Monday, July 3, 2023




     Sometimes I wonder if those in charge have ever gotten the chance to see the harm they caused by the support or endorsement of certain things. The history of Kudzu in the United States may be one of those times where those in charge couldn’t see the problems in their lifetime, but those who came after might wish their predecessors had never even heard of the plant. Kudzu was first introduced to North America in 1876 in the Japanese pavilion at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. But the most notable promotion of kudzu came in 1884 in the Japanese pavilion at the New Orleans Exposition which led to Kudzu being heavily promoted in the early-1900s. At the time, farmers were having an issue with soil erosion and Kudzu was known to help protect the soil from erosion as well as improve the quality of the soil it grew in. So, the government decided to pay farmers to use the vine for erosion control, which led to an estimated more than a million acres of the vine being planted. The problem of its aggressiveness wasn’t addressed until WELL after the Great Depression, when thousands of acres of kudzu were planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps for hillside stabilization projects.

     Often demonized as “the vine that ate the South,” Kudzu is one plant that has many uses and benefits. It’s also a great example of why invasive plants aren’t always that bad. Before you jump on my case about ecology and the harm invasives do to natural habitat, etc. I am very aware of the harm this plant can do. Kudzu can easily outcompete native species, and if it ever gets access to a tree canopy, it can devastate habitats by felling trees and eliminating light availability. Though Kudzu may be a famous invasive species it is not, by any means, the most aggressive or dangerous invasive in the South. That is likely the Chinese Privet. Even with Kudzu’s aggressive nature leading to doing some severe habitat damage, it also has some benefits to offer for that same habitat. This fast-growing vine helps to remove petroleum contamination and other toxins, like chromium, from the environment. It also has a preference for land that has been harmed by monocropping, and other places where the ecosystem has been weakened. When it moves into these areas, it helps to replenish, protect, and add biomass to these severely depleted soils. I am, by no means, suggesting that you should go out and plant Kudzu. Ever. But I also don’t believe it to be as terrifying as it’s made out to be. 

     While this woody vine has become famous for eating the South, it in turn can be eaten. Kudzu is a food crop in its native country of Japan. But here in the US, it’s virtually unused. Some people find this plant to be bitter, oddly textured, and not worth the effort to process. I personally think that if you take the time to learn how it should be prepared, and do it right, it’s a tasty vegetable. So if you’re curious and want to give it a shot, go for it. Kudzu leaves can be eaten as a green. Some people will even eat the smaller, more tender leaves in a salad. However, the leaves have a bit of a toothy, fibrous, quality that doesn’t make for the best salads. I think the leaves are much better cut up into small chunks and cooked as a pot herb. If you’re from the South, that’s what we do to greens of all kinds here. The leaves also work well in place of grape leaves for Dolmades. Just parboil the Kudzu leaves first to make sure they’re tender enough for rolling. The hairy tips of the vines are also edible and can be eaten raw. But the hairy texture can be a bit off putting that way. Instead, try sautéing or grilling them. The heat should diminish the hairiness, though if it’s still an issue for you, you can always peel the hairy bit off before cooking. That extra step does take a bit of effort though. The flowers are also edible and hold up to cooking fairly well. They make an excellent and slightly grapey jam or jelly. If you’re a beekeeper, they also make for some excellent honey. Just make sure you stay on top of your Kudzu population as it can easily overtake your hives. The most well-known part of this plant in the kitchen is the root. The root is not edible raw and is extremely woody, so it takes some processing to make it digestible. However, it is used as a starchy vegetable in a few Chinese and Japanese dishes. The roots also contain a lot of starch which can be extracted and used to thicken soups or sauces, used to make jelly or gelatin-like desserts, noodles, and much more. The process of extraction does take quite a lot of effort, but you can also find it in some grocery stores so you can skip all that hard work and just see for yourself if it’s worth it. 

     Kudzu is also a great herb to have on your medicine shelf. It’s a great source of minerals, such as iron, sodium, calcium, potassium, copper, magnesium, and manganese as well as containing isoflavones, which act like estrogen in the body. For this reason, it’s often used to treat menopause symptoms and can be a great feminine herb, especially since studies also suggest that these isoflavones may be able to prevent and help treat breast cancer and uterine cancer. Kudzu is also popular for drinking issues. This herb can treat alcoholism and relieve hangover symptoms, such as headaches, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. It’s believed that kudzu can combat drinking addictions by increasing blood flow and making drinkers feel the alcohol effects sooner. This way, drinkers are more likely to drink less and stop drinking earlier. Speaking of increasing blood flow, Kudzu is also a powerful cardiac herb. It helps to increase blood circulation and reduce high blood pressure which then lowers chances of stroke, angina, and even heart attacks. Additionally, kudzu is also used to treat other ailments, such as cold, fever, flu, hay fever, sinus infection, migraine, upset stomach, diarrhea, dysentery, muscle pain, and neck stiffness. It can also treat skin problems, such as itchiness, rash, and psoriasis. Kudzu can also help control blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. There are just so many uses for this amazing herb. And bonus points for it being invasive so we don’t have to worry about over-harvesting!

     Speaking of harvesting, let’s cover some basic foraging rules and some cautions when foraging for Kudzu specifically. First and foremost, be careful. You should always be careful when harvesting wild plants. Do your research and determine if the area is regularly treated with pesticides or herbicides. Speaking of chemicals, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re at least 100 yards away from roads and places where vehicles or equipment are stored. Many wild plants readily absorb toxins from the soil and when you cook them, you can easily ingest these chemicals. You should also make sure to truly study how to identify the plant you’re foraging. There are a lot of look-a-likes out there that can be harmful. If you’re not 100% sure of a plant’s ID, don’t consume it!  In the case of Kudzu, its leaves could be confused with poison ivy leaves (leaves of 3 leave ‘em be). The easiest way to differentiate both plants is to remember that kudzu is a vine that grows outwards in every direction, while poison ivy is a ground vine that grows vertically to the sky. Kudzu is a climbing, semi-woody, vine that can reach up to 100 feet in length and grows about a foot a day. The stems can reach a diameter of up to 4 inches and some old ‘stumps’ can be nearly 12 inches across. The leaves are alternate and compound, with three broad leaflets up to 4 inches across. Leaflets may be entire or deeply 2-3 lobed and slightly hairy on the margin or underneath. If you’re still not sure, mark the area and come back when the Kudzu should be blooming (late summer to early fall). Kudzu flowers grow in long clusters with the individual flowers growing up to ½ inch long. The purple to pinkish-red flowers smell like artificial grape candy or grape soda. 


Herb Profile:

Scientific Name- Pueraria montana var. lobata

Common Names- Kudzu, Kudzu Vine, The Vine that Ate the South, Mile-a-Minute Vine

Family- Fabaceae (the legume or pea family)

Identification- Semi-woody vine with alternating leaves made of three oval-shaped or lobed leaflets. Young vines and vine tips are hairy. After 3 years it produces purple or red flowers that bloom in clusters and smell like grape candy. The vine grows up to a foot per day and can reach up to 100 ft in length. It flowers in late summer, the seeds pods are brown, hairy, and flattened. These pods contain three to ten seeds.

Summary of Actions- Cardiovascular protective, antiplatlet, antihypertensive, antipyretic, andtidiabetic, antispasmodic, anti-alcoholic, anticancer, antioxidant, antiviral.

Energetics & Flavors- TCM- Sweet, acrid or pungent, and cool.

Parts Used- Whole plant, root, leaf, and flower.

Active Constituents- Arachidic acid, ash, B-sitosterol, calcium, carotene, daidzein, daidzin, eicosanoic acid, formononetin, genistein, hexadecenoic acid, irisolidon, iron, magnesium, p-coumaric acid, phosphorus, potassium, puerarin, quercetin, riboflavin, robinin, silica, tectoridin, tetracosanoid acid.

