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: 

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

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

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

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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

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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: 

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Urena lobata: UF Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants: 

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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:

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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:

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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:



Monday, February 22, 2021

American Skullcap


     Some plants I’m drawn too because of their striking beauty. With others, it’s their name. This little mint-family plant was first brought to my attention after I was in a car accident that left every muscle in my back in some serious spasms. Skullcap, or Scutellaria lateriflora, is a well-known natural muscle relaxer that does not leave you drowsy or unable to function. It may not look like much, but it is a wonderful herb to get to know.

     Scutellaria lateriflora is endemic (meaning it can only be found) to North America, but there are species of skullcaps found throughout the world. S. baicalensis and S. barbatae are two species that are native to Eastern Asia and Northern China and are commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. These two often get confused with S. lateriflora though these plants are used quite differently in practice. 

     Scutellaria is a genus of around 300 species in the Lamiaceae, or mint, family. They are annual or perennial and have the standard traits of most mints. They are known for square stems, opposite and toothed leaves, with bilaterally symmetrical flowers. Unlike most mint family plants, Scutellaria tend to not be aromatic. S. lateriflora is a wetland loving species that grows near marshes, meadows and other wet habitats. The blue to purple petals of the flowers were said to resemble the helmets of medieval European soldiers, hence its common name: skullcap.

Medicinal Uses:

Common Names- American Skullcap, Blue Pimpernel, Blue Skullcap, Escutelaria, Grande Toque, Helmet Flower, Hoodwort, Mad-Dog Herb, Mad-Dog Skullcap, Mad-Dog Weed, Mad Weed, Quaker Bonnet, & Scullcap

Scientific Name- Scutellaria lateriflora (Scutellaria baicalensis is a different plant with slightly different uses)

Family- Lamiaceae (Mint Family)

Summary of Actions- Abortifacient, Anticonvulsant, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antispasmodic, Anxiolytic, Astringent (slightly), Bitter, Emmenagogue, Febrifuge, Nervine tonic & Relaxant, Hypotensive, Sedative, Tonic 

Parts Used- Aerial (above ground parts)

Energetics/Flavors- Bitter, Cold

Key Constituents- Flavonoids, Baicalein, Apigenin, Oroxylin A, Scutellarein, Steroidal saponins, Glycosides, Volatile oils, Tannins, Zinc. More than 295 chemical compounds have been isolated.

Edibility- The aerial parts can safely be eaten raw or cooked. The flowers make wonderful garnishes for pastries. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Huang Qin (Scutellaria baicalensis) and Ban Zhi Lian (S. barbatae) are the two common Chinese names for Skullcap. I’m not aware of a Chinese name for S. lateriflora, though it is used for the Stomach, Lungs, and Kidney meridians. It helps move Qi and calm nerves, clears heat and resolves fevers, restores stomach function and promotes urination. Skullcap is also used for snakebite, rashes, and insect bites. 

Ayurveda- This herb is used in Ayurvedic medicine for Pitta types that tend to become irritable, angry, or may struggle with sleep because of stress. It also is used in a preparation (Ramayana #16) that is used to treat epilepsy.

Native American Traditional Uses- The Cherokee, and some other Native American Tribes, used Skullcap as an herb for female issues. It was predominantly used as an emmenagogue, helping to bring on late periods and stimulate blood flow in the pelvic regions as well as in the uterus. A decoction of the root was also taken after birth to stimulate the reproductive system. It was also used in purification ceremonies when some menstrual taboos were broken, or in ceremonies to bring girls into womanhood. The Iroquois use an infusion of the root to keep the throat clear. Other Native American tribes use closely related species as bitter tonics for the kidneys. This herb is used to induce visions and as a ceremonial plant to be smoked as tobacco by some Native Indians. It was also thought to be effective against rabies (modern research discredited this use), which is why one of the common names is Mad-Dog Herb.

Healthy Sleep- Skullcap is a gentle sedative that doesn’t cause extreme lethargy like many other sedatives do. However, it is still a great herb for insomnia and other sleeping problems. Particularly restlessness, muscle tension, and jaw clenching. This herb helps to quiet racing thoughts and has also been known to reduce nightmares. 

