Medicinal & Edible Benefits of Hibiscus

The colors of Fall are beautiful with the trees changing into an array of yellow, red, gold, orange and brown. You don’t expect to see many plants producing as you do in the Summer.

hibiscus-close-up

There are some exceptions of course. The beautiful Hibiscus Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), with its ruby red calyces and deep burgandy stems. After flowering, the calyx swell with a seed pod at which time we harvest the calyces and peel the red outer covering off to use for teas and jellies and more!

hibiscus-parts

The leaves, flowers and calyces are all edible. The calyces are well known around the world for their gorgeous red color for your teas. In Jamaica they call their drink,  Jamaican Sorrel which is made from the hibiscus calyx along with fresh ginger and sugar. It is delish!!!

I do have one hibiscus plant but it bloomed late so I only have a few calyces to pick BUT I am lucky enough to have some good friends that invited me to the farm they work at to pick all I wanted!

hibiscus-roselle
My Hibiscus plant

hibiscus-harvest

My friend Denise helped me process this giant load of hibiscus. I could not have done it without her. 🙂

hibiscus-closeup

hibiscus-fresh
fresh hibiscus peeled from seed pods. Pic Credit*Denise Hardin
hibiscus-seed-pods-denise
the leftover pods pic credit* Denise Hardin
hibiscus-tray
All my trays of drying hibiscus!
hibiscus-by-denise-hardin
My favorite photographer Denise Hardin

Here is an Herb Profile for you about Hibiscus:

Herbal Lesson on Hibiscus

Hibiscus sabdariffa, also known as Roselle or Jamaican Sorrel, is a beautiful tropical plant with reddish green leaves, red stems, red calyces and pale yellow flowers with a red center. It can be grown here in Georgia if started early enough because it flowers in late summer.

Edible uses: The leaves, flowers, calyx are all edible. The red calyx swells up after flowering and then peeled to dry for teas.

To make tea: Use 1 T fresh calyces or 1-2 teaspoons dried per cup of water. Steep 10 minutes. Sweeten.

SYRUP/CORDIAL
This syrup will keep for at least a year. Once opened, it will keep for months if refrigerated. The syrup is delicious over crepes, fresh fruit, custard, ice cream. To make cordial, a very small quantity of syrup can be added to a glass and filled with water. The syrup can also be added to milk to make a delicious drink.
5 cups sugar
4 cups water
4 cups calyces, chopped
Heat the sugar and water in a large saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the calyces and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently until the volume of liquid is reduced by a third. Remove from the heat and strain. Bottle the syrup while still hot into clean bottles and seal. The strained calyces can be eaten as a dessert with ice cream or custard.

Medicinal Uses:  Good for the cardiovascular system – can help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Full of antioxidants, high in vitamin C

Cooling to the body and astringent due to the tartness so helpful for fevers, excess fluid, hot flashes, sore throats.

Hibiscus and Ginger Tea : 4 T fresh hibiscus and a few slices fresh ginger to a quart jar, add boiling water, let steep 10-15 minutes. Sweeten with sugar, honey – I used coconut sugar.

www.bellavistanaturals.com – Anne-Marie Bilella  – Bella Vista Farm

Have a beautiful day friends!

The Benefits of Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) otherwise known as Wild Carrot is part of the Apiaceae family of plants or commonly called the Parsley Family. Until recently, I never touched Queen Anne’s Lace for fear that it may be a poisonous relative – hemlock to be exact! One is edible while the other, well you know the story of the Greek philosopher, Socrates? Sentenced to death by drinking the poison hemlock, yikes!

This year I finally, FINALLY decided to really look into that pretty wild carrot flower and see how hard really it was to identify it. Pretty, darn easy….seriously….if you pay attention to the color and texture of the stem, the leaf type and the flower. See Queen Anne’s Lace has something special in the very center of the flower, not ALL the flowers but if you find that special mark then you definitely got the correct plant. So what is that special mark?

Look closely at this picture, not my pic but it is from the Edible Wild Foods website –

queen-annes-lace-image

What do you see?

