Friday, July 25, 2008


JUSTICIA PECTORALIS A tender, aromatic, spreading ground cover to 2-3' tall from the upper Amazon. Normally grows along sandy stream banks in rich soil. As curia, it is an aromatic additive to a Venezuelan lickable tobacco preparation called chimó. In Central America and the Carribean Islands, it is dried and snuffed or smoked along with Cannabis sativa as an aphrodisiac. JUSTICIA PECTORALIS v. stenophylla A lower growing, yellowish-green leafed variety of the previous listing, this one with the flavor of vanilla and anise. An admixture to Amazonian epená snuffs by the Waiká Indians. This variety is much more difficult to grow than the previous. Very tender.
ALTERNANTERA LEHMANNII PICURULLANA-QUINA: An easy to grow (though tender to frost) tropical Ayahuasca admixture of the Ingano Indians of Colombia. It is a small shrub to 2 or 3' tall with reddish/green leaves (red on the bottom and green on top) and red stems with ¼" white, star-ball like flowers.
RHUS DIVERSILOBA POISON OAK: A very pretty shrub or vine with shiny dark green, leathery leaves turning bright red in the fall. Reputed to be a stimulant, but I haven't tried it. Foliage is very poisonous to the touch for many people. The smoke from burning poison oak can cause blindness or lung complications. I used to be very susceptible to poisoning from this plant until an old Indian woman who lived down the road from me told me how people in her tribe kept from being affected by it. She said that in the early spring they would chew the stems. (Usually I treat with caution any such information from people whose ancestors my ancestors had tried to annihilate, but we were long-time friends.) Since I was sensitive to it (not to mention not being as macho at the thought as I would have liked) I devised my own method: In the early spring I would take small new-growth buds and put a few in peanut butter sandwiches. These I ate one a day for a week. Now, even though I live in Poison Oak Land, I get it rarely, and then only mildly. If you try any method such as the two previous, you're on your own; don't say you saw it here. California Indians used the stems in their basketry; the black dye produced from the bruised stems was also used in tattooing. If their ritual of tattooing was anything like that of today's, they were probably whacked out of their skulls anyway. The sap was used to remove warts. As an aside, "poison oak" is a term the local rednecks in this part of California use to describe "outsiders" who have recently (within the last 50 years) settled here. Hardy and easy to grow. #008000
"Good planets are hard to find." - Steve Forbert
APOCYNUM CANNABINUM HEMP DOGBANE: A hardy, easy to grow plant in most of N. America. Prefers most, sandy soil in full sun or part shade. The reference to Cannabis is only to the fibrous content of the stems. Medicinally, this is a strong heart stimulant that dilates renal arteries, a diuretic, emetic and laxative. Contains MAO inhibiting ß-carbolines. Poisonous: use with care. CATHARANTHUS ROSEUS MADAGASCAR PERIWINKLE: Easily grown, tender tropical ground cover with 1½" white to rosy flowers and dark green, glossy leaves. Containing more than 70 alkaloids, this plant is the subject of investigation in the treatment of cancer, leukemia, diabetes and Hodgkin's disease. Grow in part shade and moist, rich soil. Protect from freezing TABERNAEMONTANA DIVARICATA BUTTERFLY GARDENIA, TAGAR: Tropical shrub to 2-4' with glossy green leaves and evening scented white flowers. The bitter roots are used medicinally in Ayurvedic medicine and for their ibogoid alkaloids. In traditional Thai medicine, extracts of this plant are used as sedatives and analgesics. Grow as a house plant in part shade with rich, moist soil and warmth.. TABERNANTHE IBOGA IBOGA: A tropical shrub with panicles of small white /pink flowers. From West African rain forests. The root bark is used as a magical plant and in initiatory rights of secret cults such as the Bwiti. Ibogaine, the chief alkaloid in this plant is a MAO inhibitor, has psychedelic properties, and in low doses is capable of producing aphrodisac effects. Large doses can be fatal. Illegal in the US. Not available at this time.
ILEX GUAYUSA GUAYUSA: A strong stimulant with a high percentage of caffeine (up to 7%). From the rain forests of Ecuador. Also used as an ayahuasca additive and internal bodily cleanser (because of its emetic properties) by some shamans before ayahuasca use. Requires more warmth and humidity to grow than Ilex paraguariensis, a similarly employed species. Tropical. ILEX PARAGUARIENSIS MATÉ, PARAGUAYAN TEA, YERBA MATE: Maté is one of the most popular stimulating beverages in South America. Contains caffeine (up to 2%) and theobromine and is somewhat stronger than coffee or tea. Maté is a tonic, nervine, diuretic and stimulant. A holly, this plant is often kept trimmed to shrub size and should be grown in a tub in all but the most southerly situations. It survives temperatures down to about 25° and grows quite well here in coastal Northern California. I have specimens over 10' tall at the nursery. Give young plants some shade. Must be kept moist and doesn't like extreme heat. Needs well-drained acid soil. It is evergreen and diœcious. ILEX VOMITORIA They say it restores lost appetite, strengthens the stomach, giving them agility and courage in war, &c…" - Catesby, Natural History…, 1754 YAUPON, CASSENA: A large evergreen shrub or small tree native to Southeastern US. A strong emetic, used ceremonially as the "black drink" by the Cherokee Indians. Also contains caffeine.
ACORUS CALAMUS SWEET FLAG: From Central Asia, but now distributed throughout all Northern temperate zones, this hardy, water-loving plant is slightly sedative (in Ayurvedic and Thai medicine), a stimulant (in American Indian medicine and the US Pharmacopœia), is used to stimulate the gastric and salivary glands universally. In larger doses, it is considered an aphrodisiac. And at 10 times the dose used by the Cree Indians as a stimulant, it has been reported to be hallucinogenic. Popular in herbal baths and formerly used as a beer and liqueur flavoring. Contains asarones which may be carcinogenic. ACORUS GRAMINEUS SWEET FLAG: A low growing version (8-12") of the previous. Used by the Akha of Thailand for stomach ache. Used in Chinese medicine to treat gastritis and depression. Grow in moist soil (or in ponds) in full sun. COLOCASIA ESCULENTA TARO, ELEPHANTS EAR, DASHEEN: Easily cultivated tropical Asian herb grown for its edible tuber and young shoots which are eaten as a winter vegetable. Grow in rich, moist soil or in ponds in sun or part shade. Has large heart-shaped green leaves on long stalks.
ARALIA CALIFORNICA SPIKENARD, CALIFORNIA GINSENG: Used by California Indians as a mild stimulant, adaptagen and sexual tonic. Grow in moist, rich soil and part shade. Large (up to 10' tall).
ELEUTHEROCOCCUS SENTICOSUS SIBERIAN GINSENG, CI-WU-JIA: A very hardy, 3-10' shrub with stems covered with sharp prickles. Grows in sun or part shade in well-drained soil. Used for 1000s of years in Chinese medicine as an adaptagen. Probably the most scientifically investigated Chinese herb.
PANAX GINSENG REN-SHEN, ASIAN GINSENG: Panax means "cure-all" and gingseng means "essence of the earth in the form of man." Widely considered to be a superior adaptagen and multi-purpose tonic and aphrodisiac. Grow as the following. PANAX QUINQUEFOLIUM XI-YANG-SHEN, AMERICAN GINSENG: Native to the cool, humus-rich woods of Canada and N. US, ginseng is widely used as a tonic and adaptogen. Its uses are somewhat different than Asian ginseng, being considered more cooling and more appropriately used by the elderly and those living in the tropics. With the long, hot dry summers we have in CA, this has been a difficult plant to grow here. Might work best in the high northern coastal mountains. Prefers rich, moist, acid, hardwood forest soil and about 90% shade. Dislikes clay and sandy soils. Harvested after 5 or 6 years.
"For man… as for the flower, the supreme triumph is to be the most vividly, most perfectly alive." - D. H. Lawrence, Apocalypse
CAULOPHYLLUM THALICTROIDES BLUE COHOSH: Oxytoxic, emmagogue, antispasmodic, diuretic, demulcent. Used by some Indian women to facilitate childbirth. Once used to treat chronic rheumatism. Grows easily in heavily shaded woods or simulated forest conditions. Very hardy. Many valuable uses in the hands of a trained herbalist or midwife. Once called 'blue' or 'yellow' ginseng. PODOPHYLLUM PELTATUM MAYAPPLE: Considered poisonous if any part of the plant besides the ovoid, yellow fruit (which is edible, though laxative) is ingested. Purgative. Antimitotic: the root was used externally on venereal and other warts and on skin cancers by the Penobscot Indians. In more modern times, a derivative, Podophyllin, was used as a treatment of choice for the removal of warts and small skin cancers. Native to Eastern North America. Grow in moist, shaded, humus-rich soil. Has a large round, though deeply lobed, solitary leaf on a stem to 1' tall with one white flower followed by a 2" edible, egg-shaped fruit.
SYMPHYTUM GRANDIFLORUM YELLOW-FLOWERED COMFREY: A lower growing version of comfrey with dark green crinkled leaves and yellowish flowers. SYMPHYTUM UPLANDICUM COMFREY: A very useful, hardy, plant with extremely large leaves (to 2' long) and small purple flowers on 3' tall, gradually less leafy stems. Plant it where you want it to be forever; it's very difficult to get rid of, growing from any small root sliver. Contains vitamin B12, is very rich in protein and nutrients and is very mucilaginous. Once called 'knitbone' because the pounded roots, applied around a broken bone, would solidify and form a cast. Until recently it has long been considered a very healing herb. Medical authorities now recommend not using comfrey internally because of a liver toxicity.
"Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased; Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow; Raze out the written troubles of the brain; And, with some sweet oblivious antidote, Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff, Which weighs upon the heart? " - Macbeth
LOPHOPHORA WILLIAMSII PEYOTE: A small blue-green button-cactus from Texas and N. Mexico used by the Hiuchol Indians-and others-for its hallucinogenic effects. Contains mescaline. Illegal in the US. Not available at this time. "There is another herb… called peiotl… it is found in the north country. Those who eat or drink it see visions either frightful or laughable; this inebriation lasts two or three days and then ceases. It is a sort of delicacy of the Chichimecas, it sustains them and gives them courage to fight and not feel fear, nor hunger, nor thirst, and they say it protects them from any danger." -Friar Bernardino de Sahagún, 1560
TRICHOCEREUS PACHANOI SAN PEDRO CACTUS: A large, columnar, ribbed, nearly spineless cactus from Peru. Grow in full sun in well-drained soil in areas where temperatures do not fall below the mid 20ºs. Native shamans who use this cactus prefer to use only the skin and the green material immediately below (they discard the outer wax-like cuticle and the white, pithy interior). The remaining green mass (either fresh or dried) is then boiled down for many hours. Usually 1 gallon of water plus one lemon per one foot of cactus (one dose) is boiled down to ½ cup. It grows quickly. Sold for ornamental purposes only. Contains a useable quantity of mescaline. TRICHOCEREUS PERUVIANUS PERUVIAN TORCH CACTUS: Similar in appearance and growth habit to T. pachanoi, but with much larger spines and is more tender. Contains 3 to 4 times the quantity of mescaline as the previous species.
CANNABIS SATIVA HEMP, MARIJUANA: With a million uses; this is quite probably mankind's first cultivated plant. Now illegal in the US because it is worth much more on the black market than as a garden plant. Very easy to grow in almost any situation. Likes sun and moisture and rich soil but will tolerate varied conditions. Native to Central Asia. Cerebral sedative, analgesic, narcotic, antispasmodic. Used for glaucoma and for the relief of pain of the terminally ill. The stem fiber provides hemp for rope, cloth and paper products. Seed makes a fine oil. Not available at this time.
HUMULUS LUPULUS HOPS: Hops are hardy vines that can grow to 30' in length. They grow best in rich, moist soil in full sun. They are diœcious (separate male and female plants) and the vines die down to the ground each fall and resprout in the early spring. Aside from the well known properties of flavoring and preserving beer, hops are used to induce sleep, ease nervous disorders and improve the appetite. Medicinally, hops are: nervine, tonic, soporific, diuretic, anodyne, antibiotic and sedative. Hops also contain estrogen (don't tell your beer-guzzling, macho buddies). The information floating around that hops shoots can be grafted onto marijuana roots is bull. The following are all commercial varieties of female plants. Three general categories of hops plants are available:
Selected seedlings: Types derived from mass selection.
Hybrids: Types derived from intentional cross breeding.
Mutants: Triploids derived from more complex breeding processes.
You can expect 1-2 lb. of dried hops (the flowers are used) from the established vines. Also, the term "-acid" is used in the following descriptions as a term generally connoting bitterness. The higher the -acid number, the more bitter the hops.
CLUSTER (old early) Early maturing, high yielding vigorous plants. The standard bittering hop in the US and much of the world since 1900 until recently. -acid 5-8 with a citrus aroma.
CLUSTER (late) Same as the preceding listing but a week or two later maturing.
FUGGLE Early maturing, relatively low yield English variety selected in 1875. Widely used until the 1980s when replaced by Willamette. -acid 4-6, aroma type.
HALLERTAUER MITTELFRÜH Traditional German Noble Aroma variety. Once the standard for lager beers, now largely replaced by Hersbrucker. -acid 4-6.
HERSBRUCKER Similar to Hallertauer; not quite as highly regarded, but easier to grow.
PERLE Seedling of Northern Brewer. Noble Aroma characteristics plus bittering. Early. -acid 8-11.
SAAZ A traditional fine aroma hop from Czechoslovakia. Premium aroma, -acid 5.
TETTNANGER Traditional German Noble Aroma hop for lagers. Early maturing, with relatively low yields, but one of the finest hops for aroma. -acid 3-5.
"The worst thing about some men is that when they are not drunk they are sober." -William Butler Yeats
BREWERS GOLD Cross of a selected wild Manitoba female and an English male commercial hop in 1919 (sounds like a PBS miniseries). High yields and medium-to-late maturing. -acid 7-9. Bittering.
BULLION Similar in characteristics to Brewers Gold but maturing about 10 days earlier.
CASCADE Bred in Oregon from open pollinated Fuggle seed in 1956. Medium-to-late maturing with excellent yields. Major commercial variety for aroma. Spicy and pungent with a pleasant bitterness. -acid 4-7.
CHINOOK Bred in the US as a cross from Peham Golding in 1985. High yields with medium-to-late maturing. -acid 13-14. Bittering w/pine-like aroma.
GALENA US bred from open pollinated Brewers Gold in 1968. Good yields. Rivals Cluster as the most popular bittering hop. -acid 12-15.
GOLDEN 'Sunbeam' Ornamental hybrid aroma type with bright golden leaves. Vigorous growth in filtered light or part shade. 1995 release by the USDA.
NUGGET US crossbred from Brewers Gold in 1970. A bittering hop, heavily spiced and herbal. Heavy producer of large flowers. -acid 13-16.
"Klaatu nikto barada."
LIBERTY A triploid Hallertauer cross developed at the Oregon State University Hop Research Station. German lager type. -acid 3.5 - 5.5.
MOUNT HOOD A tetraploid Hallertauer crossed with a selected diploid male = triploid. Used by commercial breweries as a Hallertauer equivalent with improved agronomic characteristics. Good aroma. -acid 4-6.
WILLAMETTE Tetraploid Fuggle crossbred in 1967. First successful commercial triploid. High yields. New substitute for Fuggle. -acid 5-7. Aroma type.
"The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his clients to plant vines." - Frank Lloyd Wright
LONICERA CAERULEA 'edulis' EDIBLE HONEYSUCKLE: This is the only unscented honeysuckle listed in this catalog. It is deciduous, has bright green leaves to 2" long, ½" yellowish white flowers and dark blue edible fruit. It's very hardy, being native to Eurasia. LONICERA ETRUSCA WILD ITALIAN HONEYSUCKLE: Very fast growing vine with frangrant yellow and white flowers in clusters on the ends of the stems. Summer blooming. LONICERA FRAGRANTISSIMA A native US (Southern States) honeysuckle bush with small white, very fragrant flowers in early spring. Very hardy and easy to grow. LONICERA HECKROTTII 'gold flame' A hardy, semideciduous vining honeysuckle with blue green 2" leaves and large spikes of 2" red-purple outside, yellow inside, spicy fragrant (much stronger scent after sundown) flowers. Needs rich, acid soil. A very old hybrid probably between L. americana and L. sempervirons. Blooms May to September. LONICERA HILDEBRANDIANA GIANT BURMESE HONEYSUCKLE: This honeysuckle is spectacular, but it's not reliably hardy where temperatures drop below freezing often, although mature specimens have survived temperature dips to the low 20ºs. The evergreen leaves are leathery, dark green and up to 6" long. The flowers are sweetly fragrant, white to yellow to orange and up to 7" long in pairs along the stems. Has black 1" diameter fruit. Actually, this honeysuckle looks more like a tree than a vine. It thrives in rich soil in part shade or sun in coastal or Southern California and other near subtropical regions. From Southeast Asia. LONICERA JAPONICA 'Halliana' HALL'S HONEYSUCKLE, JIN-YIN-HUA: Called the "silver and gold flower" in China This hardy, easily grown evergreen vine or ground cover has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for 1500 years. "Hall's" variety was developed in New York in 1862 by George Hall as a more vigorous variety of this species. Medicinally, a tea of the flowers is considered febrifuge, astringent, depurative, antidiarrhetic and diuretic. In practical terms, it is widely used in China to treat colds and the flu. As with most honeysuckles, it grows quite well in sun or part shade in relatively moist, acid soil, although it will survive almost anywhere. It flowers all summer with multitudes of very sweetly scented 1½" white, turning yellow (or silver turning gold) flowers in pairs along the stem. The black berries are somewhat poisonous, if you're leery of such. LONICERA JAPONICA 'aurea-reticulata' VARIEGATED HONEYSUCKLE: Similar to its parent L. japonica 'halliana' but of smaller growth habit and the leaves are veined with yellow, turning pink in the fall. LONICERA JAPONICA 'purpurea' PURPLE or JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE: A climbing evergreen vine with 2" dark green upper side and purple under side leaves and white and red-purple 1" scented flowers. Black berries. LONICERA PERICLYMENUM 'Graham Thomas' ENGLISH WOODBINE: A very fast growing, hardy vine with terminal whorls of 2" yellow, fragrant flowers. Deciduous. Has leathery, 2-3" oval green leaves and transparent red fruit. LONICERA TELLMANNIANA A shade loving honeysuckle with terminal whorls of fragrant 2-3" orange to yellow to red flowers. The leaves are 3" leathery and dark green. Blooms June to August, deciduous. Hybrid between L. sempervirens and L. tragophylla. Grows well in shaded situations.
SAMBUCUS NIGRA "The whole plant has a narcotic smell and it is not prudent to sleep under its shade." - Good's Family Flora, 1854 BLACK ELDER, RIXUS, IXUS, AKTE: A hardy shrub or small tree (growing to a maximum height of 15-30') employed in medicine and magic since the days of ancient Egypt. Diaphoretic, laxative, antispasmodic, diuretic, emollient. It has been used to make wine (berries and flowers), as a skin wash, in cosmetics, as a fine wood. All parts of the plant are said to have valuable uses. 8" white flower clusters in mid-spring. The fruit, though small, is edible. Prefers rich, moist soil. Used in witchcraft. Also used in non-witchcraft. A great plant. In selling poisonous, drug or witchcraft plants, I have often been criticized by "moralistic" members of the religious right and left, and have developed a considerable intolerance for the ignorance and hypocrisy of these people and their doctrines of superficial abstinence, apocalyptic license, martyred suffering and banal prudishness. Perhaps I should explain a little further: In my life I have seen no evidence of the existence of a sentient superior being that commands worship. I believe that all beings are equal in a right to life and death. Beyond this, life can be a bitch... or not. We are all being propelled blindly through space on this huge chunk of rock called Earth. Sometimes when I go to the top of a mountain and lie down, with my back to the earth, I feel like I need to hang on not to be spun off into space. Religion, to me, is a coward's approach to life: "If I make enough rules, then life will have meaning or at least easily recognizable guideposts and I won't have to think any longer or figure it out for myself." The tree of knowledge has been chopped down and burned to roast marshmallows. It certainly wasn't put to fire for the light. It truly amazes me that throughout history, man (or woman) has constantly worshipped his/her "true" god(s) or goddess' only to have it (or them) replaced by others as the previous are proven false. This has happened over and over. There's a lot of money to be made in religion. SAMBUCUS NIGRA 'purpurea' PURPLE-LEAFED ELDER: Basically the same plant inspiring definitely the same sentiments as the previous listing. A bit smaller in growth habit with deep purplish/bronze, green leaves and stems and white flowers with rose-colored stamens giving a pink effect. Nice.