Edibility- Kudzu leaves, vine tips, flowers, and roots can be eaten. The root should be cooked, the rest is edible raw or cooked. Kudzu vines, seeds, and seed pods are NOT edible. While many people consider this plant to be tasty, many other people consider it to be bitter, fibrous, hairy, and not worth the effort. Starch can be extracted from the roots and used to thicken soups or sauces, used to make jelly or gelatin-like desserts, noodles, and much more.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Ge gen (Radix puerariae); sweet, acrid or pungent, cool; associated with the spleen and stomach. Sometimes it is also associated with the lungs and bladder. This herb is used in TCM to dispel wind, release muscles, and clear heat. It nourishes fluids and alleviates thirst. It helps to vent or erupt measles and stop diarrhea. Other traditional TCM uses include hypertension and alcoholism. The flowers are used for drunkenness and as a hangover remedy.

Ayurveda- Vidaari Kanda (Pueraria tuberosa). Similar uses as in TCM. 

Recommended Dosage- High to medium dose. Considered safe when consumed as a food.
Decoction: Root 10-20 grams daily with a maximum of 60 grams. Flower 3-12 grams for hangovers and excessive alcohol intake.

When to Harvest- The best time to harvest the shoots is in spring. The young leaves can be harvested anytime. The plant blooms in the late summer and early fall so you should be able to harvest the blossoms July through October. For the roots, the best time to harvest is in fall or early spring but you can dig them up year-round for use.

Other Uses- Kudzu can be used to make soaps, lotions, rope, twine, baskets, wallpaper, paper, fuel, and compost. It can also be baled like hay and used to feed livestock, though it seems goats like it more than other livestock. 

Cautions and Contraindications- Kudzu is very safe though it can cause nausea and vomiting when taken at too high of a dose, particularly in individuals with weak digestion.

Herb and Drug Interactions- There may be synergistic effects with insulin and other antidiabetic medications. Kudzu also has antiplatelet effects which could cause synergistic interactions with anticoagulant and antiplatelet medications. As always, check with your doctor and pharmacist before starting any herbal supplements.




I only included a basic introduction to this interesting herb. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!



Invasive Plant Medicine by Timothy Lee Scott


Eating kudzu, the vine that ate the South | Sci NC

EatTheWeeds: Episode 73: Kudzu

How to make kudzu root powder| Summer Kitchen VOL.394

What Kudzu is and *IS NOT* good for 

Scientific Articles:

A comprehensive review on Pueraria: Insights on its chemistry and medicinal value

Effects of Puerarin on the Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Diseases

Pharmacokinetics and drug delivery systems for puerarin, a bioactive flavone from traditional Chinese medicine

Pueraria lobata root polysaccharide alleviates glucose and lipid metabolic dysfunction in diabetic db/db mice

Pueraria montana (Kudzu vine) Ameliorate the Inflammation and Oxidative Stress against Fe-NTA Induced Renal Cancer

Pueraria tuberosa: A Review on Traditional Uses, Pharmacology, and Phytochemistry

Roles and mechanisms of puerarin on cardiovascular disease:A review

Other Articles:

Did You Know You Can Eat Kudzu?

Ge Gen (Radix Puerariae)



Kudzu, an Invasive Weed with Hidden Virtues

Kudzu Quickie

Kudzu Recipes

Kudzu Root: Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Radix puerariae

Treating Diabetes Mellitus with Radix Puerariae: Is There Evidence?

What is kudzu?

Thursday, October 28, 2021


      It’s that time of year where I delve into the mysterious, the magical, the dark, and the spooky. Today I want to talk mummies. 


     In ancient Egypt, it was very important to preserve the bodies of their dead as true to life as possible. So they developed a specific method of embalming that removed all the moisture from the body leaving the dried body in a state where it was very difficult to decay. This process is called mummification and mummies have captivated our minds for centuries, holding a special place of wonder, mystery, and even a bit of horror. While most of the techniques are not completely known, even today, we do know a few things about how the Egyptians were able to perform this amazing task. One of the key ingredients is an herb that is used today for many health benefits. 


     Fenugreek, or Trigonella foenum-graecum, is a member of the Fabaceae family and is indigenous to the countries to the east of the Mediterranean. Today it’s cultivated in India, Africa, Egypt, Morocco, and even occasionally in England. The scientific name is from ancient Greek. Trigonella means ‘three-angled’ which refers to the shape of the plant’s corolla and foenum-graecum means ‘Greek hay’ which is a reference to its use to scent poor quality hay and to fortify cattle feed. This plant is used in traditional foods and medicines all over the East and the Middle East and modern archaeologists believe it was used as a spice as early as 4000 BCE, when remains of this herb were discovered in Tell Halal, Iraq. 


     Fenugreek is an erect, smooth, herbaceous plant that can grow up to a height of about 15-32 inches. It has a taproot and its stems are erect, up to 20 inches high, sometimes branched. The leaves are alternate, compound, trifoliate, 2-5 inches long, light green in color. The leaflets are oval, up to 2 inches long, hairy on their lower sides. The flowers are papilionaceous, borne in leaf axils, white, lemon-yellow, or purplish-blue in color. The fruits occur as straight or sickle-like pods of ½ inch to 4 inches, long, thin and pointed, and contain 10-20 seeds. The seeds are 6-8 mm long, oblong or square, green-olive or brownish in color, with a very strong and spicy odor, reminiscent of maple syrup. Fenugreek is naturally found in field verges, uncultivated ground, dry grasslands, and hillsides in semi-highland and highland regions. It grows on a wide range of preferably well-drained soils with a pH ranging from 5.3 to 8.2. Fenugreek does not do well in wet soil.


Medicinal Uses:

Scientific Name- Trigonella foenum-graecum

Common Names- Fenugreek, Methi, Bird's Foot, Greek Hayseed, Greek Clover, Helba, Bird’s Foot, Bockshornklee

Family- Fabaceae

Summary of Actions- Galactogogue, demulcent, antiatherosclerosis, astringent, carminative, laxative, antispasmodic, emollient (vulnerary), febrifuge (mild), appetite stimulant (though some find it to be appetite suppressing), hypocholesterolemic, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, oxytocic, diuretic, cardiotonic, diuretic, hypoglycemic, antiviral, and antihypertensive.

Energetics & Flavors- Dry and warm. 

Parts Used- Seeds & Sprouts. Though some traditions make use of the leaves as well.

Active Constituents- Volatile oils, alkaloids (trigonelline, genitanine, carpaine), saponins (fenugreekine, diosgenin, tigogenin, gitogenin, trigogenin, etc.), flavonoids, mucilage

Edibility & Nutrition- Many parts of the world consider every part of this herb to be edible. In India, the leaves are often cooked as a potherb. In Ethiopia and Egypt, the seeds are used to bake bread while in Switzer-land fenugreek is used to flavor cheese. In Cairo, the seeds are traditionally sprouted and consumed raw or soaked in water and crushed into a thick paste. The ground seed has often been used to give a maple flavor to traditional confections. This powder is also one of the ingredients in traditional curry seasoning. Some of the nutrients present in this herb include protein, fats, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, vitamins A, C, & K, as well as fiber. Fenugreek’s flavor combines well with other spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, fennel, and dried ginger.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- This common herb, known as Hu lu ba in TCM, is considered to be a yang tonic and is especially important for treating kidney yang deficiency. This is why it’s often used to treat kidney issues as well as reproductive ones as, in TCM, the kidneys are seen as the rulers of the reproductive system. It is considered to be bitter, sweet, and pungent in flavor as well as heating or warming in nature. This lends it well for use to dispel dampness and cold and to warm the kidneys. In addition to the kidneys, its other main effects are on the lung and large intestine meridians. It’s known to circulate Qi, disperse cold, clear damp, and resolve water accumulation along these meridians. Ancient Chinese medical texts cite that it enders the Lung, Spleen, Kidney, and Liver.

