Sunday, September 13, 2009

Butterfly Weed – Asclepias tuberose

Butterfly Weed or Pleurisy Root is a smaller member of the Milkweed family. It is said that the plant hates its roots disturbed, so does not transplant well; but I have transplanted several roots, with two definite successes! I first noticed this plant in a field opposite my house back in the early 1970’s. I really liked it then, but after my kids grew up and my youngest daughter earned her Native American name (loosely translates into Butterfly Woman) I fell in love with it!

In the 19th Century Butterfly Weed was listed as an official medicine in the American Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1905. As its other common name implies (Pleurisy Root) has been used in lung diseases and complaints. In bronchitis, pleurisy, and pneumonia it reduces inflammations, and assists in expectoration of mucous. The Cherokee Indians of North America used a root tea to treat diarrhea and heart conditions as well as the lung complaints.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Daylily – Hemerocallis fulva

The species name means “beautiful for a day,” and it is so true. Each flower only lasts a day, it then withers away; a new flower will replace it on the marrow. This is another of the plants an elder neighbor gifted us with this year. I was completely surprised when they flowered not 2 weeks after transplant. They are extremely hardy and spread by stolons underground. If left undisturbed they will make large colonies of plants.

I have placed some in shade at the edge of the trees that line the property border; they will bloom less abundantly, but will naturalize the area well.

In China and Japan they are used to treat cancer, arsenic poisoning, uterine bleeding, vaginal yeast infections, as a diuretic and to treat urinary tract disorders. The fresh flowers can be added to a salad; the buds can be added to stir fry, mixed veggies, and added to soups or stews. All parts of the daylily are edible, and have been cultivated for thousands of years in Asia for food and medicine.

Not only are these plants beautiful, they are healthy in many ways. With the exception of cats; daylilies are harmful to the kidneys of domestic cats.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lipiope - Liriope muscari.

This is one of the plants that an Elderly neighbor gifted me with this summer. Her husband had dug out tons of it and wanted it gone! My husband and I have been trying to find enough places for it this year.

The plant is very hardy, and nothing seems to kill it! I have some in a bucket, not planted for 7 or 8 weeks now...and found them blooming this week!!!

What surprised me while researching it was it’s medicinal uses. Looking at it I expected it to be less valuable! But the Koreans used it as a tonic to increase stamina. The root has been used as an anti inflammatory, a pectoral (Useful in relieving disorders of the chest or respiratory tract), a stimulant (temporarily arouses or accelerates physiological or organic activity), and an aphrodisiac (stimulating sexual arousal).

Friday, September 4, 2009

Indian Pipes - Monotropa uniflora

About 1/3 of our acre is left natural. In the woods at the base of a rotted tree stump I found these plants. As ghostly as they look, they need the moist duskiness of the woods to grow. These plant carry many names…Ghost plant, Indian Pipes, Corpse Plant…all of them are very descriptive!

It was on my 59th birthday that Gaia gave me the wonderful gift of sighting these rare beauties. I had learned about these very rare plants back when I was 12 years old and at Girl Scout Camp…. I never really expected to see them. You can imagine my surprise when I found these in my backyard!

This plant lacks chlorophyll. It gains its nutrients from a relationship with a fungus and with a tree. It either takes what it needs from a decaying stump (as mine is) or from a fungus that has attached itself to a tree. Many fungi and trees have this type of relationship -- it's called a “mycorrhizal relationship,” but the introduction of another plant into the chain is unusual.

In the past this plant was eaten, it reportedly tastes like asparagus when cooked, or tasteless when raw. The Cherokee Indians of North America pulverized the root and gave it for the treatment of epilepsy and convulsions. When it is made into a tincture, the color of the tincture is a dark blue, and the smell is like pickling vinegar!

It is not the regular garden plant, but I think I will keep the natural section of the yard for gifts like this one!

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Directions

New things are in the works.....or rather I am working differently now. Soon there will be new posts to see!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Baltimore Herb Festival - Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore Herb Festival, May 23, 2009 from 10am - 3p
@ Leakin Park

Herb and plant vendors from five states will gather for the
Herb Festival on Saturday May 23rd. In addition to plant
and garden related sales, entertainment will include two bands,
Art of Meaning and Durham Station Bluegrass, free rides on
real miniature steam trains, attending herb and gardening lectures,
touring the historic Crimea Mansion and walking in scenic Leakin Park.
Lunch with an herbal twist is also available.

