An Herbal tea is just so easy to make and refreshing

Certainly the history of teas, that is, putting a herb into water, goes a long, long way back, and I believe that it probably started with the Chinese. It is said that in about 2737 B.C. an Emperor by the name of Shen Nung (神農) was waiting while a servant boiled water, had some leaves fall into the water, and being a Herbalist himself, gave the new leaf/water combination a try, and so was the birth of tea, which was Camellia sinensis, which is a herb of course.

But what happened from there you may ask, well, frankly I don’t really know, and probably nobody else really knows either. But I will give you my ‘assumption’, and please, tell me what you think?

I believe that from about the time of Shen Nung and his story, the idea of putting plant matter into hot water probably grew. As they have found containers for tea in tombs from the Han dynasty 206 BC – 220 AD, and it was around the 618-906 AD during the Tang dynasty, that tea became the drink of China. And some say that herbal tea was found in the Pharaoh’s tombs about 1000 B.C.

Ultimately, over those thousands of years, many herbs other than Camellia sinensis would have been tried as a tea, and now Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has many herbal combinations for healing the sick. Of course, as trade via ship and the silk road continued, so did the idea of making a tea.


A herbal tea is actually called a “Tisane”, which is actually an archaic word which means “Peeled Barley”. This is probably a good thing, because it separates from making a herbal tea, a ‘Tisane’, and TEA, which is specifically one plant – Camellia sinensis.

When one comes to term “Infusion” it can apply to many different things because what it means is the ‘pouring or adding in of something’, and with herbal teas and tea, there’s a pouring or adding in of the essences of the plant into the water.

I have left the title of this post, just “How to do Herbal Infusions”, simply because I believe that Camellia sinensis, a herb, (especially Matcha) has wonderful health benefits along with all the other herbs you could make an infusion from, and why not combine tea with another herb?

Also, there are infusions and decoctions, and they are similar, but there are some real differences, one difference is that infusions are never boiled.

Reasons why to have Infusions

One the best reasons for having an infusion is due to the easiness of it, you can simply throw in 1 heaped teaspoon of your favourite herb, pour in some boiling hot water, wait 5 to 10 minutes and there you are, now enjoy.

One of my most favourite ways to take herbs both for enjoyment and therapeutically is via an infusion. Except for those yucky ones of course, then I take capsules, and the reason I normally don’t take tinctures is that they are expensive keep in store just in case. But there is a place for them at times.

Although there are rare issues with infusions, on the whole they are very safe, especially with common and well known herbs. Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard of someone dying from drinking tea?

Herbal teas are generally naturally free from caffeine, unless they have been mixed with something else, so those who want to be caffeine free have many choices of beverages, and are generally less in tannins.

You can take constant infusions of a herb your entire life, if you feel it benefits you, an example of this could be if you tend to indigestion and insomnia, you could take a ginger and peppermint infusion shortly after your dinner, and then later on that night 1/2 an hour before bed have an infusion of chamomile, lemon balm and a small squeeze of lemon juice to help with your liver.

It is only a consideration, if you are taking it ‘therapeutically’, on how much and how long you are taking it for.

Finally, I personally believe that the idea of just sitting down and relaxing over a fragrant, and delicious cuppa, has so many therapeutic benefits, to resist this stressed out world, don’t you think?

How to do Infusions

Even though infusions are an excellent way to obtain the herbs benefits, there are a few suggestions that are worth following for better results.

Never use plastic or aluminium containers to prepare an infusion in, but you can use an enamel, china, porcelain or glass containers. You can even go as far as only using one teapot for tea, and one for tisanes, as they will flavour each other.

I would suggest is that once you have poured your hot water in immediately cover the cup or mug with a plate, saucer or similar to keep the volatile oils in, these are actually those essential oils that are found in herbs. And when you lift up the plate, try to make sure that the liquid condensed underneath the plate drains into your cup.

Or you can place 1 heaped teaspoon (5ml) of your chosen herb into a suitable glass jar, pour in boiling hot water and screw down the lid and wait until it has infused, which in most cases is 5 to 10 minutes. When cool enough to drink, enjoy.

An extra point for fresh herbs, now I love both fresh and dried herbs, but when using fresh herbs in your infusions, it is best to crush, grind or at least finely chop them, just before making the infusion, this is to release the less water-loving constituents out of the herb’s ‘glands’.

Some good herbs to use fresh are: Calendula, Dandelion, Clover, Lemon Balm, Mint, Gentian, Catnip, Lovage, Thyme and Self-heal.