CATHA EDULIS QAT, JÂT, CHAT, KHAT, ARABIAN TEA: Of all the plants listed for sale in this catalog, this is probably the most controversial (in legal terms). Although it is listed in the latest edition of The Sunset Garden Book as an ornamental, I don't know how much longer I'll be able to offer it. There are people in power in this country who think that the effects of chewing Chat are-how do I say this diplomatically-undesirable. According to a grant sponsored by the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control, the main subjective effects of Chat use are "euphoria, improved intellectual efficiency and alertness." The active principles are norpseudoephedrine and cathinone. It is non addictive, but excessive use can produce symptoms of amphetamine psychosis. A synthetic over-the-counter diet drug related to cathinone is phenylpropanolamine. The "War on Chat" has already been entered by the US, most noticeably by the invasion of Somalia a few years ago, partially in an effort to gain control of the Chat trade. How the citizens of this country tolerate the illegalization of any plant I find mind-boggling. I can understand a society needing to have individual actions (murder, violence, theft, abuse, etc.) be illegal, but I can't understand the prohibition of the cultivation and personal use of any plant, be it khat, tobacco, opium, coca, pot, etc. Well, I mean I do understand the economic benefits of such a prohibition: a select few people become extremely wealthy off of illegal sales. But I don't understand the acquiescence of the populace. It appears that drug laws are enacted to create criminals, not to remedy social problems. To further digress: I live in what is termed "the emerald triangle," three counties in Northern California that grow a large quantity of marijuana. In the summer it's a war zone. The military and police are constantly overhead in helicopters, the Highway Patrol routinely stop anyone in profile, and police wander the hills trespassing and searching without warrant wherever they want. Civil rights are non-existent, all because some people are growing a plant which produces fewer deleterious effects than beer. Everyone knows of this abuse of power, but, I'm afraid, we also acquiese. Oh,well. Back to Khat. While the Muslim religion (predominant in the geographical area where Khat is used) bans alcohol and other drugs "harmful" to the body, it doesn't ban Khat. The illegalization efforts that have been made in the past in this area have all been by the occupying colonial powers (the English and Italians). To the Muslims, Khat is known as "the flower of paradise." It grows easily to a large shrub in much of California and the South. Mature specimens I have observed have survived temperatures down to about 15º. It is widely adaptable to different conditions and soils but seems to grow best in rich, moist, well-drained sandy soil in full sun (coastal) or light shade (inland). In its natural habitat, Yemen and Ethiopia, it grows to tree size on hillsides at about 6000' elevation. Normally, the leaves are not harvested until the plant is 4-5 years old, after the plant matures and flowers. It is customary to drink coffee or sodas while chewing the young, tender leaves and stems. Sometimes bubble gun is chewed simultaneously (especially by Yemeni college students). The taste is somewhat astringent, especially if older, lower quality leaves are used. The effects (lasting from 2-3 hours) range from a mild increase in energy to a full-blown speed-like high, depending, of course on quality and amount consumed. Khat is never grown from seed in its native habitat because, as with most commercially grown drug plants, much effort has been made to develop higher quality strains. Generally, the more red on the stems and veins of the leaves, the stronger the Khat is considered. Our plants were cutting grown from a known active strain.
"Why, of course, people don't want war… Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; niether in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor, for that matter, in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country." -Hermann Goering
CHENOPODIUM AMBROSIODES EPAZOTÉ, AMERICAN WORMSEED, MEXICAN TEA: A very strongly flavored and scented annual or perennial (in mild areas), native to Mexico but naturalized throughout N. America, Europe, and Asia. It grows in part shade or full sun to 3-4' and spreads a bit too easily by seed for tidy gardeners. Human and animal antihelminthic (for round and hook worms). Culinary (tastes best if leaves are gathered from plants grown in the shade). Epazoté means "skunk stench" in Aztec.
ACHILLEA DECOLORENS GARDEN MACE: A hardy, low growing edible yarrow with 8-12" stalks of small cream/white flowers. Not ornamental or invasive, but tasty. ACHILLEA MILLIFOLIUM TRUE YARROW, MILFOIL: Delicate, gray-green, feathery leaves and clusters of small white flowers on long stems. Quickly spreading by roots and seeds. Stimulant, tonic, diaphoretic, vulnerary and aromatic. Used for colds if taken at the onset of fever. Used in witchcraft for divination and spells, being called "the Devil's plaything." Also used for venereal and menstrual problems. Navajo Indians drink a tea of the plant or chew the stems before intercourse for its aphrodisiac properties. Stronger substitute for hops in beer brewing. Plant with caution; yarrow is a very hardy plant and spreads very rapidly. ACHILLEA MILLIFOLIUM 'pink cerise' PINK YARROW: Same as the previous listing but with showy pink to rose flowers. ACHILLEA TOMENTOSA WOOLLY YARROW: A hardy, low growing, slowly spreading downy mat with 8-12" stalks topped by bright yellow flowers. Nice ground-cover for dry areas.
ANTHEMIS NOBILIS ROMAN CHAMOMILE: A hardy, very pleasantly aromatic, slowly spreading ground cover with white and yellow flowers used as a tea (bitter) with strong sedative properties. Often used for nervous stomachs. An old friend of mine once said, "This is good enough to be illegal." It's good, but not that good. Also called Chamaemelum nobile. Sun or part shade.
ARTEMISIA ABROTANUM SOUTHERNWOOD, OLD MAN, LAD'S LOVE, MAIDEN'S RUIN: A southern wormwood, from the South of Europe. A woody shrub with feathery gray-green leaves and inconspicuous yellow-white flowers. Highly scented. Used as a stimulant tonic and an emmenagogue or as a moth repellent (in French: garde-robe). A culinary herb in Italy. Once considered to be an aphrodisiac; 19th century poets used this plant as a clandestine symbol of homosexuality. Grows to 3-4' and likes full sun. ARTEMISIA ABROTANUM cv. TANGERINE SOUTHERNWOOD: Similar to the previous listing but with a sweeter, much more pleasant scent and a larger, less dense growth habit (to 4-6' tall). ARTEMISIA ABROTANUM cv. CAMPHOR SOUTHERNWOOD: Very much like southernwood but with a strong camphor odor and slightly grayer leaves. ARTEMISIA ABSINTHUM There fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp….And the name of the star is called Wormwood." -Revelations 8:10, 11, The Christian Bible WORMWOOD, ABSINTHE: One of my favorite herbs. Very bitter, contains thujone. Once used as a stimulant for cerebral exhaustion, as a stomachic, antiseptic, antihelminthic. Marketed commercially in Absorbine Jr™, a liniment for sprains; it's also the main ingredient in Absinthe, the internationally outlawed alcoholic distillation that "inspired" many of the Impressionist Era and late 19th Century artists and writers (Van Gogh, Degas, Gauguin, Poe, Toulouse-Lautrec, Oscar Wilde, Rimbaud, Picasso, &c). Written records of the use of wormwood date back to the Assyrians of 600 BC. An old Judea-Christian legend has it that Wormwood first sprang up in the trail of the serpent as s/he left Eden. The genus, Artemisia, is named for Artemis, the Greek goddess of wild nature. Large doses of this plant are poisonous: an early symptom of this poisoning is purple-tinted vision. The hardy, 3-6' plant is easily grown in almost any situation, preferring full sun.
"I'll die young, but it's like kissing god." - Lenny Bruce (on his addiction)
ARTEMISIA AFRA AFRICAN WORMWOOD: A half-tender, gray, lacy-leafed 3-4' shrub strongly scented. Said to repel dogs. Used in traditional African medicine for fevers, bronchial problems and malaria. ARTEMISIA ARBORESCENS Delicate gray feathery foliage with stalks of small cream colored flowers on a 3-5' tree-like form. Very impressive as an ornamental, but tender to about 25º. Full sun. Native to the Mediteranean where it is used as a stomachic. ARTEMISIA ARBORESCENS x ABSINTHUM 'POWIS CASTLE' ARTEMISIA: A cross between wormwood and A. arborescens with the aroma and taste of the former and a growth habit similar to (but grows only to 2' tall and is somewhat prostrate) the latter. Easy to care for and a beautiful accent plant. ARTEMISIA CALIFORNICA CALIFORNIA SAGEBRUSH: A large (to 4-5' tall) dense shrub with small, needle-like light gray-green leaves very highly and pleasantly scented. Resembles much more a southernwood than a sagebrush. Grows very quickly to its full height and to an equal width. ARTEMISIA DOUGLASII CALIFORNIA MUGWORT: A hardy, highly scented, rapidly spreading, single-stemmed plant with silvery gray, slightly lobed leaves. Popularly used in pillows to stimulate dreams. Take the caution to isolate it to keep it from spreading; it can quickly become a weed -not that weeds are bad, of course: calling a plant a weed is a lot like calling a person a nigger. It says much more about the speaker than the subject. ARTEMISIA DRACUNCULUS FRENCH TARRAGON: Delicate acidic-anise flavored popular culinary herb that cannot be grown from seed: it is reproduced from root divisions taken in the fall or early spring. Also, its flavor is lost upon drying; buying dried tarragon is a waste of money. At best it's roughage, at the worst it has been artificially flavored by the packer. Grows well in pots in a sandy soil mixture in part shade or sun. Dormant in the winter and is somewhat tender. ARTEMISIA FRIGIDA MOUNTAIN BALL SAGE: A very ornamental, hardy, native (Central US) artemisia growing in low mounds of silvery, finely cut foliage. A tea from the leaves was used by the Blackfoot for coughs. The whole plant was used by the Arapaho Indians in magic ceremonies. ARTEMISIA INDICA INDIAN MUGWORT: A quite handsome though troublesome (ain't that the way), hardy mugwort originally from Japan. Large green and white mottled leaves in the spring turning soon to dark green, with downy undersides the rest of the year. Grows 1-2' tall and spreads very rapidly. ARTEMISIA LACTIFLORA GHOST PLANT: A tall plant (3-6') with large spikes of small cream colored flowers. Large green, deeply lobed leaves with a slight mugwort scent. Very suitable for fresh or dried flower arrangements: beautiful when in flower. Grow in full sun. From China. ARTEMISIA LUDOVICIANA 'silver king' Many 3-5' long stems of silvery white, finely cut leaves on a hardy, sun-loving plant. Good for wreaths and dried flower arrangements. Spreads somewhat by underground runners. This and other varieties of Artemisia ludoviciana were used in smudging and for intestinal problems by American Indians. ARTEMISIA LUDOVICIANA 'silver queen-Cox' A variety from Cox Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio. Has ¾" wide gray, entire leaves 3-4" long on slowly creeping singular stems. No scent. Hardy. ARTEMISIA LUDOVICIANA 'Valerie Finnis' This silvery leafed artemisia reminds of me of a person I used to know: somewhat shy and retiring, with not a lot of visible energy, but very beautiful and intense in one-to-one relationships where love was involved. ARTEMISIA MARITIMA LEVANT WORMSEED, SANTONICA: The flowers of this plant are one of the oldest and commonest antihelmintics in Western medicine. Hardy perennial shrub to 1' tall. ARTEMISIA PONTICA ROMAN WORMWOOD, VERMOUTH: The most delicate looking (though hardy) of the wormwoods. Grows in a small (1' tall), slowly spreading mound and has feathery gray-green leaves. Once used to "strengthen" the stomach. Ingredient of Vermouth. ARTEMISIA PYCNOCEPHALA SANDHILL SAGE: From the beaches of California, this 2' tall artemisia has all white, soft leaves on sprawling stems, with "pointed heads" of small yellow flowers. Has a taste resembling dry celery (I taste all plants that come through the nursery, especially the ornamentals. People are too often willing to dismiss the possibility that something has other attributes than that on the surface. Very beautiful. ARTEMISIA REDOWSKII SWEET SAGE, RUSSIAN TARRAGON: A much maligned plant because some herb and seed companies (either out of ignorance or deceit) have tried to pass it off as French tarragon. It tastes nothing like French tarragon, though superficially the plants resemble each other. If you think of it as the Plains Indians* did-sweet sage-it acquires an identity and value of its own. Its sweet leaves and seeds were used as seasonings and ceremonially by many tribes. When dried, it has a pleasing, persistent fragrance. Grows to 3-4' and is hardy and somewhat rangy. Formerly called A. dracunculoides. While I'm on a rant: Whenever the term Russian is used in reference to an herb or vegetable, you can be 99% certain that the plant has nothing to do with geographical Russia. This is a rascist, elitist term applied by people, of those tendencies, to plants considered of lower quality, by people obviously unqualified to perform such qualitative judgements. It is popular in this country to think of Russians as inferior people.
*I use the term "Indian" in this catalog to refer to the people living in North and South America before the 15th century European invasion. A close friend of mine (an Assinaboine Indian) says she's tired of being called a person of color or native or aboriginal or any other condescending euphemism. She says, "Indian is easier to use since it's an established term (perhaps the people in India should change their name), and that, after all, it doesn't matter what you're called, it's how you're called." ARTEMISIA SCHMIDTIANA 'silver mound' A hardy, ornamental, low growing (to 1' tall), slightly spreading plant from Japan. Very pretty with feathery, small, silver leaves. ARTEMISIA STELLERIANA OLD LADY, DUSTY MILLER: A hardy, ornamental Artemisia with heavy, deeply lobed, white, somewhat downy leaves. Low growing, spreading. ARTEMISIA STELLERIANA 'silver brocade' Similar to the preceding listing, but a bit more civilized (lower growing, not as many flower stalks... you know, not so wild and sexual). ARTEMISIA TRIDENTATA GREAT BASIN SAGEBRUSH: Sagebrush is a very aromatic shrub with 2" flat, three lobed gray leaves. This is the state flower of Nevada-the perfect plant for those homesick for the high Western desert. The smell of wet sagebrush after a desert rain is unforgettable: when you're speeding down I-80 in the middle of the night and one of those fleeting desert thunderstorms hits, the sagebrush takes over all your senses and doesn't give them back until you reach the next truck stop. Nevada is my second favorite state. It is at the same time the Nation's most and least abused land. It is under constant attack from the military (nuclear explosions, poison gas depots, bombing ranges) and Corporate America (strip mining, poisonous and nuclear waste dumps, Las Vegas) and yet, when you are standing out in its desert, you know that this land could easily destroy all indigenous human life in a matter of days, if the conditions were right. Not that I think human life is any less valuable than any other life form, I don't. But sometimes it's necessary for me to remember that I'm just a part of this earth and have relatively little control over the totality of the existence of life. Sagebrush was used as a treatment for colds and sore eyes. The seeds were eaten raw or as pinole. According to Nevada Indians, "sinners" must bathe in sagebrush to cleanse their "sins." ARTEMISIA VERSICOLOR CHAIN-LINK ARTEMISIA: An unassuming Artemisia with narrow, wiry, grayish-white leaves (like many-fingered claws) with a maroon tinge to the tips. Grows to 1-2' in full sun. ARTEMISIA VULGARIS MUGWORT: Once called the "Mother of Herbs" (mater herbarum). For centuries it has been used as a tonic nervine, to season fatty meats, to make beer, repel demons and venoms, &c. This variety is very hardy and grows to 8' tall in any soil and doesn't spread much by runners like other mugworts. It has dark green, deeply lobed leaves with light undersides and purplish stems.
CALEA ZACATECHICHI THLE-PELAKANO, "DREAM HERB": Easily grown subtropical shrub (probably hardy to the high 20ºs) with clusters of small white flowers. Used medicinally for stomach problems. Called "the leaf of God" (Thle-pelakano) and used as a tea (of the dried leaves) for divination and to clarify the senses by the Chontal people of Chiapas, Mexico. After drinking the tea, the dried leaves are smoked while resting in a darkened room. Has been reported to increase dreaming and/or the recollection of dreams.
"Dreams are necessary to life." - Anaïs Nin
CHRYSANTHEMUM BALSAMITA COSTMARY, ALECOST, BIBLE LEAF: A once popular Victorian plant, probably because of its mild, sweet, pleasantly minty aroma and in spite of it being a rather invasive, untidy spreader. It is an easy to grow, hardy perennial and in late summer sends up flower stalks 3-4' tall. Used in Victorian times to flavor beer and as a bookmark for Bibles. CHRYSANTHEMUM PARTHENIUM FEVERFEW: A hardy, strongly scented plant to 2-3' tall, with many small daisy-like flowers that are used for migraine headaches, fevers, "hysteria," colds, and "to enable women to have children." It's an old antidote for using too much opium. Tonic, aperient. Cuts grease when added in small quantities to food. Reported by biologists at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, to be a source of melatonin. CHRYSANTHEMUM ROSEUM PERSIAN PYRETHRUM: The flowers of this plant are the source of the insecticide pyrethrum, an effective "organic" bug killer. A hardy perennial to 1-2' tall, it grows best in moist, well drained soil. Pink to scarlet flowers. Also called Pyrethrum roseum.
COSMOS ASTROSANGUINEUS CHOCOLATE COSMOS: Small shrub (1-2' tall), growing from small tubers and hardy to about 20°. Beautiful 2" dark brown/red, chocolate scented flowers. It's a sign of the times (or the sign of some former time) that this flower is today called "Chocolate Cosmos" instead of by its translated Latin name, "Blood Star." As with many plants from the tropics cultivated in cooler regions, it will bloom more if grown in poorer, sandy soil instead of its rich native soil.
ECHINACEA ANGUSTIFOLIUM 'BLACK SAMPSON' CONEFLOWER: 2" violet flowers on 2' long stems with long thin leaves. Native to Central and Southwestern US. The dried root is said to be a strong immune system stimulant. Used by the Sioux Indians as such. Grow this in calcium-rich, well-drained soil in full sun. ECHINACEA PURPUREA PURPLE CONEFLOWER: Large red-purple flowers with large, wide deep green leaves on 3' tall stems. Strong immune system stimulant and used by Plains and Eastern Indians as such. ECHINACEA PURPUREA 'white swan' A shorter (to 2' tall) white-flowered version of the previous listing.
EUPATORIUM PERFOLIATUM BONESET: Diaphoretic, tonic, stimulant; used by Indians and early immigrants as the first-choice herb for colds and the flu, or any disease involving fever. It is an easily recognizable plant with the 3-4' stems appearing to perforate pairs of large, opposite leaves. The common name, boneset, refers not to the "setting of bones," but to the plant's ability to cure what was once called a "bone-breaking" fever. It grows in full sun or part shade and goes dormant in winter. EUPATORIUM PURPUREUM JOE PYE WEED: A tall, hardy native of Eastern US, found wild in moist meadows (once called "Queen of the Meadow"). Large clusters of creamy white to light purple flowers atop a hollow round stem with whorls of vanilla scented leaves. Used as a tonic, diuretic, stimulant, antirheumatic and to remove kidney and gall stones. Dormant in winter.
HELICHRYSUM ANGUSTIFOLIUM CURRY PLANT: A hardy, dense, sun loving shrub with narrow silver leaves with a strong aroma of curry. In the summer it is covered with small yellow button flowers. Very easy to grow, deer proof, and makes a wonderful hedge if pruned regularly. Does not taste like curry: it's quite bitter.
HIERACIUM PILOSELLA HAWKWEED, HÅRET HØGEURT: A hardy, low-growing, hairy-leafed plant with yellow, dandelion-like flowers. Independent reports are that several joints of these leaves smoked are "consciousness expanding." Also used for gastrointestinal problems by N. American Indians.
INULA HELENIUM ELECAMPANE: 4-6' tall stems with 3-4" yellow sun-following flowers and very large (to 1' wide by 3' long) leaves and a large taproot. Looks almost tropical, but is very easy to grow anywhere in the US. It's an antiseptic, bactericide, antitusive, expectorant, tonic. Used in cough remedies (for bronchitis), as a wash for skin problems, as a sweet condiment, and in flavoring wines and liqueurs (ingredient in Benedictine and Absinthe).
SANTOLINA CHAMAECYPARISSUS GRAY SANTOLINA, LAVENDER COTTON: A hardy, very whitish, gray-leafed plant to 2' tall with ½" deep yellow button flowers in the summer. Perfect for low hedges; may be trimmed to almost any shape. Insect repellent, deer proof, drought resistant, vermifuge, antispasmodic. Very fragrant. Sun. SANTOLINA VIRENS GREEN SANTOLINA: Similar to gray santolina, but with deep green, somewhat less dense leaves and chartreuse flowers.
SOLIDAGO ODORA SWEET GOLDENROD: Large plumes of very bright golden flowers (in the late fall) on 3-4' tall stems of anise scented and tasting 2-3" narrow leaves. Tonic, astringent, laxative. Hardy native of the South East US.
SPILANTHES ACMELLA TOOTHACHE PLANT: A creeping, vigorous tropical plant with blood-red tipped, yellow cone flowers. Parts of the plant contain isobutylamides that have the property of numbing the mouth when chewed. Used in Ecuador for relieving tooth aches. Medicinal uses also.