No, it is not dirt or a bug it is a dark colored flower in the center! Well in this case there looks to be two or three. Another cool thing about the flowers – when one starts to get old, instead of turning brown, it starts to close up like a this -like a birds nest!

QueenAnnesLace111111985554 Whereas Poison Hemlock turns all brown

The stems – this picture is credited to Darryl Patton, The Southern Herbalist

darryl patton queen anne

It looks pretty obvious, doesn’t it? BUT still make sure you have help the first few times to be sure!!!

So what are the benefits? For one thing EAT IT!!! It has a white carrot root but you should dig it up early spring otherwise now, here in the South as it is in flower, it would be tooooo woody. The flowers can be battered and friend, mmmmm or make a jelly from the flowers like I did.

QAC flowers

I cleaned all the blossoms of critters – 😀 then measured out 4 cups of blossoms. I added 7 cups of boiling water, slightly cooled for 5 minutes. Cover and steep for 30 minutes and strain.

I measured about 6.5 cups of the infusion into a clean pot. Add 1/2 cup lemon juice, stir and add the pectin(approxiamtely 6 Tablespoons or two boxes). I used low sugar pectin but you can use regular as in the original recipe from Edible Wild Foods. Stir really, really well with a whisk!

Bring to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Then add your sugar, in my case of low sugar, I added 2 – 2.5 cups. Bring up to a boil again and cook for 1 minute. Test the consistency. My set up quite fast!! Have jars ready, fill, wipe clean, add lids and process in water bath canner for 5 minutes for 8 ounce jars.

Medicinal Benefits GALORE!!! Here is a list of what I found, although not tested by me yet.

You know the saying, ” An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? A wild carrot a day, might keep death away!” Hmmm…that’s what I read.

Queen Anne’s Lace is known to be analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, hangover preventative, migraine remedy, expectorant, antihistamine, helpful for the kidneys and liver, cancer preventative and much, much more. Read here for more info! As soon as I have some experience with this plant medicinally, I will let ya’ll know!

jelly

 

Jelly Recipe

  • 4 cups fresh QAL Blossoms
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 boxes or 6 Tablespoons pectin

This made 6 half pints plus a 4 ounce jar.

Go find a knowledgeable friend and pick some Queen Anne’s Lace! Have a great day –

Anne-Marie

Expanding Gardens for More Herbs!

Spring, lovely Spring! We wait all winter long for this time of year, well at least I do. I was just itching to get out and dig, plant and harvest and just enjoy the sights and sounds of Springtime!

This year, we are growing more, hopefully 🙂 My neighbor came over with his tractor and tilled up a giant section in the herb garden for a few rows and my hubby helped me make the rows and get rid of giant clumps. Actually John did most of the making of the rows – he is better at it, a perfectionist I might add. Each row is about 35 feet long and 2 feet wide -woohoo!

garden john

garden john2

thunder
Thunder Pookie “helping”

new rows

My interns and I planted 40 calendula plants, 4 ashwagandha, 4 hibiscus roselle – all in the rows and huckleberries, stevia, quinoa, spilanthes(toothache plant) and echinacea in various raised beds and wild areas. I cannot wait til they grow!!!

garden

burdock
Burdock
lilly bed
Lillies and stuff
purple homestead verbena
first blooms in the butterfly garden – purple homestead verbena taking over!!!
comfrey
Faithful comfrey always keeping on giving 🙂

Seeds were started for arugula, skullcap, sage, borage, lettuce, marshmallow, nastursiums and more. I am not good at seed starting so I figured between me, Stephanie and Brooke, two of my three interns, we should have a good shot at it. They can help me remember to check on them and thin when necessary. Keep your fingers crossed!

Many of the plants I get are started by local friends – ❤ Friends that grow things very well from seeds! New plants go into the raised boxes until I know they can succeed with my sometimes neglect. Any that have to be pampered don’t get to stay. I know that’s mean but besides tending to the plants, I have to take care of critters, teach classes, prepare for classes, making product, delivering products, doing event, yada yada yada and of course take care of the family! I love plants that are naturally strong and perennials to boot.