But what about those bits and pieces floating on top? Well, there are at least three ways to deal with this: 1) just skim the liquid off the top, and dodge the pieces, 2) strain through a non-metallic filter, or 3) make or buy natural chemical free single use or reusable teabags.

Don’t worry, the amount of essential oil will not cause any harm as it is very small.

I believe that infusing the constituents out of the herb via hot water is one of the best ways to extract them, as even though you are using water, some but not all, of the less water loving components, will still come out, just not as much as say an alcohol/water extraction. And most tinctures taste yucky!

Hot or Cold Infusions

Yes, there are such as drinks as iced teas, I know, but when talking ‘herbally’ a Cold infusion doesn’t exactly mean the same thing as an Iced tea, as I will go on to explain.

Hot Infusions

Most herbal infusions are prepared using hot water, and yes, there are a few exceptions to the rule, for example Matcha, most are prepared at or ‘just before’ a rolling boil.

Most herbal infusions are mixed at a rate of 1 heaped teaspoon to 250ml of water, and you can multiply from there for larger amounts, and this is fine for most people, when just making a ‘cuppa’. But if you trying to take things more therapeutically then you’ll want to make larger amounts.

If you are using dried herbs then you want about 30g / 1 oz to 500ml / 1 pint, and when using fresh herbs 75g / 2.5 oz to 500ml / 1 pint. This is now best to place this into a thermos flask, that way it keeps hot for longer, and holds in the precious volatile oils and their benefits.

Then take this at half to 1 cup 3 times per day.

Although most people take infusions hot, some are best allowed to cool right down, these are infusions that are intended to act as blood purifiers, bitters for appetite, diuretics, to expel worms, reduce bleeding and to stimulate metabolism.

Cold Infusions

Some constituents are ruined or potency lowered when affected by heat, so at times the best preparation is leaving them in cold water, and some don’t need heat to be extracted.

In this case, all you need to do is place the herbs into a glass jar, pour in the water and leave it for at least 8 hours or overnight. Marshmallow, Wormwood, Mistletoe, Blessed thistle, Valerian and Barberry are such herbs best taken this way.

What about Milk

My first suggestion is not to use milk, I am not anti-milk, but in most cases when using infusions, just a straight herb/water mix is best. But at times, milk can add not subtract.

Milk can also be used instead of water in Cold infusions, but this doesn’t apply to those who are dairy intolerant.

It is interesting to note that milk proteins combine with the tannins in both tea, and some herbal infusions. This can make things more ‘gentler’ on some stomachs. So if you find some infusions irritating to the stomach or causing constipation, maybe try milk.

Milk is best NOT to be used when you are dealing with respiratory conditions, as it can increase mucus levels, thereby making symptoms worse, and some herbal infusions should not be combined with milk, as it can ruin other important and beneficial constituents.

Variations of Infusions

One of the beautiful things about infusions is that you can either just have one herb, or any number of combinations, and generally you only need to go up to three different herbs. The way to understand this is if you were playing a chord on a musical instrument, you want a top, middle and base note, or you could say, melody, harmony and rhythm. Or you could simply say, ‘they work synergistically’.

An example of this – for Dyspepsia:

  • Top note or melody – Peppermint
  • Middle or harmony – Dandelion
  • Base note or rhythm – Meadowsweet

Other variations can be to combine with Tea, yes, Camellia sinensis, and you can easily buy tea in four different ways: black, white, green and matcha (always buy quality matcha).

Also, you can add fruit or fruit juice such as lemon, lime and orange, peach, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and watermelon.

For decoration, you can just simply add a few of the herb leaves or flowers on top, for example, rose petals or mint leaves, or a slice of fruit, such as a slice of lime.

Some sweeteners: can be raw honey, rapadura, agave nectar, or stevia, erythritol and monk fruit for those who are cutting out their sugar. I am not a fan of sugar.

Choice of Herbs for Infusions

This could be any of a thousand different herbs, but what I would suggest, especially if you are relatively new to infusions, is to try the more common ones first, then progress into trying new ones, and then venture out into combinations and even unusual ones.