STEVIA REBUNDIANA STEVIA: A very tender tropical perennial whose leaves are 250 times sweeter than sugar and without sugar's calories. From Brazil and Paraguay, it is used traditionally for hypoglycemia and as a digestive aid. The powdered leaves are used culinarily. Very difficult to grow.
TAGETES LUCIDA PERICÓN, YAHUTLI, MEXICAN TARRAGON: An anise flavored, tender, evergreen shrub (in mild climates) used culinarily and in smoking mixtures. Likes warm, well drained soil and full sun. Has small yellow flowers and 2" long narrow green leaves. Good tea. It is used in an inebriating smoking mixture called ye-tumutsáli with Nicotiana rustica by the Huichol Indians of Mexico. A good strain not grown from seeds.
"Ce que public te reproche, cultive-le, c'est toi." -Jean Cocteau
TANACETUM VULGARE TANSY: A quite large (4-5' tall), hardy, somewhat sprawling, fern-like leafed plant with small, bright yellow button flowers. Very aromatic: used as an antihelminthic, insecticide, emmenagogue and abortificant. Spreads rapidly (if grown in moist soil-stays in a clump if grown in dry soil). Sun or part shade. TANACETUM VULGARE 'crispum' CURLED TANSY: An ornamental, "civilized" version of common tansy, to 2' tall and looking much like a bed of ferns. Not much scent.
TUSSILAGO FARFARA COLTSFOOT: A hardy, easily grown perennial with dandelion-like yellow flowers on bare stems in early spring before any leaves emerge. Low growing and spreads readily by underground stems and seeds. Native to Europe, W. Asia, Africa and naturalized in the US. Expectorant, demulcent, anti-inflammatory. Used for coughs commercially and in "anti-smoking" herbal tobacco. Likes moisture.
TURBINA CORYMBOSA OLOLIUHQUI, COAXIHUITL, XTABENTÚN: A perennial, tender (keep from freezing), rapidly growing vine with many small (1-2" long) white trumpet flowers and dark green heart-shaped leaves. A strained cold water infusion of 60-100 ground seeds was used by Oaxacan shamans. Be aware, though, that in 1620 the Catholic Church declared the use of Ololiuhqui to be heresy and ordered all known plants destroyed (God knows where I found this one…). Likes warmth, moisture and rich soil. Grows quickly in the right situation. Medicinally, the seeds were used as ecbolics and uterine hemostatics because of their high content of ergot-like alkaloids. XTABENTÚN is the Mayan name for T. corymbosa and the name of a commercially available liqueur in Mexico distilled from fermented honey made by bees from the flowers of this plant. Previously classified as Rivea corymbosa and Ipomoea sidafolia.
"A little poison now and then: that makes for agreeable dreams. And much poison in the end, for an agreeable death." -Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
ARMORACIA RUSTICANA HORSERADISH: Very large (to 2' long) leaves with a vigorous, spreading growth habit: growing from any slight piece of root. Culinary, stimulant, rubefacient, aperient, diuretic. Strong enough to make any hot-pepper lover cry. Popular in Eastern Europe (where it is native) for renewing strength after sexual exhaustion.
"I write for the madmen… and the angels." -Henry Miller, Nexus
CYPERUS ESCULENTUS, var. sativa CHUFA, ZULU NUTS, EARTH ALMOND: From N. Africa, but easily grown in the US, these sedge-like plants produce small, edible tubers that are sweet and nutty. These tubers have been found in Egyptian tombs over 3000 years ago. Grow in wet or boggy soil. Harvest the nuts in late fall. CYPERUS PAPYRUS PAPYRUS, PAPER PLANT: A large sedge (to 5-6' tall) once grown along the Nile in Egypt as a source of fibers for paper making. The stems were also chewed for their sweet juice. Grow in water. Semi-tropical.
ELEOCHARIS DULCIS WATER CHESTNUT, LING: A rush-like plant from China. A semi-hardy aquatic plant, the bulb-like root is used as a food, fresh or cooked in Asian cuisine. This is the traditional Chinese water chestnut. Easy to grow in ponds or very wet soil. Very productive.
ARCTOSTAPHYLOS UVA-URSI KINNIKINICK: A low growing, hardy, evergreen shrub used in herbal smoking mixtures. Grows best in part shade in acid, well-drained soil. Diuretic and astringent.
GAULTHERIA PROCUMBENS WINTERGREEN: Low growing, hardy evergreen shrub whose leaves and bright red berries have a very strong (wintergreen) flavor. Astringent, stimulant, aromatic, tonic. Since the oil is quickly absorbed by the skin, it is used for rheumatism. Slow growing in part shade and moist, acid soil.
SCENTED GERANIUMS Scented geraniums are a varied group of perennial herbs or shrubs coming from South Africa, mostly during the Victorian era. They all have curiously scented leaves of various forms and most have small (under 1") pink or white flowers. They are hardy to the mid-to-high 20ºs. Weather, time of day, time of year and growing conditions all influence the sometimes elusive perfumes of these plants. The following varieties are offered:
APPLE P. odoratissimum: Light green, 1-3" round leaves and small white flowers. Apple fragrance.
APRICOT Large leaves and large, dark rosy flowers.
ATTAR OF ROSE A hybrid with compact growth used in the perfume fields of France.
CLORINDA Large scented leaves and large pinkish flowers.
GINGER P. torento: Large lavender flowers and 1" rounded leaves. Scent of fresh-cut ginger.
LEMON P. crispum: Tiny crinkled leaves and pure lemon scent. The "finger bowl" geranium.
LEMON BALM P. mellissinum: Lemon balm scent and a vigorous growth habit.
LIME P. x-nervosum: Strong lime fragrance and large (1-2") white, pink and red flowers.
MABEL GRAY A hybrid with a strong lemon verbena scent and lavender flowers. A bit difficult to grow.
NUTMEG P. fragrans: Strong spice scent, small light gray leaves and small white flowers. Nice.
NUTMEG 'variegated' Same as previous with white variegated leaves.
ORANGE P. citriodorum: Strong citrus aroma with white, pink and maroon flowers.
PEACH Small round crinkled leaves variegated creamy yellow and green. Elusive, fine peach scent.
PEPPERMINT P. tomentosum: Large velvety leaves and small white flowers. Large plant for part shade. Very strong peppermint scent.
PINEAPPLE Medium size leaves with a pineapple scent.
ROSE P. graveolens: A very old, traditional variety with a heavy rose scent.
SKELETON ROSE 'Dr. Livingston' Deeply cut green leaves and a lemon-rose scent. Looks like a slug got to it. Vigorous.
SORREL P. acetosum: Unscented leaves with a pleasant sorrel-like taste. Edible.
STRAWBERRY A very old hybrid once called "Countess of Scarborough." A small plant with small green, delicately scented leaves and pink flowers.
SWEET MIRIAM Rose scented hybrid. Large pink flowers from winter to summer.
GINGKO BILOBA GINGKO, BAI-GUO: The last surviving genus of a plant family from the Mesozoic era (240 million years ago), it is a large, slow growing deciduous and dioecious tree. Hardy and easy to grow, being very resistant to pests, fire and even air polution. It is said that an old gingko tree near ground-zero in Hiroshima in 1945 sprouted new leaves a few months after the atomic bomb blast. The seeds are used traditionally for lung problems and the leaves are used for circulatory problems and as a memory improver. Grow in full sun. In America, male trees are preferred because they are "less messy." In China female trees are preferred because they are more useful. Seeds are poisonous in larger quantities.
EPHEDRA SINICA MA-HUANG: From China, this is the pharmacologically active ephedra, containing useful quantities of ephedrine. Used as a stimulant and an anti-asthmatic. Grow in full sun in well drained soil. Speed (amphetamine) can be synthesized from ephedrine. Illegal: No longer available. EPHEDRA VIRIDIS MORMON TEA: This is the high desert variety of ephedra from Nevada. Contains tannin and a small amount of ephedrine. This ephedra is slow growing but can become a small tree. It is a very primitive plant without apparent leaves. It's hardy and prefers dry, alkaline soil but grows fine in the hard clay gardens here at Theatrum Botanicum. Adaptable. Reports that this species are too low in ephedrine to be useful are probably due to the plant being harvested incorrectly: the alkaloid content of all ephedra plants peaks in the fall just before the first frosts.
ARUNDO DONAX GIANT REED: A very tall (to 20') perennial grass hardy in much of the US. Native to the Mediterranean region. A spectacular, easily grown grass with some interesting substances in its roots. Pan's flute. ARUNDO-VARIEGATED GIANT REED: A very ornamental version of the previous with longitudinal stripes of white and/or yellow.
COIX LACHRYMA-JOBI JOB'S TEARS: A 3-5' tall ornamental tropical clump grass grown for its bead-like seeds which are made into magical rosaries and are edible and used for making bread and beer. Grow in rich, moist, well drained soil in sun or part shade.
CYMBOPOGAN CITRATUS TRUE LEMON GRASS: A 2-5' tall tropical clump grass with a lemon flavor. Give it very rich, well drained soil in full sun for best production. Will survive to about 25°. Great as a tea and used in Southeast Asian cooking. Known only in cultivation; cannot be grown from seed. CYMBOPOGAN NARDUS CITRONELLA GRASS: Similar to C. citratus but with a less complex (lighter) lemon flavor. Produces flowers and can be grown from seed. Possibly the progenitor of C. citratus. Protect from freezing.
HIEROCHLOE ODORATA SWEET GRASS: A short, spreading native Midwestern US grass with the scent of coumarin (vanilla). The dry woven grass blades are burned by some Indians and Indianophiles in purification rights. Very easy to grow in almost any situation.
AQ1: A potent strain of Phalaris discovered in Italy. Grow this variety in part shade or full sun with a good deal of moisture. Likes clay.
AUSTRALIS: This and the following variety were rejected by the Australian government Agricultural Dept. because of too high a content of alkaloids.
UNETA: See previous listing.
PHALARIS ARUNDINACEA REED CANARY GRASS: Rapidly spreading (by runners), hardy clump grass of ornamental and ethnobotanical interest. Native to Europe, Asia and N. America. Grow in full sun with moisture for full production. In Phalaris, the highest alkaloid content is in the new growth.
TURKEY RED STRAIN: Selected for stable alkaloid content when dried.
VARIEGATED cv. 'picta': An old-time ornamental variety of the previous. White or cream and green pinstripe leaves. 2-3' tall. Likes part shade. There is something humorous to me about selling ornamental versions of such useful plants.
YUGOSLAVIAN: Selected for maximum alkaloid content when cut fresh.
PHRAGMITES AUSTRALIS REED: A clump grass particularly high in some useful chemicals in the rhizones.
SACCHARUM OFFICINARUM SUGAR-CANE: Large tropical perennial grass (to 12' tall) widely grown for the production of sugar. Almost bamboo-like in appearance with 2" wide, 3' long leaves. Requires 18 months to produce sugar canes but may be easily grown as a specimen plant anywhere without solid freezes. This plant represents the first instance in the history of humanity where one ethnic group (Christian European colonialists) capitalized, so to speak, on large scale slavery for its cultivation.
"It is dangerous to enlighten, a crime to love, mankind." - Marquis De Sade
HAMAMELIS VIRGINIANA WITCH HAZEL: Astringent, haemostatic, and the forked branches of this large, hardy shrub were used as divining rods. "Among the Maya we found a great number of books, written with their characters, and because they contained nothing but superstitions and falsehoods about the Devil, we burned them all…" -Bishop Diego de Landa, 1561 "This plant, about which was formerly draped, by those versed in the occult arts, a veil of deep mystery, and whose forked branches were used as a divining rod while searching for water and ores, grows profusely in the damp woods of Canada and the US, flowering in October and ripening its fruit the following summer. The many varied uses of a watery infusion of Witch Hazel bark were fully known to the aborigines, whose knowledge of medicinal flora has been strangely correct as since proven." - Charles Millspaugh, American Medicinal Plants, 1892
ERIODYCTION CALIFORNICA YERBA SANTA: An aromatic evergreen shrub with many small white to purple flowers in top clusters. A tea of the leaves was considered by CA Indians as a specific for asthma, colds, and chronic infection of the bronchial tubes. Listed in the US Pharmacopœia for these applications. It is hardy to the teens and is native to dry sandy sunny hillsides in Oregon and California.
HYPERICUM PERFORATUM ST. JOHN'S WORT: An aromatic herb with many magical properties attributed to it (drive away evil spirits, purify the air). Grow in regular garden soil; likes calcium. Vulnerary, sedative, anti inflammatory, antidepressant, antiviral, antibiotic. A very valuable medicinal herb. Can sometimes cause photo sensitization of the skin. A low growing, very hardy native of Europe and West Asia.
BELAMCANDA CHINENSIS SHE-GAN, BLACKBERRY LILY: In Chinese medicine the root is used to reduce swelling and pain in the throat, coughs, bronchitis, asthma, and related throat disease. Easy to grow almost anywhere. Has an ornamental orange flower with purplish spots. Slightly poisonous: do not use if pregnant.
CROCUS SATIVUS SAFFRON: A wonderful small herb that has been used and valued for over 1000 years. Medicinally, it is stomachic, antispasmodic and sedative. Once considered to be an aphrodisiac, probably because of these medicinal properties. Saffron, the spice, is the orange stigmas of the purple flowers (it takes about 60,000 to make a pound of spice) that appear for a short period in the fall. The taste is unique, though often herb companies will try to pass off the safflower as saffron because it has a similar color. Semi-hardy, growing best in sandy soil in full sun.
IRIS VERSICOLOR BLUE FLAG: A common, hardy plant with large blue or purple flowers. Often used for eruptive skin diseases caused by spleen and liver problems. Stimulates the flow of saliva and gastric juices. Grows naturally in marshes but adapts well to garden soil.
CEDRONELLA CANARIENSIS "BALM OF GILEAD," CANARY BALM: Not the real Balm of Gilead, but of a similar scent, which is very citrus-balmy. Hardy to the low 20ºs. Nice looking and pleasantly scented shrub to 2-3' tall.
COLEUS AMBOINICUS SPANISH THYME, CUBAN OREGANO, INDIA BORAGE: A highly fragrant, strong flavored plant used for seasoning. The taste is unique. It definitely doesn't look or taste like an oregano or thyme or borage (or the common coleus, either), having succulent, slightly hairy, light green leaves up to 1½" across. An easy potted plant but don't freeze. Also called Plectranthus amboinicus. East Indies. COLEUS AMBOINICUS, variegated Similar to the previous listing but with larger leaves with their outer margins white.
"Raise less corn and more hell." - Mary Ellen Lease
GLECHOMA HEDERACEA GROUND IVY: A hardy, fast growing, aromatic creeper used for centuries as a stimulant tonic (for digestive disorders), diuretic and vulnerary. Also used in beer and ale brewing (before and instead of hops). Soothes coughs. Makes a fine indoor hanging plant. In my more Bohemian days, I lived in Berkeley in a warehouse which also housed 100s of old pianos, 1000s of rotting Chinese bitter melons, a ballet school and a roofing company. I was publishing a weekly newspaper at the time and had to live in my "office." Anyhow, one of these plants thrived (though I didn't) with what little light filtered down through a single high skylight. A hardy little sucker. GLECHOMA HEDERACEA, variegated Same as the previous listing but more ornamental with white variegations on the leaves.
HEDEOMA VIMINEA JAMAICAN PENNYROYAL: A tender small shrub with small light green leaves and very small white flowers in winter. Grows well in pots and has a pronounced pennyroyal scent and taste. Also sometimes called Satureja viminea.
HYSSOPUS OFFICINALIS HYSSOP: A hardy small aromatic woody shrub with narrow dark green leaves and either white, pink or dark blue flowers. Tonic, expectorant, stomachic carminative. Used in treating bronchitis and colds, improving the appetite, and in the liqueur Chartreuse.
IBOZA RIPARIA IBOZA: An African medicinal plant with small white flowers in the winter and aromatic, fuzzy, scalloped green leaves. A tender indoor or greenhouse specimen to 4' tall with a strange smell. Also called Tetradenia riparia.
"Exagerate the essential... leave the obvious vague." -Van Gogh
The smell of lavender reminds me of my great aunt's bathroom when I visited her as a child. It's said that smell impresses the memory more than any of the other senses. Another somewhat related smell that impresses me is that of gin, which still causes, through no fault of its own, my stomach to wretch -it was the first alcohol I was sick from-but that doesn't really relate to lavender except that some lavenders smell a bit like turpentine which smells a bit like gin. If this last paragraph seems a little rambling, consider that it was three o'clock in the morning as I wrote it (you thought people who ran small nurseries kept bankers' hours?) and the catalog was almost finished; I'd been saving this section for last because I'd often had a problem with differentiation in this genus. It seems that in every nursery that I visit in my never ending search for new interesting varieties, I see French lavender labeled as Spanish lavender (or vice-versa) or Lavandula vera labeled as Lavandula spica, and so on... Had I loved lavender the way I love horses or women or dogs (the relationship is lateral-time and circumstance, not hierarchy, dictate the preference), this wouldn't be a problem; I'd have enough experience to just know. The nurseries that do know often seem to be wrong. Actually, does any of this really matter to anyone besides taxonomists? Did you ever invite one to a party? A taxonomist, that is… Sure, names are important: I was once threatened with jail by the local DA because I couldn't come up with a name for my son who was born at home. Never invite DAs to parties, either-but that's another story. Anyhow, I guess my great aunt was a bit wacko (bless her soul) and quite a difficult person to get along with. In the end, in fact, she would only talk to cats; humans ceased to have any value to her. I never did find out why she liked lavender so much-she rarely talked to me, and then never about lavender, only cats. All lavenders love the sun and a light soil with much calcium. They require little water once established and are definitely deer-proof.
LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA ENGLISH LAVENDER: Also called Lavandula vera and L. officinalis. Narrow gray-green leaves and spikes of small lavender flowers on a 2' plant. Fine scent-this variety is what most people think of as lavender. I'm not selling it this year. What you will buy under this name from other nurseries is a seedling that could very well be called by one of the following L. angustifolia varietal names... or you could name it yourself. The horticulturists who made the following selections chose well. All are hardy. The following are seven varieties of what is commonly called "English lavender":
Nana Alba: DWARF WHITE: A very pretty small plant (about 1' tall) with short spikes of pure white, sweetly scented flowers.
'Jean Davis': PINK-FLOWERED: A small (1-2' tall) nicely rounded plant with mild, sweetly scented light pink flowers.
'Martha Roderick': A compact plant hardy to about 0° & covered with bright lavender flowers.
'Munstead': DWARF ENGLISH: Bright lavender flowers on what was originally called a "dwarf" lavender, but since the introduction of much smaller lavenders, more properly called a "medium sized" lavender. Growth to about 18-24" and 2-3' across.
'Pastor's Pride': A medium sized plant with bright dark lavender, sweetly scented flowers with the distinction of blooming in two flushes during the year.
'Rosea': A medium sized plant with light pink flowers. A bit more fragrant and with a slightly larger growth habit than 'Jean Davis'.
'Sawyers': A perfume lavender with thick, felted leaves that appear white. Large wands of deep purple flowers.
'Sleeping Beauty': Long spikes of dark lavender flowers above narrow gray leaves. Also called "Carolyn Dille." Maybe Carolyn is out of favor with the powers-that-be or maybe she liked this "Sleeping Beauty" image more.
Green French Lavender: A quite strongly scented plant (upright to 2-3' tall) with light green, dentate leaves and deep purple flowers that bloom throughout the year where climates are mild. This and the following gray French lavender are perhaps the most tender listed here.
Gray French Lavender: Similar to the previous listing, but with gray leaves and a more sprawling growth habit (to about 1' tall).
LAVANDULA DELPHINENSIS An heirloom lavender from the turn of the last century (1900). At that time it was one of the main varieties used in perfume production. Has many lavender, fine scented flowers above relatively compact gray leaves. Grows about 2' tall. LAVANDULA HETEROPHYLLA SWEET LAVENDER: Possibly a cross between L. angustifolia and L. dentata. Very sweet scent. LAVANDULA x INTERMEDIA (hybrids) The following lavenders are hybrids of a more recent design, in most cases created for commercial perfume production:
'Abriali': Long, narrow gray leaves with long spikes of deep lavender flowers. Highly scented.
'Dutch': Deep purple flowers on an early blooming, 2-3' tall shrub with narrow gray-green leaves. Grows rapidly.
'Fred Boulin': Light gray leaves with long spikes of dark purple, fine scented flowers. To 2' tall. Extended blooming season (into winter).
'Fulgate': Compact gray narrow leaves with very fragrant dark lavender flowers.
'Goodwin Creek': Large dark purple flowers above very large, almost velvety, softly dentate gray leaves. A cross of L. heterophylla and L. dentata.
