Medicinal Garden: Plants You Can Use

Medicinal Garden: Plants you can use

For years, plants have been used to treat what ails you. Perhaps your grandmother bestowed the virtues of dandelion tea for a stomachache. Whatever the case, there are certainly flowers that can be grown close to home so that you can have your very own medicine cabinet in your garden. The following seven plants are both pretty and useful and can be grown with ease.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Milkweed)
This perennial herbaceous plant grows up to 2 feet. An original plant with hairy stems, it has milky juice and �½ inch diameter blooms. Expect orange flowers starting in early summer. This is the only milkweed that has alternate leaves.
Used as a weak tea this is good for a laxative and a diuretic but be careful as in strong doses it can be toxic.

Achillea (Yarrow)
Yarrow, depending on variation, will grow from 6 inches to 4 feet high. It’s a full sun, drought resistant, fern-like plant. Blooming in June, if deadheaded it will rebloom in September. Blooms range in the reds, pinks, yellow, or white. You may propagate these in spring by division.
A tea is made from yarrow to use as a cold and flu remedy and to promote sweating in certain cases.

Cypripedium acaule (Pink Lady’s Slipper)
This version is the only Cypripedium to require an acidic soil. Test your soil before planting and make sure it has a range of pH 3.5-4.5. These will bloom 5-6 years after first growth; have light to dark pink flowers from May to June, and reach 8-18 inches. The leaves look like they are coming right out of the ground instead of off the stem. Native Americans used this to invoke spirit dreams just by its presence.
A tea is used to alleviate pain, lessen anxiety, and to induce sleep.

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern Purple Coneflower)
Characterized by a purple drooping bloom (rarely white) with a spiky brown center, this will grow up to 5 feet. Its bloom season is June to October. “Chino” is Greek for hedgehog; this plant having thought to resemble one. This is showy, easy to grow, and a favorite to make herbal teas with. It likes loose sandy soil, but will adapt easily. Echinacea is the number one herbal remedy on the market today. The root or leaf is made into a tea and is used for an antiseptic and used to clean sores and insect bites.

Helianthus annuus (Sunflower)
This sunflower gets up to 15 feet tall and will flower from spring to summer. Its flower heads follow the sun; facing east in the morning and west in the night. It is this trait where it gets its name, not for the fact it resembles the sun. It prefers full sun. This was brought into cultivation over 3000 years ago by the Native Americans as a food source. Today it is one of the most common seeds and used for seasoning and snacks.
Sunflower is used to make a tea that is taken for fevers, coughs, and for bronchitis.

Chimaphila umbellata (Pipsissewa)
A broadleaf evergreen shrublet or perennial herb that reaches a height of just 3-8 inches, the pipsissewa has white or pink flowers. They are five-petaled and will grow on the end of a terminal spike. It prefers dry and well-drained soil, moderate shade tolerance, and sandy acidic soil.
Its name is from the Cree Indian word “pipsisikweu” that means “it breaks into small pieces” to reference its treatment of gall and kidney stones. A tea is used as a good antiseptic and as a wash for wounds. It can also be used as a diuretic.

Hypericum perforatum (St Johnswort)
Bright yellow gold blooms top erect and semi-woody stems. This plant was introduced to the US and has now, in wildlife instances, turned invasive and weedy. It will fruit with a small brown capsule, and can be propagated by seed. It prefers to grow in pastures and in forest woodlands.
Many herbalists say the translucent “perforations” and the black-red spots contain the most active medicinal qualities. A tea is made from St. Johnswort and it is used to treat coughs, as a sedative, for depression, and to stimulate digestion.

These plants all use tea as their method of infusion into the body. For this, place a handful of the plant to one pint of hot water. Steep for 10 minutes and no longer or else the tea will be too strong. Care should be taken in taking any form of medication without a doctor’s approval. This goes for plant and herbal medicine as well, so please don’t use these before you talk to your doctor. This article is meant as a guide not medical advice. Take care of yourself.

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