Since every herb actually has some health benefit, even if it is quite small, I would also advise finding something that has some immediate help, an example of these could be:

  • Chamomile: anti-inflammatory, carminative, mild sedative, and vulnerary
  • Peppermint: spasmolytic, carminative, antiemetic, antitussive, emmenagogue, tonic, antimicrobial, mild sedative/stimulant, digestive and enzyme activator
  • Ginger: antibiotic, carminative, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, carminative, analgesic, digestive, expectorant
  • Lemon balm: carminative, spasmolytic, mild sedative, stomachic, antioxidant, antibacterial, nervine, febrifuge, antiseptic
  • Elderflower: common cold, influenza, sinusitis, bronchitis, hay fever, pharyngitis, laryngitis, and sinus headache

Safety

A few small things to consider when using infusions:

  • Don’t keep them for any longer than 24 to 36 hours, as things will break down
  • If you are using them therapeutically use them for 6 weeks, then break for 1 week, then resume
  • Most common herbs are fine to use in infusions, BUT, some should only be taken in low to very low doses, otherwise they can become toxic, so unless you KNOW the herb and know it is safe, always do your research first. (These are usually hard to find)
  • If you become pregnant, some herbs you should either reduced or removed from your diet, so check with your health care professional first


Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

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Herbal Panda

“Hello good neighbour, I am looking for someone, someone who can help me to the core, I have some issues and concerns that require attention, do you know somebody?” asked the tired and weary man, wiping sweat from off his brow. “Yes I do, kind fellow, and he’s just the man for the job, Mr Hawthorn is the name he comes by, have you heard of him?” said the neighbour. “Ahh yes, I man after my own heart.” said the weary man.

Hawthorn of the Crataegus species, has had a bit of an interesting and colourful past, and as with some folk, they have been unfairly accused of bad connections and therefore, don’t get the recognition they deserve. Well, hopefully I can help with bringing about a change.

Hawthorn is native to North America, areas of Europe, North Africa and Asia Minor. In very early sites and settlements archeologists have discovered seeds that were from the hawthorn fruit, strongly suggesting that they were using hawthorn berries as a source of food for a very long time.

To the ancient Greeks and Romans, it contained rich symbolism, that they connected with things like marriage, their fertility, and hope, and even the Greek brides and bridesmaids used it at their weddings, where the bridesmaids wore the flower and the bride carried a bough.

Later on, some folk decided to say that the ‘Crown of Thorns” of whom Christ was supposed to have worn, was Hawthorn, and due to this, the reputation of hawthorn went down hill. Sadly, a perfectly good herb was defamed over what was probably just an opinion, as it was more than likely the Jujube Tree – Ziziphus spina-christi, but frankly, nobody really knows.

It appears that this reputation was extended, due to the flower of some European species that had an odour of rotting meat, which was to encourage carrion-eating insects to pollinate their flowers. To add to this, as the plague went through, the dead left lying around had the same smell. I guess that variety wouldn’t be my first choice to plant in my back yard.

Thankfully, this reputation “died away“, and no longer stinketh, and by the time of Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) it had started to gain a good reputation as a ‘medicinal herb’. As Mr Culpeper states:

“The berries, or the seed … are a singular remedy for the stone, … effectual for the dropsy (accumulation of excess water). The distilled water of the flowers stayeth the lask (I have no idea what lask is); and the seeds, cleeted from the down, then bruised and boiled in wine, will give instant relief to the tormenting pains of the body. If cloths and sponges are wet in the distilled water, and applied to any place wherein thorns, splinters, &c. are lodge, it will certainly draw them forth.”

Sadly even after this qualified description, it was not for many years to come that the true essence and virtues of Hawthorn finally came to light until after the death of a doctor who had managed to successfully treat heart disease and congestive heart failure during the 1800’s. Dr D. Greene, of Ennis, County Clare, Eire, a well known Irish physician kept it a secret until his death and then his daughter revealed that he used a tincture made of red ripe hawthorn berries. After this it became widely used by many herbalists and some doctors for treatment of heart and cardiovascular issues.

I believe that all doctors and chemists should have the right to use and prescribe herbs within their practice.

The book ‘Left for Dead’ by Dick Quinn wrote, “Used in conjunction with a healthy diet and stress management, hawthorn is a perfect, preventative prescription for person who have a family history of heart disease.” This is because it is believed to be safe, good with long term use, non-toxic, non-addictive, and non-accumulative. Said to be a ‘normaliser,’ meaning, that it will balance the heart depending on which way it needs to go, either stimulating or depressing.

Also in David Hoffmann’s Holistic Herbal, he says, “Hawthorn, one of the best tonic remedies for the heart … It may be used safely in longterm treatment for heart weakness or failure … palpitations … angina pectoris … and high blood pressure.”

