Herb Profiles

The Incredible Nettle

Nettle (Urtica dioica), also known as Stinging Nettle, is a lovely plant that is a favorite of many an herbalist (including myself!). It sometimes gets a bad reputation because its stems and leaves are covered in small, sharp spurs that can cause severe irritation and pain on areas of skin that come in contact with the plant. However, despite its sting, nettle is a valuable wonderful medicinal and a tasty, nutritious edible. There’s much to love about this wonderful herb!

Nettle grows in temperate regions all over the world. The entire plant can be utilized for food or medicine. Young nettle leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach. (Old plants may cause kidney damage when eaten raw.) Nettle is a valuable edible, as it is an excellent source of vitamins- including A, C, D and K- and minerals, like choline, lecithin, silica, and iron. The aerial parts are utilized for teas and tinctures and the roots are medicinal.

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Herb Profiles

Delightful Dandelion

Updated May 14, 2022

Dandelion (Taraxacum officiale) has a bad reputation with lawn lovers, who often obsessively attempt to eradicate it from their well-groomed grassy patches. But, for herbalists, foragers, and plant lovers, this common weed is a delight as it is edible, medicinal, and a valuable source of food for insects.

Dandelions are truly one of my favorite plants and I get so excited when I see them starting to come up each year. I love our dandelion packed yard and can’t help but cringe when I see people mowing down or spraying pesticides over big patches of them. Aside from being so cheerful and adorable, they are incredibly useful. In fact, all parts of the plant can be utilized in making food and medicine.

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Herb Profiles

Purple Dead Nettle: More than an Invasive Plant

Updated May 20, 2022

Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium Purpureum) is a lovely and useful herbaceous plant. It grows abundantly around our site in Southwest, Michigan and I see it popping up all over this area. It can be found throughout the US, Canada, and many other parts of the world. This hardy weed thrives in lawns, roadsides, and can grow in a variety of conditions. It is also frost tolerant. It is most commonly found growing in loamy or sandy soils, but will also do well in clay soils. It is an self-seeding annual. Each plant produces lots of seeds (it’s estimated to be several hundred to several thousand) and those seeds can germinate year round.

Purple dead nettle is considered to be an “invasive species” due to its ability to thrive and reproduce in many environments. In fact, much of the literature available on this plant is geared towards methods of eradication, including pulling up the herb to control its population. It is interesting to note that purple dead nettle seeds germinate better when the soil is disturbed. “Invasive” plants like purple dead nettle often grow in places where humans have disrupted the natural balance.  These plants are simply trying to restore equilibrium to their environment. When we pull and spray these plants we are further disturbing the areas where they grow and actually increasing their ability to return and spread.

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Herb Profiles

Violet (Viola odorata)


Updated April 24, 2022

Violets are one of the first plants to come up in the spring, bringing a pop of cheery color to the forest floor as it wakes from its winter slumber. In addition to being incredibly beautiful, these lovely little plants have a variety of uses in food, medicine, and skin care.

There are over 200 species in the Violaceae family that can be found growing abundantly in temperate and tropical areas all across the world. In North America, the violets start appearing in late February and generally bloom by the end of April.

In this post, I’ll be discussing, Viola odorata, which grows in the Midwest region of the United States, where I currently reside.

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Herb Profiles

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a lovely little plant that grows abundantly in meadows and along roadsides here in Southwest Michigan and in temperate regions across the world. It is a favorite among farmers, foragers, and herbalists.  In his book, Back to Eden, herbalist, Jethro Kloss, called red clover “one of God’s greatest blessings to man.” And for good reason! This wonderful legume is edible, medicinal, and extremely useful in the garden.

We planted red clover heavily this year at the Augusta Creek Permaculture site to aid in the transition from lawn to forest garden as it helps to force out unwanted weeds and grass. It also loosens poor, rocky, or clay soil and fixes nitrogen. We chop and drop it throughout the season to prepare areas for planting and feed other plants. It is a low-maintence, easy to grow perennial and is a favorite cover crop among farmers because it easily adapts to a variety of climates, grows quickly, and has few issues with diseases and pests.

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