a perennial plant growing to 0.3 m (1ft). It is in flower from May to June. It produces tight clusters of pink five-petalled flowers, the petals joined at the base. Flowers are dioecious (male and female on separate plants, with male flowers typically 4.5mm across and female flowers about 3mm across.
Only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Insects.


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.


Succeeds in ordinary garden soil. A calcifuge plant, it requires a lime-free soil[200]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed because it requires light for germination. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant out into their permanent positions in the summer if sufficient growth has been made. If the plants are too small to plant out, grow them on in the greenhouse or frame for their first winter and plant them out early in the following summer. Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring.

Medicinal Uses:
It is primarily used as a sedative, and several tribes used the root for nervous problems, hysteria, and cardiac palpitations. The leaves and the roots are the parts of the plant that are used to prepare teas and decoctions. Plants that have not yet flowered are preferred. It has a tranquilizing effect with few of the side effects found in many of the synthetic sedatives but as with all wild plants the concentration of the active ingredient is extremely variable. Large doses can cause vomiting, stupor and dizziness. The Blackfoot Indians used an infusion of American Valerian roots for stomach problems. The Thompson Indians of British Columbia found the plant useful as an external treatment for wounds. The dried roots were powdered and sprinkled onto the wound as an antiseptic; the fresh roots were pounded and applied to the injured area; and the fresh leaves were chewed and placed on the wound. The Bella Coola Indians used the oil from the flowers mixed with bear fat as a cure for baldness. The Cree Indians chewed the roots and rubbed them on their head and temples for headache. A poultice was also made and applied to the ears for earache.

Edible Uses:
Root – cooked. The odoriferous root is slowly baked for 2 days and then eaten as a vegetable, used in soups or made into a bread. Seed – parched.

Known Hazards: Some caution is advised with the use of this plant. At least one member of the genus is considered to be poisonous raw[161] and V. officinalis is a powerful nervine and sedative that can become habit-forming.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Herbs & Plants

Descurainia pinnata

[amazon_link asins=’B017C9RKZO,B01LDQRWIW,B01F26SEAY,B01M68JF4A,B018C7L4SO,B0007FKFZS,B01N2HF09K,B01KG7YNN6′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’10e07e71-1052-11e7-867e-03c9ec5fe12d’]

Botanical Name : Descurainia pinnata
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Descurainia
Species: D. pinnata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales

Synonyms:  Sisymbrium canescens. Walt. Sophia halictorum. S. pinnata.

Common Name:Tansy Mustard  or western tansymustard

Habitat :Descurainia pinnata is native to Western N. America.It is widespread and found in varied habitats and grows on most areas and situations, usually in dry soils. It is especially successful in deserts.

Descurainia pinnata is a annual plant  growing to 0.6 m (2ft). It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Self.The plant is self-fertile
It is a hardy plant which easily becomes weedy, and can spring up in disturbed, barren sites with bad soil. This is a hairy, heavily branched, mustardlike annual which is quite variable in appearance. There are several subspecies which vary from each other and individuals within a subspecies may look different depending on the climate they endure. This may be a clumping thicket or a tall, erect mustard. It generally does not exceed 70 centimeters in height. It has highly lobed or divided leaves with pointed, toothed lobes or leaflets. At the tips of the stem branches are tiny yellow flowers. The fruit is a silique one half to two centimeters long upon a threadlike pedicel. This plant reproduces only from seed. This tansymustard is toxic to grazing animals in large quantities due to nitrates and thiocyanates; however, it is a nutritious in smaller amounts. The flowers are attractive to butterflies. The seeds are said to taste somewhat like black mustard and were utilized as food by Native American peoples such as the Navajo.

We have almost no information on this species but judging by its native range it should succeed in most parts of Britain and is probably not too fussy about soil or situation. We suggest growing it in a dry to moist soil in a sunny position.

Propagation  :   
Seed – sow spring in situ.

Edible Uses:    
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Seed;  Seedpod.
Edible Uses: Condiment.

Young leaves – cooked. A bitter flavour. Eaten as greens in the spring, they are said to have a salty flavour. The seedpods make an interesting mustard-flavoured nibble. Seed – raw or cooked. Used as a piñole. The seed has a mustard flavour and can be used to flavour soups or as a condiment with corn. The seed can also ground into a powder, mixed with cornmeal and used to make bread, or as a thickening for soups etc. In Mexico the seeds are made into a refreshing drink with lime juice, claret and syrup.

Medicinal Uses:
Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Odontalgic;  PoulticeStomachic.