In Russia, the name means something like, “your honor, lady landowner” giving reference to a rich or inaccessible lady who is attractive but hard to get.

The Weed Files

Is hawthorn a shrub or a tree? Well frankly, due to hawthorn being part of a group of over 200 different species, hawthorn really covers a lot of ground you could say. But when speaking about Crataegus monogyna, and if ‘push comes to shove’, I would have to say that it starts as a shrub and ultimately forms a tree. See how I dodged that one?

Is the Hawthorn berry, a berry, a fruit, or a pome?

Now this could actually get rather confusing, as in, when you really tackle such questions from a botanical and scientific approach, you find your wrangling with something bigger than you.

Now the first part” is it a berry? No, it is not, it is actually a pome. Pomes are in a small group of their own, which include apples, pears, loquats, and quince, and lesser known fruits such as: Medlar, California holly, Serviceberry, Rowan, Chokeberries and finally Hawthorn.

Is it a ‘fruit’? Well, yes it is, but when classifying it as a fruit, it is actually, an ‘accessory fruit’; this means that not only did it come from the ovary of the flower, but it is part of the flower. Technically, it is the swelling of the floral tube at the base of the ovary, that engulfs the seed and ovary etc., which is the actual fruit.

The best way to see this, is to cut an apple in half before you eat it and you will see a faint line inside the apple, this is the division between the swelling and the actual fruit.

May, Mayflower or Mayblossom

So where did three of the many common names for hawthorn come from? Hawthorn in the Northern hemisphere tends to bloom from about April to June, and depending on latitudes etc., and the three names May, Mayflower and Mayblossom, comes from the fact that in England it always blooms in ‘May’.


How To Use Hawthorn

Certainly hawthorn doesn’t have the culinary notoriety as so many other fruits and berries, and is more used for its medicinal or practical values depending where you live for example. In some places, hawthorn is just so ‘common place’, that nobody really cares.

But even if you didn’t have an interest in hawthorn in the medicinal sense, it still does have uses. One of its present and oldest uses is in hedgerows, and apart from the stinking varieties, it has beautiful sprays of flowers and fruits, excellent in larger gardens and back drops.

But I hope to supply a few recipes since they are not so common, and try to suggest some other uses you may not have thought of.

Hawthorn Herbal Teas

Herbal tea is probably one of the easiest ways to consume hawthorn, and it is also helpful in the practice of getting the person to sit down and rest, whilst gaining its medicinal benefit. In some ways, this is very important for this particular herb, and why is this? Because this herb requires long term use to gain real and long term benefits, it isn’t one of those herbs that act quickly, even if it is the exact herb you need, it will still take a while.

Simple Hawthorn Teas

  • Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of either dried berries, leaves or flower into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for 15 minutes
  • Add sweetener if needed, such as, raw honey, stevia, erythritol or monk fruit
  • Sit, rest and enjoy

You can safely drink this tea three times a day, and to make it stronger, simply add more herb, and drink it before meals.

A Hawthorn Decoction

A decoction has several differences from an infusion, and one main thing is that it will be stronger, due to greater processing.

  • Place 1 tablespoon (15g) of crushed fruits into a saucepan
  • Pour in one cup of water
  • Bring to boil and gently simmer for 10 minutes
  • Turn off the heat and allow to stand for another 30 minutes
  • Drink 1/3 to 1/2 a cup three times a day, 1/2 an hour before meals
  • If needed, add some sweetener
  • This can be refrigerated in a sealed glass jar for 24 hours

Culinary Uses for Hawthorn

Though not so common, I believe that hawthorn really does have a lot to offer in the culinary world, it just hasn’t been tapped into. We need some ‘interesting’ chef to stamp their mark on the hawthorn world, like cooking hawthorn berries with liquid nitrogen and a blow torch.

Hawthorn is really up to the imagination in how it can be used, as the flowers can be eaten raw, used in green and fruit salads, placed in ice blocks for drinks, decoration on cakes and other desserts such as ice-cream and puddings, in breads, used as a garnish, flavouring for cool summer drinks, punches and other beverages. It can be used in jams and jellies, chutney, sauces for sweet and savoury dishes, marmalades and conserves, which can be spread on anything from toast to cake rolls, scones and buns.

The idea is to think, ‘berry’ or ‘fruit’ and no its not a berry, its a pome and accessory fruit, but where else could you use a berry or fruit?