'Grappenhall': Very long gray leaves with long spikes of large, fragrant, light lavender flowers. A tall plant to 3'.
'Grosso': Abundant long spikes of deep violet flowers above a low growing mound of 1" long narrow gray leaves. A commercial strain from the Vaucluse District of France. Named for some guy, Grosso: not a good choice for a name. No offense...
'Lisa Marie': Lavender flowers with narrow, almost woolly (x-L. lanata) 1½" gray leaves on a compact bush to 1'. Developed by Ken Montgomery, a past Director of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden, and named after either his or Elvis' daughter.
'Provence': (L. angustifolia x L. latifolia) Large gray leaves and tall spikes of very large flower heads of very nicely scented light lavender flowers. Developed for commercial lavender oil production in France.
LAVANDULA LANATA WOOLLY LAVENDER: Large light gray (almost white) velvety leaves with spikes of dark purple, strongly scented flowers. A very nice contrast on a plant to about 2' tall. LAVANDULA LATIFOLIA A low growing (to 1') mound of wide gray leaves with many long stems of strongly scented lavender flowers. Fall blooming. LAVANDULA LUSITANICA WILD PORTUGUESE LAVENDER: Very short, narrow gray green leaves and tight flower cones with 2 narrow purple flags on top and almost black flowers. Grows to 2-3' tall and is strongly scented.
"When a flower grows wild, it can always survive." - Dolly Parton
LAVANDULA PEDUNCULATA WILD SPANISH LAVENDER: Probably the precursor of most of the Spanish lavender varieties available. This one grows wild on the hillsides of the Gredos Mountains in Spain. Very similar to commercial Spanish lavenders, but with shorter terminal flower spikes. LAVANDULA PINNATA FERN LAVENDER. A unique lavender with lacy leaves and spikes of deep purple flowers (usually splitting into three parts at the top of the spike). Very tender and with little scent. LAVANDULA SPICA
Spike Lavender: A very large, coarse, woody shrub (3-4' tall x 4' diameter) with wide grayish leaves and a great many long spikes of very aromatic lavender flowers. Blooms almost year round at the nursery.
White Spike Lavender: Large spikes of pure white, strongly scented flowers above a rather large plant of gray green leaves. Long blooming.
LAVANDULA STOECHES SPANISH LAVENDER: The following listings are all similar in that they have a coarser scent than most other lavenders, they have a top "cone" flower head with "flags" on top of the cone, and they have narrow leaves and an upright, bushy growth. This is the species believed to have been used by the Romans in their baths and medicine. All Spanish lavenders are highly scented, but with, some say, not as sweet a scent as other lavenders. They prefer intense sun. Also see L. lusitanica and L. pedunculata:
Dwarf Spanish: A very cute small plant (1-2' tall) with short gray leaves and many, many small purple flowers.
'Quasti': A medium sized (2-3' tall) Spanish lavender with large purple flowers.
Spanish: A large (3-4' tall) bushy plant with narrow gray leaves and large purple flowers (this variety with four large purple flags on top instead of the normal two). Early spring and late fall flowers.
White Spanish: A medium sized Spanish lavender with gray leaves and small white flowers.
LAVANDULA VIRIDIS YELLOW LAVENDER: From the Canary Islands, this is a large plant 2-3' tall and sprawling with yellow green leaves and yellow flowers. It has a strong, oily scent and looks very similar to Spanish lavender.
LEONOTIS LEONURUS LION'S TAIL, WILD DAGGA: A large bush (to 6' tall) with whorls of 2½" orange flowers in the late fall. Needs much sun and a long growing season to flower. African tribes smoke leaves and flowering tops as a euphoriant (dagga means marijuana). Hardy to the mid 20ºs, but needs a frost-free fall to bloom and a long, hot fall to produce active resinous tops.
"...Nor can anyone who has even heard of science believe in the absolute validity of taboos, or in the sanctions which are supposed to follow the breaking of them." - Aldous Huxley
LEONURUS CARDIACA "There is no better herb to drive melancholy vapours from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful, blithe and merry." -Culpepper. MOTHERWORT: It's also very bitter with a pungent smell. A tall, hardy perennial (dormant in winter), it easily grows almost anywhere. Likes sun. Sedative, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, cardiotonic. Used by "mothers" since the Greek Empire in amenorrhœa and dysmenorrhœa. Not to be used without supervision during pregnancy. A valuable medicinal herb. LEONURUS SIBIRICUS MARIJUANILLA, YI-MU-CAO: Easy to grow hardy annual or biennial with 2-3' tall spikes of white to pinkish-purple woolly flowers. The leaves and flowers smoked as a "psychic" herb in Central America and are used in traditional Chinese medicine in a manner similar to L. cardiaca, with the same precautions. The seeds are used medicinally to regulate the menses and to promote circulation.
MARRUBIUM VULGARE HOREHOUND: A bitter plant of the mint family used in treating bronchitis and coughs. Contains vitamin C. It's expectorant, emmenagogue, a weak sedative and an appetite stimulant. A hardy, rather handsome, woolly, whitish/green shrub with 1" flower whorls along its 1-2' long, scraggly stems.
"Too much freedom is a dangerous thing." - Pope John Paul II
MELISSA OFFICINALIS LEMON BALM: Having been cultivated for over 2000 years, this refreshingly lemon scented and tasting herb was so popular in Europe that it was called Thé de France. The Arabs introduced it medicinally, specifically for treating anxiety and depression. It's carminative, antispasmodic and diaphoretic. Used in the liqueurs Benedictine and Chartreuse. Must be used fresh. I sell three varieties: 1. Regular old lemon balm. 2. Golden-leafed lemon balm. 3. Golden variegated lemon balm. They're hardy in sun or part shade and all spread rapidly. Eat them fast.
The mint family is large and growing. Its popularity is well deserved: mints are stimulant, carminative, antispasmodic, antiseptic, aromatic and anti-inflammatory... And many taste good. They are widely used in teas and flavorings. All are easy to grow and like part shade or sun (if given generous amounts of water). The Latin nomenclature is vague on many of these species and varieties; any living thing that has been cultivated and inbred for 1000s of years is often difficult to categorize. (This last sentence reminds me of some of my neighbors here in Navarro.) I have a great personal fondness for mints, having been raised on mint tea by my Pennsylvania Dutch grandmother back in Lancaster, PA. Most mints are spreading, hardy perennials. I once thought it would be 'neat' to plant a raised bed of just mints-this was a bad idea, but I wouldn't try to tell you how to live your lives. If you wish to preserve any individual varieties, however, do not let your mints go to seed: some may crossbreed and not remain true to type.
APPLEMINT M. SUAVEOLENS: Large, hairy light green leaves and a mild apple scent. The largest mint that I sell. Popular culinary variety.
CAPE MINT M. LONGIFOLIA v. 'capensis': Narrow, gray green leaves and a strong, unusual scent. Originally from South Africa.
CORSICAN MINT M. REQUIENII: This mint is smaller than most (minuscule) and more tender than most. Strong Crème dementhe aroma. Spreads rapidly as a very low (under 1"), shade loving ground cover.
CHEWING GUM MINT A "double bubble" tasting variety of spearmint. The leaves are shaded with purple.
CHINESE MEDICINAL MINT BO-HE: When you read "mint" in Chinese medical texts, this is it. Used in TCM to dispel wind and heat. From the Berkeley Botanical Garden which, by the way, is a great place to spend a few hours if you like plants.
DOUBLE MINT A blend of spearmint and peppermint flavors. You've probably seen the TV chewing gum commercials-if not, you didn't miss anything. Don't let bad advertising spoil good mints.
'EAU DE COLOGNE' MINT A peppermint (with a hint of rose) hybrid from the perfume fields of France.
EGYPTIAN MINT MENTHA NILACA: A large, hairy plant with light green leaves and a mild spearmint taste. Similar in appearance, but not taste, to Applemint.
EMERALD 'n' GOLD MINT MENTHA GENTILIS cv.: A spearmint of good flavor with green and gold variegated leaves. Also called "American applemint" or "ginger mint."
ENGLISH MINT Smooth, dark green leaves with a firm, mint, nutty nose. (Sorry... living here on the outskirts of California's nouveau wine country, the jargon is apparently contagious.) There's a wine-tasting room around every corner. This once bucolic, peaceful, pot-growing community has evolved into a drunken-tourist wonderland. Hell, there were enough drunken locals to deal with before the tasting rooms opened.
GRAPEFRUIT MINT Strong, low growing plant with dark green, tinged with purple, hairy leaves and a mild grapefruit scent and flavor. Won't spread much.
LAVENDER MINT A spicy aroma (claiming lavender is quite probably stretching it). Smooth oval leaves tinged with purple. Needs full sun.
LIME MINT Dark green, odd shaped, sort-of lime flavored (without the tang) leaves.
ORANGE MINT Dark green leaves with a purple tinge and a fine spicy citrus scent and taste. Extremely fragrant.
PENNYROYAL 'English' MENTHA PULEGIUM: Creeping aromatic used to repel fleas and cause abortions. Use with care if pregnant: as an abortificant, it's very harsh. Spreads easily by runners and seed.
PENNYROYAL 'Harts' MENTHA CERVINA: Upright stems with very narrow leaves and a pennyroyal scent. Not at all a minty looking plant. Grow in part shade.
PEPPERMINT 'candy cane' A peppermint variety with a strong, sweet "candy-cane" scent and taste.
PEPPERMINT 'chocolate' Peppermint flavor with strong chocolate overtones. Quite charming. Needs to be grown in full sun to fully develop the chocolate scent.
PEPPERMINT 'Japanese' MENTHA ARVENSIS cv. 'piperescens': Strong peppermint taste with large, somewhat hairy leaves. Grown commercially as a source of menthol.
PEPPERMINT 'Mitchum' MENTHA PIPERITA: The 'Mitcham' black peppermint variety grown commercially because of its high yields, hardiness and fine flavor. Not too invasive.
PINEAPPLE MINT MENTHA SUAVEOLENS cv. 'variegata': A low growing apple mint variety with small green and white variegated leaves. Grows well in full sun.
SILVER MINT Silver light green leaves with a mild spearmint flavor. Likes full sun.
SPEARMINT 'curly' A spearmint with crinkled dark green leaves.
SPEARMINT 'Kentucky colonel' MENTHA SPICATA cv.: A large leafed, good tasting spearmint. Very fine. The one for mint juleps.
SPEARMINT 'mint-the-best' MENTHA SPICATA cv.: A fine, narrow leafed spearmint. Maybe not the best, but pretty damn good.
MONARDA DIDYMA BEE BALM, OSWEGO TEA: Back in the days of the first American revolution, this was the plant that replaced the imported tea that was dumped at the Boston Tea Party. It has large, red flowers (very ornamental) and has been used to relieve nausea and flatulence. It is carminative, stimulant, rubefacient. Likes a moist, light soil. This is also the flavoring in the commercial "Earl Gray" tea. Hardy and grows to 3' tall in full sun. MONARDA PUNCTATA HORSEMINT, SPOTTED BEE BALM: Used mainly externally as a liniment for rheumatism, swellings, sprains. US Indians used a tea from the seed heads for colds and as an appetizer. Nice whorls of light yellow flowers spotted with purple on stalks 2-3' tall. Grow in full sun with moisture.
"Each day, like the flower, Blooms and Then It never comes again." -Kate Wolf
NEPETA CATARIA CATNIP: A mild stimulant, carminative antispasmodic, anti-diarrheoic, weak emmenagogue for humans and, for cats, a wild aphrodisiac, stimulant and inebriant (I often can't quite tell the difference between these three effects). Several old herbals warm that if smoked, catnip may have the "undesirable" side effect of being a mild hallucinogen. If you value your garden, don't plant this near other plants you don't want your, or your neighbors' cats to roll in (which, inevitably, it or they will). Grows to a large, hardy herb in full sun. NEPETA MUSSINI PERSIAN CATNIP, CATMINT: A much smaller (to 1' tall) version of catnip that my three black cats, "Bud," could care less about. This plant is quite ornamental, though, with many small blue flowers from spring to fall. It smells like opium. NEPETA MUSSINI 'snow flake' WHITE PERSIAN CATNIP: Same as the previous but with white flowers.
ORIGANUM DICTAMNUS DITTANY OF CRETE: A downy plant with spikes of delicate hop-like pink flowers and small gray-green (½") leaves on 1' long arching stems. Very beautiful. Grows well in a pot or very well drained soil in full sun. Tender to the mid 20ºs. ORIGANUM HERACLEOTICUM GREEK OREGANO: A fine, medium strong flavored oregano with large, bright green leaves and small white flowers on stems to 2' tall. Prolific. In this coastal California climate, it grows 2-3 times larger than the other herein listed varieties, and does so even over the winter when many oreganos are dormant. If you're the type of person who buys dried oregano in the supermarket (my definition of the word "sin") this is probably, along with irradiation, pesticides, &c, what you're getting. ORIGANUM LAEVIGATUM 'Hopleys' From England where, for reasons probably only the English could define, a great deal of development of the genus origanum is currently being pursued. This handsome, hardy oregano has blue green leaves and deep pink flowers with purple bracts on 2' long stems. Very showy, though mild tasting. Makes nice cut flowers. ORIGANUM MARJORANA SWEET MARJORAM: A very tender plant with a very sweet oregano flavor and aroma, almost perfume like. Must be wintered inside or grown as an annual. Likes full sun. From Portugal.
"All states are temporary." -Ann Shulgin
ORIGANUM MARU SYRIAN OREGANO, BIBLICAL HYSSOP: A very fine, the finest, in my opinion, flavored oregano (use caution here in accepting the word of a person you don't know... I also love strong garlic and hot, hot peppers). This oregano has slightly hairy, light green leaves and small white flowers on 3' long stems. Needs very intense sun; originally from Syria. Becomes lanky in coastal California mildness. Believed to be the "hyssop" mentioned in the Christian Bible, since hyssop was unknown in the area at the time. ORIGANUM MICROPHYLLUM CRETAN OREGANO: Very small leafed, fine tasting oregano from Crete. Small bright pink flowers on 1' long wiry stems. Give it well drained soil and sun. Delicately beautiful, tender. ORIGANUM ONITES POT MARJORAM: Not flavored like marjoram or oregano, but well flavored... Looks a bit like common oregano. Spreads by root runners. This is the marjoram/oregano of Feudal European peasants. Members or wanna-be members of the upper classes are forbidden to purchase this plant. No offense… ORIGANUM ROTUNDIFOLIUM HARDY DITTANY: Round blue-gray, green leaves with extremely beautiful hops-like 1-2" long and ½" diameter flowers (pink on cream bracts) on 6-8" long stems (makes great cut dried flowers). Spreads by under ground runners. Grow in full sun with a bit of moisture. ORIGANUM ROTUNDIFOLIUM 'Kent beauty' KENT BEAUTY: Derived from the previous listing, with flowers two times larger, and the leaves gray-green and marked with silver veins. Beyond beautiful. A little less hardy than the species, but easily grown in well-drained soil or in hanging planters. Not at all flavorful, but worth the trouble. ORIGANUM TURKISTANICA TURKISH OREGANO: A mild oregano from Turkey with tall stems of pink-cream flowers, smooth gray-blue-green leaves. Almost identical to the following listing, with slightly darker leaves and flowers. Mild flavor. Hardy. ORIGANUM TYTTHANTUM KHIRGIZSTAN OREGANO: Similar to the previous listing. Originally from the former Soviet Republic of Khirgizstan. ORIGANUM VIRIDE SICILIAN or ITALIAN or SEEDLESS or SWEET OREGANO: Looks a bit like marjoram and has a little of marjoram's sweetness to it, but is of a stronger flavor. Has white flowers and relatively small light green leaves, growing to a height of about 2'. Hardy. ORIGANUM VULGARE COMMON OREGANO: Not bad, not as prolific as Greek Oregano, not as hard to pronounce as Khirgizstan Oregano; what can I say? This is probably what you used before you read about the others. Medicinally, it is expectorant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, tonic, stomachic and anti inflammatory (and you thought oregano was simply a seasoning). It aids digestion and is supposed to ease nervous headaches. It tastes pretty good in spaghetti. Unfortunately, I'm not selling the real common oregano. Every plant I've purchased that was labeled O. vulgare has been one of the previous other species or following named varieties. Either this classification thing has gotten out of control, or common oregano has become an endangered species. ORIGANUM VULGARE 'aureum' GOLDEN OREGANO: Hugs the ground and spreads into a thick mat. Has golden-green leaves, very showy, but with very little oregano flavor: good for people who want to grow a very prolific, showy oregano and don't like the flavor. Oregano's on its way out, anyhow. ORIGANUM VULGARE 'compacta nana' COMPACT OREGANO: A strong flavored, dark, densely leafed, low, creeping oregano with showy pink flowers. Good ground cover and does well in pots. Appears to be a compact version of "Dark Oregano." ORIGANUM VULGARE cv. CREEPING OREGANO: Showy with rising stems (to 1' tall) of dark pink flowers over low growing dark green somewhat hairy leaves. Spreads rapidly. Strong flavor. ORIGANUM VULGARE cv. "DARK-LEAFED" OREGANO: Dark green, dense leaves and whitish-pink flowers, with an excellent flavor. More bush-like than spreading. ORIGANUM VULGARE 'nana' DWARF OREGANO: Leaves about ½ the size of the standard. Pink/lavender flowers on long stems above gray-green leaves. Good flavor. ORIGANUM VULGARE 'white anniversary' VARIEGATED OREGANO: This is a white variegated leaf oregano with a mild flavor and a low growth habit. Grows best in light shade.
PEROVSKIA ATRIPLICIFOLIA RUSSIAN SAGE: Not a sage. Ornamental, though, with nice blue flowers and scented, almost lacy foliage. Needs strong sun or becomes lanky. Native to Western Asia, where it was reportedly smoked as an euphoriant. Hardy but dormant in winter.
POGOSTEMON CABLIN CABLIN "PATCHOULI": A rapidly growing, large (to 4-5' tall), purple tinted, dark green leafed plant with short spikes of very small yellow flowers. Hardy to the mid 20ºs. Very pleasant strong scent (though not that of patchouli), and a very nice and easy plant for the shade garden in California or the South. Likes rich, moist soil and part shade or sun. POGOSTEMON HEYNEANUS PATCHOULI: A very tender, 2-3' tall, tropical shrub that needs warm, moist, rich soil in sun or part shade and absolutely no frost. Very strong patchouli scent. Either you love it or you don't. Originally popular in India, patchouli was the scent used by ethnic American hippies, ca. 1960s, in their attempts to cover the marijuana smoke scent on their persons. It is also used in scenting India Ink. Also sold as P. patchouli.
"I lift my glass to the awful truth which you can't reveal to the ears of youth: except to say it isn't worth a dime." - Leonard Cohen
PROSTANTHERA ROTUNDIFOLIA AUSTRALIAN MINT BUSH. Strong eucalyptus-mint scent and taste. Dark bluish green ¼" round leaves and many small lavender bell flowers on an easy to grow woody shrub to 8' tall. Hardy in most of CA. Nice pot plant for late winter bloom.
PRUNELLA VULGARIS SELF HEAL, HEAL ALL, XIAKUCAO: A slowly spreading hardy ground cover with spikes of purple flowers May to October. Vulnerary, antiseptic, astringent, carminative. Used as a gargle in the treatment of sore throats and inflammation of the mouth. Used, historically, to heal all types of wounds. The flower spikes are used in Chinese medicine treat canceres, tuberculosis, high blood pressure and liver problems. Easily Grown in part shade.
ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS "Against weyknese of the brayne and coldness thereof, sethe rosemaria in wyne and lete the pacyent receye the smlke at his nose and keep his heed warme." - Crete Herbal ROSEMARY: Hardy in coastal California with some varieties hardy to zone 5; rosemary will generally survive if the roots are kept from freezing. Stimulant, stomachic, tonic, &c. A pleasant, strong herb associated with memory, happiness and repelling witches (from personal experience, this historical property doesn't seem to work). Drinking rosemary water was said to do away with all bodily evil; excessive doses are lethal, though, should you feel your body has more than its allotted share. In ancient Greece, the birthplace of Democracy, rosemary was used to adorn virgins before sacrifice. Rosemary honey, from Provence, is used as an invigorating agent and to increase male potency. Good in spaghetti. If you are looking for "real" rosemary, or the "real" Rosmarinus officinalis, read the section on Lavandula angustifolia. Then buy seeds and take your chances. "Real" is a relative concept. The following are all cultivated varieties of this plant. Each has its own charm:
Albaflorus: An upright variety with white flowers.
Angustifolia: Pine scented, narrow light green leaves. The only non edible rosemary listed here. Pretty, though, with dark blue flowers.