Diuretic, expectorant, poultice. The ground up seeds have been used in the treatment of stomach complaints. A poultice of the plant has been used to ease the pain of toothache. An infusion of the leaves has been used as a wash on sores.

The Navajo and Cahuilla Indians used this plant for medicinal purposes. The ground up seeds was used in the treatment of stomach complaints. A poultice of the plant has been used to ease the pain of toothache. An infusion of the leaves has been used as a wash on sores.

Known Hazards : The plant is said t be toxic to livestock, causing symptoms similar to selenium poisoning. Known as blind staggers or paralyzed tongue, the animals can become blind, wander aimlessly and lose the ability to swallow

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


Herbs & Plants

Larix laricina

[amazon_link asins=’B01MCZ7RIT,B00X8K1EY0,B00L9F6P54,B00014ICHS,B0017G87CO,B00072Z5I8,B017C94FV6,B01N0JP0LO,B00H80KHNU’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ea3ed3fa-6b6e-11e7-a73a-49a1b0165f26′]

Botanical Name : Larix laricina
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Larix
Species: L. laricina
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales

Synonyms:Larix americana.

Common Name :Tamarack,  Hackmatack eastern larch, Black larch, Red larch, or American larch

Habitat:  Larix laricina is native to Northern N. America – Alaska to Labrador, south to West Virginia. It  often forms pure forests in the south of its range in swamps and wet soils sometimes also on dry plateau or slopes in the north of its range.

Larix laricina is a small to medium-size deciduous coniferous tree reaching 10–20 metres (33–66 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 60 centimetres (24 in) diameter.The tamarack is not an evergreen. The bark is tight and flaky, pink, but under flaking bark it can appear reddish. The leaves are needle-like, 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) short, light blue-green, turning bright yellow before they fall in the autumn, leaving the pale pinkish-brown shoots bare until the next spring. The needles are produced spirally on long shoots and in dense clusters on long woody spur shoots. The cones are the smallest of any larch, only 1–2.3 cm (0.4–0.9 in) long, with 12-25 seed scales; they are bright red, turning brown and opening to release the seeds when mature, 4–6 months after pollination.

Flowering and fruiting:
Tamarack is monoecious. Male and female flowers are small, solitary, and appear with the needles. Male flowers are yellow and are borne mainly on 1- or 2-year-old branchlets. Female flowers are reddish and are borne most commonly on 2- to 4-year-old branchlets but may also appear on branchlets 5 or more years old. Cones usually are produced on young growth of vigorous trees. On open-grown trees, cones are borne on all parts of the crown. Ripe cones are brown, oblong-ovoid, and 13 to 19 mm (½ to ¾ in) long.

Key characteristics:

*The needles are normally borne on a short shoot in groups of 10–20 needles.
*The Larch is deciduous and the needles turn yellow in autumn.
*The seed cones are small, less than 2 cm (0.8 in) long, with lustrous brown scales.
*Larch are commonly found in swamps, bogs, and other low-land areas.


Prefers an open airy position in a light or gravelly well-drained soil. Plants are intolerant of shade. Tolerates acid and infertile soils and waterlogged soils. Succeeds on rocky hill or mountain sides and slopes. A north or east aspect is more suitable than west or south. This species is very cold-hardy when fully dormant, but the trees can be excited into premature growth in Britain by mild spells during the winter and they are then very subject to damage by late frosts and cold winds. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Planted for forestry in Europe, they are not suitable for this purpose in Britain. Growth is normally slow in this country with average height increases of less than 30cm per year. The trees are generally not long-lived. Planting them in boggy soil may improve growth rates. Open ground plants, 1 year x 1 year are the best for planting out, do not use container grown plants with spiralled roots. Plants transplant well, even when coming into growth in the spring. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.

Propagation :    
Seed – sow late winter in pots in a cold frame. One months cold stratification helps germination. It is best to give the seedlings light shade for the first year[78]. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into individual pots. Although only a few centimetres tall, they can be planted out into their permanent positions in the summer providing you give them an effective weed-excluding mulch and preferably some winter protection for their first year. Otherwise grow them on in the cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in early summer of the following year. The seed remains viable for 3 years If you are growing larger quantities of plants, you can sow the seed in an outdoor seedbed in late winter. Grow on the seedlings in the seedbed for a couple of years until they are ready to go into their permanent positions then plant them out during the winter.


Edible Uses  :     
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Tea.

The young shoots are used as an emergency food. A tea is made from the roots. A tea is made from the branches and needles.

Medicinal Uses:

Alterative;  Astringent;  Disinfectant;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Laxative;  Poultice;  Salve;  Tonic.