To get to Leakin Park, take Exit 16 (Rt. 70) off the Beltway
(Rt. 695) toward Baltimore. Turn off on Security Blvd.
Right at first light onto Forest Park Ave. Right at next light
onto Windsor Mill Rd. You’re at the Festival! Follow signs for parking.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Baneful Herbs

The Baneful herbs are those that are poisonous. Any herbs can be baneful herbs if used incorrectly. But the term was applied in medieval times to represent a certain group of herbs. Some of which were used in the Flying Ointments (flying referred to Astral Projection not broom riding). These are very dangerous herbs; they should not be in common use. They were the herbs credited to ‘witches’ workings!

Aconite (Monkshood), Aconitum napellus: Highly toxic with the alkaloid aconitine causing tingling and numbness of tongue and mouth and a sensation of ants crawling over the body, nausea and vomiting with epigastric pain, labored breathing, pulse irregular and weak, skin cold and clammy, features bloodless, giddiness, staggering, but the remains clear.

In late medieval times it was thought to be a key ingredient in a potion that permitted witches to fly. Aconite and Belladonna were said to be the ingredients in the witches' 'Flying ointments.' Aconite causes irregular action of the heart, and Belladonna produces delirium. These combined symptoms might give a sensation of 'flying.'

The plant was sacred to Hecate, hence its archaic name Hecateis herba, the Dark-mother's Herb, which is probably also at the base of its title Queen Mother (or Queenmother of Poisons), as Hecate was by medieval times Queen of Witches. Athena used the poison as well, sprinkling it on the head of the impious maiden weaver Arachne to turn her into a spider

Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade), Atropa belladonna: Highly toxic, may be fatal if ingested. The toxic agents are tropane alkaloids, atropine and others. Toxic poisoning is marked by red skin, dry mouth, abnormally fast heartbeat, prolonged or excessive pupil dilation, inability to focus, overheating due to reduced perspiration, difficult urination, and severe or persistent constipation. High doses lead to overexcitement and symptoms such as restlessness, compulsion to talk, hallucinations, delirium, and manic attacks followed by exhaustion and sleep. Death usually results from asphyxiation.

Named after Bellona [war goddess.] At certain times it takes the form of a beautiful enchantress whom any that look upon her will die. Plant belongs to the devil, who tends to it all year long, except on Walpurgis when he is preparing for Witches' Sabbat. Atropa comes from Greek Atropos, one of the Fates who held the scissors to cut the thread of human life.

Beauty magick. To consecrate ritual tools made of lead. Has affinity with Onyx. Lunar magick. Spell workings related to Death.

Datura ( Jimsonweed), Datura stramonium: Whole plant highly poisonous. Toxicity is caused by tropane alkaloids: atropine, hyoscine(scopolamine), hyoscyamine. Poisoning symptoms are extreme dilation of the pupils, flushed, warm and dry skin, dry mouth, urinary retention and ileus (slowing or stopping of intestinal movement), rapid heart beat, hypertension or hypotension, and choreoathetosis/jerky movements. In case of overdose the effects are hyperthermia, coma, respiratory arrest, and seizures

An ingredient in ancient witches' flying ointment. Was said to be an aid to witches' incantations. To hex or break hexes. Produce sleep, induce dreams. Divination, allow one to see spirits. Protection

Hellebore, Helleborus niger: Toxicity is caused by the glucosides, Helleborin and helleborcin. Symptoms of poisoning are tinnitus, vertigo, stupor, thirst, a feeling of suffocation, swelling of the tongue and throat, emesis and catharsis, bradycardia (slowing of the pulse), and finally collapse and death from cardiac arrest

Once people blessed their cattle with this herb to protect them from evil. Old French tales speak of a sorcerer who strew powdered Hellebore ahead of himself as he walked to make himself invisible. Banishing, necromancy. Used in incense for consecrating talismans.
Used to render oneself less visible by scattering in ahead while walking

Hemlock (Poison), Conium maculatum: The main poisonous principle is coniine, a pyridine derivative similar in structure and function to nicotine; there are also four other structurally related alkaloids. The symptoms of poisoning are rapid onset of irritation of oral mucosa with salivation, nausea, emesis and slight abdominal pain. Diarrhea is uncommon. Bradycardia, miosis and hypertension may rapidly change to tachycardia, hypotension and mydriasis. Seizures followed by ascendant muscle paralysis can be seen in severe cases leading to respiratory failure.

Given to criminals in Greece to kill them. This is what did in Socrates. Used by King Solomon to consecrate his ritual knife. Is sacred to Hecate. Is used to purify and empower ritual and magical tools. Used to arouse jealousy, for Astral projection and in banishing

Henbane, Hyoscyamus niger. N.O. Solanace: The toxic principles are alkaloids atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. They cause the following symptoms: hallucinations, dilated pupils, restlessness, and flushed skin. Less common symptoms such as tachycardia, convulsions, vomiting, hypertension, hyperpyrexia and ataxia.