Ayurvedic- Known as Chandrika or Medhika, this is considered to be a highly effective herb when it comes to imbalances of vata and kapha by pacifying both kapha, and vata (though this is done in smaller quantities), but it also increases pitta . It’s warming and has bitter, pungent, and sweet tastes as well as having a nourishing and humble quality, which creates a strong grounding effect in the body. It’s also known to break up stuck energies in the body helping to reduce inflammation. It’s often used to enhance digestion and prevent stomach disorders. It is also good for the skin and hair. As in Western medicine, the seeds are used both whole and ground. It is thought that the best way to use this herb is to sauté whole or ground fenugreek in ghee before adding it to dishes.

Cardiovascular System- Fenugreek helps to balance cholesterol in the body, lowering the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and improving the balance between that and the “good” cholesterol (HDL). This is likely thanks to a flavonoid called naringenin. It does have some effect on triglycerides, but more research needs to be done to confirm any benefits. The research does show that people who consume raw fenugreek seeds or powder tend to have low cholesterol and healthier hearts in general.

Gastrointestinal- Fenugreek is traditionally used for a large number of stomach complaints. It helps prevent constipation as well as digestive issues created by stomach ulcers. It’s also a great herb for treating gastritis and indigestion. It’s a natural digestive tonic and the mucilage provides lubricating benefits to help soothe the stomach and intestines by providing a soothing, demulcent coating over the lining of the digestive tract. It’s often used to support a weakened or inflamed digestive system. 

Diabetes- One of its most well-studied properties includes its ability to improve blood sugar. Fenugreek helps to slow the absorption of sugars in the stomach and boosts the production of insulin. This makes it a great ally, not only in the case of diabetes but for all metabolic and cardiometabolic issues.  

Skin & Hair Health- Fenugreek helps to promote hair growth and prevent dandruff. Its anti-microbial properties help to treat several scalp and hair infections and it helps to nourish the hair follicles, improve blood circulation, and strengthen the hair from the roots. It’s also extremely effective in healing wounds. It’s packed with vitamin C and antioxidants which help treat oxidative free radical damage done by the sun, this means it’s great for reducing the signs of aging. It also reduces acne and makes the skin glow with its natural oils that help to moisturize the skin.

Milk Production- For centuries, fenugreek has been valued for its properties as a galactagogue. It can increase milk supply in a women’s body and can substantially increase milk production in as little as 24 hours. This makes it a great herb for breastfeeding women who are experiencing a low milk supply. However, this should not be taken until the baby is born as it's overly stimulating for pregnancy.

Male Reproductive System- Powder, made from the seeds, is often indicated for men’s health in general, but especially for their reproductive systems. This powder is a natural antioxidant and helps to improve the production of male hormones such as testosterone and luteinizing hormone. It also has powerful spermatogenic properties that are beneficial for treating conditions such as hypospermia, oligospermia, asthenozoospermia, and it enhances spermatogenesis. It has also been known to treat erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and improve sexual function and libido overall. 

Other Uses- Many ancient cultures would add fenugreek to their livestock’s feed to improve the nutrient quality and hide the smell of bad hay. The ancient Egyptians used this herb for mummification as well as for incense. It was also mixed with boiling oil during the first Jewish-Roman war. This mixture was used to repel invaders. 

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- Do not use when pregnant. This herb lowers blood glucose so carefully monitor glucose levels when using this herb. It can also interact with several medications so talk to your doctor before taking this herb. 



     I only included a basic introduction to this ancient mummification herb. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!


8 Fabulous Benefits of Fenugreek: Banyan Botanicals: 

A small plant with big benefits: Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn.) for disease prevention and health promotion: Molecular Nutrition & Food Research: 

A randomized controlled clinical trial evaluating the effect of Trigonella foenum-graecum (fenugreek) versus glibenclamide in patients with diabetes: African Health Sciences: 

A Review on Ethnobotanical and Therapeutic Uses of Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graceum L): 

Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine: 

Amazing Benefits of Fenugreek: Ayurveda Knowledge Center: 

Antidiabetic Effect of Fenugreek Seed Powder Solution ( Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) on Hyperlipidemia in Diabetic Patients: Journal of Diabetes Research: 

Fenugreek: A Modern Herbal: 

Fenugreek: Gaia Herbs: 

Fenugreek: Mapi: 

Fenugreek: My Spicer:,it%20as%20a%20soothing%20herb. 

Fenugreek: Natural Medicines Database:,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=733 

Fenugreek: Richard Whelan Medical Herbalist: 

Fenugreek A multipurpose crop- Potentialities and improvements: Saudi journal of biological sciences: 

Fenugreek (Hu lu ba): Acupuncture Today: 

Fenugreek- The Ancient Spice of Mummification: IB HQ:

Fenugreek Powder: 5 Astonishing Benefits Of This Traditional Spice: Netmeds: 

Fenugreek Seed: Mountain Rose Herbs:,and%20to%20warm%20the%20kidneys. 

Fenugreek Seed in TCM: Chinese Nutrition: 

Fenugreek Seeds: Me and Qi: 

Fenugreek Seeds- How Ayurveda Uses Methi Dana in Easy Home Remedies: NDTV: 

Therapeutic Applications of Fenugreek: Alternative Medicine Review: 

Trigonella foenum-graecum: The Naturopathic Herbalist: 

What are the uses and health benefits of fenugreek (Trigonella Foenum-graecum)?: Planet Ayurveda: 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Caesar's Weed


     Some plants are a delight to encounter on a hike, and others are not so much. This plant is easy to find year-round in Florida and is definitely more on the annoying side of things. The burrs found on this plant seem to attach to everything and are extremely difficult to remove, the leaves have the texture of sandpaper, and it can be found just about everywhere. However, the small flowers are very beautiful and are about the only redeeming thing this plant has going for it. The flowers and the medicinal uses.

     Caesar’s Weed, Urena lobata, is a member of the Mallow family (Malvaceae). In Florida, it’s classified as a Class I Invasive. The original distribution range of U. lobata is not well known, but it is probably Asiatic though authors suggest Africa as its native range. Currently, this species has a pan-tropical distribution, and it can be found growing throughout moist tropical and subtropical regions of the world including Asia, tropical Africa, Australia, North, Central and South America, the West Indies and a smattering of islands in the Pacific. It was brought to Florida in the late 1800’s, some time before 1882, as a cash crop.   

     It is a branched shrub 0.6 to 2.5 meters high. This plant is exceedingly variable and more or less hairy, stems often have reddish branches. Leaves are pale beneath, ovate to suborbicular, 3 to 9 centimeters long, heart-shaped at the base, more or less toothed or somewhat lobed or angled, the lobes not exceeding beyond the middle of the leaf and the sinuses being usually broad and acute, leading the leaves to resemble shields. Flowers are pink or purplish, about 1.7 millimeters in diameter and borne singly in the axils of the leaves, or somewhat in panicles. Petals are 5, free above, connate below and adnate to staminal tube; staminal tube truncate or minutely toothed, anthers many. Ovary is 5-celled, branches of stigma 10. Fruits are rounded but flattened and about 7 millimeters in diameter, with the 5 carpels covered with short, barbed spines.

     Like it’s fellow Mallows, this plant has many medicinal and edible uses. Though it’s considered a famine food, meaning that it’s edible but not desirable. And rightfully so as the leaves have the texture of sandpaper and that texture remains even after cooking. This texture is attributed to the “stellate trichomes” which are star-shaped plant hairs that cover the leaves and are especially prevalent on the bottom of the leaves. This is also probably why cattle, which have only lower teeth, won’t eat it. 