Tamarack was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints. It is little used in modern herbalism. A tea made from the bark is alterative, diuretic, laxative and tonic. It is used in the treatment of jaundice, anaemia, rheumatism, colds and skin ailments. It is gargled in the treatment of sore throats and applied as a poultice to sores, swellings and burns. A tea made from the leaves is astringent. It is used in the treatment of piles, diarrhoea etc. An infusion of the buds and bark is used as an expectorant. The needles and inner bark are disinfectant and laxative. A tea is used in the treatment of coughs. A poultice made from the warm, boiled inner bark is applied to wounds to draw out infections, to burns, frostbite and deep cuts. The resin is chewed as a cure for indigestion. It has also been used in the treatment of kidney and lung disorders, and as a dressing for ulcers and burns.

Other Uses :
Disinfectant;  Fibre;  Resin;  Tannin;  Wood.

Resin is extracted by tapping the trunk. It is obtained from near the centre of the trunk, one properly made borehole can be used for 20 – 30 years. The resin has a wide range of uses including wood preservatives, medicinal etc. The hole is made in the spring and the resin extracted in the autumn. The roots have been used as a sewing material in canoes and to make durable bags. The bark contains tannin. Wood – very strong, heavy, hard, durable even in water. It weighs 39lb per cubic foot and is used for telegraph poles, fence posts etc. The roots are often curved by as much as 90° and are used by builders of small ships.

The wood is tough and durable, but also flexible in thin strips, and was used by the Algonquian people for making snowshoes and other products where toughness was required. The natural crooks located in the stumps and roots are also preferred for creating knees in wooden boats. Tamarack poles were used in corduroy roads because of their resistance to rot. Currently, the wood is used principally for pulpwood, but also for posts, poles, rough lumber, and fuelwood. Wildlife use the tree for food and nesting.

Guitar luthier Mark Blanchard has named one of his models the tamarack.
It is also grown as an ornamental tree in gardens in cold regions, and is a favorite tree for bonsai. Tamarack Trees were used before 1917 in Alberta to mark the North East Corner of Sections surveyed within Townships. They were used by the surveyors because at that time the very rot resistant wood was readily available in the bush and was light to carry.

According to ‘Aboriginal Plant Use in Canada’s Northwest Boreal Forest’, the inner bark has also been used as a poultice to treat cuts, infected wounds, frostbite, boils and hemorrhoids. The outer bark and roots are also said to have been used with another plant as a treatment for arthritis, cold and general aches and pains.

Tamarack is the Territorial tree of Northwest Territories. It is mentioned in the Ernest Hemingway short story ‘The Battler’ from In Our Time. A proposed national wildlife refuge has been given the name Hackmatack in honor of an alternate Algonquin name of the species.

Known Hazards : Sawdust from the wood has been known to cause dermatitis in some people.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


Herbs & Plants

Persicaria amphibia

[amazon_link asins=’B072337H2P,B01HXSMYG4,B07434TWX8,B06XT7XJWS,B00FIVL5SW,B06XP5GSQ5,B01AICEAXC,0893275204,B074298K46′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’53a71acb-714d-11e7-a85a-e7f8c2fbe30b’]

Botanical Name :Persicaria amphibia
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Persicaria
Species: P. amphibia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Common Names: Water knotweed, Water smartweed, and Amphibious bistort.

Habitat :Persicaria amphibia is native to much of North America and Eurasia, but it is known on most continents as an introduced species and sometimes a noxious weed. It grows in many types of wet habitat, such as ponds, streams, and marshes.

Persicaria amphibia is a rhizomatous perennial herb which takes a variety of forms and is quite variable in morphology. It may be an aquatic plant, growing submerged or floating in water bodies, it may grow in muddy and wet areas which are periodically inundated, and it may grow in moist spots on land, such as in meadows. Dry-land and fully aquatic plants are sometimes considered different named varieties of the species.

The plant produces a thick stem from its rhizome. The stem may creep, float, or grow erect, rooting at stem nodes that come in contact with moist substrate. Stems are known to reach 3 meters long in aquatic individuals. The stems are ribbed and may be hairless to quite hairy in texture. Leaves are lance-shaped or take various other shapes and are borne on petioles. They may be over 30 centimeters in length. The inflorescence is a dense terminal cluster of many five-lobed pink flowers. Plants may have bisexual or unisexual flowers, with some plants bearing only male or only female flowers. The fruit is a shiny brown rounded achene around 3 millimeters long.

