Chelidonium majus (from the poppy family Papaveraceae), or greater celandine (Norw: Svaleurt), is an important plant in western phytotherapy and in traditional Chinese medicine and is known here in Norway as a relic plant, often found around the ruins of old monasteries. I introduced it to my garden some 25 years ago or more. At one time I decided to remove it as it wasn’t in the theme of the garden of edible plants (although there are records of it being eaten with careful preparation, but definitely in the famine food category). However, it has naturalised in a mild way, popping up here and there and I tolerate it as it’s an interesting and nice lookin plant (a medimental; medicinal ornamental). I’ve also in the past introduced a cut-leaf form (var. laciniata) and also a double flowered form. The latter I thought I’d lost and then it turned up again this week, the reason for this post:
Here’s the normal form in another bed in the garden and the characteristic orange plant juice which is the part most used medicinally in treatment of a range of skin ailments:
A year ago I was scheduled to give the Alston lecture at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Before the lecture, my host Cornelia Cho showed me round the botanical gardens. I’ve collected a series of pictures of the useful plants we saw (with captions). There’s a large Japanese garden which had many familiar Japanese edimentals and perennial vegetables and the main theme of teh glasshouses was ethnobotany! More can be read about the lecture here: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=23467
A year ago, on 22nd September 2019, Joe Hollis had invited me to do a walk and talk with him at his Mountain Gardens in North Carolina! Before the event he took me around the woodlands to show me the woodland flora. I made a short video at most of the plants to help me remember what they were. I’ve now put them together into one video (see below). Joe talks briefly about the following plants: Disporum spp. (trachycarpum?) (medicinal) Medeola virginiana; Indian cucumberroot Hosta sieboldiana (self-seeding) (food) Panax quinquefolius; American ginseng Prenanthes trifolioliata; Gall of the earth (Food and medicine) Smilax rotundifolia; common greenbrier (Food and medicine) Acer spp.; maple Castanea spp.; chestnut Sassafras albidum; sassafras (Medicine and beverage/spice) Cacalia delphinifolia? (Far Eastern edible and medicinal) After the video is a gallery of photos taken on the same tour. Will post more from the walk and talk later. This is one of several blog posts about my visit to Joe. See more by searching here: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?s=joe+hollis
It’s a year since I arrived at Joe Hollis’ Mountain Gardens in North Carolina. I wrote about it here https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=24110 and just added a few additional pictures. Here are a few additional pictures from his extensive library, Chinese herb pharmacy and seed store which he offers as a resource for anyone wanting to study the useful plants of the world!
Epazote (sitronmelde) used to be called Chenopodium ambrosioides, but has been renamed Dysphania ambrosioides…
It’s a short-lived perennial which can be overwintered in a cool room, resprouting from the roots in spring… It has an “interesting” smell which is reminiscent of turpentine
I must use it more…
From Wikipedia: “Although it is traditionally used with black beans for flavor and its supposed carminative properties (less gas), it is also sometimes used to flavor other traditional Mexican dishes as well: it can be used to season quesadillas and sopes (especially those containing huitlacoche), soups, mole de olla, tamales with cheese and chili peppers, chilaquiles, eggs and potatoes and enchiladas. It is often used as an herb in white fried rice and an important ingredient for making the green salsa for chilaquiles.”
Urtica gracilis (often classified as a subspecies of stinging nettle, Urtica dioica subsp. gracilis) is a widespread nettle species in North America including Canada and Alaska. It has many local names including slender nettle, California nettle and American nettle. This year, my tallest nettle is currently over 2.9m high!
It was (and is) an important plant of the first peoples throughout the continent from Vermont to Alaska,used as a vegetable, medicinally and, most importantly as a fibre plant, including fishing nets!. One native use I noted was “Rubbed on the bodies of sealers to keep them awake at night” :) (Moerman’s Native American Ethnobotany has a long list of uses)
My slender nettle has almost no stinging hairs, and, in general, has much less than stinginess than the introduced Urtica dioica subsp. dioica (stinging nettle) and Laportea canadensis (Wood Nettle; see my book Around the World in 80 plants). It is unisexual ( I seem to have just one sex as it doesn’t produce seeds…)
Added 300917: The friend in Granville, Ohio who sent me the seed of this nettle writes: “I collected the Urtica gracilis along the back of my property, near an old railroad (now a bike trail). It’s a common plant in “waste places”. I’ve never seen the plants grow that large here. Could your additional sunlight be to blame?”
I don’t blog often about medicinal plants, but an interesting research paper from Oslo on the treatment of Alzheimers with herbal medicine has been published, and it’s an old favourite here in Malvik, Sideritis syriaca (Greek Mountain Tea) (actually two closely related species were used!). The research was carried out by a professor at the University of Oslo to test whether the traditional use of these herbs in the Balkan Peninsular to prevent age-related cognitive problems in elderly might have a real effect!