Hawthorn Chutney

  • Place 2 1/2 cups of cider vinegar in a suitable saucepan
  • Add 1 kg / 2.2 lbs of berries
  • Bring to boil and then simmer for 15 minutes
  • Allow it to cool down until safe enough to put into a blender**
  • Blend into a chunky pulp
  • Pour the blended mix back into the saucepan
  • Add 1 cup of raisins
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
  • Add 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • Add 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cloves and allspice
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • Simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes, whilst stirring
  • When quite thick place into a jar and seal and store in the fridge

This goes marvellously with cold meats and and on toast with ricotta or cottage cheese.

** Putting very hot liquids etc., into a blender and blending it can release heat creating an explosive situation. I have burnt myself before blending hot ingredients.

Hawthorn Jelly

  • Pour 1 litre into a large blender
  • Add 1 1/2kg / 3.3 lbs of berries to the blender
  • Blend into a pulp
  • Pour the contents into a suitable saucepan
  • Bring to boil and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes
  • Strain off and collect the juice
  • For each cup of juice, add 1 cup of sugar plus, the juice of a lemon
  • Gently boil, stirring regularly to prevent, sticking or burning to the saucepan
  • Continue until, you can get a spoonful to set like jelly on a cold saucer
  • At this stage, bottle and seal ready for use

Hawthorn berries are very high in pectin.

A Simmering Potpourri

For those users and makers of simmering potpourri, did you know that dried hawthorn berries go with allspice berries?

Health Uses of Hawthorn

Before I say anything here, any heart condition should be considered serious and can be fatal. Therefore, it should not be taken lightly, if you have or suspect a heart condition, it is advisable that you see a medical profession. Hawthorn is an excellent herb to help those with heart conditions, but please see your medical professional first before any self-treatment.

There are three types of hawthorn that are considered in medicinal use in the West, and they are Crataegus monogyna, Crataegus oxycantha syn. C. laevigata, and the Crataegus sanguinea, which I believe may be less known but does have similar properties. With Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Chinese practitioners use Japanese hawthorn – Crataegus sinaica.

The parts used for medicinal use are the berries, leaves and flower. They can be used in combination with each other, for example, berries and flowers, or using dried and fresh together will work. But for more specific ‘heart benefits’ its the leaves and flowers that are most helpful.

Collecting from well researched books and from many studies, the list of possible benefits to using hawthorn are numerous.

Hawthorn Facial lotion

This recipe is said to help improve complexion and help with acne.

  • Soak 1 cup of fresh berries in 2 cups of water for 8 hours, “OR”
  • Soak 1/2 cup of dried berries in 2 cups of water for 12 hours
  • After soaking, bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Allow to cool and then strain
  • Either refrigerate for the short term, or freeze for much later use
  • Apply both morning and night with a gentle applicator, “OR”
  • Use as a cold compress

Gardening Uses of Hawthorn

Though not well known for it’s use in the diet, it has other values worth planting for. Since it has so many varieties, as in, over 200, this gives us a range of uses. One of its nicest uses is as an ornamental, and this comes from three areas:

1). It has quite a lovely little flower and its colour can range from white to a dark pink, that can come out on mass, it is 5 petalled, and 12mm / 1/2″ diameter, and there are a few that have a double flower.

2). After the flush of flowers, then come the gorgeous bursts of red, but sometimes you can get: pink, yellow and orange, and even a white. These “Haws” as they are also called, can be from the size of a raisin to the size of the crabapple – 25 to 37mm / 1″ to 1 1/2″. Some are quite tasty to nearly no flavour. So if you are thinking about putting a few of these into your garden, choose one that you know will work for you.

3). Hawthorn can often have long horizontal branches, which could trained, therefore as it grows, it can be shaped or trimmed, or directed in, around, along and over things to either hide something, create shade, safety from nosey neighbours or cool walls, over pergolas and create wind breaks.

Another use is one of its oldest uses, and that is for building hedgerows to control stock. Some varieties can grow so thick and thorny, that they literally become an impenetrable mass. But I probably wouldn’t put your expensive thoroughbred up against it.


How to Grow Hawthorn

Hawthorn is part of the rose family – Rosaceae, which is part of the reason their double flowers actually look some what like roses. Different species grow differently to others, so some can grow into a tree up to 10 m / 33′ high, and this length of growth can give the ‘clever’ gardener some scope to really become artistic. Many have thorns, so be aware of this, but some don’t. It normally flowers in late spring with small five-petalled white to pink flowers, and the berries arrive in late summer.

