Winter Herb Walk With Indie & Otis – 2015

One of life’s greatest pleasures is taking our dogs, Indie and Otis, on long walks around the farm. On this particular day we encountered seven plants in their winter dormant period. The first plant we encountered was a new discovery for me. It was a vine wrapping its way around these bushes and it had the most amazing seed heads, they looked like cotton puffs. I was delighted to see such beauty in the middle of winter. I took some photos to send to my friend Jo, who can identify any plant that grows in the state of Colorado. I am grateful she is my friend. She soon informed me that I had found Clematis (Clematis virginiana) a.k.a Virgin’s Bower. I will look forward to late spring/summer to see what the flowers look like and take a photo.

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The seven plants we encountered:

Plant #1: Clematis (Clematis spp) a member of the Ranunculaceae family. Another name for this plant is Virgin’s Bower. The medicinal use of this plant is still being studied. What a beautiful plant to discover during the winter. I look forward to admiring it this spring and summer.

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Plant #2: Hops (Humulus lupulus) a member of the Cannabacea family. A great herb for insomnia, tension, digestion and beer.

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Plant# 3: Burdock (Arctium species) a member of the Compositae family. The root of this plant is very nutritious. It can be thinly sliced and added to salads, lightly cooked, or added to soups. The root gently stimulates the liver to function more efficiently resulting in helping the organ with its job of filtering waste materials from the blood. I love this plant and I could write paragraphs on all its benefits.

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Plant#4: Rose (Rosa spp) a member of the Rosaceae family. It is as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer. The petals, leaves, bark, roots and (vitamin-C rich) hips are all used. Rose has astringent, nutritive, diuretic and vulnerary actions.

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Plant#5: Licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota) member of the Leguminaceae family. It is the root of the plant that is used. The root is dug in the fall. Its main taproots can sink three to four feet into the ground making it a challenge to dig. It is an excellent remedy for inflammatory upper respiratory conditions. There is much to be said about licorice root. A fun find this winter and a bit of a challenge to photograph.

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Plant #6: Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) a member of the Scrophulariaceae family. This plant is a biennial. In its first year of growth it forms a basal rosette of large, broadly lance-shaped, fuzzy leaves. Its second and final year of growth it grows a long central stalk that produces numerous yellow flowers. The leaves are used as an expectorant and respiratory antispasmodic. The flowers are antimicrobial. The fresh flowers buds are infused in oil and used to treat bacterial infections of the ear. I wonder which stage of growth this plant is in? We shall see this summer. My guess it is in its second year.

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Plant #7: Hawthorne (Crataegus species) a member of the Rosaceae family. A plant that offers a beautiful tonic for the heart and circulatory system. The tonic comes from the fresh flowering twigs and ripe berries. I have much affection for this plant for its ability to help humans and offer food and habitat to wildlife. There is much to say about this giving shrub/small tree.

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This is the last plant we encountered on our winter herb walk. Hope you enjoyed this walk with us. See you at the next walk.

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