I also started new mushrooms – trying Oyster mushrooms this time around. We shall see if they grow. I did them on straw in bags and in buckets. A teeny, tiny one is growing out of the straw – hope it will become a big bunch!!!!

oyster

Sorry a bit blurry!

More thing growing coming soon!

Have a beautiful, peaceful day today,

Anne-Marie

 

 

Boneset Harvest and Medicinal Benefits

This year I grew some new plants, Boneset being one of them. It was soooo easy to grow from a plant that I purchased in North Carolina.

boneset harvest

I harvested the aerial parts(all parts above the soil) and have it drying on a rack in my kitchen right now.

boneset drying boneset in bags

Boneset is a must have herb for colds and flu! Here is a mongraph on Boneset with info that I have collected from my experience and from sources credited at the end of this post.

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Boneset can grow to about 4 ft tall. It has a thick, rough textured stem. The leaves are opposite, slightly toothed, elongated diamond shaped and joined at the stem. appearing as if the stem is punctured through the leaves.

Boneset Leaves close up
Boneset Leaves close up

The flowers grow in clusters at the top of the plant and are tiny and white.

boneset flowers

In Georgia, we do have some wild boneset varieties that are not E. perfoliatum. To id, look carefully at the leaves arranged on the stem to make sure the leaves join at the stem.

So what does the name “Boneset” mean? Think about when you have a bad cold or the flu. You hurt allover the body, fever, chills right down to the bones right? Boneset is known to fix all of that with its analgesic and diaphoretic properties – helps you sweat it out. 😉

Cautions though – too much boneset at once can cause you to vomit! So small, frequent doses are best.

Boneset is a bitter herb so a tea should be sweetened or it can be made into a syrup. Recipe below.

This herb is known to help:

  • induce sweating in fevers, colds and flu
  • stimulate immune system
  • malaria
  • rheumatism
  • muscle pains
  • spasms
  • pneumonia
  • pleurisy
  •  gout

For fevers & colds – make a tea using 1-2 teaspoons dried boneset(can be purchased here) or 1 tablespoon fresh to one cup of water. Steep covered for 15 minutes. Strain and sweeten. Drink 1/2 cup every hour, as hot as you can stand it, until symptoms improve.

For digestive system – to improve or stimulate digestion, take 2 tablespoons of warm tea after meals daily for 3-6 months or as needed.

Boneset Syrup

adapted from Medicinal Plants of The Southern Appalachians

  • 2 oz fresh boneset or 1 oz dried or a combination of herbs includingg mullein, sumac berries, elder berries
  • 1 pint of water
  • honey

Pour boiling water over herbs, cover and steep overnight. Strain and add back to a clean pot. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. (Helpful to stick a chopstick in the pot and mark on it where the liquid comes up to, then again when you think it is done).

Turn heat off. Add equal part honey to the reduced liquid and mix well. Store in the refrigerator for 1-2 months.

Dosage – take 1-2 teaspoons as needed. Cautions: May not be good during pregnancy or for someone with allergies to the Asteraceae family.

Enjoy your day!

Anne-Marie

Wildcrafting Wednesday

References: Bella Vista Farm, Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians by Patricia Kyritsi Howell, Petersons Field Guide Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster & James A. Duke

Disclosure statement: While I may recommend certain herbs and foods for any illnesses, allergies, skin conditions, natural beauty care and household cleaning, as a reader and a consumer use what I say to research further on your end. I am not a doctor but I am an herbalist not a licensed practitioner but  always learning to improve our lives and to relay what I  have learned on to you!

Sometimes this site includes affiliate links from trusted companies that I personally deal with and approve. By clicking on the links provided in my posts, I do receive a small commission with each purchase at no cost to you. It helps pay for my time spent writing, exploring new products and to bring you the best content that I can. I hope to provide giveaways that are provided from our affiliates soon.

Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. Whether you use the link or buy the product is entirely up to you.

Wildcrafting Wednesday Featured Blogger

Growing on The Farm!