Medicinal Uses:

Scientific Name- Urena lobata

Common Names- Caesar’s Weed, Caesarweed, Congo Jute, Common Urena, Bur-Mallow, Aramina Fibre

Family- Malvaceae

Summary of Actions- Abortifacient, Antibacterial, Antidiabetic, Antidiarrheal, Anti-inflammatory, Antifungal, Antihyperlipidemic, Antirheumatic, Antioxidant, Antimicrobial, Antiproliferative, Antipyretic, Depressant, Diuretic, Emollient, Expectorant, Immunomodulatory, Refrigerant, Sedative, Stomachic, Styptic, Vermifuge

Energetics & Flavors- Sweet, Cooling

Parts Used- Roots and Leaves

Edibility- Famine food. Technically the leaves are edible, but the texture leaves a lot to be desired (it’s almost like eating sandpaper). The flowers are much more tolerable than the rest of the plant, though they’re small and tasteless. The seeds can be added to soups and stews, they have a mucilaginous texture, similar to okra. 

Fevers- This plant is traditionally used to treat high fevers and associated sickness, such as malaria and pneumonia.

Anti-inflammatory- A decoction from the leaves and roots is drunk to relieve pains all over the body due to excessive exertion. This decoction is said to be 86 percent as effective as aspirin and when it’s an especially strong decoction it is used for inflamed and aching joints.

First-Aid and Wound Care- The whole plant is macerated and used externally for treating fractures, wounds, mastitis, and snake bites. The leaves are specifically good for sprains and bruises.

Gastrointestinal Uses- The juice of the leaves or roots is used widely to treat bowel complaints, especially colic, stomach-ache, diarrhea, and dysentery. In Indonesia and Zanzibar, a decoction of the root is a common treatment for indigestion.

Sore Throat and Cough- The flowers are used as a pectoral and expectorant in dry coughs. A decoction of the roots is a traditional remedy for tonsillitis.

Childbirth- In many traditional medicines, the leaves, or the juice from the leaves, are used to induce labor and ease difficult childbirth. In Kenya, the Sabaots of Mt. Elgon chew boiled roots to ease delivery of afterbirth.

Other Uses- In tropical Africa, Madagascar, Cuba and Brazil, the bast fiber from U. lobata is widely used as a local source of cordage and coarse textiles. Industrially it is used as a substitute for jute where it is made into sacks, carpets, cordage, and upholstery. It is also used mixed with jute. In South-East Asia U. lobata serves for making string, twines, and ropes. In northern Thailand it is a source of fiber for the hill tribes. In Indramayu (West Java) at the beginning of the 20th Century sacks and mats were made of fiber from wild U. lobata. The fiber of this plant can be made into strong paper and whole plant cuttings can be pulped as well. It was originally brought to Florida, as a potential cash crop, in the late 1800’s. It escaped cultivation around 1897 and has since been classified as an invasive species in this state.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- Medicinal amounts of this plant should not be taken internally when pregnant or breastfeeding. Since this plant has some hypoglycemic effects, those on diabetic medications should consult their doctor before adding it to their routine.





I only included a basic introduction to this interesting herb. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!


A revision on Urena lobata L.: International Journal of Medicine: doi:10.14419/ijm.v5i1.7525 

Antidiarrheal Activity of Lithocarpus dealbata and Urena lobata Extracts: Therapeutic Implications.: Pharmaceutical Biology: doi:10.1080/13880200701213153

Caesar Weed Sampler: Eat The Weeds:

Caesarweed: Wild South Florida: 

Dalupang: Philippine Medicinal Plants: 

Lignan Glycosides from Urena lobata: Molecules: doi:10.3390/molecules24152850 

Three new flavonoid glycosides from Urena lobata: Journal of Asian Natural Products Research: doi:10.1080/10286020.2011.599802

Two new compounds from Urena lobata L.: Journal of Asian Natural Products Research: doi:10.1080/10286020.2010.510468

Urena lobata: Florida List of Invasive Plants: 

Urena lobata: Global Biodiversity Information Facility: 

Urena lobata: Invasive Species Compendium: 

Urena lobata: UF Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants: 

Urena lobata: Useful Tropical Plants: 

Urena lobata, An Edible and Medicinal Traditional Fibre Crop: NiMeD Health: 

Urena lobata Herb Uses, Benefits, Cures, Side Effects, Nutrients: Herbpathy: 

Urena lobata (PROSEA): Plant Use:,%2C%20malaria%2C%20rheumatism%20and%20tonsilitis. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Butterfly Weed


     When my husband and I go hiking we always tend to stop and examine interesting plants. Recently I was complaining that I’ve never actually gotten to see one of our native milkweeds even though we do hike at the times they’re blooming. Then on one of our recent hikes, my husband points at a beautiful orange flower in a grassy area, and guess what. It’s a milkweed! I think I may have done a happy dance. Further along the trail, in a different grassy area, we run across a different milkweed species, so the same hike provided me with two distinct species of native milkweeds to get nerdy about. The orange one is a traditional medicine and food of the indigenous people, so I thought I may share a bit of information about it here.


     Asclepias tuberosa is a member of the Apocynaceae family. Some of you may be wondering why I’m not listing it as a member of the Asclepiadaceae family. DNA sequencing has affected plant taxonomy quite a bit in recent years. One of the changes is that Asclepiadaceae has been demoted from family to subfamily and has been absorbed by the Apocynaceae family. This means that A. tuberosa is a member of the subfamily Asclepiadaceae in the family Apocynaceae. This plant is also a member of the genus Asclepias which contains about 80 different species. Butterfly weed is a perennial herb native to North America. Its range extends from Southern Ontario and New York to Minnesota, south to Florida and Colorado. It prefers to grow in dry open fields, along roadsides, and grassy places. Butterfly weed root is spindle-shaped, large, branching, white, and fleshy with a knotted crown, it sends up several erect, stout, round, and hairy stems, growing from 1 to 3 feet high. Stems are branched near the top and have corymbs or umbels of many deep yellows to dark orange, or almost red, flowers. The leaves grow closely all the way up the stem and are hairy, unserrated, lance-shaped, alternate, sessile, and dark green on top, lighter green beneath. A. tuberosa flowers bloom from May to September, followed in the fall by seed pods from 4 to 5 inches long, containing the seeds with their long silky hairs or floss. This plant, unlike the other milkweeds, contains no latex so the sap is clear.


Medicinal Uses:

Scientific Name- Asclepias tuberosa

Common Names- Pleurisy Root, Butterfly Weed, Butterfly Milkweed, Colic Root, Orange Milkweed, White root, Chigger Flower, Fluxroot, Indian Posy, Wind Root

Family- Apocynaceae (Dogbane family) which has been recently broadened to include the subfamily Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed family) based on DNA sequencing

Summary of Actions- Expectorant, Antispasmodic, Antitussive, Emetic, Mildly Cathartic, Diaphoretic, Carminative, Tonic, Demulcent, Cooling, Vasodilator, Estrogenic 


Energetics & Flavors- Bitter, Cool, Dry

Parts Used- Root (generally harvested after the second year of growth during the plant’s dormant season), Sometimes Leaves and the Whole Plant 


Active Constituents- Glycosides (including Asclepaidin and Cardioactive glycosides), Alkaloids, Tannic and Gallic acids, Resins, Bitters, Essential oil, Fixed oil resins

Edibility- Young Shoots, Flower Buds, and Stems are all edible. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Xiong Moyan Gen in TCM, Butterfly Weed is known to be associated with both the lung and large intestine meridians. It promotes sweating, releases to the exterior, tonifies the lungs, clears heat, and reduces swelling. This makes it a great herb for colds, coughs with no or difficult expectoration, bronchitis, pleurisy, and croup. It also moves Qi, relieving spasms including those in the uterus. Xiong Moyan Gen also restores the liver, promotes urination, benefits the skin, and clears wind heat. Pleurisy root is not native to China, but has in modern times been combined with the popular Chinese herb, skullcap, to help treat pneumonia.