Pain- Skullcap is useful for general pain such as headaches, injuries, spasmodic pains such as cramps and general body pains. By itself it’s not very potent. However, it can help amplify the pain-relieving properties of other herbs. It also doesn’t cause lethargy or brain fog like some other pain-relieving herbs do, so if you need to be aware of, and focused on, what you are doing but still need a bit of pain-relief, Skullcap is a great herb.

Anxiety, Depression, Nervous Tension, & Stress- S. lateriflora helps to nourish and mildly sedate the nervous system. This makes it a great stress neutralizer that helps calm and center people that deal with high amounts of stress on a daily basis. It also helps to detox the body, helping to get rid of built-up stress hormones and releasing nervous tension. These properties along with the trophorestorative (restoring the nutrition uptake of the nerves) effects of this herb make it great to help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression and helping to fight burnout.

Seizures- This herb’s anticonvulsant and antispasmodic properties make it a great herb to help prevent seizures in those who struggle with epilepsy. It can also help to relax muscles and ease some of the pain that occurs after a seizure.

Muscle Relaxant- The primary way I personally use this herb is as a muscle relaxant. It helps reduce cramps and spasms in both skeletal and smooth muscle tissue without causing drowsiness. 

PMS and Women’s Complaints- Women use S. lateriflora to stimulate menstrual flow when menstruation is absent such as in hormonal disorders or conditions like oligomenorrhea (light menses). It is also often used in combination with crampbark (Viburnum opulus) to help prevent or treat cramps associated with menses and/or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s- Oxidative stress affects some brain-related diseases, such Alzheimer’s disease, depression and Parkinson’s disease. Skullcap is an antioxidant that has tonic actions on the central nervous system. Some research indicates that bioactive compounds found skullcap, may neutralize, and even eliminate toxic free radicals that cause this damage. In addition to its antioxidant activities, it also helps to support proper blood flow to the brain. 

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- There are possible drug interactions with central nervous system depressants and other sedatives (including anesthesia). If you are taking any of these, or preparing for surgery, check with your doctor before trying American Skullcap. Avoid during pregnancy as it may trigger a miscarriage. 

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


American Skullcap: Gaia Herbs:

Scutellaria lateriflora: Plants for a Future:

Skullcap: St. Luke’s Hospital:

Skullcap: White Rabbit Institute of Healing:

Skullcap 101: Traditional Medicinals:

Skullcap- Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage: Healthline:

Skullcap: The National Center for Biotechnology Information:,nervousness%2C%20digestive%20and%20kidney%20problems.

Skullcap Energetics, S. Lateriflora or North American Skullcap: The Practical Herbalist:


Skullcap-Potential medicinal Crop: Purdue University:

Skullcap- The Perfect Herb for Flu Season and Beyond: Dr. Axe:

The Skullcaps-A Scutellaria Monograph: Northeast School of Botanical Medicine:

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Sleeping Hibiscus


     Florida, full of flowers, or so it was named by Ponce de Leon in 1513. He stumbled into the area looking for the fountain of youth and was overwhelmed by the abundance of flowers. Even several hundred years later, you can find flowers year-round. Plants that are only supposed to bloom in the Summer can even be found blooming in Winter. There is one flower that blooms year-round but seems to be lazy and never fully open. This is not a native plant, but a naturalized member of the Malvaceae (mallow) family that we commonly know of as Sleeping Hibiscus.

     Malvaviscus penduliflorus, known as Sleeping Hibiscus, is native to Texas, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America, as well as parts of the West Indies. It has become naturalized in most of Florida and is not considered to be invasive. It has also become a favorite among most children. The bright red flowers may never open but are edible and sweet. You’ll often find children running towards this plant to pick a flower, pop off the calyx, and stick the white end of the petals in their mouths for a sweet treat. 

     One of the beautiful things about the Malvaceae family is that every flower in this family is edible (the only exception I’m aware of is Cotton which can be safely rendered into an edible oil) and has traditional medicinal uses. So when I’m talking to people who want to learn how to identify plants, this is typically one of the first families I recommend they learn, right after the Lamiaceae (mint) family. Other notable members of the Malvaceae family include Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis), Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), Cotton (Gossypium spp.), Hollyhock (Alcea spp.), and Sida (Sida spp.).