Time is flying by this year! I have no idea where it went. I had been wanting to post garden pictures for weeks now and life has been crazy busy!!!

Here is what has been growing on the farm!

My horse arena was turned into the new Medicinal Garden: here is a pic from March.

new garden

Empty!!! Now……

summer garden
filled with goodness!!!
rosemary
Rosemary bush by the house 🙂
hops
Hops are 4 ft tall!!!!
holy basil2
Holy Basil – Krishna and Vana
holy basil1
Holy Basil – Krishna and Rama
hibiscus roselle
Hibiscus Roselle
gotu kola
Gotu Kola creeping along!
burdock
Burdock and Gotu Kola
gardens
Vitex Agnus-castus – stunning!!! Aka – chastetree.

OK now for the Butterfly Garden – BEFORE:

butterfly before
Start of butterfly garden in MAY

AND NOW:

butterfly2

We have in it: Passionflower, butterfly weed, lemon verbena, scented geranium, salvia, dill, parsley, black eyed susan, daisies and more stuff!!!

butterfly1
Some Passionflower vines and Black Eyed Susans
butterfly weed
Butterfly Weed
salvia and passionflower
salvia and passionflower
Lemon Verbena - soooooo sweet and beautiful smelling
Lemon Verbena – soooooo sweet and beautiful smelling
A Baby Mimosa Tree
A Baby Mimosa Tree

So blessed!!!!

On the way in from taking some pictures, I grabbed a handful of plump, juicy raspberries.

berries

Delish! Hope you have enjoyed my pics, have a beautiful day!!!

Anne-Marie

How To Make A Calendula Oil Infusion

Don’t you just love the Spring? Actually it will be officially Summer in a couple week – wow! I love Spring because I can start picking flowers and herbs to use in my infusions, tinctures and all the beautiful other creations. One of my absolute favorite flowers is calendula – beautiful, sunny calendula!

meander basket 2

This year I am growing two full raised beds with calendula – only one is producing flowers right now. Did you know the more you pick the blossoms, the more they grow? Really. At first I would have 2-3 to pick, then 5-6, then 10, now I am up to about 30 per day on average.

Most of the blossoms come inside to be laid upside down on a clean tray to dry. I do it this way so they don’t shrivel up into a little unidentifiable nothing!

20150610_082534_resized

So before I get to the recipe and tutorial, here is a little something for your herbal notebook on Calendula!

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

calendula flower

Calendula is part of the Asteraceae family of plants. It is a ray flower with many petals in orange and yellow with muted green leaves that are about 4-6″ long and rounded at the tip., It is a self seeding annual that can grow to 2′ tall.

Herbal Actions: Vulnerary, Lymphatic, Anti-bacterial, Antiviral, Anti-fungal, Anti-inflammatory and Emmenagogue

Internally, calendula is used for chronic colitis, surgical wounds, ulcers, chronic sores, varicose veins, candida, lymphadema, rinse after tooth extractions, fungal infections.

Externally it is used  for wounds, cuts, rashes, burns, cracked nipples after breast feeding.

Basically Calendula promotes all kinds of wound healing. 🙂

**As always, check with your medical/herbal practitioner before starting any herbal remedy or do more research to make sure it is right for you.**

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Calendula Infused Oil

Take a few cups of calendula blossoms, fresh or dried and add enough coconut and olive oil to cover all the blossoms completely in a crock pot. For 3 cups blossoms, you would need about 4 cups total of oil. I uses half coconut and half olive oil.

Put a thermometer in the pot, do not cover. Heat on low to warm, depending on your personal crock pot since some run very hot. Keep temperature between 110-150o, ideally and definitely below 160o so you don’t get crispy fried calendula!

Heat for about 3 hours, turn off and let cool until you can strain it. Sometimes I will cover the pot with a cooling rack and towel while it is cooling down.

Strain through a muslin or cheesecloth lined mesh strainer into a clean glass bowl. Let this bowl sit covered on your counter overnight and then decant the oil into another bowl or jar. This allows the sediment to go to the bottom of the first bowl(if there is any water or particles) and you will have clear pretty oil.