Ayurvedic- The use of this beautiful plant has found it’s way from North America all the way to India and now has a place in modern Ayurvedic medicine. In Ayurveda, it is used much the same way that modern Western herbalism uses it. The root is used for many different pulmonary conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and pleurisy. 

Traditional Native American Uses- Many Native American tribes used this lovely plant for a variety of ailments, though the most common use was for pulmonary complaints, that wasn’t the only use for this amazing herb. The Menominee considered this plant one of their most important medicines. Most indigenous people chewed fresh roots from the plant to help treat bronchitis, pleurisy, and other respiratory illnesses. Others, such as the Omaha and Navajo, preferred to make a tea or tincture and ingest it that way. Butterfly weed helped to ease pain and breathing difficulties caused by these illnesses by loosening mucus, soothing inflammation, and helping with long-term recovery. Some tribes also used butterfly weed to help treat bruises. The roots were pounded or chewed into a mushy texture and used as the main ingredient for bruises, swelling, cuts, and other external injuries. The mixture is applied externally to the area of concern as well as ingested as a tonic.

Lung (Pulmonary) Complaints- A. tuberosa is considered one of the best herbal expectorants available while also being cool and relaxing. A cupful of warm infusion (1 teaspoon of powder in a cup of boiling water) taken every hour will quickly and effectively promote perspiration and release stuck phlegm. It also works to reduce the swelling of mucus membranes such as those that line the lungs, this makes it an excellent herb for asthma and bronchitis. 


Acute Fevers- Butterfly weed can be used to help in the case of acute fevers by promoting perspiration. Commonly, it’s combined with angelica (Angelica archangelica) and/or sassafras (Sassafras albidum) in these cases. Acute fevers are also often associated with body aches and pain. The analgesic properties of this herb help to ease those aches and pains as well.


Digestive Complaints- Butterfly weed is carminitave and antispasmodic which makes it an excellent herb to treat many digestive issues. Some of the more common issues this plant is used for include diarrhea, colic, indigestion, and flatulence.


Skin & Wound Care- This plant can be of great benefit to the skin, both in wound care and in general skin care. It is frequently used for skin conditions such as eczema and traditionally used to help speed the healing of wounds. Part of why it works so well for this is its anti-inflammatory property. It also contains pregnane glycosides which have an anti-aging effect on the skin.

Other Uses- Fibers from this plant have been traditionally used to make rope and fabric.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- May cause nausea and vomiting, excessive consumption may also cause heart issues. It may also interfere with certain medications. Do not use during pregnancy (it can over stimulate the uterus), during lactation or with infants, due to small amounts of cardiac glycosides that can be toxic. Canadian regulations do not allow pleurisy root as an ingredient in oral products







I only included a basic introduction to this beautiful native milkweed. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adven-tures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!


Apocynaceae: Britannica:

Asclepias tuberosa: Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center:

Asclepias tuberosa: The Medicinal Plant Garden of Birmingham-Southern College:

Asclepias tuberosa: Misouri Botanical Garden:

Asclepias tuberosa: Plants for a Future:

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed/pleurisy root): Lucy Meriwether Lewis Marks:

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa L.): US Forest Service:

Butterfly Weed A Native Prairie Medicine: Indiana Native Plants:

Butterfly Weed Herb: Alternative Nature Online Herbal:

Monograph: asclepias tuberosa.: Journal of the American Herbalists Guild

Native American Medicinal Uses of Butterfly Weed: Ordway Field Station:

New 8,12;8,20-diepoxy-8,14-secopregnane hexa- and hepta-glycosides from the roots of Asclepias tuberosa.: Journal of Natural Medicines: doi:10.1007/s11418-017-1155-9

Pleurisy: Indian Mirror:

Pleurisy Root: A Modern Herbal:

Pleurisy Root: Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine:

Pleurisy Root: Natural Medicines Database

Pleurisy Root: RxList:

Pleurisy Root (Xiong Moyan Gen): White Rabbit Institute of Healing:

What are the uses and benefits of Pleurisy Root (Asclepias tuberosa)?: Planet Ayurveda:

Tuesday, July 20, 2021





     One of my favorite things about my home state of Florida is its sheer natural diversity. We have wetlands, swamps, beaches, grasslands, hammocks, and scrubs. With all this diversity of habitat we also have a major diversity of plant, animal, and fungal life. Florida is home to over 4,700 species of plants and countless species of fungi. While I have barely dipped my toes in the ocean of the flora found in this state, I haven’t even breached the surface of the fungi pool. However, there are a few that stand out and I try to share those with people whenever I can.

     Lichens are technically a type of fungi. Though they are really symbiotic organisms made up of fun-gus living in a symbiotic relationship with an alga or cyanobacterium (or both in some instances). Fungi are not able to photosynthesize, so they cannot make their own food from the sun. However, algae and cyanobacteria do have the ability to photosynthesize. Forming symbiotic relationships can help these fungi, alga, and cyanobacterium survive and thrive in areas where they would otherwise be unable to. Worldwide, there are about 17,000 species of lichen and it’s currently estimated that about 8% of the earth’s surface is covered by these fascinating symbiotes. 

     Usnea is a genus of lichen that can be found all over the Northern Hemisphere. It likes to grow on trees such as pine, spruce, juniper, fir, and even some hardwoods such as oak, hickory, walnut, apple, and pear. Usnea prefers moist areas, like Florida, where there is high humidity or regular fog and/or rain. Its most commonly used common name is Old Man’s Beard. This comes from Usnea’s growing habit, similar to that of Spanish Moss, where it forms long, bushy strands that cascade from the tree limbs, reminiscent of a long beard. However, in Florida, this is not very evident as our species tend to stay much smaller.

     There are a few other species of lichen that can easily be confused with Usnea. Strap lichen (Rama-lina spp.) and oakmoss (Evernia spp.) are nontoxic lichens with flat, strap-like thalli (plant body) that could be confused with Usnea. The somewhat toxic wolf lichen (Letharia vulpina) can be confused with Usnea to the untrained eye. Wolf lichen, which grows in the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies, and Europe, is much brighter green in color and does not contain the inner filament that is the primary way I use to identify Usnea.

     The best way to identify Usnea is by taking a moistened strand and gently pulling it apart. If it is Usnea, you will see an inner white- or cream-colored strand that is somewhat elastic. This inner white strand is the fungus core, while the green outer covering is the alga. If the usnea is too dry, the inner strand may be hard to see. Also, the branches of the Usnea thallus (the pant body) are always round in a cross-section.

     If you plan on harvesting Usnea, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is that Usnea grows very slowly and can easily be over-harvested. The best way to ensure sustainable harvesting is by gathering this lichen from freshly fallen branches, either after a storm or in the regular shedding of branches in a forest. Another consideration is that Usnea is a natural air purifier and as such can absorb heavy metals. Make sure when you are harvesting to only harvest from areas low in air pollution.

Medicinal Uses:

Scientific Name- Usnea spp. most common species used include: U. barbata, U. californica, U. longissimi, and our local species U. florida. There are over 600 species of Usnea that grow across the world and many of these species are interchangeably used.

Common Names- Old Man’s Beard, Beard Lichen, Tree lichen, Tree Moss


Family- Parmeliacaea

Edibility- Edible, but not tasty. Can cause stomach upset if not properly prepared.


