Plant Profiles

Astragalus

Botanical Name: Astragalus membranaceus | Family: Fabaceae Common name(s): Chinese Astragalus, Huang Qi, Milk Vetch GROWING Perennial; herbacious | Zones 4-11 | 3-4 feet | Pale yellow flowers (pea-flower shaped) from middle of the summer until frost Sun to partial shade | Dry, sandy soil HARVESTING Harvest roots in the fall after…

Reishi

Botanical Name: Ganoderma lucidum, G. tsugae | Family: Ganodermataceae Common name(s): Reishi, Ganoderma, ling zhi, hemlock varnish shelf (G. tsugae) GROWING Fungi | Found across North America and Asia | Sizes vary. Most commonly 4-6 inches wide, 1/2-1 inch thick Begin growing as white, red-orange comes with maturity Shade | Grows on trees/logs…

Shiitake

Botanical Name: Lentinus edodes | Family: Tricholomataceae or Marasmiaceae or Omphalotaceae Common name(s): Shiitake Mushroom, Black Mushroom, Hua Gu GROWING Fungi | Zones 3-9 | mushrooms will sprout for 1-2 weeks in the spring and fall Part shade | grown on logs (see SFGate and Rodale’s Organic Life links for how to grow…

Privet

Botanical Name: Ligustrum lucidum | Family: Oleaceae Common name(s): Chinese Privet, Glossy privet, White Wax Tree, Tree Ligustrum GROWING Evergreen shrub | Zones 8-11 | 32 feet high, 9 feet wide  | White flowers from August – September, followed by berries Pollinated by insects Full sun to deep shade | most…

Schisandra

Botanical Name: Schisandra chinensis | Family: Schisandraceae Common name(s): Schisandra, Wu wei zi (Chinese, roughly translates to 5-flavored fruit), Magnolia Vine GROWING Perennial woody vine | Zones 4-7 | up to 30 feet long  | Fragrant leaves and flowers followed by red berries Need male and female to get fruit Partial…

Senna

Botanical Name: Cassia angustifolia, C. senna, C. acutifolia | Family: Leguminosae Common name(s): Senna GROWING Subtropical shrub native to India and Africa | 6 1/2 feet tall  | Big yellow flowers followed by legume-like pods Full sun | Alkaline soil (ph 7-8.5) with good drainage HARVESTING Harvest leaves before or while…

Dill

Botanical Name: Anethum graveolens | Family: Umbelliferae Common name(s): Dill GROWING Annual; herbaceous | 2-3 feet tall  | Feathery leaves, yellow umbel flowers, seeds in late summer Full sun | Well-drained, moderately rich soil | Regular watering, allowing soil to dry between waterings HARVESTING Harvest seeds in late summer, leaves throughout…

Aniseed

Botanical Name: Pimpinella anisum | Family: Umbelliferae Common name(s): Aniseed, Anise GROWING Annual; herbaceous | 1 1/2 – 3 feet tall  | Feathery leaves, yellow umbel flowers, ridged seeds in autumn Full sun | Light, well-drained soil | Protect from wind HARVESTING Harvest seeds, when ripe, in late autumn. PREPARATION /…

Calamus

Botanical Name: Acorus calamus | Family: Araceae Common name(s): Sweet Flag, Calamus, Sweet Sedge GROWING Perennial | Zones 4-11 | 1-4 feet tall  | Cattail-like leaves, flowers angle out from a leaf-like stalk from May through August. Roots are jointed. Full sun | Grows at edges of ponds and in moist meadows…