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Now you can use your oil in herbal recipes or put it in the refrigerator(LABELED) where it will keep for up to a year.

So what will you make? Let me know! Please share this post with your friends – thank you 😀

Enjoy your lovely day,

Anne-Marie

Just Another Day On The Farm

Today was a productive day! I got a ton done, thanks to the help of my interns and good friends, Andrea and Leila. Three sets of hands definitely make light work!!!

The new Butterfly Garden - passionflower in the back
The new Butterfly Garden – passionflower in the back

 

We rotated a few mushroom logs, planted passionflower vines, planted a couple cantaloupe and squash plants, weeded , harvested a boatload of comfrey and planted the comfrey roots – well s-o-m-e of them – there are tons!

comfrey5

comfrey3

 

comfrey4

OH and we planted a row of sunflowers – yay!!! Hopefully the squirrels and the birds don’t get them.

Next we took all of the comfrey leaves and laid them out on the trays to dry. The flowering tops along with some of the leaves and the stems will not go to waste because I will put them in olive oil to infuse for salves.

comfrey2

And a tray of some of the passionflower leaves that we cut off the tops of the vines –

comfrey1

 

None of the scraps went to waste either – the chickens got them!!!

The gardens are really shaping up – I will post more pictures later. 🙂

Enjoy your day!

Anne-Marie

Gobo Burdock Roots and Tincture

Wildcrafting Wednesday
Finally, I dug up the Gobo Burdock roots!!!

This year was the first that I tried to grow burdock so I planted 6 seedlings. Four of them took and three took over most of the raised bed.

Burdock in September with holy basil, motherwort and lemon balm and regular basil
Burdock in September with holy basil, motherwort and lemon balm and regular basil

After I harvested the plants, I noticed Motherwort was hiding under all the foliage of the Burdock. Guess that is one strong little plant!

Being that we already had a few very cold days below 35, I thought there is no way these burdock roots will be good. Ha! They were PERFECT and not difficult to get out of the ground. Remember that Lemongrass fiasco??? I only got one of those plants up, the other can just stay there forever as far as I am concerned.

I kind of thought the burdock would be similar to digging yellow dock – nope. Maybe it was the raised beds, maybe it was the beautiful healthy soil or maybe just luck. 😀 Whatever the case may be, I will definitely plant more next year and way more.

I washed all of the roots in a bucket which took longer than digging them up but who wants dirty, gritty roots?! The roots were beautiful and I remember my teacher Patricia saying we have to clean and cut up roots right away otherwise they will get too hard to cut.

burdock roots

Tincturing was the next step. Fresh burdock should be tinctured at 75% alcohol, 25% water. I chopped it up tiny, weighed it and added the roots to a quart glass jar. I measured my alcohol – pure cane organic alcohol, measured my water and mixed the two liquids together.

Next step was pouring the liquid over the roots and mixing well. Perfect. Now to let it sit for a couple weeks!

If you don’t have your own burdock growing, then visit Mountain Rose Herbs here! My go to herb supplier for awesome organic or wildcrafted herbs.

Here it is after a week –

working its magic
working its magic

burdock tinc2

There will be a lot of tincture. 🙂 Here is your monograph on Burdock:

Gobo Burdock (Arctium lappa)

burdock flower

Burdock is in the Asteraceae Family. It is a biennial that can grow 9 feet tall if allowed. The plant has large alternate cordiform leaves. Burdock has pinkish-purple flowers that develop into a spiny burr that contains many seeds. The burrs stick to everything and supposedly the plant inspired the idea of velcro!

It can grow easily from seeds but needs a large area with good loose soil. Plant early Spring and harvest the roots in the fall.

Actions: Alterative, lymphatic, diuretic, demulcent tonic, mild laxative.

