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Herbs
Search for "herbs" on MOFGA.net

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Lemonbalm
Lemonbalm. Photo by Jean English for the Fall 2008 Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

Articles
Mark Widrlechner, a horticulturist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service crop gene bank at the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station in Ames, Iowa, and scientists from the Center for Research on Botanical Dietary Supplements (CRBDS) are screening 180 germplasm accessions of St. John's wort (Hypericum) for biologically active compounds.

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LemonbalmThis was a summer for appreciating volunteers. I didn’t necessarily have a lot of people volunteering to help weed or mulch, and I wasn’t dedicating the summer to all the great efforts of MOFGA volunteers – though their efforts deserve such a summer as we just had. Rather I was appreciating a bounty of plants that reseeded themselves from the year before – my plant volunteers.

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Cilantro and corianderCilantro is an herb that arouses extreme passions. People either love it or hate it. It has a pungent, parsley-citrus flavor and aroma that makes people salivate with anticipation or completely avoid the dish that contains it.

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Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a member of the nightshade family and can be grown as an annual in northern New England. In its native habitat in India (including 6000 feet high in the Himalayas), northern Africa and the Middle East, this herb grows as a semihardy evergreen shrub. Ashwagandha, also known as winter cherry, has green-yellow flowers that bloom in midsummer in Maine.

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Sacred basilSacred basil or holy basil is native to India and is valued greatly for its medicinal properties and spiritual significance in Ayurvedic medicine and among people who worship the Hindu deities Lakshmi and Vishnu.

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ChickweedVarious species of chickweed grow around our planet. A member of the Caryophyllaceae (Carnation) family, chickweed grows as an annual and reseeds easily in cool, moist soils. Its Latin genus name, Stellaria, means little star, a reference to its white, star-shaped flowers.

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LovageIt’s not too late to love lovage. That mostly unknown, old-fashioned herb (Levisticum officinale) looks and tastes a lot like celery, although it’s stronger in both growth and aroma. In fact, a little goes a long way no matter how it’s used.

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Herb gardenThe spring equinox approaches, and a new growing season begins! The calendar published here details the steps we took in planting Blessed Maine Herb Farm’s gardens last spring and can guide you with your own herb garden. Blessings!

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Blue cohoshBlue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), a member of the Berberidaceae family, is a long-lived herbaceous perennial that is native to the moist woodlands of the upper Appalachian Mountain Range. This plant is sensitive to light and therefore must grow in the understory, preferably of a mixed hardwood forest.

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Black cohosh flowersIn the early ’80s, while studying the native medicinal plants of North Carolina, I first met black cohosh growing wild in the Appalachian Mountains. Its 4- to 5-foot-tall, white flowering spires (racemes) were stunning to come upon in the deciduous forests. I immediately took a liking to this plant.

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Corinne MartinCorinne Martin began learning about the use of herbs in healing in response to daughter Lara’s asthma, which began in early childhood. In addition, when Lara was 12, a car accident left her with a seizure disorder, and the asthma attacks had become increasingly severe. At one point, Lara was on a respirator, and medical personnel told Martin she couldn’t live through the night, that they could do nothing more for her daughter.

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Equisetum arvenseSpring shoots of horsetail have just begun to come up from the earth. In the early morning on a small hill in a sandy field, we give thanks with intentions for the harvest. In a chorus of light and redwing blackbirds, we sing for the earth, offer prayers and leave offerings.

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PassionflowerSome of the stresses humans are experiencing today are more complex than they were 100 years ago. The threat of nuclear war is once again in the forefront of many people’s minds. Poverty, violence, racism, sexism and many other oppressive situations continue to cause much suffering to people around the world.

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Illustration by Sue SzwedThe genus Schisandra (also known as Schizandra) includes 25 species of beautiful, deciduous vines belonging to the Schisandraceae family (Magnolia vine family). All but one are native to the forests of Northern China, the Russian Far East, Korea and Japan.

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Spotlight on lavender! to celebrate and show off this fragrant and lovely herb, Ellen Spector Platt has written a small, easy-to-read book.

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Herbs in Bloom: A Guide to Growing Herbs as Ornamental Plants
by Jo Ann Gardner

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The tall taper of common mullein stands out in the garden when the stalk is covered with yellow blossoms. This plant is considered to be a weed by some and a valuable medicinal plant by others. Various Verbascum species are native to Europe and Asia. Verbascum thapsus, common mullein, has naturalized itself extensively in the United States and Australia and commonly grows in poor, hard packed soil in places such as highway embankments and clear cut areas.

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If you have a cold frame or other sun-filled, wind-protected, unheated structure, consider setting aside space for herbs that won’t survive in the open. You may find yourself enjoying some pleasant surprises this winter.

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If parsley is the workhorse of the herb family, chervil is its refined, sophisticated cousin. A native of Europe and western Asia, and naturalized throughout North America, Anthriscus cerefolium is a member of the family Umbelliferae, as are carrots and parsley. It features lacy leaves that echo the shape of parsley but are far more delicate. Its refreshing flavor hints at licorice. Of the two cultivars, one has flat leaves and the other has curled leaves.

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