Happy Groundhog Day!

Hand-drawn lemon balm by Debora J. Brown

In honor of Groundhog Day, I was searching for things about groundhogs and came across Groundhog “Resistant” Plants by Linda S. Wiles at Penn State Cooperative Extension. When looking over this list I see a few of my favorite herbs which gave me the idea to share how wonderful they are. Unfortunately, our artist is currently in the process of packing and moving across the country, (she’s moving out closer to us) so only lemon balm has an image.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Hand-drawn lemon balm by Debora J. Brown
Artwork by Debora J. Brown

Family: Labiatae (Lamiaceae)
Energetics: cool, dry, relaxant
Taste: aromatic, sweet
Medicinal parts: aerial parts –flowers & leaves
Actions: initially warming, ultimately cooling; relaxant, sedative, nervine, diaphoretic, antiviral, anodyne
Affinities: digestive, circulatory, and nervous systems
Cautions: safe for children and elders.
Pairs Well With: catnip
Culinary Uses: search will bring up a few recipes
Bugs Deterred: gnats, mosquitoes
Bugs Attracted: bees, butterflies
How I Use Most Often: tea, cooking especially in pasta sauce

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Family: Lamiaceae
Energetics: warm/cool, dry, relaxant
Taste: pungent, aromatic, acrid
Medicinal parts: leaves
Actions: digestive, carminative, hepatic, nervine, diaphoretic, sedative, antispasmodic
Affinities: digestive and nervous systems
Cautions: A safe herb for children
Pairs Well With: lemon balm
Culinary Uses: search will bring up a few recipes
Bugs Deterred: gnats, mosquitoes
Bugs Attracted: bees, butterflies
How I Use Most Often: tea, cat treat, cooking especially in pasta sauce

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Family: Lamiaceae
Energetics: hot, dry, tonifying
Taste: pungent, aromatic
Medicinal parts: aerial parts
Actions: respiratory antimicrobial, stimulating expectorant, carminative, intestinal antimicrobial, relaxant, emmenagogue, anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatory
Affinities: respiratory & digestive systems
Cautions: Undiluted essential oil of thyme can cause chemical burns and should never be taken internally: always dilute in a carrier oil.
Friends: catnip, lemon balm
Culinary Uses: search will bring up many recipes
Bugs Deterred: cabbage loopers, whiteflies
Bugs Attracted: bees, native pollinators
How I Use Most Often: cooking

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Family: Asteraceae (Compositae)
Energetics: warm/cool, dry, tonifying
Taste: bitter, pungent, acrid, aromatic
Medicinal parts: leaves, flowers, aerial parts
Actions: stimulant, diffusive, astringent, styptic, hepatic, stimulating diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, anodyne, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory
Affinities: digestive & circulatory systems
Cautions: Some people have an allergy to yarrow, a member of the aster family. Large doses are to be avoided in pregnancy.
Pairs Well With: lavender
Culinary Uses: search will bring up a few recipes
Bugs Deterred: mosquitoes
Bugs Attracted: ladybugs, hoverflies, butterflies
How I Use Most Often: tincture to help stop bleeding

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
Energetics: warm, moist, relaxant
Taste: aromatic, pungent, sweet.
Medicinal part: seed
Actions: carminative, cholagogue, choleretic, antispasmodic, galactagogue, anticatarrhal, diuretic
Affinities: digestive system
Cautions: Fennel is safe and effective for everyone from children to elders.
Pairs Well With: catnip
Culinary Uses: a simple Google search will return many recipes.
Bugs Deterred: aphids, slugs, snails, fleas, and mosquitoes
Bugs Attracted: bee, wasp, beetle, butterfly
How I Use Most Often: cooking or tea
Plant village has a nice write-up on fennel you can view it here.

Duncan’s Poem

Duncan wrote a poem for the day and I thought it would be nice to include it here for you all to enjoy. If you would like to see more of his work you can find it here. For those that don’t know, Duncan is my hubby and also the one that does the music for the podcast.

The beast that hates the chill arises
Greets the cold midwinter day
It’s been awhile but now it feels
A hankering for the signs of Spring

It’s you and me and everything
That lies in in-between
A face pokes out, smells the earth
A nose with sight unseen

Do we move forward and face the day
Or turn around and find a way
To rest a little longer not sure
Waiting for a sign

Do we brave the chill and start to live
Again, now that we’ve heard the word
That nature will be joining soon
And all will be sublime

Again, I hesitate I feel the weight
The eyes upon me, tempting fate
And hoping that I’ll find a way
To make it through mid-winter day

And not see me a’ facing me
A sight I do not wish to see
If so all this will come to end
And winter will continue

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