list of plants and their uses

topic posted Sat, March 10, 2007 - 7:16 PM by  Katheryn

Plant: American and European Arnica (Arnica chamissonis and Arnica montana)
Appearance: A perennial that grows from one to two feet (30 to 61 centimeters). A pretty weed with bright yellow flowers.
Medicinal Qualities/Uses: Arnica is used externally for bruises, burns, and inflammations. Rub the flower petals on external cuts and bruises, or apply a tincture made from the flowers. The active components are sesquiterpene lactones, which reduce inflammation and decrease pain. Excessive use, however, can cause a rash on sensitive individuals. This herb should never be taken internally, as it may induce vomiting, an increased heart rate, nervousness, or even death.
History: Also known as leopard's bane, arnica is indigenous to central Europe and is protected in some areas. In Germany, more than 100 drug preparations are made from the plant.
Growing Instructions: I have not had luck growing from seed, so would recommend starting with a purchased plant.
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Plant: Borage (Borago officinalis)
Appearance: An annual that grows to 18 inches (46 centimeters). Borage has fuzzy, gray-green leaves and vibrant purple flowers that grow facing downward.
Medicinal Qualities/Uses: Seeds contain gamma-linolenic acid, an oil that is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Used as a dietary supplement, this oil is said to help reduce body fat accumulation by increasing the metabolism of "brown" fat. The entire plant is edible. The stems, which taste like cucumber, can be eaten uncooked. The flowers can be used to flavor cold summer drinks (float them with your ice cubes). People sometimes candy the flowers and place them on top of fancy desserts. The leaves, which contain potassium and calcium, can also be boiled and eaten. And an infusion of boiled leaves (one ounce/30 milliliters to one pint/475 milliliters of water) can be used to relieve intestinal complaints.
History: The name derives from the Arabic abu buraq (father of sweat) due to the plant's diaphoretic qualities.
Growing Instructions: Borage will self-seed like crazy, if you let it.
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Plant: Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Appearance: An annual that grows to 16 inches (40 centimeters). Its flowers ranged from pale yellow to bright orange.
Medicinal Qualities/Uses: Petals can be used in ointments for burns and cuts. The active ingredient is salicylic acid. Not to be taken internally – it is used topically. Make a compress with ground petals and place on the skin to ease inflammation from insect bites, cuts, or burns. The petals feel soft to the touch, and they even look soothing! The petals are also edible, and add a nice bitter taste to salads.
History: The plant has been associated with both the Virgin Mary and, in the 1600s, Queen Mary. The flower has been used medicinally for centuries.
Growing Instructions: Commonly known as marigolds, these plants are easy to grow! The seeds look like thorny cat claws and germinate easily in moist soil. Colors range from pale yellow to orange. Mine are butter-yellow, and they look great against purple flowers. They like to be watered regularly in dry weather.
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Plant: Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea palida)
Appearance: A perennial that grows to three feet (91 centimeters). It has large purple or white flowers with spiny orange centers.
