Posts Tagged ‘white flower’

Meadowsweet – Spirea alba var. latifolia

White Meadowsweet
White Meadowsweet

Through grass, through amber’d cornfields, our slow Stream–
Fringed with its flags and reeds and rushes tall,
And Meadowsweet, the chosen of them all
By wandering children….

 

By William Allingham (1824-1889)

 

This perennial shrub of the Rose family is native to Northeastern North America and can be found growing in wet areas such as edges of marshes, bogs and ditches, along streams, and wet prairies. In Kentucky, and Tennessee it is considered Endangered. While in Ohio it is listed as Extripated (locally extinct).  The plant was imported into parts of Europe; Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, United Kingdom. In Belgium and Latvia it is listed as Invasive, and in Lithuania as potentially Invasive!

 

In herbal medicine of the Ojibwa Indians a tea of leaves and flowers was used to ease childbirth. Early settlers used the inner bark as a pain killer, much like other early aspirin like herbs (willow. etc). Unlike willow or poplar, which also contains Salicylates, the properties and strength of the aspirin like effects is consistent from plant to plant. In minute amounts Meadowsweet can also be used on stomach issues. The Blackfoot Indians used a tea as an enema and a vagina douche to treat infections.

 

The leaves smell like almonds and have been used to keep linens fresh and nicely scented. The leaves have also been use in making an astringent skin tonic. The leaves have been dried and used as a China tea substitute, supposedly tasting much the same as the original. The early settlers ate the roots.

 

In magic use this plant and its flowers are used to promote love, balance and harmony. Among the Druids the Meadowsweet, Vervain and Verbena were their three most sacred herbs. The use of fresh flowers on the alter has been frequent when casting a love spell, also use the dried petals in love mixtures. The fresh flowers were often included in wedding bouquets. In Welsh Mythology, Gwydion and Math created a woman out of oak blossom, broom, and meadowsweet and named her Blodeuwedd (“flower face”).

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Compact Japanese Holly – Ilex crenata

Japanese Compact Holly
Japanese Compact Holly

The Japanese or Box-leaved Holly was imported from the Orient where it is native to Chine, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Sakhalin (a large island in the N Pacific belonging to Russia). Depending on the variety you choose for your garden it can be like an exclamation point, drawing attention, or a classic hedge plant enclosing others!

 

It is an evergreen shrub, but without the pointy, sharp leaves we so often associate with Hollies. The leaves do more resemble the Box shrub for which one of its common names derives. It is a slow grower, often keeping the same relative size for years in your landscape structure.

 

As with all Hollies it needs male and female shrubs to produce berries. It blooms with small white flowers around mid-spring. These are followed by dark, almost black drupes with four seeds. The flowers are a wonderful bee attractant, and yet the shrub is deer-resistant.

 

If you want this shrub don’t bother trying the seeds, as they very rarely germinate in cultivation. Instead take semi-hardwood cuttings. These root surprisingly easily! To plant out make sure the soil is acidic and moist, but well drained. If the variety you are growing has solid green leaves full sun is great, but the variegated leaved varieties often need some dappled shade to shine.

 

Some care must be taken with pets and small children. The leaves, but more especially the berries contain Illicin. If a sufficient quantity is consumed then the signs of toxicity are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stupor due to depression of the central nervous system. Fortunately the Illicin produced by the berries and leaves is a bitter that discourages ingestion. The toxicity has never lead to death, and some report that the reports of toxicity are over stated.

Queen Anne’s Lace – Daucus carota

Monarche on Queen Anne's Lace 'bird's nest' seedhead
Monarche on Queen Anne’s Lace ‘bird’s nest’ seedhead

“Her lawn looks like a meadow,
And if she mows the place
She leaves the clover standing
And the Queen Anne’s lace!”

Edna St Vincent Millay
(1892-1950)

Take a look at the picture…Bird’s Nest, Bee’s Nest…are alternate names for the wild carrot known as Queen Anne’s lace. As the plants flowers finish their bloom and begin to die back the

flower head curls in on itself, with the result of looking much like a bird’s nest! Its other common name, Queen Anne’s lace is because they were named for Queen Anne of England (1665-17140), who is reported to have been an excellent lace maker. There are many myths surrounding Queen Anne and this plant…one of them being how the plant got the darkened spot in the middle of the umbel of flowers. It was said that Queen Anne had pricked her finger with a needle and the drop of blood stained the lace (and the flower) with her blood.

 

This biennial plant of fields, meadows, waste places and roadsides is native to Europe and southwest Asia. It has now become naturalized in northeast North America and Australia. In many areas it has been declared a noxious weed. In some areas it is prohibited and even under quarantine! Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington states all find it, at least noxious.