Summary of Actions- Antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiparasitic, antiprotozoal, antiproliferative, antitumor, antiviral, antiseptic, analgesic, antipyretic, astringent, immuno-stimulating, immuno-regulator, demulcent, expectorant, febrifuge, styptic, tonic, vasodilator, vulnerary

Energetics & Flavors- Bitter, Cooling, and Drying

Constituents- Usnic acid, diffractaic acid, vitamin C, carotene, essential amino acids, fatty acids, mucilage, polysaccharides, anthraquinones

Parts Used- Whole lichen (dried thallus)


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Though it is rarely used, the first recorded use of Usnea in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dates to 101 B.C., when it was used as an antimicrobial agent under the Chinese name of Song Lo (also spelled Songluo). Song Lo tea or decoction for internal and external use has also been recorded for detoxification of the liver, treatment of malaria, wounds, snake bite, cough, and much more. Song Lo is primarily used for clearing heat, moving dampness, and releasing toxicity from the body.  It has an affinity for the kidneys, bladder, reproductive organs, mucous mem-branes, upper respiratory, tissues, and skin.

Antibacterial/Antifungal- Usnea is an amazing antibacterial herb and works best against gram-positive bacteria such as Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and other fast-growing species. As an antifungal and antiparasitic herb, it can also be used when candida overgrowth (yeast infections) or Trichomonas are a concern. Unlike pharmaceutical antibacterial medications, Usnea is not believed to negatively affect healthy gut bacteria.


Immune Stimulation- Usnea contains polysaccharides that are immuno-stimulatory and can be used for both local and systemic infections. Common infections it is used for include sinusitis, acute/chronic lung infections, and vaginal infections.

Wound Care- This lichen has traditionally been used as a compress for wounds. Not only does it help stop bleeding, but it also actively fights infections which will help prevent the wound from becoming infected. It also helps to speed healing and may even be beneficial for skin conditions such as acne.


Digestive Bitter- The bitter flavor of this lichen indicates that it can be used as a digestive bitter, helping to stimulate bile production and improve digestion as well as nutrient absorption and the breaking down of fats. 


Drawing Out Toxins- Usnea is an excellent drawing herb. Not the kind you use to make art, but the kind used to draw out toxins. It can also be used for bites, stings, and other similarly infected wounds.

Urinary Tract- This herb has many traditional uses in acute complaints of the kidney, bladder, and urinary tract. It’s also a great antifungal and antibacterial which helps to fight off many of the common urinary tract infections.

Respiratory- Usnea is a great herb for your lungs. It’s a tonic that helps support general lung health, but it also actively fights many upper respiratory infections and is especially effective for hot, irritable, wet coughs.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- Some people are allergic, so always use caution when you are first encountering this herb. Usnea is generally considered safe, even for long-term use at an appropriate dosage. There were some reports of liver toxicity issues with a weight loss product, called “LipoKinetix,” in the early 2000s. This product contained usnic acid, however, the issues were most likely caused by the formulation which contained other questionable components in high amounts. Other toxicity issues from this product were likely due to overuse/abuse of the supplement (this was a “miracle” weight loss pill after all which is always questionable in the first place). Yet another case for whole herb use. 





     I only included a basic introduction to this amazing lichen. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!


Foraging for Usnea- A Super Medicinal Lichen: Grow, Forage, Cook, Ferment: 

Herb of the month- Usnea: Groton Wellness: 

Medicinal Benefits of Usnea: Herbal Living: 

Respiratory Herbs- Usnea, Lungs of the Forest: Nitty Gritty Life: 

Review of Usnic Acid and Usnea Barbata Toxicity: PubMed: 

Safety Issues Affecting Herbs- Usnea, an herb used in Western and Chinese medicine: ITM Online: 

The Usnea Herb: Herbs with Rosalee: 

Usnea: Gia Herbs:

Usnea: WebMD:,throat%20and%20for%20athlete's%20foot.

Usnea, an immune-enhancing lichen: Corinna Wood: 

Usnea barbata: The Naturopathic Herbalist: 

What are Lichens?: Live Science: 

What to Know About Usnea, the Antibacterial Lichen That’s in Some Natural Deodorants: Well + Good: 

Monday, May 31, 2021

Common Buttonbush


     Have you ever run into a plant (literally or figuratively) that strikes you as beautiful and odd all at the same time? The plant I want to introduce you to today is one for me. The first time I came across this beauty, I didn’t think anything of it because it wasn’t blooming. The second time however, the blooms caught my attention, almost as strongly as the accompanying buzzing from all the insects sur-rounding each bloom. Say “hello” to the Common Buttonbush.

     Cephalanthus occidentalis or the Common Buttonbush is a 6-12 ft tall (sometimes taller) shrub that likes to grow on the edges of swamps here in Central Florida. It’s native to North America where it mostly grows in the Southeast but is native as far north as Canada. It prefers to grow in swamps, around ponds and margins of streams, sand, loam, clay, and limestone where it’s moist and has poor drainage. It’s even happy in standing water. You can also find it in prairie swales, around lakes, marsh, creek & swamp margins and occasionally on dry, limestone bluffs. Or, in short Florida habitats. It’s leaves grow in pairs or in threes, and are petiolate with blades up to 8 inches long, ovate to narrower, sometimes 1/3 or less as wide as long, with a pointed tip and rounded to tapered base, smooth margins and glossy upper surface. The lower surface tends to be duller. The glossy, dark-green leaves are among the many Florida leaves that don’t change color for the Fall. The pale pink or white flowers are small and formed in distinctive, dense, spherical clusters (heads) with a fringe of pistils protruded beyond the white corollas. These flowers are long-lasting, blooming from June through September and are followed by rounded masses of nutlets that persist through the winter. The trunks are often twisted and the much-branched shrub (sometimes small tree) is often crooked and leaning with an irregular crown, the balls of white flowers resembling pincushions, and buttonlike balls of fruit that give this plant it’s com-mon name. 

     The Buttonbush has a long history of use as a medicinal herb, in spite of it’s toxicity, though it’s not used often in modern herbalism. The leaves contain glycosides that can be harmful if taken in large doses. They are harmful, even in small doses, to most domestic animals so don’t let your pup chew on these leaves! The bark contains an abundance of cephalanthin, which affects most vertebrates, both cold and warm-blooded, destroys red blood cells, and is an emetic, spasmodic, and eventually produces paralysis. In short, don’t use this herb without supervision! 

Medicinal Uses:

Scientific Name- Cephalanthus occidentalis

Common Names- Common Buttonbush, Buttonbush, Button Willow, Honey Bells, Honeybells, Honey Balls, Honeyballs

 Synonyms- Cephalanthus occidentalis var. californicus, Cephalanthus occidentalis var. pubescens

Family- Rubiaceae (Madder Family)

Edibility- No edible uses are currently known. Leaves are toxic in large doses.

Summary of Actions- Astringent, bitter (inner bark of the root), diaphoretic (root), diuretic (inner bark), emetic, febrifuge, laxative, odontalgic, ophthalmic, tonic (bark)

Energetics & Flavors- Bitter

Parts Used- Fresh and dried bark of stem, branches, and roots. Flowers. Leaves.

Traditional Native American Uses- Some Native American tribes used the leaves and root bark to re-duce and sweat out fevers. The Meskwaki used the inner bark to induce vomiting. The Chippewa used Buttonbush to slow or stop excessive menstrual flow and to reduce pan and cramping associated with excessive or overly long menstrual flow. The Choctaws chewed the bark to relieve toothache. The Seminole also utilized this plant to treat urinary blockage, apparently either stones or swollen prostate.

Digestive Complaints- A syrup can be made from the flowers and leaves to use as a tonic and laxative. Bitter properties can also be used to help aid digestion by stimulating bile production which improves the digestion of fats and helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Fevers- A tincture or decoction of the fresh bark can be used for intermittent and remittent fevers. The febrifuge and diaphoretic properties help to reduce fever and induce a sweat to help sweat out fever. Because of this, Buttonbush can also be used as a substitute for quinine in the treatment of Malaria.

Menstrual Complaints- This plant can be used to stop excessive menstrual flow traditionally this was done by boiling 1 cup of stems and leaves for 5 minutes, then taking 3 cups daily during the flow. An-other method is to take a 6-inch piece of root, 1 inch in diameter, chop it, add to boiling water and boil for 30 minutes. 3 cups can be taken over a 24-hour period for menstrual pain and cramping associated with an overly long menstrual flow.

