True Alkanet — The Saga

Alkanna_tinctoria_flowers

Before me stood two test-tubes, one full of olive oil, the other containing pure grain alcohol.  I dropped a fragment of Alkanet (Alkanna tinctoria) root into each, and watched as the fragments drifted down, trailing in each case a tail of bright red pigment, like barnstorming biplanes emitting colored smoke at a county fair, eliciting excited “ahs” from a…

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The Lucky Buckeye

Aesculus_horse_chestnut_flowers

For the home herbalist, the easiest and safest way to use the plant is by making a poultice of the seeds. RICHO CECH On the walk home from school, there on the corner of Hutchinson and River, stood a stately tree with heavy arms holding aloft a rounded crown of green, an English Horse Chestnut tree that made in…

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A Deeper Look at Forest Roots

Sandy loam, a substance created by the breakdown of minerals (rock) mixed with the breakdown of carbon (tree or grass detritus). Sandy loam is what we all want, because it is the best all around substrate for growing the plants we love the most: Goldenseal, Ginseng, Black and Blue Cohosh, Wild Yam, Twinleaf, Bloodroot, Stonerooot, Mayapple — the entire…

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Origins of Aloe vera

There in Misali, I was discovering my own circular route, from childhood familiarity with Aloe vera in America, to the splendid diversity found in Africa, and eventually… back home again. RICHO CECH The popular story goes that long ago, somewhere in North Africa, grew a smallish yet handsome, robust and edible aloe, plump of leaf and yellow of flower.  This unique plant…

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