'ARP': Somewhat grayer leaves than other varieties and is perhaps the hardiest (to zone 5). Bushy upright growth to about 5' with light blue flowers.
Beneden Blue: Large sky blue flowers and narrow light green leaves on a semi-upright plant. Prolific bloomer in winter. Originally found near Bonifacio, Corsica. Royal Horticulture Society Award of Merit in 1933.
Blue Boy: The smallest leafed and lowest growth of any rosemary listed here. Grows fine in hanging planters or in a sunny window.
Blue Lady: A semiprostrate rosemary 1-2' tall. Looks like a Medusa head, a bit on the wild side. Light lavender-blue flowers.
Golden Rain: Also called "Joyce DeBaggio." The leaves in the spring have a bright golden aura (variegation, actually). A short, very bushy plant with few dark blue flowers. Nice. Grows to about 3' tall.
Gorizia: A very large leafed (2-3 times larger than the standard), mild tasting variety with pinkish blue flowers. Upright, almost columnar growth. Gorizia is mild and good enough to eat raw. Originally collected near Gorizia, Italy.
Huntington Carpet: A flowing growth habit, to 2' tall, with many blue flowers. From the Huntington Botanical Gardens in Santa Barbara, California.
Majorca: A Victorian English variety with pink flowers and a candelabra-like semi-upright growth. Elegant and airy. To 3' tall.
Spice Island: The cultivar once used by the Spice Island™ seasoning company for production of their dried rosemary. Wider, more numerous (closer on the stem) leaves than the standard, on a very woody, upright plant with rosemary-blue flowers. I am often asked, "What's the best rosemary (or oregano, or sage, etc.)?" Well, of course "best" is, at best, subjective, but what-the-hell, if you have to ask, take this one; it's probably what you grew up with.
Tuscan Blue: A fast growing, upright, bushy variety with deep blue flowers. To 6' tall and as wide. One of the largest varieties in overall growth.
"Give me silence, water, hope Give me struggle, iron, vulcanoes" - Pablo Neruda
"Just when the flowers of sage begin to open there is in their cups a fragrant resin, highly flavoured, balmy, delicate and to the taste one of the most delicious cordials that can be thought, warm and aromatic... sage properly prepared will retard the rapid progress of decay that treads the heels so fast in the later years of life, will relieve the faintness, strengthen that weakness and prevent that sad depression of spirits... will prevent the hands from trembling and the eyes from dimness and make the lamp of life, so long as nature lets it burn, burn brightly." - John Hell, Virtues of British Herbs, 1776
SALVIA APIANA WHITE or INCENSE SAGE: Hardy to about 20°. A spectacular plant for mild climates; native to the S. California coastal mountains. 4-5" white leathery, highly fragrant leaves with long purplish stems (to 8') and small white flowers in summer. Grows to 6' tall and in diameter (not counting flower stalks). Likes soil well drained. Used by Indians and others as smudge sticks. SALVIA ARGENTEA SILVER or ELEPHANT EAR SAGE: A very showy sage with enormous (12-18") hairy, silver colored leaves and 3-4' long spikes of 1" white flowers in summer. Looks like a large, fuzzy, silver cabbage in the spring. Easy to grow in full sun with a snort of water. SALVIA CLEVELANDII BLUE SAGE: Very sweetly scented light gray-green leaves with whorls of blue flowers. Needs full sun or it becomes lanky. Flower spikes are good dried. California native to 3-4'. SALVIA DISCOLOR BLACK FLOWERED SAGE: Very deep purple, almost black flowers above highly scented bright green leaves with white undersides. Very pretty and quite tender, hardy only to the high 20ºs. The whole plant is sticky. 2-3' tall. Peru. SALVIA DIVINORUM DIVINE SAGE, PIPILTZINTZINTLI: Used by the Mazatec Indians for telepathy and clairvoyant insights. Square, winged stems and large (to 8" long) fragile, dark green, almost iridescent leaves on a plant to 8' tall. Has hairy white ¾" flowers within purple bracts and calyxes. Rarely flowers (in winter when it does). Grow in a very large pot with a loose, moist, very rich soil, and winter indoors. Tender to about 25° although will be damaged by any amount of frost. Likes cool, 60-80° summer temperatures: mist in hot weather or keep in a high-humidity (above 60%) environment. Has a light scent and a bitter taste. Sunburns easily (grow in heavy shade) and is the favorite food of many greenhouse pests. Native shamans use it by making a tea of 50-60 dried leaves (not well absorbed through the intestinal tract) or by keeping 6-18 chewed fresh leaves in the mouth (being absorbed through the mucus membranes of the mouth, somewhat difficult because of the bitterness). Gangs in Mexico City have been smoking the dried leaves, a much more effective method of ingestion. This is the original Wasson and Hofmann clone. SALVIA DIVINORUM 'palatable clone' A less bitter version of the previous. Don't expect a candy-like flavor: most entheogens (not in pills) that I've encountered are rather nasty tasting. This variety of divine sage is the one to use if you take it by mouth. Use the standard clone for smoking.
"The universe is wider than our views of it." - Thoreau, Walden
SALVIA DORSIANA FRUIT SCENTED SAGE: A tender (to high 20ºs) sage with 3-5" light green, slightly hairy, very pleasantly fruit scented leaves. Spikes of 2" rose-pink flowers in winter on 3-5' stems in mid-winter. This is one of the plants in the nursery that I have to smell every time I walk by it; I love it. Grow in very rich, well drained soil with quite a bit of moisture. Honduras. SALVIA ELEGANS PINEAPPLE SAGE: Dark green leaves on long (4-6') stems topped by brilliantly red 1½" flowers in winter and early spring. The whole plant is pineapple scented. Likes rich soil and spreads slightly by runners. Hardy to about 24° and will die to the ground and regrow in the spring from lower temperatures if the roots are protected from freezing. SALVIA ELEGANS 'Freda Dixon' A lower growing (2-3' tall) pineapple sage, much like the previous listing, except the flowers are a salmon color instead of a bright red. SALVIA ELEGANS cv. HONEYDEW MELON SAGE: Similar to pineapple sage but 1-2' tall with honeydew melon scented leaves that are a bit shorter and stouter. Flowers over a much longer period than the two previous entries. SALVIA FRUTICOSA GREEK SAGE: Fuzzy, sweet scented 2" gray leaves (some three lobed) on a hardy 3-4' bush. Pale lilac flowers in spring and summer. Used as a seasoning for sausage in Greece. SALVIA GESNERIFLORA "GRAPEFRUIT" SAGE: A lightly grapefruit scented sage with sticky 2-4" light green leaves and spikes of bright red 2" flowers in winter and spring. Survives most of our winters (seems hardy to the low-mid 20ºs, at least). Has the sweetest and most abundant nectar of all sages, and is probably the largest sage (7' tall, minimum) to be found in this catalog. SALVIA GUARANTICA Mildly scented (sometimes called anise-scented sage -but you have to really use your imagination for that one), with 2-3" dark green leaves and spikes of 1" indigo flowers on 2-4' stems. Spreads a little by runners and has been reliably hardy to the low 20ºs. SALVIA GUARANTICA 'Argentine skies' A cultivar of the previous listing with bright light blue flowers. Almost glowing. Nice. Has unusual small, possibly edible tubers growing on the roots (I have tried them; they taste OK, but I've seen no reference to them in any literature). SALVIA GUARANTICA 'purple majesty' A cultivar with deep purple 1½" flowers and a little larger (3-4') growth. SALVIA LEUCANTHA MEXICAN BUSH SAGE: Velvety 1" purple and white flowers on a highly scented 2-3' tall shrub with gray 3-5" long narrow leaves. Flowers late summer. Hardy to the mid 20ºs. Full sun, dry soil. SALVIA LEUCOPHYLLA "PURPLE" SAGE: White leaves and 2-4' stems with whorls of light purple ½-1" flowers. Highly scented. Grows well at the nursery in almost any soil in full sun. California native. SALVIA LYRATA LYRE SAGE, CANCER WEED: A small hardy native American sage with large, smooth, dark green, red veined leaves and 1-2' tall spikes of blue flowers. Grow in a moist, shady soil. A salve of the root was used to cure sores by the Catawba Indians. Cherokee Indians used it as a stimulant. Called "cancer weed" because it was once used to cure cancer. SALVIA MADRENSIS YELLOW FLOWERED SAGE: Large dark green pebbled leaves and a square, winged stem on a 4-5' tall plant with spikes of yellow flowers in winter. Tender to high 20ºs. Rare. Full sun. SALVIA MELLIFERA CALIFORNIA BLACK SAGE: Dark green narrow 3" leaves and light bluish-lavender flowers in whorls on large bushes to 4' tall. Highly scented leaves used for teas and seasoning. SALVIA MILTIORRHIZAE RED SAGE, DANSHEN: A medicinal sage from China whose red roots are used ito promote blood circulation and to "calm the mind by nourishing the heart." Also used for menstruation problems. Easy to grow in moist, but well-drained sandy soil in full sun. SALVIA MOORCROFTIANA HIMALAYAN SAGE: A hardy, medicinal "clary type" sage from the Himalayas. Slightly hairy, large, light gray-green basal leaves with spikes of 1" white flowers on 2' stems. Full sun SALVIA OFFICINALIS (cultivars): GARDEN SAGE: Tonic, memory improver, body wash for itchy skin, &c. An ancient Arab proverb says, "How can a man die who has sage in his garden?" Obviously, there are ways, but still these are very useful plants to have around. Grow all in full sun in any garden soil. The following eight listings are cultivars of garden sage and have similar properties except as noted. All are hardy and edible:
White Flowered Garden Sage: SALVIA OFFICINALIS 'Alba': A white flowered variety of garden sage. Almost identical to the standard, if perhaps a bit more delicate. 2-3' tall.
Giant German Garden Sage: SALVIA OFFICINALIS 'Berggarten': A large-leafed (2-3 times larger than the standard), fine-flavored culinary sage originally from the Royal Gardens in Hanover, Germany. This is the largest leafed and most productive common sage I've seen. Very few flowers or flower stems. 1-2' tall.
Dwarf Garden Sage: SALVIA OFFICINALIS 'Compacta': A dwarf variety of garden sage with smaller leaves and a more compact growth habit. Nice flowers. An excellent garden sage for smaller kitchen gardens: in cooking, a little sage goes a long way.
Golden Garden Sage: SALVIA OFFICINALIS 'Icterina': Yellow and green variegated leaves on a shorter version (1' tall) of garden sage. Rarely flowers. Perhaps a bit more tender than the standard.
Pink Flowered Garden Sage: SALVIA OFFICINALIS x.: Similar to the standard but with pink flowers. Appears to be a cross between Salvia officinalis and Salvia fruticosa.
Purple Garden Sage: SALVIA OFFICINALIS 'purpurea': A stronger (culinarily, medicinally) variety. The leaves have a purple cast. Lower growing (1-2') than the standard and not as floriferous.
Tricolor Garden Sage: SALVIA OFFICINALIS 'tricolor': Purple/red, white and gray-green leaves. A sage for those who like a tad more flash. Flowers irregularly and sometimes reverts to purple sage. Somewhat tender and shorter compared to the standard.
SALVIA SCLAREA "Some brewers of ale and beere doe put it into their drinke to make it more heady, fit to please drunkards, who thereby, according to their several dispositions, become either dead drunke, or foolish drunke, or madde drunke." - Lobel CLARY SAGE, MUSCATEL SAGE: A biennial in harsher climes, but a perennial here at the nursery. Large (to 10") basal leaves with 3-4' tall stalks of white/blue fragrant flowers with rose and white floral leaves. Very ornamental. The mucilaginous seeds are used to clear eyes, the leaves are used to flavor wine (clary wine was considered an aphrodisiac by Dioscorides). Antispasmodic, stimulant, emmenagogue. SALVIA SONOMENSIS CAMPHOR PLANT: A small, native California sage that smokes well as a mixture with tobacco. SALVIA SPACELEAFOLIA TARAHUMARA GRAPE SCENTED SAGE: Hardy to the high 20ºs. A coarse, pleasantly scented (like grapes, of course) sage used by the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. The small leaves and flowers are a bit sticky and it has standard sage-blue flowers. Tends to a sparser, taller growth (to 3-4') than S. officinalis. Also called S. mellissifolia. SALVIA UGLINOSA BOG SAGE: A rapidly spreading (by underground runners) 4-6' tall sage with very bright, sky blue (some of you reading this may remember what that color was) flowers. Dark green, 3-4" narrow leaves on tall stems. Easy to grow in N. California in spite of originating in Brazil. In the interest of "truth in advertising" here's a bit of information about this quite pretty plant that you'll probably not find in any other nursery catalog: The leaves smell like cat piss.
SATUREJA DOUGLASII YERBA BUENA: San Francisco was first named Yerba buena (good herb) because this plant grew so prolificly on its hillsides. Now, of course, San Francisco has just asphalt, cement, houses and office buildings on its hills. Even so, I consider it one of the best cities in the US. Through centuries of attempts at civilizing and acculturating its inhabitants, San Francisco has retained its frontier-town, Barbary Coast spirit and hasn't succumbed to the inbred stagnation of many larger American cities. San Francisco is the unofficial capital of Gay America, in spite of the all too evident bigotry expressed by things such as a freeway billboard reading "San Francisco, Home of Twinkies™" (former police officer Dan White murdered the first openly gay city supervisor, Harvey Milk, using as his defense insanity because he had low blood sugar from eating too many Twinkies™). There are many parts of SF that still remain free. There are many people in this town that still remain free. The Indians used this plant to purify the blood and to relieve colic. As a tea it was used to treat arthritis, and when mixed with mint, was used as a sedative for insomnia. It has a strong menthol taste. It is a creeper with small white flowers. For shady areas.
"If you can't reach the bottom, Beat the hell out of the sides." -Anon
SATUREJA MONTANA WINTER SAVORY: A perennial upright savory (to 1') that's evergreen in mild winter areas. Carminative, stomachic, stimulant, diuretic, antiseptic. Once considered to be an aphrodisiac. Used as a flavoring in salami. Full sun. SATUREJA MONTANA cv. CREEPING WINTER SAVORY: Similar to the previous listing, but with the narrow dark green leaves and many small white flowers on creeping low growing (to 8") stems.
SCUTELLARIA LATERIFLORA MAD DOG SKULLCAP: One of the finest natural nervines. Also a strong tonic and antispasmodic. Prefers ordinary garden soil in full sun or part shade. Native to E. US. Small blue flowers on a minty looking 3' tall plant. SCUTELLARIA BAICALENSIS HUANG-QIN: For over 2000 years, this herb has been used in Chinese medicine for treating colds, fever, high blood pressure, insomnia, dysentery, hepatitis and more. The root is used. The plant is very cold hardy and drought tolerant and grows to about 15" tall. Large blue flowers. It needs sun and well drained soil.
STACHYS BYZANTINA LAMB'S EARS, WOOLLY BETONY: This is a pretty, low growing, spreading, hardy plant with many velvety, "lamb's ear" gray leaves about 4-6" long. In the summer 1-2' stalks rise, topped with whorls of purple flowers. No known uses other than as a ground cover for problem areas and a pleasant plant that kids seem to like to touch. STACHYS OFFICINALIS BETONY, WOOD BETONY: First attributed with magical powers by the Egyptians, it has achieved a fame equaled by few other herbs, both in the medicinal and magical realms. The fresh leaves are said to have an inebriating effect and are used for headaches and as a nervine or tonic. Easy to grow.
TEUCRIUM CHAMAEDRYS GERMANDER: A low growing dense shrub with small, glossy dark green leaves and bright rose flowers. Stimulant, tonic, diaphoretic, diuretic. Native of Europe. Ingredient of liqueurs. Traditionally used in knot gardens. Makes a nice low hedge. TEUCRIUM MAJORICUM A low growing, narrow gray-green leafed plant with pink flowers and a pineapple aroma. Pretty. TEUCRIUM MARUM CAT THYME: A small hardy shrub with small gray green leaves and small spikes of pink flowers. An aphrodisiac to cats; they love to eat it, though it smells (to humans, at least) much like ether. Contains the cat-active lactones, dolicholactone C & D.
THYMUS CAMPHORATUS CAMPHOR THYME: A small shrub, strongly camphor scented, with relatively large ½-1" heads of pink flowers. Very showy. THYMUS CITRIODORUS LEMON THYME: The strongest lemon scented and tasting thyme. A semi-upright plant to 8" with all-green leaves. THYMUS CITRIODORUS 'aureus' GOLDEN LEMON THYME: An upright, lemon scented and tasting thyme very ornamental with gold edged leaves. THYMUS GLABRESCENS 'loveyanus' LOVEYANUS THYME: Culinary, fuzzy, narrow, gray leafed, creeping thyme with lavender flowers. THYMUS HERBA-BARONA CARAWAY THYME: A highly caraway scented and tasting culinary, creeping, 4" high, with pink flowers and small dark green leaves. THYMUS NUMMILARIUS CAUCASIAN, OREGANO THYME: Large leafed, semi-upright, oregano-scented culinary thyme. You don't have to be "white" to use this one; the common name isn't racist, it just indicates that this thyme is native to the Caucasus Mts of SE. Europe. THYMUS PSEUDOLANUGINOSIS WOOLLY THYME: A very ornamental 2" high ground cover with small pink flowers on an almost white, fuzzy base of minute leaves. THYMUS PULEGIOIDES 'coccineus' COCONUT THYME: 3" high, creeping, lightly coconut scented thyme with small dark green leaves and pink flowers. Rapid ground cover. THYMUS SERPHYLLUM MOTHER OF THYME, WILD THYME: Possible progenitor of cultivated thymes. Little taste. THYMUS SERPHYLLUM 'album' A tight growing 2" high ground cover with summer blooming white flowers. THYMUS SERPHYLLUM 'elfin' Extremely small leaves and pink flowers. The smallest creeping plant listed in this catalog. Perfect between stepping stones. 1" high. No scent. THYMUS VULGARIS:
English Thyme: A culinary thyme to about 12" high with slightly rounded ¼" green leaves. Grows better in coastal areas than French thyme.
French Thyme: A culinary thyme to 12" with an upright growth and small narrow, strongly flavored dark gray-green leaves. Needs strong sun.
Orange Balsam Thyme: A culinary thyme with a citrus scent and flavor. Similar in appearance to, and derived from, French Thyme.
Silver Thyme: A white-variegated version of English Thyme. Fine flavor. Likes sun.
Doone Valley Thyme: A culinary, lemon scented, low creeping thyme with gold variegations to the leaves in spring.
Italian Oregano Thyme: An old-world culinary thyme with a strong oregano flavor, an upright growth and narrow leaves.
Lime Thyme: A very pretty 3-4" high ground cover thyme with lime-green leaves and a standard thyme flavor.
Pennsylvania Dutch Tea Thyme: Very similar in appearance to T. nummilarius. But has a milder flavor that's great-in a slightly stimulating tea.
LAURUS NOBILIS BAY LAUREL, NOBLE-, SWEET-BAY: The source of imported (see Umbelluliferae californica for domestic) bay leaf seasoning. During the Middle Ages, it was used to resist witchcraft and to keep away evil and fleas. In ancient Greece it was sacred to the god Apollo and the leaves and seeds were burned as an incense to aid clairvoyancy and divination. May be grown outdoors (as a tree to 30') in most of California and the South. In the northern latitudes, grow in a tub as a shrub.
SASSAFRAS ALBIDUM SASSAFRAS, PAVAME: A large, aromatic, deciduous tree native to the southern Atlantic US and probably one of the first N. American medicinal herbs imported to Europe (1574). The root bark and wood are used as a CNS stimulant, an aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic and diuretic. Contains the essential oil, safrole, once used as a flavoring (in soft drinks and opium compounds), and now used as a starting point in the synthesis of MDA and MDMA and other amphetamine-related drugs. Safrole is also considered carcinogenic.
UMBELLULARIA CALIFORNICA CALIFORNIA BAY, PEPPERWOOD: This is the major source of "bay leaf" seasoning sold in the US. A large evergreen tree, it grows in canyons and damp, acid-soil forests. The local Pomo Indians ate the seeds (½" nuts) and used the leaves for curing headaches and stomach aches, repelling fleas, easing rheumatism, and when burned on coals as incense, as a general disinfectant and cure-all. This tree can take temperatures down to at least 10°. It is more hardy than sweet bay, Laurus nobilis. Grows well, though slowly, in a pot.