The dead in Hades were crowned with Henbane as they wandered in the River Styx. In language of flowers, the Henbane blossom means defeat. Burn outside to bring rain. It is an herb of the Underworld. Used to summon spirits and relatives who have passed, love, of a binding nature, marital longevity, to stop harassment, purity, mental, happiness, and improves memory. A favorite of the Fae and nature beings

Mandrake, Atropa mandragora, formerly Mandragora officinalis: Toxicity is caused by the alkaloids hyoscyamine, scopolamine, atropine, and mandragorin. They produce the following symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, slowing of the heartbeat, causes hallucinations, is narcotic and can cause death.

The root is believed to shriek horribly when pulled from the ground, and anyone hearing it would die. Used for love poppets, money-drawing magic. Used as an incense in some black magic rites. Has power against demonical possession. Place a piece of the root on a mantle to avert misfortune and to bring prosperity and joy. Carry to attract love. It is said that a drop of blood should be put in the hole left by digging the root as payment and to insure potency of amulet. Used to invoke deities, especially Circe and Diana. Eastern belief has it that the root cures sterility. Genesis 30:14 Demons cannot bear the smell or presence of Mandrake.

Mistletoe, Viscum album: Poisoning is caused by viscotoxins. Producing these symptoms of poisoning: slow and weaken the heartbeat and constrict blood vessels, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, chills, fever, headaches, angina and hypotension, fixed and dilated pupils, diplopia, irritated conjunctiva, bradycardia, vasoconstriction, hypo- or
hypertension, seizures, and delirium

Revered by Druids, who only sought it when they had visions directing them to seek it. If a great length of time passed without the visions, or it fell to the ground, it was considered an omen of great misfortune. The Mistletoe that grew in Oak trees was the most sacred. It was harvested using a golden sickle and not allowed to touch the ground. Wear around the neck for invisibility. It was used as protection from all things astral and mundane, as an Aphrodisiac. Fights against despair, helps in hunting and conception, dreams, immortality, to ward off thieves and werewolves. Used as amulets for protection or to speed healing

Wolfsbane, Aconitum vulparia: VERY poisonous. Poisoning is caused by the alkaloids lycaconitine and myoctonine. They cause the symptoms of Severe itching and dermatitis, and the sap can be absorbed in a cut……Ingestion: even a tiny amount of this plant can be fatal: may cause hypotension (low blood pressure), irregular pulse, various arrhythmias (altered heart beats), or first-degree heart block. Aconite poisoning can cause prolonged repolarization of the myocardium, which leads to triggered automaticity and ventricular tachyarrhythmias including ventricular ectopy, ventricular tachycardia (fast heart beat), and ventricular fibrillation. Aconite has also been reported to cause nausea, vomiting, epigastric pain, diarrhea, muscle cramps, retrosternal discomfort, dizziness, vertigo, variations in motor/sensory skills of limbs, ataxia (loss of coordination), paresthesia (altered sensation), "stiffness" in face, trunk and limbs, clonic convulsions, coma, leukocytosis (high white blood cell count), dimness of vision, blackouts, blurred or double vision, agitation, hyperventilation, difficulty breathing, and respiratory depression.

Said to be invention of Hecate from the foam of Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the gates of the Underworld. Very magickal. Used to redirect enemies. Protection. The seed, when wrapped in lizard's skin, allows one to become invisible. To invoke Hecate.

Wormwood, Artemisia absinthum: Wormwood is classified as an unsafe herb by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of the neurotoxic potential of thujone and its derivatives. Toxicity is caused by an alkaloid, absinthin, and thujone. The symptoms of poisoning are stomach pain, mental/mood changes, trouble sleeping, tremors, change in the amount of urine, seizures, numbness, and unusual thirst

It is especially connected to snakes: mythology tells that it grew in the tracks of the snake expelled from Eden, for instance, and it was considered a protectant against snakebites. In its association with Mars, wormwood is generally good in protection spells and also a tool for getting vengeance through sorcery

Yew, Taxus baccata: The toxic agent of the yew is the alkaloid taxane. In humans, the yew generates digestive, nervous, respiratory and cardiovascular disorders, which can result in death. Symptoms include excitation, hyperventilation, and tachycardia, followed by deceleration of the heart, hypotension, nausea, stomach pains, cramps, giddiness, colic, violent diarrhea, dizzy spells, convulsions, coma and death.

It is said in Norse legends that Yew stands between two worlds and thus it can be used to trap souls within it. It was once used for arrow poison. It is one of the sacred trees of the Druids. Represents Yule because it stands between life and death, representing both. It is a symbol of stability due to its long life.