 

It seems that traditionally almost every part of this plant was used in folk medicine.

Root: works as a diuretic, eliminates kidney stones and worms. As poultice for wounds and ulcers

            Seeds: used as a contraceptive, and an abortifacient, also used for hangovers

            Seeds & Leaves: settle the stomach when used together

            Leaves: with honey, will clean weeping sores

            Sap: used for cough and congestion

Whole Plant: made into a decoction – used for dropsy, kidney diseases, gout, gravel & stones

The root is edible, but harvest it the first year, the second it gets woody and tough. An essential oil of the seeds is used in perfumery.

Mayweed Chamomile – Anthemis cotula

Mayweed
Mayweed

This native of the Mediterranean region has been introduced to North America, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand. It has spread and taken over so effectively that it is considered a noxious weed in many places. By 1995 Mayweed was found in almost all of the lower, contiguous 48 states. Mayweed is also called Stinking Chamomile due to its foul smelling scent, but that same scent is very attractive to ladybugs!

Although Mayweed is related to chamomile, it is not as effective a medicine as chamomile. It has historically been used as an antispasmodic, to encourage menstruation, and to treat ‘hysterical’ conditions of the uterus. Although rarely used, the whole plant is considered antispasmodic, astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue and tonic.

In Peru the plant is used as a flavoring, and the flowers are used to make tea. The flowers make a less unpleasant flavored tea than the whole herb. Care must be exercised in using this herb as just touching it can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Water Oak – Querus nigra

Water Oak
Water Oak

“If the Oak’s before the Ash,

Then you’ll only get a splash;

If the Ash before the Oak,

Then you might expect a soak.”

Old Proverb

 

Native to wet, swampy areas of the southeastern United States, from southern Delaware to Florida, west to Texas, this tree grows happily in my wet yard!

 

This tree was used throughout history in a magnitude of ways…food, fuel, medicine, dyestuff, building material, wildlife food, and in magic. The Choctaw took the small acorns pounded, boiled, and made them into a meal. The Kiowa uses them for a beverage. They used the wood to keep their homes warm and the leaves as a substitute for rolling paper for cigarettes.

It was believed that the Oak was the first tree created by God, and the acorn the first fruit, therefore the first food of man. The Druids worshiped the Oak above all other trees. They believed the Oak carried the energy, power, and strength of their Gods. It was believed that acorns placed on windowsills would guard the home from lightening strikes.

White Clover – Trifolium repens

White Clover
White Clover

I’m looking over a four leaf clover
That I over-looked before.
One leaf is sunshine, the second is rain,
Third is the roses that grows in the lane.
No need explaining the one remaining
Is somebody I adore.
I’m looking over a four leaf clover
That I over-looked before!

 

 

In ancient Ireland St Patrick was credited with claiming the clover as the symbol of the Trinity…the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. The three leaves in one cluster represented the unity of the three as one. It was thought to give anyone who carried its leaves the ability to detect witches, sorcerers, and good fairies in his presence. 

These cluster flowers (they are actually clusters of small flowers in a round head) are native to the Eastern Mediterranean and Asia. It is used as a green manure, and was imported into North America for that reason.

White clover blossoms were used in folk medicine against gout, rheumatism, and leucorrhea.  It was also believed that the texture of fingernails and toenails would improve after drinking clover blossom tea. White clover is thought to clean the system, decreasing irritation and muscular activity of the gastrointestinal tract.  It is also used to decrease the activity of the central nervous system. White Clover was used for medicinal purposes by the Cherokee, Iroquois, and Mohegan Indians among others.

Native Americans used whole clover plants in salads, and made a white clover leaf tea for coughs and colds.  Leaves of white clover are edible, raw or cooked. The young leaves are best harvested before the plant flowers, and can be used in salads, soups etc. They can be used as a vegetable, cooked like spinach.

Gardenia – Gardenia jasminoides

Linnaeus named this shrub for Dr Alexander Garden in 1760. Dr Alexander was a medical doctor and amateur scientist who assisted Linnaeus in his research by sending him plants, reptiles, fish and insects.

The juice of the fruit has been used in traditional dying in Japan. It produces a yellow dye, but the color can be modified with the addition of iron. It is used to dye clothes and food. In Korea it is used to dye mung bean jelly ((hwangpomuk).

The scent of the flowers is very sweet and it is often used in perfumery. The scent should be avoided in pregnancy and lactation, and not used around infants and small children. In Aromatherapy its uses are antiseptic and aphrodisiac, often used for menstrual problems. It’s used as a bitter, a febrifuge, and a styptic. Traditional medicinal remedies are made from the fruit.

All parts of the plant cause a laxative effect and can cause dermatitis in some people.

Gardenia flowers

Gardenia flowers