Medicinal Uses;
Various parts of this plant were used by several Native American groups as medicinal remedies and sometimes as food.
An infusion of the leaves and stems has been used to treat stomach pains and children with diarrhea.  The root has been eaten raw, or an infusion of the dried, pounded roots used, in the treatment of chest colds. A poultice of the fresh roots has been applied directly to the mouth to treat blisters.  As a cooling blood purifier this plant is preferred in France to Sarsaparilla.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


Herbs & Plants

Rhus trilobata

[amazon_link asins=’B00B3C2A48,B06XT9SXCD,B01M58VLNY,B01LZM4RMR,B06XPPKTQ9,B06XP45PMH,B0103UKMMM,B01N05D3R8,B01MTJDRQC’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9e946f6e-3142-11e7-9532-f197fe4caee3′][amazon_link asins=’B00B3C2A48,B01M58VLNY,B01LZM4RMR,B01N05D3R8,B0006YWJCW,B01MXCVMO8,B01MTJDRQC,B01MSHVAOP’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’667a4112-3142-11e7-b48e-2561c9375b38′]


Botanical Name ; Rhus trilobata
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Rhus
Species: R. trilobata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Names :Sourberry, Skunkbush,  Three-leaf sumac,  Trilobata Skunk Bush, Basketbush, Squawbush.

Habitat ;Rhus trilobata is native to the western half of Canada and the Western United States, from the Great Plains to California and south through Arizona extending into northern Mexico. It can be found from deserts to mountain peaks up to about 7,000 feet in elevation.

Rhus trilobata, Skunkbush sumac, grows in many types of plant communities, such as the grasslands east of the Rocky Mountains, mountainous shrubland, pine, juniper, and fir forests, wetlands, oak woodlands, and chaparral. The plant is destroyed above ground but rarely killed by wildfire, and will readily sprout back up in burned areas.

This Rhus species closely resembles other members of the genus that have leaves with three “leaflets” (“trifoliate” leaves). These include Rhus aromatica, native to eastern North America, and western Poison-oak. The shape of the leaflets and the habit of the shrub make this species, like some other Rhus, resemble small-leafed oaks (Quercus).

The Rhus trilobata leaves have a very strong scent when crushed. The aroma is medicinal or bitter, disagreeable enough to some to have gained the plant the name skunkbush. The leaves are green when new and turn orange and brown in the fall. The twigs are fuzzy when new, and turn sleek with age. The flowers, borne on small catkins (“short shoots”), are white or light yellow. Edible fruit, the plant yields hairy and slightly sticky red berries which have an aroma similar to limes and a very sour taste. The acidity comes from tannic and gallic acids. The flowers are animal-pollinated and the seeds are dispersed by animals that eat the berries. The shrub also reproduces vegetatively, sending up sprouts several meters away and forming thickets.

Edible Uses:
The berries, although sour, are edible. They can be baked into bread or mixed into porridge or soup, or steeped to make a tea or tart beverage similar to lemonade.

Medicinal Uses:
The skunkbush sumac has historically been used for medicinal and other purposes. The bark has been chewed or brewed into a drink for cold symptoms, the berries eaten for gastrointestinal complaints and toothache, and the leaves and roots boiled and eaten for many complaints. The leaves have also been smoked.

Skunk bush was employed medicinally by several native North American Indian tribes, who valued it especially for its astringent qualities and used it to treat a range of complaints. Bark: An infusion of the bark has been used as a douche after childbirth. The bark has been chewed, and the juice swallowed, as a treatment for colds and sore gums. Bark has also been used for: Cold remedy, in which the bark is chewed and the juice is swallowed; Oral aid, in which the bark is chewed;

Fruit: The fruit has been eaten as a treatment for stomach problems and grippe. The fruit has been chewed as a treatment for toothache and also used as a mouthwash. A decoction of the fruit has been used as a wash to prevent the hair falling out.  The dried berries have been ground into a powder and dusted onto smallpox pustules.  Veterinary aid.

Leaves: An infusion of the leaves has been used in the treatment of head colds. A decoction of the leaves has been drunk to induce impotency as a method of contraception. A poultice of leaves has been used to treat itches. Leaves are a gastrointestinal aid, in which the leaves are boiled; Diuretic aid, in which the leaves are boiled.

Roots: A decoction of the root bark has been taken to facilitate easy delivery of the placenta. The roots have been used as a deodorant. The buds have been used on the body as a medicinal deodorant and perfume.  Tuberculosis Aid, in which the roots are consumed

Other Uses:
It is sometimes planted for erosion control and landscaping, and is a plant used for reclaiming barren land stripped by mining.The flexible branches were useful and sought after for twisting into basketry and rugs.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Skunkbush Sumac