Lungs- The root has traditionally been boiled with honey to make a syrup used for lung problems. Also, the inner bark has been used for coughs.

Kidney & Gall Stones- The inner bark has traditionally been used to help clear kidney gravel and pre-vent the formation of kidney stones. Its bitter properties help to stimulate bile production and prevent gall stones.

Other Benefits- The flowers of this plant are wonderful for attracting pollinators, especially bees. It’s often used as a honey plant for this reason.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- Do not use if you have problems with ulcers. The leaves contain glucosides and can be toxic in large doses. Symptoms include vomiting, convulsions, chronic spasms and muscular paralysis. 





     Aren't the flowers gorgeous? What do you think of this plant? Are you growing one or do you have one in your yard? Have you come face to face with the bark? Do you have any questions or comments? Share them down below! I only included a basic introduction to this interesting native plant. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!


Button Bush: Natural Medicinal Herbs:,%2C%20kidney%20stones%2C%20pleurisy%20etc.

Buttonbush: Earthnotes Herb Library: 

Buttonbush: Texas Beyond History: 

Cephalanthus Buttonbush: Henriette’s Herbal Homepage: 

Cephalanthus occidentalis: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: 

Cephalanthus occidentalis: Native American Ethnobotany Database: 

Cephalanthus occidentalis: Plants for a Future: 

Cephalanthus occidentalis Buttonbush: Practical Plants:,%2C%20diaphoretic%2C%20diuretic%20and%20tonic. 

Cephalanthus occidentalis Buttonbush Medicinal Plant Uses: Charles W. Kane, Applied Medical Botany:

Monday, April 26, 2021



     Certain herbs have a rich history full of uses and traditions. Plantain is one such plant. No, I’m not talking about the savory banana often eaten in Hispanic cuisine. I’m talking about a plant that likes to grow where people travel, a plant that has gained a reputation across the world as one of the most useful herbs you can learn. This plant is one of my favorites and every species I’ve encountered (or simply read of) can be used/eaten in multiple ways. 


     Plantago spp. is known in every culture for being a great medicinal herb and food source, not just for humanity but also for wildlife. There are over 35 species in North America alone, several of these are natives, and there are about 200 total species worldwide. It was a sacred plant to the Norse people who considered it one of the 9 herbs of Odin. They commonly called it Mother of Herbs or Wegbrade (translated to Wayfare’s Plant, referencing its tendency to grow by roadsides). When the Europeans settled in North America, they brought with them P. major which grew around every settlement and was so weedy that the Native American people called it White Man’s Foot. The native P. virginica was also nicknamed Little White Man’s Foot for the same tendencies. Plantain and people have a long history of mutual acceptance and use.


     There are quite a few species, but they all share a few common traits that can help you identify Plantago. The leaves grow in a basil rosette pattern and have parallel veins. They are also sessile, growing along the ground, and have poorly defined petioles. If you break open the leaves, the veins will have stretchy cords. The flowers grow in a stalk and can be a short cone or a long spike, they are not very showy as they are wind-pollinated. Most are herbaceous plants, though a few are subshrubs growing to 60 cm (24 in) tall.

Medicinal Uses:

Common Names- Plantain. Plantago cordata is commonly known as Water Plantain, Heart-leaved Plantain, or Rib-grass. P. lanceolata is commonly known as Narrowleaf Plantain or English Plantain. P. major is commonly known as Great Plantain or Common Plantain. P. rugelii is commonly known as Rugel's Plantain. P. virginica is commonly known as Dwarf Plantain or Virginia Plantain.

Scientific Name- Plantago spp. All species of Plantago (that I am aware of) can be used interchangeably. Some commonly used species include: Plantago cordata, P. lanceolata, P. major, P. rugelii, and P. virginica.

Family- Plantaginaceae

Edibility- Choice Edible. The whole plant is edible raw or cooked but be cautious as high doses of certain species can have laxative effects. Fresh, young leaves should be harvested in early spring while they’re still tender enough to eat raw in salads. Older leaves get stringy and tough, so they are better cooked. Steaming tougher leaves will make them tender, but the fibrous veins and midribs will need to be removed from older, stringier leaves. The young seed heads can be gathered throughout the summer and used in stir-fry, though as they get older, they get tough and are not recommended to be eaten. The seeds can be ground into a flour and used to make pancakes.

Summary of Actions- Antimicrobial, antibacterial, lymphatic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, anti-allergic, antihistamine, anti-catarrhal, expectorant, demulcent, alterative, anti-hemorrhagic, vasoconstrictor, antacid, diuretic, emollient, vulnerary, connective tissue tonic

Constituents- Mucilage, carbohydrates (fructose, glucose, saccharoses), Acids (chlorogenic, benzoic, caffeic, coumaric, fumaric, salicylic, asocorbic), iridoid glycosides (acubin, catalpol), tannins, flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, scutellarin, baicalein), alkaloid, gum, resins, choline, allantoin, saponins, steroids, nutrients (minerals: Zn, K+, Mg, P)

Energetics and Flavors- Overall it is considered to be Cool and Dry. The leaves are Slightly Bitter, Slightly Salty, and Acrid. The roots are Slightly Salty, and Slightly Sweet. The seeds are Sweet and Cold.

Parts Used- Leaves, Roots, and Seeds

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Che Qian Zi (roughly translated as “before the cart seeds”), Plantain has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In most traditions, the leaf of this herb is the primary part used, however in TCM, it’s primarily the seeds that are used. Plantain works best on the Bladder, Kidney, Lung, and Liver meridians. It’s useful for draining damp, promoting urination, regulating water, and clearing heat. This makes it useful for reducing edema and other conditions involving damp heat, especially in the Lower Jiao (think diarrhea or urinary incontinence). It’s also used for eye conditions due to Liver Heat or Liver Yang rising (dry eyes, sensitivity to light, etc). It also clears Lung Heat (dissolves phlegm, stops cough, and as an expectorant). 

Native American Traditional Uses- Various species of Plantain have been traditionally used by Native American tribes as a choice edible and for medicinal uses. In addition to its many traditional edible and medicinal uses, Plantain was sometimes used ceremonially. P. virginica was used by the Kiowa who made wreaths from it that old men would wear during certain dances as a symbol of their good health.

Skin Conditions & Wound Care- All Plantago species can be used for wound care, though the one with the strongest wound care abilities is P. major. These herbs have been used for centuries as first-aid and to help improve certain skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. The fresh leaves or juice of the plant are excellent, quick healing agents for cuts, wounds, bruises, and any skin related condition. The antimicrobial properties make this a great plant to help protect wounds as well as to help treat acne and boils. The seed and/or root of the plant is traditionally roasted and ground to be used to stop bleeding.

Drawing Herb- Plantain is a drawing herb, meaning that it helps to draw foreign substances out of our bodies. P. virginica is especially great for this use, though all species have this property. Common uses of drawing herbs include drawing out bee stingers and splinters, bringing infections closer to the surface so they can be drained (think boils and bad acne), and helping to remove venom from animal/insect bites and stings (such as snake bites, great to know about in Florida though you still want to head to the hospital ASAP for antivenom!). 

Mucus Membrane Tonic- Plantain is an astringent and has alterative properties internally, especially in chronic inflammatory conditions of the mucosa. These properties are beneficial throughout the entire mucosa, from mouth to anus.

Cough, Throat, & Lower Respiratory- All Plantago species can be used internally as an expectorant and to soothe the throat, however P. lanceolata is the species that tends to be most effective as a gentle soothing expectorant and most indicated in irritated coughs and mild bronchitis. The mucilage from the leaves has a soothing and anti-inflammatory effect on the lower respiratory tract. 