"…the fates of living things are bound together, and a wise man can grow wiser, learning it. The perilous balance, the dangerous adventure, the thirst, the needs, the crashing end-they are impartially allotted to us all, tall man or taller tree. What we the living require is most of all each other. Progeny we must have, company, provender, friends, and even enemies. The whole long vital experiment on earth is symbiotic by chains of cause and relation past glib explaining. It is not explained why there is for us all but one life, but it is plain enough that all life is one. It breathes the same air, grows by the same fiat, was conceived alike… We die together too, in each other's arms, and of each other, for life is its own best enemy, and to die is functional in living. We mate together and, welding a life to a life, get our seed, and so give, as we were given, a time to walk upon this flowering earth." - Donald Culross Peattie, Flowering Earth, 1939
ASTRAGALUS MEMBRANACEUS HUANG-QI: An immune system stimulant in Chinese medicine. Used in conjunction with traditional chemotherapy in cancer. Hardy herbaceous perennial to about 2' tall. Grow in sun and very well-drained, slightly alkaline soil.
CYTISUS CANARIENSIS CANARY ISLAND BROOM: Originally from the Canary Islands, this semi-tender broom has been introduced into Mexico and is used by Yaqui Indians as a shamanic drug. Also called Genista canariensis. Grows up to 6' and has many scented, bright yellow flowers.
DESMANTHUS ILLINOENSIS Hardy native mid to Eastern US shrub (to 3') with mimosa-like leaves and clusters of small white flowers. Nitrogen fixing range plant, used by Paiute Indians as an eye and skin remedy. Root bark is a .
DESMODIUM TILAEFOLIUM An alkaloid-rich species hardy in Northern California. Dormant in winter.
GALEGA OFFICINALIS GOAT'S RUE: A hardy legume (to 3-4') that's used as a rennet substitute (the fresh juice clots milk) and to increase milk flow in nursing females (goats in particular, with an increase of up to 50%). A water extract of the fresh herb produces this effect. Prefers deep soil and moisture, but will survive almost anywhere. Once used as a diaphoretic in treating the plague, being called in German pestilenzkraut.
-GLYCYRRHIZA GLABRA LICORICE: A legume with a sweet root, having been used in candy making and flavoring. Demulcent, anti-inflammatory, expectorant. Soothes sore throats and ulcers. Has 1" racemes of short lilac-blue flowers followed by flat brown seed pods with short spikes. Grows 2-4' in well drained, moist soil in the sunniest location you have. Winter dormant. GLYCYRRHIZA URALENSIS GANCAO: Used in widely and effectively in Chinese medicine to treat stomach ulcers and as a plant source of corticosteroids. Grows best in warm, dry or slightly moist, sandy soil high in calcium, in full sun.
MUCUNA PRURIENS VELVET BEAN: An annual, tropical vine long used medicinally. The leaves and seeds contain assorted trypatmines and are used as an aphrodisiac and nerve tonic in Brazil and Panama. In Nepal, mucuna is used for "disorders of the nervous system." The seeds are a source of L-Dopamine, used in treating Parkinson's Disease. The whole plant is used as forage for cattle. Grow in warm, rich, moist soil in full sun. Tender, but easy to grow.
PUERARIA LOBATA KUDZU, GE-GEN: A quick-growing, perennial vine to 100' long, with 3-lobed, 6" leaves and 1" reddish-purple, grape-scented flowers in 8" racemes. This listing is a perfect example of a very valuable plant being considered a weed: kudzu is hated by many people in the southern US. It was originally introduced into the US from Japan in 1876 and was actively distributed by the USDA from 1910-1953. It was pushed as a hay and fodder crop and a soil-erosion control agent. Probably over one half million acres of the Southern US are now covered by kudzu because of commercial agriculture's irresponsibility and governmental carelessness. In Chinese medicine, it is widely used as a cure for drunkenness or alcohol intoxication. Modern research has shown it to be very effective in lowering blood pressure. It is used in angina pectoris and to relieve headache, stiff neck and tinnitis, and associated fevers. Kudzu is a subtropical vine that is easy to grow. It is illegal for me ship. Live plants not available by mail.
-ALLIUM SATIVUM GARLIC: One of the most useful herbs available; helps cure colds, the flu, &c. Good blood purifier: believed to be an Immune System Stimulant. Keeps vampires away. I grow a lot of garlic but don't sell it-buy some at your local natural foods store and plant the cloves; it'll be much cheaper than and just as good as I could sell you. No garden should be without this plant. People who live on the edge appreciate the values of garlic. ALLIUM SCHOENOPRASUM CHIVES: Miniature, mild flavored, onion-like plants growing in clumps. Make nice potted plants for the sunny kitchen window. ALLIUM TUBEROSUM GARLIC CHIVES: Mild garlic-flavored leaves.
ALOE VERA ALOE VERA: An indispensable plant for the home first aid kit. Easy to grow in shade and in a well drained, warm, dry soil. Tolerates no frost and loves being a house plant.
ASPARAGUS LUCIDUM (COCHINCHINENSIS) TIEN-MEN-DONG: The root is used in Chinese medicine as a shin developing herb. (Shin is the Taoist "vital treasure" in the heart, manifested as unconditional and all-encompassing love.) This plant is also used as an antibiotic and an anti-inflamatory. It has a trailing habit and is tender. ASPARAGUS OFFICINALIS "…enjoyed in the food, brings lusty desires…" - Mathiolus ASPARAGUS: Cultivated for over 2000 years as a culinary delicacy, asparagus is also medicinal (all plants named "officinalis" are or were considered official as drug plants). It is diuretic, laxative and aphrodisiac. It stimulates the action of the kidneys. The juice was used in India and by Thessalian witches in brewing love potions.
CHLOROGALUM POMERIDIANUM AMOLE, SOAP ROOT: A native California plant with 1" wide, grass-like leaves emanating from a fibrous onion-like bulb. In the summer, a tall, sparse, branching 3-4' tall flower stalk is sent up with many 1" white star flowers that open in the evening. The plant has many uses: a green dye for tattooing, hair (from the bulb) for brushes and baskets, soap from the crushed bulb (excellent for hair washing), poison from the crushed bulb for stupefying fish, poultices for sores, etc. The young flower stems were eaten in the spring like asparagus. I ship dormant bulbs from August to December and plants the rest of the year. Very ornamental and easy to grow in part shade with a little moisture. I'm surprised this hasn't made it into the ornamental trade.
COLCHICUM AUTUMNALE 'giganteum' AUTUMN CROCUS: Hardy, easily grown, with pink to lavender flowers on naked stalks in the fall, with 1' long leaves following through the winter. The plant dies to the ground in early summer. The flower "stalks" are actually elongated corolla tubes with the seed pods being formed underground, to rise the second year. All parts of the plant contain strong alkaloids, chiefly colchicine, which is used to relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatisim. Self medication is not advised because colchicine is also a strong mutatgen, and it is in this respect that it is most useful to plant-people who wish to create new polyploid varieties of almost any plant. Instructions for preparing and using colchicum as a mutagen included with each order.
POLYGONATUM BIFLORUM AMERICAN SOLOMON'S SEAL: Hardy, native woodland plant of E. US. Graceful arching stems of light green leaves rising from a creeping rootstock. Astringent, demulcent, tonic. Easy to grow in sandy, rich soil in light to heavy shade.
LOBELIA CHINENSIS In Chinese medicine, this easily grown plant is used for edema and asites. "Cools the blood and detoxifies poisons." Used in treating poisonous snake bites and wasp stings (internally or externally). Very low growing and likes moisture.
DESFONTAINEA SPINOSA An Andean shrub to 3' with holly-like leaves and red and yellow tubular flowers. Used as an inebriant in Colombia, Chile and Ecuador. Sometimes sold in CA as an ornamental.
GELSEMIUM SEMPERVIRENS CAROLINA YELLOW JESSAMINE: A handsome vine with highly fragrant, beautiful and deadly (I love this contrast) 1" bright yellow early spring flowers. Tender to the mid 20ºs and grows best in part shade. It's a sedative (central nervous system depressant), nervine, or poison. I saw this plant listed in a Sunset Magazine article as "deer proof." Actually, the deer love the leaves of this plant and avoid the flowers. The nectar is poisonous. An ornamental in CA and the South.
-STRYCHNOS NUX-VOMICA STRYCHNINE: A large tropical tree whose large, round, flat, silver seeds are the source of a very strong medicinal poison. When used in very small doses, strychnine is a stimulant and aphrodisiac. Used in moderate doses it is a psychedelic and when used in larger doses, it is a deadly poison. An early symptom of strychnine poisoning is a rigid smile that is almost impossible to remove. Strychnine (commonly sold as a rat poison) was occasionally sold to the unwary in place of LSD during the time of hippies. It was rarely mixed with LSD, but was a substitute with vaguely similar effects. There is no truth to the widely held belief that the 'hairs' in the peyote cacti contain strychnine.
"But then they danced down the street like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life, after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue center light pop and everybody goes "awww." - Jack Kerouac, 1957
AGASTACHE CANA MOSQUITO PLANT: A strongly scented, hardy, sun loving plant 1-2' tall with narrow leaves and clusters of 1" dark pink flowers. Used to repel mosquitoes. AGASTACHE FOENICULUM ANISE HYSSOP: The strongly "rootbeer" or anise scented leaves are used as a tea or flavoring. Has large heart shaped leaves with a purple tinge to the new growth. Easy in full sun and grows to 4-5'. AGASTACHE RUGOSA HUO-XIANG, KOREAN MINT: Similar in appearance and cultivation to the previous listing. Used in Chinese medicine as a digestive, to relieve nausea and against influenza. The tea is a popular hangover remedy.
HEIMIA SALICIFOLIA SINICUICHE: A many branched half-tender (hardy to the mid 20ºs) shrub 3 or 4' tall with narrow 2-3" long leaves and ¾" yellow flowers in the late summer. Grows in full sun and is very ornamental. Used by Mexican brujos to consult dead spirits and by others as a mild, strange inebriant. It is described medically as a febrifuge, diuretic, laxative, vermifuge, and hemostat. Many people who have used it claim that it is nothing to them other than a pleasant tasting tea; indeed, of the many times I've tried it, it has worked only once. In this instance, I fell into a dream state and was greeted with a myriad of Aztec motifs, and was given the permission to ask questions. I asked about people I knew and was given answers. The only one I remember was about a close woman friend, and the plant told me she was "an invisible revolving door." Now, I know the Aztecs didn't have revolving doors, but I doubt if I (though I am a poet -aren't we all?) could have thought up this imagery myself. But it's difficult to define dreams. Traditionally, the fresh leaves are wilted and mixed with honey and water and lightly fermented in the sun before use. A translation of the Aztec word for this plant is "Sun opener."
LAWSONIA INERMIS HENNA: An important plant in Eastern religion and mysticism for 100s of years. It is a subtropical deciduous shrub or small tree whose leaves, when processed produce a red dye that is considered to represent the fire and blood of the earth and when used as a skin or hair coloring, providing a link for mankind to the earth. It is also an astringent and a stimulant. It has sweetly scented white to yellow flowers that have been used to produce a distilled cosmetic water. Native to the Middle East.
BANISTERIOPSIS CAAPI YAGÉ, YAGE, AYAHUASCA VINE: A tropical liana growing to immense proportions in the rain forests of South America. This is the central plant in the Ayahuasca potions of Amazonian shamans. It is variously called "vine of the soul," "the drink of reality," and the "vine of the dead," being man's second umbilical cord to the universe. In practice, the vine is always used with admixture plants (dozens have been documented) that produce uniquely varied effects from telepathy to visions of heaven, the past, the future, to shamanic journeys, to healing divination. To prepare the vine the bark is removed, pounded or pulverized and is boiled down for many hours to a black syrup-about 1' of ½" thick pieces per person per approximately 40 leaves of Psychotria viridis. It is a strong MAO inhibitor that permits certain psychoactive chemicals (most often DMT from P. virirdis) to enter and effect the body's nervous system. It is said that harmaline, of the type found in yagé, is capable of increasing the frequency of copulation in males. To grow this plant outside of a tropical rain forest, it is necessary to provide it with high humidity, shade, rich, well-drained moist soil, and warmth (above 60º at night for growth and above 40º for simple survival). As with most plants, it will acclimate over time to more severe conditions but it will never be easy. It likes lots of root room and needs to be repotted regularly.
"You can't hurry a shaman." - William Burroughs, Yage Letters
ALTHEA OFFICINALS MARSHMALLOW: ¾-1" white to pink flowers on a rather coarse, upright plant to 4-5' tall. Roots are used for food and as a demulcent and emollient. The young tops can be eaten as a cooked green or in salads. Used to relieve inflammation of ulcers and is reputed to be an immune system stimulant. Hardy and easy.
EUCALYPTUS CITRIODORA LEMON SCENTED EUCALYPTUS: If you have traveled in California or Australia, you know how spectacular looking eucalyptus trees are. This one is strongly lemon-scented as a bonus. Hardy to around 24° and grows very well in a pot elsewhere. It is easily pruned to grow as a shrub. There is currently an effort in California by a group calling itself the California Native Plant Society to eliminate all eucalyptus trees from the landscape because they are "invasive exotics." While I applaud the efforts of this organization to educate people to the value of native plants, I have no respect for them at all in their corroboration with the chemical herbicide manufacturers in this eradication effort. If they are not simply a front for this lobbying group, then they are little better than a Ku Klux Klan of the botanic world. Their xenophobia and hypocrisy are astounding. If they are truly serious about not wanting any "invasive exotics," my suggestion is that first they remove themselves from this land.
"The whole world is teacher to the wise. The whole universe is enemy to the fool." - Charaka
MYRTUS BOETICA SOUTHWESTERN MYRTLE: Similar to M communis, but with larger leaves and a more open growth habit and smaller size (to 5-7'). Thrives in the desert conditions of the American southwest. MYRTUS COMMUNIS GREEK MYRTLE: A very beautiful and aromatic semi-tender shrub to 10' tall with fragrant white ¾" flowers and small purple berries. Sacred to the goddess Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Once considered to be an aphrodisiac, now chiefly grown as an ornamental. (Aphrodisiacs must be out.) Grow in a dry, warm calciferous soil in full sun with protection from severe freezing. Native to the Mediterranean. The ground, dried berries are used as a pepper substitute and the fresh flowers are edible and may be added to salads. I don't know what application this piece of information will have for you, but if oil of myrtle is ingested, within 15 minutes, your urine will smell as sweet as violets. MYRTUS COMMUNIS 'microphylla' DWARF, GERMAN MYRTLE: Identical to the previous listing, but with a more compact growth habit (only to 5'), giving the impression of having more or more closely appearing flowers. MYRTUS COMMUNIS 'romana' VARIEGATED GREEK MYRTLE: Similar in flower and fruit to M. communis but shorter and somewhat prostrate, and with variegated leaves.
FORSYTHIA SUSPENSA LIAN-QIAO: A hardy, easy to grow, sprawling shrub to 6' with masses of yellow flowers in the spring before the plant leafs out. It prefers to grow in full sun, in any soil with a bit of moisture. The fruit are used medicinally in China as a broad-spectrum antibiotic against numerous gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. It is also antifungal and is used against viral hepatitis, skin infections and tuberculosis.
JASMINES are tropical or subtropical vines or shrubs, many of which are very highly prized for their scents. Most must be protected from severe freezing. They will grow fine in ordinary garden soil or potting mixtures.
AZORICUM A climbing evergreen jasmine with clusters of fragrant 1" white flowers throughout the year. Very floriferous-blooms longer than any jasmine listed here. It seems relatively hardy for a jasmine and is a very worthwhile specimen. Canary Islands.
BEESIANUM A half-hardy small climbing jasmine with small, reddish, fragrant flowers in summer. China.
HUMILE-REVOLUTUM Grows to 20' and is almost tree- or large bush-like in form. Has loose clusters of fragrant 1" yellow flowers sporadically throughout the year. One of the hardiest jasmines; should do fine in most of coastal California. I've seen a tree-like specimen over 12' tall in the Berkeley Botanical Gardens. Tropical Asia.
NITIDUM ROYAL JASMINE: A very fragrant climbing variety with 2" double white star flowers. Very nice in a cool greenhouse or outdoors in coastal California. From the S. Pacific.
NUDIFLORUM A non-scented jasmine listed here because of its unusual property of having bare stems with 1" yellow flowers in late winter. Also very hardy (to about 10°). Semi-prostrate. From China.
PARKERI A miniature shrub jasmine with ½" yellow flowers said to be fragrant, but of an odor I'm not able to detect-maybe I'm just getting old. This is an eye-catcher. If you are a plant sadist (bonsai), this is a good subject.
OFFICINALE POET'S JASMINE: A climbing jasmine to 20' with fragrant white ¾" flowers in clusters. This is the plant the old poets used to write about. New poets probably write about some hybrid. Relatively hardy (maybe to about 24°). True jasmine scent. Persia.
OFFICINALE 'grandiflorum' PERFUME JASMINE: A nearly erect bush with 1½" double white, intensely fragrant flowers. Personally, I consider this fragrance to be almost obscene (I really love it). Since the puritans have taken over the US, anything sensual or sexual is considered "obscene" and, in their opinions, should be banned or repressed or sublimated into more "constructive" activities such as war or genecide or empirialism or building WalMarts. The intolerance of any consensual sexual activity is merely sublimated perversion. Whether a person is Gay, Straight or Otherwise, is nobody's business except the people immediately involved. Grown commercially in France for its oil. Originally from India. Here now.
POLYANTHUM WINTER JASMINE: A quite hardy (to approx. 15°) vine, growing best in part shade. The ¾" white and pink flowers are highly scented (more spicy than obscene) and begin blooming late winter through May. Will thrive outside in Northern coastal California.
SAMBAC TEA JASMINE, PIKAKE: A very tender jasmine used as a flavoring of Chinese teas. Small, intensely scented white flowers. The flowers are also used in Leis in Hawaii. Native to India.
STEPHANENSE A vigorous twiner with fragrant pink flowers and light green leaves (other jasmines listed here have dark green leaves). Hardy to about 10°. A bit sparse.
VOLUBILE A small-growing vine with dark green, shiny leaves and very fragrant small white flowers.
"Love cannot be cured by herbs." - Ovid
LIGUSTRUM LUCIDUM CHINESE PRIVET, NU-ZHEN-ZI: A large, easy to grow evergreen shrub or small tree hardy to about 0º. The fruits are used in traditional Chinese medicine for deficiency of the liver and kidney, habitual constipation and premature hair graying. It is being studied as an immunostimulant for use following chemotherapy.
OLEA EUROPAEA OLIVE: For over 3000 years, this plant has been valued for its fruit and the oil from it. Olive trees are native to the Medterranean region and have been considered a symbol for peace. The leaves are antiseptic and astringent. The wood was carved into statues of the gods. The oil is nourishing, demulcent and laxative. It takes one ton of olives to make 35 gallons of oil. Grows best in deep, rich, well-drained soil in full sun and is slightly more hardy than citrus.
FUSHIA PROCUMBENS A low growing, trailing fushia with ½" red, edible berries. Actually, all fushia berries are edible (some better tasting than others), but this specimen from New Zealand has intricate, small, unique flowers and is easy to grow (in cool shade, with moist soil).
OENOTHERA BIENSIS EVENING PRIMROSE: Fragrant 2" yellow flowers on a rather coarse, large biennial that has a tendency to spread its seeds freely. Easily grown in almost any situation. Antispasmodic, demulcent, vulnerary, anticoagulant, and all parts of the plant are edible. I always let this plant grow wherever it wants in the nursery.
CHELIDONIUM MAJUS GREATER CELANDINE: Hardy perennial native of Europe; easy to grow in most situations. Alkaloid-rich orange sap used as a narcotic, antispasmodic (smooth muscle), purgative, cholagogue and antimitotic. A medicinal herb no longer in popular usage. Named by Dioscorides khelidon (swallow) because it always flowered when the swallows were migrating.
PAPAVER SOMNIFERUM OPIUM POPPY: One of the most valuable medicinal drug plants ever discovered by mankind; it, above all else, has made possible modern allopathic medicine by providing surgeons with morphine, the greatest of all pain killers. Native to the Middle East, this annual has very beautiful white to pink to purple flowers followed by round seed heads containing hundreds of small seeds in each. Though the plant is illegal, the seeds are popularly used in baking pastries. Seed capsules are pretty in dried flower arrangements. We sell SEEDS only (dark pink-flowered variety). It is quite possible that it could be considered illegal for you to grow plants from these seeds, so use care in designing your garden. When the opium law was passed in 1905, much of the testimony on which it was based was propaganda from the Hearst Newspaper Syndicate insinuating that Chinese men used opium to seduce and enslave white women. In a similar vein… a bit of local color from here in Mendocino County, CA: Vintner, Henry Finger, Representative from Mendocino, was one of the original supporters of the Harrison Act of 1914 attempting to illegalize cannabis.
SANGUINARIA CANADENSIS BLOODROOT: Creeping rootstock with single stemmed 1½" white flowers and a single basal blue-green leaf. The root has a red juice when cut. Hardy US native of moist, rich, shaded forests. Expectorant, emetic, cardio-active escharotic, stimulant. Dangerous in large quantities.