Due to hawthorn having so many different species, and some suggesting over 1000, plus the cultivars, and to add to this dilemma, they grow literally in so many environments and climates, it is difficult to nail down easy growing advice.

But at least I can provide some general advice, but it may be a good idea to visit local nurseries and to do a little of your own local observation and research too.

On the whole hawthorn can just about grow in any reasonable soil type, but if you are looking for preferences, then they prefer alkaline soils that are rich, moist and loamy. Be aware that some do prefer full sun to part shade.

From Seed

From seed it can be a little difficult and worst of all, it can take about 5 months or in some cases up to 18 months, so it is probably not for the impatient gardener.

  • Once you see the birds starting to eat the berries, than that is a good sign that you should harvest for the seed. This is usually around mid autumn to winter.
  • Start with cleaning away the flesh around the seed
  • Drop the seed into a small bowl of water, and if they sink then they are suitable for planting
  • Place a mixture of potting mix and sharp sand into 10cm / 3″ pots
  • Place the seeds on top of this mix and cover 1 to 2 cm / 3/8 to 3/4″ of the mixture
  • Gently water in
  • If you are in a region that snows or gets very cold, then leave the pot outside to chill, you may need to protect from vermin eating the seed
  • If you are not in a cold region, then you may need to put it in the coldest part of the fridge, this is to simulate its natural course of winter
  • After about 3 to 4 months and all is going well, you should see something popping up
  • Otherwise, it may take up to 18 months
  • As they begin to germinate, wait until each plant is sufficiently big and strong enough to handle the position you wish to plant in

From Cuttings

  • Cut 10cm to 15cm / 4″ to 6″ softwood stems, and when making the cut, cut just below the node.
  • Pull of the leaves from the bottom of the cutting
  • Dip about 1.5 to 2.5cm / 1/2 to 1″ into either rooting compound, raw honey, or cinnamon
  • Make a mixture of equal parts, potting mix, perlite and clean sand and fill the required containers
  • Gently moisten the mix in the containers
  • Push a hole into the mix with a stick or pencil or similar
  • So long as you don’t place the cuttings against each other, you can put several cuttings in each container
  • Place each cutting into the hole you just made and press around them to sure them up, don’t allow any leaf matter into the hole as it will rot
  • Place a clear plastic bag over the cuttings to keep them moist and warm
  • Put the plants where they can be cared for and out of direct sunlight
  • Don’t let them get hot
  • Keep the mixture ‘just moist’, wet can lead to problems
  • All going well, you should see roots at the bottom of the container in about two to three months and hopefully some growth onto top
  • When they are established, repot them into larger pots with general purpose potting mix
  • Continue to keep the soil just moist until ready to be planted out into the spot where you want them
  • When planted out, make provision for any climate extremes and animals that may harm them
  • If it is very cold, you may have to wait two seasons before planting them out in the field
  • Mulch them after they have been planted out

From Layering

I can’t find too much about layering of hawthorn, but I personally believe that you should be able to do it and succeed. This includes both layering in the ground and also air layering, although I have not tried it.

Maintenance

Hawthorn really doesn’t require much maintenance, as it is such a hardy plant once established.

Pest and Diseases

Ornamental species can often suffer from leaf spot, fire blight, and cedar hawthorn rust, which cause early defoliation and decline.

Soil and Fertiliser

If you were a little concerned, and I don’t think it would hurt one bit if you at least kept the plant sufficiently mulch and just added in ‘little’ manure or liquid fertiliser once each growing season.

Climate and Region

Generally hawthorn prefers cold to cooler climates, but I do know that it grows in temperate to subtropical regions, but it may not do so well or grow as fast.


Collecting

If you are collecting either leaves or flowers, you should collect them right after blossoming, once the dew has dried off. If you are collecting the leaves or flowers for a tea infusion in the morning, then it doesn’t matter if there is any dew on the flowers.

The berries are harvested later on in summer when they are fully ripe and collect them either in the morning or evening or dry cloudy days. When collecting berries, check them for defects, damage and unripe fruits, foreign particles, plus pieces of stems or leaves or insects and their eggs or any presence of disease or bruising, especially when gathering for medicinal use.

Drying

Simply spread the leaves or flowers evenly on dry towelling paper or a dry kitchen towel in an open and airy room. Don’t stack them on top of each other.

When drying berries, place them on dry towelling paper or a dry kitchen towel in an open and airy room. The best temperature for drying berries is in-between 25 to 32C / 75 to 90F and a low humidity.