Neurological Conditions- Traditionally used in Persian medicine for neurological issues such as epilepsy. Traditional Persian medicinal preparation called Adasiyyat was used to treat epilepsy and earaches caused by nervous pain. Adasiyyat is a combination of cooked lentils with plantain leaves and was either consumed as a food or used as a plaster on the forehead. This use has been studied in modern medical science, which has determined that Plantain effects the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system and can potentially reduce the instance of seizures. GABA is a neurotransmitter and helps regulate the communication between brain cells. This property of Plantain may have further effects on other neurological conditions, but further studies are needed.

Gastrointestinal- Plantain is a great herb for the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It has properties that help protect against the formation of ulcers, it’s a great source of fiber that helps to move digested food more effectively, it helps prevent and treat diarrhea, and it even helps remove obstructions in the liver ducts. 

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- None known. *Some species are endangered or threatened, please be respectful of natural populations of these plants.

     I only included a basic introduction to this extremely useful plant. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!


Common Plantain (Plantago Major): Flickr: 

Plantago lanceolata Major: The Naturopathic Herbalist:

Plantago major in Traditional Persian Medicine and modern phytotherapy a narrative review: Pub Med: 

Plantago Major-Plantain: Henriette’s Herbal Homepage: 

Plantago Lanceolata: Wikimedia Commons: 

Plantago Major RF: Wikimedia Commons: 

Plantago (Plantain Weed): Wild Edible: 

Plantain: White Rabbit Institute of Healing:

Plantain- Indigenous Food and Medicine: Real Food & Scandalous Gardening Secrets: 

Virginia Plantain (Plantago virginica): Wild South Florida: 

White Man’s Little Foot- Dwarf Plantain: Eat The Weeds: 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021


      Ok, so I’m strange. I fully admit this and embrace it as part of who I am. Today I’m sharing one of my strangeness with all of you, I have a bit of an obsession with carnivorous plants. I just find them extremely fascinating. So, of course, when my husband and I ran across a pond full of Bladderwort on a recent hike, I went bonkers. 

     Floating bladderwort, or Utricularia inflata, is a Florida native plant that extends through much of the Southeast region of the United States. It’s both aquatic and carnivorous and can be found in (usually) deep freshwater habitats that have a low pH and very few nutrients (which is why the plant evolved to be carnivorous in the first place). It’s a member of the Lentibulariaceae (Bladderwort) family and the flowers of the plants in this family look very similar to the flowers in the Lamiaceae (Mint) family, they are bilaterally symmetrical and somewhat resemble lips. This is because Lentibulariaceae and Lamiaceae are both members of the Lamiales order, so they are fairly closely related. 

     Bladderwort does not have roots. Instead, it has specialized leaves that both keep it afloat and provide extra nutrients. The underwater leaves are home to the “bladders” that give these plants their common name. These bladders are the “trap” that collects the animals this plant preys upon, which are mainly protozoa, microscopic crustaceans, and tiny fish (often that have just hatched). When these creatures get close enough to the bladders to brush up against the hairs, this triggers the bladder to open, creating a vacuum and sucking the creature inside where it will be digested to provide the extra nutrients the plant needs to survive. 

     The species that we ran across (Utricularia inflata) is one of many species in Florida. However, to my knowledge (please correct me if I’m wrong), it is the only one with the wheel-like floating leaves that grows in North America. While it is native to the Southeast, it has been introduced in Washington state and upstate New York, where it has become a problematic invasive. 

     There are around 200 species that grow world-wide, 20 of which grow here in North America. Each region has specific species that are used for slightly different purposes in traditional medicines. The Ayurvedic traditions use Utricularia reticulata, the Traditional Chinese Medicine system uses Utricularia bifida, and the Gwich’in tribe of North America uses Utricularia vulgaris. While all of these traditional systems use the various Bladderworts for kidney infections and wound care, each tradition has specific other uses for their Utricularia species. This isn’t to say that all Bladderworts can’t be used interchangeably, but that there isn’t much research or data collected to support this idea. 

Check out a video I posted recently about this fascinating plant!


Medicinal Uses:

Common Names- Bladderwort, Floating Bladderwort, Swollen Bladderwort


Scientific Name- Utricularia inflata


Family- Lentibulariaceae


Summary of Actions- Astringent, diuretic, and vulnerary


Parts Used- Whole plant

Edibility- A tea is often made with dry or fresh leaves and often consumed for the rich mineral content.


Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Utricularia bifida is used in a common TCM formula for hemorrhoids. The other herbs in this formula include Elephantopus scaber (Elephant’s Foot) and Sonchus oleraceus (Common Sowthistle). This mixture is used to relieve and eliminate swelling pain, stabbing pain and burning pain of hemorrhoids caused by bacterial infection and perianal inflammation, improve and eliminate variant tissue, eliminate thrombus, soften hemorrhoids, promote regeneration of active cells, restore perianal damaged aging cells, improve elasticity of rectal vein wall and muscle tissue, improve compressive stimulation resistance, eliminate rectal blood stasis root source, restore functions of a perianal system and prevent recurrence of hemorrhoids.


Ayurveda- Utricularia reticulata is used in Ayurvedic traditions. The whole plant is used for eye disease, snake bites, and ulcers.


Native American Traditional Uses- The Gwich’in tribe (one of the most northerly dwelling tribes in the North American continent) use Utricularia vulgaris to treat kidney and bladder infections. It is often used in the same way as Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) for bladder issues.

Urinary Tract and Kidneys- Bladderwort is astringent and has soothing properties that help reduce inflammation which makes it great to treat kidney and bladder infections. It also helps treat and prevent kidney stones.


Gallbladder- This herb helps to stimulate bile production and excretion helping to improve digestion. It also helps to treat and prevent gall stones.


Burns and Wound Care- The soothing and astringent properties of this plant make it a great choice for wound and burn care. You can use the fresh specialized leaves (the parts that are under water) as a poultice on any wound or burn and it will help prevent infection, soothe pain/burning sensations, and help to speed healing.


Weight Loss- Bladderwort helps reduce water retention which can help shed some weight. It also helps to simulate bile production and excretion which can help improve digestion which may also help some people to lose a bit of weight. Though this herb is not a “miracle weight loss herb.”


Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- Since not a lot of information exists on this plant, use caution and talk to your doctor or herbalist before adding it to your routine. Do not take this if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.




I only included a basic introduction to this fascinating carnivorous plant. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates and more adventures in nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on TeeSpring, check it out! If you like what you see and would like to support this content, feel free to become a Patron for as little as $1 a month!



Amazing facts of Bladderwort: Health Benefits Times:

Bladderwort: GTC Department of Cultural Heritage:

Bladderwort: Medicinal Herbs:

Bladderworts: Medicinal Plants Archive:

Bladderwort: The Rx List:

Bladderwort: WebMD:

Floating Bladderwort - Utricularia inflata: Native Florida Wildflowers:

Florida’s Aquatic Carnivorous Plants – Yes, Aquatic!: UF Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants:

Swollen Bladderwort: An Exotic Aquatic Plant: Department of Conservation and Recreation, Massachusetts:

Swollen Bladderwort: Washington State Department of Ecology:

The Floating Bladderwort: In Defense of Plants:

TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE PREPARATION FOR TREATING HAEMORRHOIDS: WIPO IP Portal:;jsessionid=2F5617F8666913CE082CACDE8D715892.wapp1nC?docId=CN177429855&_cid=P12-K6GK5M-42677-41

Utricularia inflata: Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center:

Utricularia reticulata: Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants of Sri Lanka:

Utricularia species: UF Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants:

Utricularia vulgaris: Plants for a Future:

Utricularia vulgaris: Practical Plants:

Utricularia vulgaris: University of Ioannina School of Health Sciences:




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     Welcome to Bat Lady Herbals.  I have been fascinated by herbs and various herbal uses for quite a few years now.  Plants are amazing t...