THE PASSION FLOWER, when first sighted in America in the 1500s by invading Spanish soldiers and clergy, was so spectacular to them, and such an object of reverence to the Native Peoples, that these invaders, in a fashion typical of the greed of their society and religion, claimed the beauty of this flower for their god, because of their belief that, although the "heathens" had valued this beauty for millennia, they didn't deserve it; only the Christian god did. Through some bizarre or diabolical stretch of the imagination, the Spanish clergy converted the native passion for these flowers into an idiotic representation of the Cruxifiction. The world should be thankful that these early Conquistadors (in the name of their god) didn't simply dispose of the passion flower the way they disposed of the American Indians and their cultures. PASSION FLOWERS are all tropical or subtropical vines climbing by tendrils, often with very showy flowers and sometimes with edible fruit. None are hardy in the Northern States, though some do quite well outdoors on the coasts and in the South. GROW in a well drained, very rich soil kept moist, but not wet (especially in winter). Fertilize often during the growing season and protect from critters (almost everything likes to eat them). Most love full sun, though naturally, tropical vines spend much of their lives growing in partial shade. They like much root room; if grown in pots, repot yearly. PASSIFLORA ALATO "RUBY GLOW" PASSION FLOWER: Stems winged with large (4 to 5") white and "ruby" colored flowers and a 5" long edible yellow fruit. Large, entire, bright green leaves. Often confused with P. quadrangularis, although possibly a bit hardier. Fine in areas such as Central California where the ground rarely freezes. PASSIFLORA ALATO-CAERULEA PASSION FLOWER: Sometimes sold as P. pfordii. Large (to 4"), scented, white and purple alternating petals. A relatively hardy (to the high 20ºs), very vigorous vine. Large three lobed dark green leaves and no fruit. Blooms well and prolificly in winter or part shade. A popular old-time hybrid. PASSIFLORA CAERULEA BLUE PASSION FLOWER: One of the hardiest (to zone 7 with protection), with five lobed dark green leaves and 3-4" white flowers, with a blue, white and purple corona. 1½" yellow fruit, edble, but not choice. Fragrant flowers. One of the easiest passion flowers to grow in Northern California. Not deer proof. PASSIFLORA CAERULEA 'Charlotte Corday' WHITE PASSION FLOWER: 4" white (with a slight pink blush to the corona) flower and five lobed dark green leaves Identical to the previous listing except for the flower color. This may be the old-time variety "Constance Elliot." I selected it from a hedgerow of white flowered P. caerulea grown from seed. I liked the pink blush. Taxonomists can dispute the name; I don't care. "Charlotte Corday" is a character in a favorite play of mine by Peter Weiss, Marat Sade. PASSIFLORA EDULIS 'Nancy Garrison' PURPLE GRANADILLA: This variety is hardy to about 25° and a good producer of 2-3" purple fruit. Glossy, three lobed leaves, and 2" flowers white with a white and purple corona. Developed for hardiness by the University of CA. PASSIFLORA INCARNATA MAYPOP: Native to Southeastern US. Leaves are deep green and three lobed, and the flowers are fragrant, pink and 3" across with a frilly pink corona. 2" yellow edible fruit. Very hardy (to zone 5 with protection) and dies to ground in winter. Spreads by underground runners. Generally considered the medicinal passionflower because of its content of MAO inhibiting harmine, harmaline and other ß-carbolines. PASSIFLORA 'INCENSE' A hybrid (P. incarnata x) developed by the USDA Horticultural Research Station in Miami, Florida. Has very large (to 5"), very fragrant, deep purple flowers with a long, frilly purple corona. Has 2" fruit difficult to ripen without a long season. Dies to the ground in winter and doesn't regrow in this area until June. Hardy to zone 7, with protection. Hand polination produces a 2" olive-green, tasty fruit, rose scented. PASSIFLORA JAMESONII "CORAL GLOW" PASSIONFLOWER: 3-4" brilliant red or rose flowers-wear sunglasses for this one. Three lobed leaves. Grows very fast and very well in coastal California. Tender to freezing. No fruit; probably a hybrid. PASSIFLORA 'JEANETTE' A hybrid passion flower. "Alternating mauve and wine colored flowers" (the developer's words, not mine) and 2-3" long yellow fruit. Blooms without a lot of sun. Very productive of large inedible fruit. PASSIFLORA 'LAVENDER LADY' Very nice hybrid (P. caerulea x) with lavender edged white petals and a lavender, white and purple corona. Blooms under many conditions (even part shade and cloudy weather) and is reported to be hardy to about 15°. Very bright, pretty 3" flowers. No fruit. PASSIFLORA LIGULARIS SWEET GRANADILLA: Large shiny dark green entire leaves and a 3" greenish flower with white and purple corona. Edible 3" brown-purple fruit. Tender but fast growing in the winter greenhouse. Likes sun, but with cool roots. PASSIFLORA MOLLISSIMA BANANA PASSION FRUIT: Very similar in appearance to P. jamesonii but with pink flowers, slightly more pointed leaves and a yellow 3" edible fruit. Relatively hardy to zone 8. Very rapid growth. Andes. PASSIFLORA QUADRANGULARIS GRANADILLA: A large leafed and stemmed plant with 3-4" lavender petaled flowers followed by an edible football sized fruit. Quite tropical and tender and difficult. PASSIFLORA RACEMOSA-CAERULEA "EYENSFORD GEM" DWARF PASSION VINE: 3-4" lavender flowers with a white corona. A compact vine with three-lobed, greenish tan leaves. Seems to be hardy to the mid 20ºs. PASSIFLORA VITIFOLIA SCARLET PASSIONFLOWER: A bright red 3" flower followed by 2" yellow/orange edible fruit (if hand polinated). Zone 8-10. Native to Guayana and Guadeloupe, and grown commercially there for its fruit.
"The death of one god is the death of all." - Wallace Stevens
SEQUOIA SEMPERVIRENS COAST REDWOOD: If you've been to California, you couldn't have missed these trees. Unfortunately, if you don't go soon, you may have to wait 1000 years or so for the next crop to match the size of the few old-growth specimens left. The lumber companies in CA are strip logging what's left of these giants at a pace unprecedented. Sure, redwood trees will always be here ("they're like weeds, you know, cut one down and seven more grow from the roots"). The logging companies used to leave a buffer of trees along the highway so California would look like it still had trees, but the buffer is getting thinner. Everyone now knows that the trees are gone. Rip and run are the words of the day for these companies. The loggers are getting screwed, the mill workers (whose jobs are going out of the country) are getting screwed, the American consumer is getting screwed... Everyone is getting screwed except the corporations and their stock holders. These corporations have used union-busting, death threats, assassination, election buying and economic extortion to convince the natives of N. California to go along with their programs. It's working. Say good bye to your forests, jobs and lumber, America. Grow this tree in part shade for about 30 years, and then full sun is OK. After 300 years, you can harvest seeds from the 100' trees for a new crop. After 1000 years, termites, the weather or "acts of gods" will possibly topple the 300' tall survivors and you can use them for some of the finest construction lumber available.
PIPER AURITUM HOJA SANTA, ACUYO: Large (to 10" across) heart shaped, rootbeer-flavored leaves containing safrole, with long, phallic white flowers. Used culinarily and medicinally (gynecologically). Probably the easiest to grow of the commonly available Pipers. While down in Chiapas, Mexico I had the opportunity to see these plants in their native habitat and to eat fish prepared with the leaves. The plants grow very large and the fish (wrapped similar to a tamale and steamed) was good. The leaves are also added to meat stews. Grow as a house plant in rich, moist soil in part shade. Withstands temperatures into the 30ºs but prefers above 50º. PIPER BETEL BETLE LEAF, KUNYA: Large heart shaped leaves on a rapidly growing tropical vine. Traditionally chewed with betle nut (Areca catechu) shavings and other condiments in the South Pacific. Needs true tropical conditions: very warm (above 60º at night for health), moist, rich soil and a very high humidity. Has a strong taste and numbs the mouth when chewed. The leaves by themselves are stimulant, antiseptic, tonic and stomachic: aiding digestion, decreasing perspiration, and increasing physical endurance. Efforts are being made worldwide (and you thought the war on drugs was a local thing) to ban it. PIPER METHYSTICUM KAVA, AWA: A tropical vine requiring warmth, rich, moist soil, humidity and part shade. Traditionally, the roots of kava are chewed and then spit by virgins into a bowl, diluted and then drunk producing a type of tranquilizing euphoria. Anaphrodisiac, local anesthetic. The roots may also (if you experience a lack of local virgins) be pounded, if fresh, or powdered, if dried, and soaked in cold water for a while, then strained and the liquid drunk. Or the active constituents dissolve quite well in alcohol. Medicinally kava is used in gynecology. "Marxist sociologists criticize the use of kava on the grounds that it creates a false goodwill between classes that, in a state of movement and economic differentiation, ought properly to be at each other's throats. This remnant of the old apocalyptic millenarian faith is against any half-measures or compensations,against any opiates or palliatives, believing that only by things getting worse will the Revolution come to save us." - Dale Pendell, Pharmako/Poeia
"Mejor morir a pie que vivar en rodillas." - Emilliano Zapata
POLYGONUM MULTIFLORUM FO-TI, HE SHOU WU: Climbing and sprawling, fast growing vine. Hardy to at least the mid 20ºs. Very important Chinese and Ayurvedic rejuvenative herb. The root tubers are used. POLYGONUM ODORATUM RAU RAM, VIETNAMESE CORIANDER: A very strong tasting and scented trailing plant of vigorous, though somewhat tender growth (hardy to approximately 25°). Tastes a bit to me like a cross between fruity coriander and dirty socks-but in a good way. Easy to grow in moist, rich soil or in a pot in part shade. Leaves are light green with a "happy face" smile in their centers. Survives outside here some years.
RUMEX ACETOSA GARDEN SORREL: Very pleasantly sour tasting (with a touch of lemon) large leaves on a slowly spreading, hardy plant that likes rich moist soil and part shade. Diuretic, laxative, tonic, antiseptic. Native to Europe. Culinary.
PORTULACARIA AFRA ELEPHANT WEED: Pleasantly sour tasting small (½") succulent leaves on soft-wooded branches and trunk (a tree to 12' in Africa, a shrub here). Good as a pot plant. Likes dryness and warmth. Elephants love it.
CIMICIFUGA RACEMOSA BLACK COHOSH: Very ornamental for the shade garden, with long plumes of creamy white flowers that are described by some as smelling like rotting flesh. Emmenagogue, antirheumatic, sedative. Eases uterine cramps.
HYDRASTIS CANADENSIS GOLDENSEAL: A popular home remedy as well as being listed in the US and British Pharmacopœias for ailments of the mucus membranes. Grow in well drained, acid, hardwood forest soil in heavy shade. Dormant roots shipped in the fall and sping, and plants in the summer.
ALCHEMILLA VULGARIS LADY'S MANTLE: "the little magical one" is the meaning of the generic name of this plant. To sixteenth century alchemists, because dew collected on its leaves over night, seemingly magically, this plant acquired virtues well beyond its due (ok, so this is a bad pun). Medicinally, it contains a great deal of tannin and is used as an astringent, styptic and anti-diarrhoeal. Folklore has it that prolonged use relieves excessive menstruation and its ensuing discomfort. Easy to grow in moist soil in full sun, but hates calcareous soils.
ROSA GALLICA 'officinalis' APOTHECARY'S ROSE, RED ROSE OF LANCASTER: Brought to France and England by the Crusades in the 13th century, this is one of the oldest roses known in cultivation. In the British Pharmacopoeia only the petals of this rose were considered to be legal to use medicinally. It has one mass bloom in early summer of dark pink/red blossoms that have the property of retaining their fragrance when dried and powdered. Medicinally, the petals are astringent. Grows in bush form to about 4-5' tall. Has edible red hips.
SANGUISORBA MINOR SALAD BURNET: Cucumber-like flavored leaves very pleasant in salads, and equally very plentiful in the early spring when the real thing is unavailable. Astringent. Prefers dry, chalky soil, but is very tolerant of divergent growing mediums. Handsome foliage and small violently pink flower clusters atop long, leafless stems.
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." - Oscar Wilde
ASPERULA ODORATA SWEET WOODRUFF: A very attractive and useful low growing hardy ground cover (covered with small white flowers in the spring) for shady areas. Carminative, diuretic and tonic; used in teas and for flavoring May Wine. The dried leaves contain coumarin, a vanilla-like chemical. Dormant in the winter. Also called Galium odoratum.
COFFEA ARABICA COFFEE: Tonic, stimulant, diuretic. A recent Harvard Medical School study has shown that women who drink coffee have a 70% less risk of committing suicide. On the other hand, Goethe blamed his habitual caffè latte for his chronic melancholia and depression. They didn't say anything about men, but spiders who are sprayed with caffeine weave distorted webs. Also note that Spiders never sleep. If you're tired of drinking coffee bean extract, try the leaves. Three leaves boiled in a cup of water for 10 minutes make a nice stimulant tea. Coffee is a tropical tree but may be grown as an attractive house plant in Northern climes. Needs rich, moist warm soil and part shade. I'd like to say you'd be able to harvest your own coffee beans and avoid the insecticide-laden, imported commercial product, but most of us here in the good ol' US of A live a bit too close to the North Pole for this plant to be fruitful. Maybe if the current greenhouse effect increases a tad... "Certainly our Countrymen's pallates are become as Fanatical as their Brains: how else is't possible they should Apostatize from the good old primitive way of ale-drinking, to run a Whoreing after such variety of destructive Foreign Liquors, to trifle away their time, scald their Chops, and spend their Money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty bitter stinking, nauseous Puddle water: Yet (as all Witches have their Charms) so this ugly Turkish Enchantress by certain Invisible Wyres attracts both Rich and Poor..." - excerpt from the Women's Petition Against Coffee, 1674
-PSYCHOTRIA VIRIDIS CHACRUNA: Very tender tropical shrub grown in part shade with well-drained acid soil and high humidity. Greenhouse culture is required in most of the US. Under the proper conditions, it grows rapidly and is easily propagated by leaf cuttings. Very difficult to grow from seed. The leaves are very high in tryptamines and are one of the two main ingredients (along with Banisteriopsis caapi stems) in Ayahuasca potions.
"Reality is a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs." - Lily Tomlin
RUTA GRAVEOLENS "If a man be anointed with the juice of rue, the poison of wolf's bane, mushrooms, or toadstools, the biting of serpents, stinging of scorpions, spiders, bees, hornets and wasps will not hurt him." - Gerard, 1597 RUE: Used for thousands of years medicinally, by and against witches, as an antidote to poisoning, &c. Its lore is impressive. Stomachic, emmenagogue, abortifacient (should be avoided by happily pregnant women), antihelminthic, aromatic (to say the least). Often used in treating epilepsy, skin diseases, nervous disorders and rheumatism. Highly allergenic to some people (touching the plant may produce a rash). The rue leaf is the model for the clubs () in playing card decks. The name is from the Greek reuo meaning "to set free." A hardy plant that grows 2-3' tall in full sun and any soil.
PAULINIA aff. CUPANA var. sorbilis GUARANÁ, GUARANA: A form of guaraná, a tropical, South American liana, with larger seeds than the normal. These seeds are ground and formed into a 'bread' which is grated into water to form a very stimulating tea, containing about 5% caffeine. Grow in acid, moist soil in moderate sun in the greenhouse. Easier to grow than coffee having about the same difficulty level as yagé. "In the mythology of the Tupi, the guaraná is said to have had a shamanic origin. Omniamasabé, a female shaman whose 'knowledge of the real world that is hidden from humans' was very extensive, was impregnated in sylvan solitude by Mboy, the snake god. Shortly thereafter, she bore a son. Thereupon, her jealous brother charged a shaman to kill the child. This shaman drank Ayahuasca and assumed the form of an arara parrot. In this shape, he searched for and killed the boy. As the tears of the mother flowed over his corpse, he was transformed into the guaraná bush. Since that time, shamans eat guaraná fruits so that they may be initiated into the secrets of the knowedgeable shaman Omniamasabé". -from Dschungelmärchen by Dietmar Melzer, as translated by Christian Rätsch in The Dictionary of Sacred and Magical Plants, 1992.
-HOUTTUYNIA CORDATA HOT TUNA, YU-XING-CAO: Recently, while visiting a nearby nursery, I saw the ornamental version of this plant (the following listing-"Chameleon") described as having a "citrus scent." The Chinese name, however, means "fish-smell herb." Take your choice, but keep in mind that eating the raw leaf will impart a fish-smell to your breath. The Japanese name, dokudami is more descriptive of its medical properties, meaning "detoxicant." It is used traditionally for treating infections of the upper respiratory tract and has been used externally as a poultice for skin cancer, snake bites, boils and psoriasis. It is diuretic, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral. Likes a cool, shaded situation with rich, moist soil. It and the following listing are both ornamental, but this variety has more of the small white flowers that appear all summer long. Its leaves are dark green with a slight purple edging. Culinarily the leaves and roots are eaten fresh and are called in China chu p'i ku (pig thigh). HOUTTUYNIA CORDATA 'Chameleon' An ornamental cultivar of the previous listing having leaves mottled with white and red on the dark green background.
DIGITALIS LUTEA YELLOW FOXGLOVE: This is the major commercial source of the drug digitalis, a glycoside which acts to increase the output of heart muscle in congestive heart failure. It has light yellow to cream colored flowers on a plant somewhat smaller (3-5' tall) than the common foxglove (D. purpurea). Hardy perennial grown in full or part shade. Dormant in winter. Dangerous to use without knowledge or experience.
GRATIOLA OFFICINALIS HEDGE HYSSOP: A low, creeping perennial (dormant in winter) with small pinkish flowers. Purgative and emetic. Cardio-active, belonging to the foxglove family. Deadly in large doses. Grow with moisture in sun or part shade.
LIMNOPHILA AROMATICA RAU NGÕ: A Southeast Asian culinary herb that tastes a bit like celery, but more spicy. Also the sap is used to wash wounds, treat fever, intoxication, and menstrual disorders. Loves very moist soil and warmth (any frost injures it) and grows easily on pond banks or in pots in part shade.
VERONICA OFFICINALIS SPEEDWELL, GYPSYWEED: A very hardy groundcover with spikes of blue flowers. Used as a cure-all in the middle ages, especially by the Welsh. Expectorant, stomachic, vulnerary, alterative, diaphoretic, diurectic, &c. Used a substitute for tea, called thé d' Europe.
"I have probably made several wrong decisions in a row concerning my route, and in retrospect, this has led me to the proper course. What is really bad is that after acknowledging a wrong decision, I don't have the nerve to turn back, since I would rather correct myself with another wrong decision. But I am following a direct imaginary line anyway, which is, of course, not actually possible, and so the deviations are not really great..." - Werner Herzog, Of Walking On Ice
ATROPA BELLADONNA DEADLY NIGHTSHADE, BELLADONNA: Narcotic, sedative, hallucinogen, anodyne and poison used for 100s of years in medicine and magic. Can easily be fatal if misused. If you have children around, this plant is particularly dangerous because the berries (12 are often fatal-all parts of the plant are poisonous) look good and do not taste bad. Belladonna is an ingredient of witchs' flying potions and, besides its use by commercial drug companies, is best known as a witchs' herb. The story is that witchs made an ointment out of this plant and applied it to broomsticks and masturbated with those broomsticks. Think this practice has something to do with the derivation of the phrase, "being swept away." Better than sweeping floors… The root was combined with wine by Thessalian witches to make an effective love potion and was also a popular additive to drinks in the Middle Ages to "incite to unchasteness." Unfortunately, it also easily incited to death. Doses are critical. There were times in this country when a person could be legally jailed or executed as a witch for having this plant in his/her garden. But we're beyond that now. Contains atropine, which now has great value as an antidote for nerve gas poisoning. My dog's life was once saved by a veterinarian who gave it atropine as an antidote for poisoning from a flea collar (many insecticides are "recycled" nerve gas). It is a hardy perennial that grows 3-4' tall in sun or shade and likes moisture and rich soil high in calcium.
All BRUGMANSIA, or "tree datura" or "angels' trumpets" are tropical trees that will grow well only in Southern and Central coastal California, subtropical areas of the Southwest and Southeast, and in greenhouses. They are all poisonous and very beautiful and are all, except B. sanguinea, heavily evening scented. The roots are stronger than the seeds, than the stems, than the leaves, than the flowers. Most varieties have an extensive history of shamanic use in South America. All require a very rich soil and much moisture and are very susceptible to spider mites, white flies, and slugs. There are two general types of Brugmansia. The Andean (B. sanguinea, B. candida, B. aurea) and the lowland tropical (B. suaveolens, B. x-insignis, B. versicolor). The Andean types grow better in areas of less summer heat (partially shade B. sanguinea), and the lowland tropical varieties are less tolerant of chill. Most bloom as very young plants.
