Plant Profiles

This is my Materia Medica, started during my herbal studies, which lists the medicinal properties of plants and how to use them. Although interesting and useful, that part is rather scientific and, might I add, dry. So I’ve included botanical information, energetics/correspondences, and my experiences with the plants, to give you an even deeper understanding and admiration of these plant allies.

Plants are listed in the order I’ve added them, the most recent first. Click a tag to filter plants by their use, or use the search box above to search for something specific.

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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…