Storage

Once the leaves or flowers are thoroughly dry, place then into an air tight jar and keep them out of sunlight, and if there is signs of mould then get rid of them.

For storage check the berries for foreign particles and any defects. Check also for any berries that are dark and mouldy or dry spots and compost them. A berry should have its natural taste, colour and smell, even if its dry. After storage for some time, if any berries become mouldy then throw them out.

Macerating

If you are macerating from the berries, make sure that you use all of the berry, this includes the seed, which contains many of the ‘cardiotonic’ properties, therefore, break up the seed before macerating, thereby improving its benefits.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

May flower, May blossom, May, May tree, May bush, Hedgethorn, Hawberry, Whitethorn and Haw

Parts used:

Leaves with berries or flowers

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 3.0 – 4.0 grams

Main actions:

Cardio protective, mild cardio tonic, coronary vasodilator, hypotensive, peripheral vasodilator, anti-arrhythmic, antioxidant, mild astringent, collagen stabilising, sedative, diuretic, antispasmodic, digestive,  antithrombotic, adaptogen, cholesterol and mineral solvent

Indications:

Mild congestive cardiac failure, cardiac arrhythmias, angina pectoris, heart attacks – preventative, cardiomyopathy, impaired peripheral circulation, risk of infarction, paroxysmal tachycardia, hypertension, palpitations, fatty degeneration, enlargement of heart – over work, over exercise, mental tension, intermittent claudication, long term dizziness, Buerger’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Lupus, Leukaemia, ADD, Diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, halitosis, atherosclerosis, memory loss, mild anxiety, insomnia, and emotional stress. Plus, Menopausal symptoms –  hot flashes, gout, pleurisy, fluid retention, low energy, sore throat, assists adrenal function, arthritis, swelling of the spleen, and stimulates red blood cells

Constituents:

Oligomeric procyanidins – 1 – 3%, procyanidin B-2, flavonoids – 1 – 2%, quercetin glycosides – hyperoside and rutin, flavone-C-glycosides – vitexin, proanthocyanidins, aminopurines, amines, polyphenolic acid, coumarins,  Flavonoids highest in flowers and oligomeric procyanidins highest in leaves, volatile oil, fixed oils, resins, saponins, sugars, fatty acids – linoleic, linoeuic, lauric and palmitic

Safety concerns:

None known, but caution with digitalis based drugs, such as digoxin – yet nothing has been established, consume away from minerals, thiamine, and alkaloids

Adulterants:

None known



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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“The heart feels and the mind thinks, to walk straight you need both”

Herbal Panda

Miss Raspberry! Please tell me, why O why are you so prickly yet so tasty! Miss Strawberry doesn’t behave like you, she is so bountiful and she doesn’t be so prickly. “Please understand kind person,” said Miss Raspberry, “I may be pretty, but I don’t come cheap.”

It is frankly no surprise that raspberries have been used for so long for so many purposes, for a start, its fruit is a treat to your taste buds, a melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness that nobody can deny.

It is also no surprise to find out that the ancient Chinese, Greeks, native American Indians and Indian ayurvedics all have used raspberry in the treating of many conditions over thousands of years. Over its history, it has been used in the same manner as blackberry, and in ‘general’ can be used interchangably too. In many ways, Miss Raspberry lived in Blackberry’s shadow, but in modern times she has come out to stand rightfully on her own.

Also, in the ancient times the raspberry bush grew abundantly on Mount Ida – Kazdağı, in Turkey and from here it gained its Latin name, Rubus idaeus‘Rubus’ coming from the Latin to mean ‘bramble’, and ‘idaeus’ because it came from Mt. Ida.

Raspberry – Rubus idaeus, part of the rose family, is a native of the northern hemisphere and is well known for its wonderful and most delicious fruit, ranging from pink to red cone shaped fruits that have tremendous flavour. Yes I know, I keep raving about the flavour, BUT, it also has a wonderful ability to add colour, texture and richness to any dessert, drink, smoothie or beverage, and a few other interesting meals if your daring enough. I have heard of omelettes.

Raspberries coming on

Culinary Uses

Raspberries have so many culinary uses, and as discussed earlier they are fantastic in desserts and drinks of all sorts, adding good nutrition to your diet. So I have decided here, not to suggest any cooking recipes as there are just so many in books and on the internet, that I didn’t feel it was necessary to share any.