All parts of the plant are used in the following manner:

Root: For chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Systemic inflammation(Rheumatic and arthritic)

Enlarged lymph glands, lymphedema, mastitis,

Chronic constipation, poor appetite and weak digestion, GI Harmonizer, poor kidney function, dandruff

Boils, cysts, sties, gout and it is EDIBLE

Seeds: Chronic skin conditions topically and internally

Leaf: Topical as a fresh poultice, skin inflammation, infections, boils and cysts.

There are no know side effects from Burdock or drug interactions but you can get contact dermatitis from handling the plant.

Medicinal Preparations:

Capsules up to 6/ 500-600mg/day

Tea – steep 1-2 tsp. dried root in 8-10 ounces of water. Decoct 15-20 minutes and steep for 40 minutes/ up to 3x/day

Tincture 1:2 ratio weight of fresh herb to volume of menstruum(alcohol & water). 40-90 drops(2-4ml) 3x/day

Hope you enjoyed today’s post!

Anne-Marie

Disclosure statement: While I may recommend certain herbs and foods for any illnesses, allergies, skin conditions, natural beauty care and household cleaning, as a reader and a consumer use what I say to research further on your end. I am not a doctor but I am an herbalist not a licensed practitioner but  always learning to improve our lives and to relay what I  have learned on to you!

Sometimes this site includes affiliate links from trusted companies that I personally deal with and approve. By clicking on the links provided in my posts, I do receive a small commission with each purchase at no cost to you. It helps pay for my time spent writing, exploring new products and to bring you the best content that I can. I hope to provide giveaways that are provided from our affiliates soon.

Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. Whether you use the link or buy the product is entirely up to you.

Week of Learning to Share

This has been a good week of learning! Wednesday, I interned with Diane(The Garden Lady) at her home. She has 88 garden beds – in a subdivision!!!! Some are small and some quite large but there is a little bit of everything from fruit trees to herbs to flowers to veggies all on a small neighborhood lot! Well my job this week was to harvest the turnip greens for their seeds and there were a bunch of aphids that had to be smushed – yuck! Tiny little grey bugs.
I then bundled all the plants to hang and dry so Diane could save all the seeds for future planting.

Thursday night was our Ladies Homestead Gathering and we had a guest, Joanne Roth, speak to us on permaculture – agricultural system: a system of agriculture that uses a mix of trees, bushes, other perennial plants, and livestock to create a self-sustaining ecosystem that yields crops and other products. She explained the purpose of planting taller trees as a wind block and the shorter trees and bushes for shade over the garden for part of the day so that your plants don’t burn up in full sun for more than 6 hours a day. I thought full sun meant ALL DAY, 8-10 hours. I also learned that we are no longer zone 7, this area of Georgia is currently zone 8. That would explain all the crazy hot weather we have like the 85 degree days we had while it was still winter! For you gardeners out there – plant Lavender around your garden to repel deer. Then if you’d like, you can harvest some of your lavender for medicinal purposes of to cook with. I have a wonderful Lemon Lavender cookie recipe that I must find and post for you.

So Saturday came around and I had my Backyard Medicinal Workshop which turned out awesome! We learned about what different plants, weeds, flowers that are either in your backyard or your neighbors that you can either eat or use medicinally. All 8 of us took a nice walk on my property, in the pasture and in the woods to identify the plants. Come to find out, I have 3 peach trees with fruit on them that must have been planted 30+ years ago on the new property out back. I am so excited!!!!! I did not know they were there because for one, in the winter, to me the cherry and peach trees look alike and they were covered up by briars and kudzu but the cows have been working on that.

We finished up the class by making three medicinals to take home. A Lavender Calming Spray to use around your home, office,car or on your hands to sanitize, a Holy Basil Tincture(Holy Basil or Tulsi is an anti stress herb to help your overall health) and a Chickweed and Plantain Salve to sooth skin conditions such as eczema, scrapes, rashes, wrinkles. Can’t wait to teach another class!

Finally today I got to ride my horse, Tina. I felt like Dr. Doolittle because as I went through the back gate, I got on Tina and right behind me was my two dogs and one of the cats. Then up ahead were the two cows but they did not feel like staying with us so they took off running. Beautiful morning!

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