     It is a spreading shrub and generally grows up to 6 ft (about 2 m) tall. Branchlets are hairy (hairs re-curved) to hairless. Leafstalks are small, not even 1 in (1-2 cm), and hairy. Leaves are lance-shaped to narrowly ovate both surfaces nearly hairless or hairy with a broadly wedge-shaped to nearly rounded base and a toothed margin. Flowers occur singly, hanging from leaf axils, and are red, tubular, about 2 in (5 cm) long. False sepals are about 8, spoon-shaped with ciliate margins. The sepal cup is slightly longer than epicalyx and hairy. The stamen column is about 2.5 in (7 cm) and extends out of the flower, beyond the petals. 

Here's a video all about this wonderful plant! 

Medicinal Uses:

 Common Names- Sleeping Hibiscus, Turk’s Cap Hibiscus, Pendulous Sleeping Hibiscus, Swamp Hibiscus, Sleepy Mallow, Wax Mallow, or Cardinal's Hat

Scientific Name- Malvaviscus penduliflorus 

Edibility- Flower is edible raw, leaves are edible raw or cooked (young leaves are preferred for salad greens), and the fruit is rare but edible raw or cooked once they’ve ripened.

Summary of Actions- Antihelminthic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antipyretic, astringent, cardiotonic, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, hypotensive, immunomodulating, and sedative.

Energetics & Flavors- Cooling, Moist, Sour

Parts Used- Flowers, leaves, and fruit 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- A variety of Hibiscus species are known with various names in TCM; Khrachiap Dang, Datchang, Tengamora. They relieve coughing and wheezing, transform phlegm, cool summer heat, nourish spleen Qi, promote body fluid production, and clear toxins.

Ayurveda- Commonly referred to as Japa, Hibiscus bark, leaves, and flowers are all used medicinally. They reduce aggravated Pitta and balance Kapha. The flowers reduce low-grade systemic inflammation when the lymphatic system is congested.

Fever, Cough, Cold, & Flu- The antipyretic properties of this herb make it great to lower fevers. Its demulcent action helps to soothe a sore throat and reduce coughing. It also helps to boost the immune system in general, largely due to the high vitamin C content. These properties make Sleeping Hibiscus a great plant to use in the case of cold or flu.

Hypertension- Not only is this herb a cardiotonic, helping to improve the health of the cardiovascular system as a whole. It also is a diuretic that helps to lower blood pressure. 

Diabetes- Many traditional cultures use Hibiscus flowers for controlling blood sugar. This is typically useful for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Gallbladder- The flowers of this plant are high in vitamin C and other nutrients that help reduce the occurrence of gallstones. Some traditional cultures also use these flowers to help treat existing gallstones.

Skin & Hair- The demulcent properties of the leaves and flowers can help to soothe irritated, itchy skin. This extends to the scalp where the herb also helps to slow balding and may even help to promote the growth of hair in some cases. 

Other Uses- Fiber from the stems can be used to make rope or to weave into a rough fabric such as burlap.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- All Hibiscus species are generally considered safe. But more research is needed to determine a safe dosage for pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, and people with liver or kidney disease.


     I only included a basic introduction to this sweet flower. 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!


All You Need To Know About Hibiscus: Healthline:,the%20skin%20to%20heal%20wounds.

Benefits of Hibiscus: Herbs with Rosalee:

Flor de santos/Sleeping hibiscus/Malvaviscus arboreus: Zoom's Edible Plants:

Hibiscus: Kaiser Permanente:

Hibiscus (Fu Rong): White Rabbit Institute of Healing:

Mallow Madness: Eat The Weeds:

Malvaviscus penduliflorus DC: India Biodiversity Portal:

Pendulous Sleeping Hibiscus: Flowers of India:

Sleeping Hibiscus (Malvaviscus penduliflorus): Weed Watch:

Turk’s Cap Mallow: UF IFAS Gardening Solutions:

Uses of Hibiscus in Ayurveda: Ayurveda clinic Bansko:


Greetings from the Bat Lady!

     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...