BRUGMANSIA AUREA A white-flowered version of this species from the Sibundoy Valley in Colombia. Very fragrant.
BRUGMANSIA CANDIDA x Hybrid with double white 6-8" long flowers. Slightly hairy leaves. Thrives in areas of warm days and cool nights, growing naturally in South America at altitudes between 4000-7000'.
'CHARLES GRIMALDI' Tall, fast growing tree to about 20'. Very large (to 10") salmon colored flowers.
CULEBRA (Methysticodendron amesianum) Perhaps the rarest of all brugmansias. Supposedly the strongest used by the shamans of the Sibundoy Valley in Colombia. Has very narrow, long leaves and distorted white flowers. Believed to be a mutant Brugmansia aurea.
'ECUADOR PINK' Long 8-10" unique, satin-pink trumpets on a quickly growing tree.
'FORESTVILLE DOUBLE' Elongated trumpet within a trumpet flowers to 12" long. Large, fast growing tree that blooms well when young.
'HAWAIIAN DOUBLE' Elongated trumpet within a trumpet flowers over 12" long. Young blooming on a slow-growing, compact tree. Likes strong light and blooms when young.
'INSIGNIS x ORANGE' Orange medium sized (6 to 8") trumpets in large quantity on a medium sized tree, tending to produce multiple trunks. The only Brugmansia listed here that is heavily scented in the daytime as well as in the evening. Also blooms well (perhaps the best) in the greenhouse in winter.
'INSIGNIS x PINK' Salmon/pink bells of medium size (8") on a medium sized tree.
'JAMAICAN YELLOW' A very large quantity of yellow 8-10" trumpets on a vigorous, rapidly growing tree.
BRUGMANSIA SANGUINEA Perhaps the hardiest Brugmansia (...not saying that much; it still can't handle any freezing) listed here. Large yellow bells with red flares. Grow in part shade in summer. The only Brugmansia listed that is unscented and the only Brugmansia that survives outside at the nursery (where temps rarely fall below the mid 20ºs though it snows lightly 2-3 times a year). Native to the highlands of Colombia and Equador. Not found in lower or middle elevations.
BRUGMANSIA SANGUINEA 'Inca Queen' INCA QUEEN: a dwarf version of the previous.
BRUGMANSIA SUAVEOLENS Large white, heavily scented trumpets on a medium sized tree. Grows naturally in the Northern Andes below 3000' elevation.
BRUGMANSIA SUAVEOLENS, variegated A rare form of the previous listing with white variegated leaves and a smaller stature.
'SUNRAY' Highly scented, lemon yellow 12" blooms.
BRUGMANSIA VERSICOLOR The 6-8" flowers on this medium sized tree first open near white, then change to an apricot/peach. Blooms well in the greenhouse.
BRUGMANSIA VERSICOLOR 'Alba' An albino version of the previous with extra long (to 15") white flowers.
BRUGMANSIA VULCANICOLA YAS: Possibly a sub-species of B. sanguinea. From the Highlands of the Colombian Andes, this is a very rare specimen.
BRUNFELSIA AUSTRALIS Tropical shrub 2-3' tall with beautiful purple (turning white with age), sweetly scented flowers in quantity throughout the summer. Grow in rich, moist acid soil in part shade with high humidity and temperatures above 50º. Paraguay. BRUNFELSIA JAMAICENSIS An endangered species from the Blue Mts. of Jamaica with large, whitish, heavily scented flowers (at night). Requires more warmth (above 60º at night) than the previous listing to flower, but cultivation is the same otherwise.
CESTRUM AURANTICUM Lightly scented orange/yellow flowers on a small shrub with strongly scented leaves. A tropical jungle plant from Guatemala. CESTRUM DIURNUM WILLOW LEAFED 'JASMINE': Clusters of small white, sweet scented (by day) flowers on a tender shrub with dark green, glossy leaves. Grow in part shade with moisture. CESTRUM NOCTURNUM NIGHT BLOOMING 'JASMINE': As I write this I have one of these plants in front of me, sitting on top of the computer. It has many clusters of 1" light green five-pointed star-mouthed trumpets "shouting" at me the sweetest, most intoxicating musk scent I've ever smelled in a flower. A friend who grew up down South said it's dangerous to have one of these shrubs growing outside your bedroom window. He wouldn't say why; that's the kind of guy he is. He thinks you should already know, or if you don't, you should be able to figure it out with a minimum of hints. Grows easily and well in a pot as a house plant. Blooms December through April. CESTRUM PARQUI WILLOW-LEAFED JESSAMINE: A tender shrub to 6' tall, with greenish/yellow night-scented flowers and narrow dark green leaves. The hardiest Cestrum listed here. Chile.
"And for he who fears his standing before his lord, there are gardens." - The Koran
"... in a shady, damp, secret place, the sacred datura, moon flower, moonlily, thornapple blooms in the night, soft white trumpet shaped flowers that open only in darkness and close with the coming of the heat. The datura is sacred (to certain cultists) because of its content of atropine, a powerful narcotic of an alkaloid group capable of inducing visual hallucinations, as the Indians discovered long before the psychedelic craze began. How they could have made such a discovery without poisoning themselves to death nobody knows; but then nobody knows how so-called primitive man made his many other discoveries. We must concede that science is nothing new, that research, empirical logic, the courage to experiment are as old as humanity." - Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
NOTE: I have been criticized by many people for selling such a 'dangerous' family of plants. I have read and heard of many accounts of the use of these plants by those seeking inebriation, but nothing substitutes for first-hand experience, so I tried a combination of datura and brugmansia, hoping to fly or see god… Making a tea of 3 datura leaves and 2 large brugmansia leaves and one brugmansia flower, I let it brew for a while and drank it over a period of a couple of hours. I didn't see god. Didn't hallucinate in a traditional sense. I probably would not have passed a sobriety test; my walk was very unsteady, my legs and arms seemingly dissociated from my body (or mind), but this wasn't a 'high.' Sometimes when I dream, I have to do a check to see if I am dreaming or awake. With these plants, I was awake, but had to do reality checks to see if I was dreaming. Had to piss a lot. My throat became so dry, I knew what it would be like to die of thirst in the desert. But the scariest part of this trip was that I stopped breathing automatically and had to make myself breathe with my diaphram. These conditions lasted all night. There was no hangover. Can't say I recommend using these plants in this manner.
"I studied for a moment, sort of holding my breath, and then said to myself: 'All right, then, I'll go to Hell.'" - Samual Clemens, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
DATURA INOXIA TOLOACHE: The largest flower of all native California plants: 6-10" long white trumpets with a slight lavender tinge to the opening. The 2-3' tall shrub has large, almost velvety gray leaves and can become up to 6' across: more sprawling than it is bushy. Grow all datura in part shade or full sun and rich, moist soil. Tender, dormant in winter. The roots can be dug and saved in a cool, dry place overwinter and replanted in spring. All datura are poisonous. DATURA METELOIDES A large bush with white 3-6" long trumpet flowers (late summer to winter, and longer if grown in the greenhouse) and gray leaves. Often confused with D. inoxia, but of a taller (3-4'), more shrub-like growth (rather than sprawling) and smaller, more numerous flowers. Used by many American Indian tribes in rituals and as an inebriant. Perhaps the most hardy Datura listed here, going dormant in the winter. Mexico and Southwestern US. DATURA STRAMONIUM JIMSON WEED, THORNAPPLE: An upright, very strongly scented annual bush with large dark green leaves and many 3-4" white flowers. This is the datura that is hated by farmers and ranchers because it can cause poisoning in livestock and spreads very easily from seed. I like it. The Algonquin Indians of N. America used this plant as the chief ingredient in a potion called wysocean that was given to adolescent boys for 18-20 days continuously to initiate them into manhood. They were supposed to unlive their childhood, becoming men by forgetting they had ever been boys. Modern American culture is sorely lacking in male initiation rites, but I don't think I'm ready to recommend this one. DATURA TATULA LILAC FLOWERED JIMSON WEED: Identical to D. stramonium and considered by some a variety, but with lilac colored flowers and purple stems. Some will come up white flowered; it's easy to tell without having to wait months for the bloom: the lilac flowered plants have purple stems and the white flowered ones have light green stems.
"Culture is not your friend." - Terence McKenna
LYCIUM CHINENS MATRIMONY VINE, GOU-QI-ZI: The small, red, pleasantly sweet fruit of this easily grown, deciduous, hardy shrub have long been a popular tonic in traditional Chinese medicine. It is used for nonspecific immune system enhancement and for many diseases from diabetes to poor eyesight, to impotence, to high blood pressure. Grows best in rich, moist, sandy, alkaline soil in full sun and prefers a cool climate (naturally grows at the 6-8000' level in China) The fruit is most often used in combination with other herbs.
MANDRAGORA OFFICINARUM MANDRAKE: A near mythological plant prominent in European and Near-Eastern magic. Nearly impossible to germinate, difficult to grow, dangerous to harvest and deadly to use.
"By Hercules! I do hold it and will affirm it, before any prince in Europe, to be the most sovereign and precious weed that ever the earth tendered to the use of man." "By Gad's me!" rejoins Cob, "I mar'l what pleasure or felicity they have in taking this roguish tobacco. …good for nothing but to choke a man and fill him full of smoke and embers." - Ben Johnson, Every Man in His Humour, 1598 "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." - Sigmund Freud, 1856-1939
NICOTIANA ALATA JASMINE TOBACCO: A tender perennial tobacco with sweet scented 3" white flowers atop 3' stems. Usually grown as an ornamental and aromatic annual. Low nicotine content. NICOTIANA GLAUCA TREE TOBACCO: A tender perennial tobacco (actually all tobaccos are tender to freezing, some more than others-this is the generally the hardiest). Can grow 12' or more tall in mild climates. This variety has long, slender, sticky leaves with yellow flowers. Contains no nicotine, rather anabasine which is slightly different, though just as deadly. Reseeds easily. NICOTIANA RUSTICA WILD TOBACCO: OK, now this is the real stuff, with a nicotine content highter than commercial tobacco. This plant was probably the first cultvated plant in the history of mankind. It is very highly valued among Native Americans and is an integral part of almost all of their shamanic disciplines. It is a short-lived perennial with yellow-green flowers that look amazingly like those of belladonna.
SOLANUM DULCAMARA BITTERSWEET: A hardy, perennial shrub with small leaves and ¼" red berries. Much used in traditional medicine as an expectorant, diuretic and for skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema. All parts of this plant are poisonous. SOLANUM DULCAMARA, variegated VARIEGATED BITTERSWEET: A very colorful version of the previous. SOLANUM MURICATUM PEPINO: Tender perennial shrub with large (3-6" long), edible green/yellow and purple striped fruit that tastes something like mild honeydew melon. Native to South America, but developed in New Zealand. 'Temptation' variety.
WITHANIA SOMNIFERA ASHVAGANDHA: Since before 1000 BC this plant has been used in Ayurvedic medicine. The root is considered a tonic for the elderly, relieving tremors and promoting vigor. It is also used as an aphrodisiac and is the drug of choice of Ayurvedic physicians in the treatment of rheumatic pain and joint inflammation. It is popularly used as a sedative. The leaves are used to reduce skin inflammations. The small red fruit (encased in a paper sheath like tomatillos) are used as a dye. This 2-3' tall plant is relatively hardy (to the mid-20ºs) and easy to grow in well-drained, rich soil in full sun. Dormant in winter.
CAMELLIA SINENSIS TEA: This is the source of common green and black tea. Stimulant, astringent. Grows well (though slowly) in cool coastal California. Young plants should be grown in partial shade and set into full sun the third or fourth year. Loves rich acid soil and continuous moisture. Dark shiny green leaves with fragrant dull white 1½" flowers. Nonvarietal 1 year-old seedlings. It's not important, possibly, that all of the commercial tea you buy from any source is either picked by machine (lower quality, containing stems and older leaves) or by slaves. Quality tea would be 10-20 times more expensive than you pay now if the people who picked it were treated as human beings. Even the little booklet put out by the US Government at the turn of the century, Home Grown Tea, recommends that you have your servants pick it.
TURNERA DIFFUSA DAMIANA, MISIB COC: A shrub to 6' growing in Central and South America. It's Mayan names translate to, "asthma broom" and "the being that sweeps away asthma." It is a popular aphrodisiac when smoked or used in larger doses. Named after the patron saint of pharmacists. Very tender and needs warmth for growth.
"Between two evils, I always pick the one I haven't tried before." - Mae West
ANGELICA ARCHANGELICA ANGELICA: A European biennial or short-lived perennial (if prevented from flowering). Loves shade and rich, moist clay. It has thick, tall stems with a few large leaves and many large, spherical compound umbels of greenish yellow flowers. Aromatic (a flavoring of Benedictine and Chartreuse), appetite stimulant, carminative. Used in treating anorexia nervosa and bronchitis and once used to treat the plague. Widely used as a remedy for menstrual disorders. For 100s of years, this has been a major cure-all medicinal herb of N. Europe. ANGELICA SINENSIS DANG-GUI: Perhaps the most popular Chinese medicinal plant in and outside of China, dang-qui roots are used for menstrual disorders, as a blood and heart tonic, and as a pain reliever, among a multitude of other uses. It is one of the most studied Chinese herbs. A perennial, it is grown in cool, moist, rich, sandy soil in part shade. The highest quality dang-qui is grown in the cold, high mountains of Gansu provence.
CRITHMUM MARITIMA SAMPHIRE: An hardy, unusual looking small plant from the cliffs of Scotland. Aromatic, fleshy, spike like leaves with umbels of small yellowish green flowers. The seeds and leaves were once common as a spiced pickle in Medieval England.
FOENICULUM VULGARE FENNEL, XIAO-HUI-XIANG: A very hardy, somewhat coarse, hair-like leafed plant with numerous yellow flower umbels atop 6-7' tall stalks. Carminative, aromatic (anise), a weak diuretic, mild stimulant. The root and stalks were used for food, the seeds as a condiment and flavoring. Allays hunger and is used as a diet aid. Used in Chinese medicine to promote energy flow, relieve pain and disperse congestion. Naturalizes easily.
HYDROCOTYLE ASIATICA -major GOTU KOLA: A trailing plant native to India's marshes. Tonic, diuretic, antibiotic, purgative. And mild stimulant in small doses, narcotic in larger doses. Used in treating leprosy and tuberculosis. Some say it strengthens the memory, but I forget where I read that. Tender to freezing and grows best in part shade in rich, moist, acid soil. Also called Centella asiatica HYDROCOTYLE UMBELLATA PENNYWORT: Very similar to gotu kola, but not as tender. Prefers growing in ponds.
LEVISTICUM OFFICINALE LOVAGE: A large, hardy, strongly aromatic, strong tasting, coarse celery-like plant that grows well in common garden soil in full sun. Diuretic, carminative, stomachic. In the Middle Ages, it had a reputation as an aphrodisiac, hence the common name. Now mainly used culinarily. This plant grows much taller (to 9') and very much quicker than I read that it would. Very impressive: I can see why it was considered aphrodisiac in the Doctrine of Signatures.
SMYRNIUM OLUSATRUM BLACK LOVAGE, ALEXANDER'S: An ancient vegetable and medicinal used as a stomachic, diuretic. All parts of this hardy, easy to grow biennial are edible, but it is customary to blanch the vegatative parts (to remove the bitterness) before eating.. It has 12" long lower leaves, 4" umbels of small, fragrant yellow green flowers, a tall furrowed stem and large aromatic black seeds. The flavor is similar to a strong, bitter celery.
"There is a tendency in the human mind to jog along in beaten ruts of old familiar ways without questioning, and so we witness the shallowness of those who have grown up to blindly follow the methods of their predecessors, instead of shaping and adapting the suggestions of earlier times to modern requirements. The natural outgrowth from this spririt is a narrowness of mind which, while popularly associated with onservatism, may often be regarded as merely ignorance." - W. Golden Mortimer, MD, 1901
URTICA DIOICA "One day M. Madelaine saw some peasants busy plucking out Nettles; he looked at the heap of plants uprooted and already withered, and said- "They are dead. Yet it would be well if people knew how to make use of them. When the nettle is young, its leaf forms an excellent vegetable; when it matures, it has filaments and fibres like hemp and flax. Nettle fabric is as good as canvas. Chopped, the nettle is good for poultry; pounded it is good for cattle. The seed of the nettle mingled with fodder imparts a gloss to the coats of animals; its root mixed with salt produces a beautiful yellow colour. It is besides excellent hay and can be cut twice. And what does the nettle require? Little earth, no attention, no cultivation. Only the seed falls as it ripens, and is difficult to gather. That is all. With a little trouble, the nettle would be useful; it is neglected, and becomes harmful."" -Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
VALERIANA OFFICINALIS VALERIAN, GARDEN HELIOTROPE: A very strong medicinal plant: sedative, stomachic, antispasmodic, carminative. The root was used for centuries n insomnia, nervous exhaustion, anxiety, &c. Very hardy, it grows best in moist, rich soil, but will produce just about anywhere.
LIPPIA CITRIODORA LEMON VERBENA: A tender, semi deciduous shrub or small tree from Argentina and Chile with a strong, somewhat heavy lemon flavor and scent. Has bright green leaves in whorls of three or four and minute white flowers. Also classified as Aloysia triphylla. This plant is easily kept in a pot with sandy rich soil and much light. It survives winters here at the nursery as long as the temperature doesn't dip below 25°. Makes a great tea. Antispasmodic, stomachic, aromatic. LIPPIA DULCIS AZTEC SWEET HERB, ORASÚS: A low growing plant always covered with small white cone flowers. Has a wonderful scent and a very sweet taste. Once a possibility for commercial use as a sugar substitute until studies showed high doses caused thyroid cancer in rats. Now being researched as a flavoring. Don't feed to rats. Leaves used as a remedy for bronchitis and dry, hacking coughs. The flowers are chewed for toothache. Grow in shady areas, with moisture, where the temperature doesn't drop below 30°. Grows well in a pot as a house plant. The leaves turn purple if given too much light.
NASHIA INAUGUENSIS MOUJEAN TEA: A tender small shrub with tiny, shiny, highly pleasantly scented leaves and small cream colored flowers and bead like orange fruit. The leaves, when dried are used as a vanilla flavored tea. Grow in full sun in well-drained soil. Bahamas.
VERBENA OFFICINALIS VERVAIN, HERBA SACRA, HERBA VENERIS: This is the type of plant witches should keep hidden in times of intolerance; it has long been associated with the craft. The Druids used it (an ingredient of "lustral water"). The old German sorcerers and Greek and Roman priests considered it sacred and used it in sacrifices and as an aphrodisiac and altar plant (often, from what I hear, simultaneously). It was used medicinally as a tonic, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, diaphoretic, and in about 20 other ways. The plant itself is quite inconspicuous with very small pinkish flowers. Unlike many magic/medical plants, its taste in tea form is not unpleasant.
VITEX AGNES-CASTUS VITEX, MONK'S PEPPER: An aromatic shrub or small tree to 20 feet, native to Southern Europe. Used in gynaecological medicine and as an anaphrodisiac for men. Monks used the ground seeds to keep them from 'temptation.' Or from at least one temptation. Modern religious clerics don't seem to have a need to resist this tempation. VITEX NEGUNDO HUANG-JING: Shrub or small tree to 15 feet that is hardy to about -10º and grows on most soils in full sun. Used in Chinese medicine for treating colds, asthma and brochitis. All parts of the plant are used in different applications.
"Life is trouble," Zorba continued, "Death, no. To live… do you know what that means? To undo your belt and look for trouble!" - Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek
VIOLA ODORATA SWEET VIOLET: Cultivated for over 2000 years as a source of perfume and food coloring. Grows easily in moist, rich, high calcium soil in partly shaded situations. The root is used medicinally in the treatment of respiratory disorders.
CURCUMA LONGA TUMERIC: From India, this robust tropical herb prefers rich, moist soil and warmth, going dormant in the winter. Has large leaves and 7" long spikes of yellow flowers. The root is the source of the condiment and a dye.
ELETTARIA CARDAMOMUM CARDAMOM: A tropical forest plant to 5' tall grown for its seed (used in flavoring and as a carminative). Likes very rich, moist soil and partial shade. Survives most winters outside here at the nursery but rarely flowers. Makes a nice foliage house plant with a very pleasant scent
PEGANUM HARMALA SYRIAN RUE: Grows best in rich, dry, sandy soil in full sun (shade young plants for a year or so). Produces the dye "Turkish Red" used in Persian rugs. Also produces several Ayahuasca-like compounds. The seeds and roots are used.
"One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am-a reluctant enthusiast… a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards." - Edward Abbey

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