Medicinal Qualities/Uses: Different types of echinacea possess different qualities. E. purpurea is highly regarded as a blood purifier and immune-booster. Clinical trials have shown that the roots of E. angustifolia and E. palida contain echinacoside – a medicinal compound that protects collagen from free radicals. Of the three, E. angustifolia has the highest amount of the active ingredient alkylamide, which can be found in the roots and flowers. To treat a cold, upper respiratory infection, or bronchitis, take 900 milligrams of root per day with an alcoholic extract; it can also be taken with vitamin C. Expressed juice of E. purpurea has been shown to promote healing in bronchitis. These herbs should not be taken over extended periods of time, as they are thought to become less effective in helping the immune system. While recent studies have shown positive results in dealing with colds in adults, echinacea has been proven ineffective at preventing colds in children younger than 11, who may, in fact, develop a rash as a reaction the herb.
History: A native North American plant, echinacea was originally used by aboriginal Americans for snake-bites and for its anti-inflammatory qualities. Although research has shown Echinacea to be medically effective, more research needs to be completed to pinpoint the most potent compounds and uses.
Growing Instructions: Buy a plant, as growing from seed is difficult. Once the roots are established, it does not need much water – a good plant to Xeriscape with for drought-prone gardens. Don't harvest the roots until the plant is mature (about three to four years).
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Plant: Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
Appearance: A perennial that grows from two to six feet (61 centimeters to 1.8 meters). Its small, yellow flowers bloom from June to October.
Medicinal Qualities/Uses: The entire plant is edible. The oil in the seeds contains linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid, which can aid weight loss and ease symptoms of PMS, cirrhosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and eczema. Patients taking phenothiazine drugs (e.g., for schizophrenia) should not take evening primrose oil. And pregnant and lactating women should also avoid it, as it was traditionally used to initiate labor.
History: This plant was once grown for the roots, which were boiled and eaten. Native Americans used it as a painkiller and as an antidote for asthma. The flowers open in the evening, hence the name. It was naturalized in Europe starting in the 17th century.
Growing Instructions: This native North American biennial blooms from June to October. It enjoys dry soil and is, therefore, ideal to Xeriscape (see sidebar) with.
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Plant: Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium)
Appearance: A perennial that grows to two feet (61 centimeters). It has small daisy-like flowers, which have yellow centers.
Medicinal Qualities/Uses: Feverfew is known for relieving migraines but is also believed to lessen tension and arthritis pain. The leaves may be eaten (e.g., in a sandwich) or drunk in a tea. A tincture made with the leaves can be applied to an insect bite to relieve pain. Pregnant women should not take feverfew because it may cause uterine contractions. The active ingredient is parthenolide.
History: Ancient healing instructions stated: "Feverfew must be pulled from the ground with the left hand, and the fevered person's name must be spoken forth, and the herbalist must not look behind him."
Growing Instructions: This flowering herb is easy to care for but easier to buy as a plant than to start from seed. (However, feverfew appears in unexpected locations in my garden.) Once roots are established, the plant requires very little water.

