|First flower I found this year- 2012|
Spring is finally here. I am so excited to get outside for some fresh air. But what I am anticipating the most is harvesting herbs! Here in Western New York, you can walk outside to find some of the best herbal remedies. Today, I am going to tell you about three herbs you might mistake for weeds.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)- Probably the most popular flower but not for it’s medicinal properties. Most people find them to be invasive and a nuisance. They will grow just about anywhere.
Dandelion is amazing and it borders on the line between herb and food. You can say it is healing food. The root aids digestion and and may relieve congestion of the gall bladder and liver. It is a diuretic, which means it increases the excretion of water from your body. In other words, it makes you pee a lot! It will help cleanse your blood and liver that way. It is used to treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS). There are so many ways to prepare dandelion. The leaves can be used in a salad or tea. They are full of vitamins and minerals. Drinking a tea of the roots will aid digestion. The bitter taste will stimulate gastric acid and bile. The plant becomes bitter as the season progresses, so pick them earlier on. You can even eat the flower or put them in lemonade. Check out this interesting recipe for dandelion fritters. You can make dandelion coffee out of the dried root. The possibilities are endless.
Heal-All or Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris L.)- This is another flower that seems to grow all over the lawn. I took that picture back in 2007 before I knew what a wonderful herb it was. It just looked like another pretty flower to me.
The Chinese have been using this plant for more then 2,000 years for the liver and gall bladder. It promotes healing and will help people with chronic conditions to restore them back to normal health. This plant is called heal-all because it is used externally for cuts, sores, bruises and burns and internally for menstruation, diarrhea and soar throats.
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense L.)- This flower not only helps bees make delicious clover honey, it also make a relaxing floral tea. It is thought to be blood purifying. Drinking it as a tea, it is an expectorant, making it good for asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, and other respiratory problems. It is also considered an antispasmodic and a mild sedative. The tea can be used externally to wash insect bites, wounds, burn, and rashes from skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. The flowers can be thrown into a salad with your dandelion greens!
All these wonderful flowers will be popping up soon. Make sure to go out and pick them when they are fresh in the spring. They can even be saved and dried for the winter!
Refrences: “Medicinal Plants of North America,” A field guide by Jim Meuninck-2008