Friday, 15 April 2011


I will be away for two weeks, but still hope to post during my hols. Thanks for the support so far guys! :)

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Number 10 - Marsh Mallow

Yes, the Marsh Mallow is in fact a plant, Althaea Officinalis.

In making the sweet marshmallow, the root was previously used. Using the root extracts in order to flavour treats  has been practised since ancient Eygptian times. The plant can be used to treat kidney stones and irritable bowel syndrome. It can also help external skin problems such as ulcers and boils. It can be gargled to help mouth ulcers.

It is used in middle-easten foods such as halva, and can be taken as a tea or as an extract.

Marshmallow leaves which can be boiled in water and taken as a tea. (Source unknown. Product of G Baldwin & Co.)

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Number 9 - Green Tea

Recently increasing in popularity in the West, Green tea is produced from the Chinese plant Camellia sinensis.

Teas that can also be created with this plant are white tea, green tea, oolong, pu-erh tea, black tea and kukicha tea. It depends on the maturity of the plant in which tea is made, however kukicha tea is made with branches.

The tea has many health benefits including helping decrease cholesterol  levels, blood pressure, body fat and weight, and possibly helpful to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and cancer. However, it can cause liver damage, and it is more harmful when digested on an empty stomach.

It is most popular in teas; in premade mixtures and teabags. It also can be used in flavouring food.

Twinings Green Tea (Source Unknown. Product of Twinings)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Number 8 - Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley, Convallaira majalis, is a very popular garden plant.

It can be used to treat high blood pressure. It is also a potential fertility treatment: Sperm can detect the scent of the lily and are attracted to it.

However, the lily is poisonous and must be prepared properly. It is administered through dried leaves, as a tincture, or as an extract.

Lily of the Valley perfume (Source Unknown. Product of Crabtree & Evelyn)

Number 7 - Dandelion

A surprisingly useful herb, the Dandelion (Taraxfum officinale) is the weed we see in our back gardens and parks, and often remove with weed killers.

It can be used to treat liver and gall bladder problems, and its leaves can treat skin conditions such as eczema. The leaves can also be eaten in salads. However, like many herbs, it can affect other medications being effective.

It can be applied as a tincture, can be eaten as it is, but can also ingested as a tea which has blood purifying properties. It is also sold commercially as this tea, and also in the popular soft drink, Dandelion and Burdock.

A box of dandelion tea (Source Unknown. A Product of Clipper.)

Monday, 11 April 2011

Number 6 - Silphium

The first historical entry for the blog is the ancient Silphium plant. Its seed were used as currency in the North African town of Cyrene. A possible member of the now extinct Ferula genus or as a type of Giant Fennel. Its identity is unknown.

It was used as a method to cure many aliments, such as fevers, aches and pains, but it was also used as a form of contraception, similar to the modern use of 'the Pill'.

Its seeds were shaped like elongated hearts, and it is possible this is the origin of the heart symbol we use today.

A coin from Cyrene depicting a Silphium flower and stalk. (Source:1889 edition of Principal Coins of the Ancients. Wikipedia) 

Number 5 - Deadly Nightshade

Deadly Nightshade, or Atropa belladonna, is the most poisonous known plant in the western hemisphere.

This plant was originally used in Italy in eye drops to dilute the pupil in the eyes of women, producing a desired look at the time. The plant eventually stopped being used for this purpose as the toxicity of the plant lead to blindness. The plant can also be used in treating gastrointestinal issues, and some elements can be used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, even today.

The plant is administered in a powder, a tincture or as a decoction. The plant made an appearance in the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas, due to its association with witches and their spells.

Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas with a jar of Deadly Nightshade (Source: The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton & Disney)

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Number 4 - Devil's Snare

Our first fictional herb entry is Devil's Snare from the first Harry Potter novel. A possible Latin term for the plant could be Diaboli laqueis.

This plant uses its tentacle-like vines to strangle it's prey, not unlike a snake.

In escaping the Devil's Snare, expose some light upon the plant. It will shrivel and recoil from the light. Casing any lumos spell, or even shining a torch, will cause the Snare to release you.

Harry, Ron and Hermoine fighting the plant. "Devil's Snare, Devil's Snare. It's deadly fun, but will sulk in the Sun." (Image by thepolestar. Devil's Snare is the creation of J.K. Rowling).

Number 3 - St. John's Wort

For our third herb, we'll be looking at the commonly used St. John's Wort, hypericum perforatum.

This herb is used as a treatment for depression and other mental illnesses.

It is dangerous to take St. John's Wort alongside any medically prescribed anti-depressants, as it can cancel out the effects of either medicine, making the taking of them pointless. This is extremely risky depending on the diagnosis. It can also cause photosensitivity.

St. John's Wort can be taken in tablet/capsule form, or as a tea.

St. John's Wort tablets, taken once a day. (Source Unknown.  Product of Kira)