Plant: Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Appearance: A perennial that grows from six to 14 inches (15 to 36 centimeters). This plant takes three to five years to mature. Its flowers are tiny, white, and fluffy with yellow centers, and its leaves are lobed and rounded.
Medicinal Qualities/Uses: Goldenseal alleviates conditions such as sore gums, gastritis, and nasal congestion. The active ingredients, alkaloid hydrastine and berberine, are found in the root stalk.
History: Goldenseal is native to the northern United States and southern Canada. The Cherokee used its bitter roots as an antiseptic and to treat snakebites; the Iroquois used it to treat whooping cough, pneumonia, and digestive disorders. It became a commercial product in 1860 and is now a top-selling herb. It is an endangered plant in North Carolina, where permits are required to propagate it. People collect it in the wild, which is one reason for its current scarcity.
Growing Instructions: It is easier to buy a plant than to propagate from seed. Roots can be cultivated after the plants mature (when they are three to five years old).
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Plant: Indian Psyllium (Plantago ovata)
Appearance: An annual that grows to 18 inches (46 centimeters). It is grass-like with soft, hairy leaves.
Medicinal Qualities/Uses: The seeds are the basis of laxatives, such as Metamucil, and can be ground and mixed with water or fruit juice to relieve constipation. Taken daily, this mixture has been shown to reduce the chance of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol. Psyllium is also a popular ingredient in breakfast cereals. Active ingredients include pectine musilage and aucuboside.
History: The plant originated in India, and varieties are grown throughout the world.
Growing Instructions: Plant the seeds in the spring, and save some seed for replanting the following season.
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Plant: Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
Appearance: A perennial that grows to two feet (60 centimeters). It blooms with pink flowers and has light green leaves.
Medicinal Qualities/Uses: A gentle sedative, motherwort can be used to treat the symptoms of PMS, menstrual hot flashes, and delayed menstruation. Although there has been little research in determining the plant's active ingredient, the effective compounds are derived from its volatile oils and alkaloids. Motherwort seems to help calm the nervous system, and is drunk as a tea for heart palpitations or nervousness. To make the tea, add one ounce of herb to one pint of boiling water and strain. Or make a tincture by placing the leaves in alcohol (i.e., vodka) for six weeks; use a dose of one to four milliliters.
History: Translated, Leonurus cardiaca means lion hearted. Originally from England, motherwort was grown as a medicinal in many cottage gardens.
Growing Instructions: Plant the seeds in the spring. It will grow easily and, in the second year, will sport pink flowers. This plant appears in strange places in my garden each year, but it does not self-seed badly.
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Plant: Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)
Appearance: An annual that grows to 12 inches (30 centimeters). It is a green plant with small, oval leaves and stems that are easily broken.
Medicinal Qualities/Uses: Stevia is a natural, calorie-free sweetener. Add a leaf to beverages or food, or chew on leaves to cure sugar cravings. It has a slightly "green" taste. Powdered versions are now available commercially.
History: Stevia originated in Paraguay, where, for centuries, the Guarani Indians used it as a sweetener.
Growing Instructions: Place this plant outdoors in warm weather, and bring it indoors for the winter. (I keep mine potted for easy transfer.) Stevia gets leggy if not cut back, so use the leaves regularly to ensure a bushy, healthy plant.
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Plant: Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Appearance: A perennial that grows to two feet (61 centimeters). It has silver-gray leaves.
Medicinal Qualities/Uses: Wormwood contains absinthol, the plant-base for absinthe and vermouth. Wormwood improves digestion and is one of the oldest home remedies for worms. Take as a tea: infuse one ounce (30 milliliters) in one pint (475 ml) of boiling water for 10 minutes. If taken in a very large dose, it can induce nausea.
History: Wormwood is an old remedy, and its name, Artemisia, was derived from Artemis, the Greek goddess of nature and the moon. It was mentioned in the Herbariam of Apuleius (c. 1400s), and, for a time, it was used in place of hops in brewing beer. An ancient proverb, "as bitter as wormwood," indicates the plant's unpleasant taste. Absinthe is infamous in art and literary history and was used by painters such as Van Gogh and by writers such as Wilde and Hemingway. It also inspired works such as Degas' The Absinthe Drinkers.
Growing Instructions: As a perennial, I have not had luck with seeding. Growing from a purchased plant is easier.
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Plant: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Appearance: A perennial that grows to two feet (61 centimeters). The plant has multiple tiny flowers and its color ranges from white to pink to bright yellow. Its leaves are light-green and fern-like.
Medicinal Qualities/Uses: The entire plant can be used medicinally. To improve digestion and the functions of the gallbladder, liver, and kidneys, drink a tea made by brewing one ounce (30 milliliters) of yarrow in one pint (475 milliliters) of water. Yarrow is also a valuable wound healer: boil the plant in water, strain, and apply the residue to the affected area. Pregnant women should not take yarrow as it can cause miscarriages.
History: Achilles is said to have dressed the wounds of his soldiers with this herb. It has been known as soldier's wound wort, knight's milfoil, and Herba Militaris. Yarrow was even used in the divination of spells and is, therefore, also known by names such as devil's plaything.
Growing Instructions: Grows well from seed but will not flower in the first year. Once roots are established, it does not require much water, so it is also good to Xeriscape (see sidebar) with. Seeds can spread, but I have never found them to be a problem. The flowers are pretty, and the leaves resemble ferns.
posted by:
  • Re: list of plants and their uses

    Fri, July 17, 2009 - 2:08 PM
    Thank you for the list. I grow most of these in my yard. I haven't had much luck growing Arnica; but I've only found seeds. You can find most of these herbs at "Western Gardens" stores in Utah; at least in the Salt Lake valley.
    I've also found All-heal, Penny Royal, Holy Basil, and Valerian. I order seeds from several catalogs just for the plants medicinal values.
    Thanks again for posting this info. Now I want to find Golden Seal plants......

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