Raspberry Herbal tea

Raspberry tea can be drunk just for the pleasure of it, but it can also be used medicinally internally for diarrhoea, menstrual issues, gargles and nausea, and when cooled, externally on burns, wound and as a wash for sore and tired eyes.

  • Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried or fresh finely chopped raspberry leaf in to cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for 3 to 4 minutes
  • Strain out the leaf
  • Add some sweetner if needed such as honey, stevia or erythritol
  • And enjoy

Raspberry vinegar

This vinegar preserves the vitamin C and other constituents found in the fruit. Drinking a little during cold and flu season may help prevent them, and can also be used as a gargle and mouthwash.

  • Gather enough bought or fresh organic raspberries to fill your chosen glass bottle
  • Fill and cover with a cider vinegar
  • Seal and store in a cool place for about three to four days
  • Give a little shake each day
  • Strain and reseal into a suitable sized glass bottle
  • Label and store in a cool dark place

Dosage

  • For prevention of winter chills, take 1 to 2 teaspoons with some warm water each day
  • For a gargle or mouthwash: prepare a mix of 3 parts water and 1 part raspberry vinegar. You can drink at this concentration if you already have a cold or flu too.

A Perfect Lady’s Herb

Apart from every girl loving raspberries, raspberry is a herb made in heaven for the women of this world, as it is up there with Chaste tree, Peony root, Cramp bark and Shatavari and oils like Evening primrose oil. Apart from weddings there isn’t a more stressful time than becoming a mother and then the baby arrives! No wonder so many women hit a wall when they become a first time mum, they are not weak, its just so much. Not to mention hormones, and everybody’s an expert too.

A little Story

Having kids can be rough; when my wife became a first time mum it really hit her, There I was at work, welding up farming equipment in the middle of the day and all of a sudden the wife of the manager of the firm comes and tells me that I need to go home. Why? Because my wife had just rang her in tears, totally distraught, so upset that her baby boy just wouldn’t stop crying. So off I went, and even though I couldn’t do much, at least I was there to support her, and at least it wasn’t serious, — she cried because she cared. (By the way, they gave me the rest of the day off with pay. (Thanks Irene and Ian.)

Sometimes women don’t want answers, mostly just a listening ear and to care.

Tears are more precious than makeup, that’s why they shine through –Herbal Panda

Raspberry Leaf or Fruit

When it comes to being ‘therapetic’, that is, having an affect on a person, it is the leaf that is most important, yes, the fruit does have benefits, but if you really want to make something happen, it is the leaf we need. Thankfully the leaf of the bush is available most of the time, that is, more than the fruit. Both fresh or dried leaf can be used in teas or decoctions and tinctures, plus, you can take the powder in capsules or mixed into smoothies.

Dried Raspberry Leaf

Raspberry leaf for Women

Menstruation

Raspberry leaf is great for ‘that time of the month’, as it is said that it helps to decrease a profuse menstrual flow as well as reducing painful menstruation and helps to regulate its flow as well. Raspberry leaf has a high iron content, therefore helping during iron loss.

Raspberry leaf for Childbirth

The suggestions given below are NOT medical advice, you should always check with your health care professional first. If you have had serious issues before with pregnancies, then you may be best to avoid it altogether. It is only given as educational and for informational purposes only.

Now getting back to the point of the story I was eluding to earlier, I believe that raspberry leaf can be used quite regularly by women for their benefit, but when is it the most helpful for motherhood? I would say from one to two months before attemping to conceive, “Skipping the first trimester” then right through to one to two months after birth.

Before Conception

The Mum to be, can take one to three cups a day of raspberry leaf tea, right up until conception. Always have this confirmed by a Medical Health Professional.

Conception to the Second Trimester

Completely avoid raspberry leaf in any form in the first trimester. Only use raspberry during the first trimester under strict guidance of a good health care professional never self treat.

From the Second Trimester to Third Trimester

During the second trimester, only take one cup on two different days of the week, for example, one on a Monday and one on a Thursday, it doesn’t have to be those days of course, so long as you keep them a couple days apart.

Third trimester to the last week before expected Birth

When you have reached the beginning of your third trimester, then you can have two cups of raspberry leaf tea per day. Take this until the last week ‘before’ the expected birth. You can add nettles to the tea if you are anaemic.

The Last week before Birth

Only in the last week before birth add two to three cloves to each cup of tea. Do not take cloves during the pregnancy, except for the ‘last week’.

At Birth

Have a large flask of raspberry leaf tea ready, and during the labour process you can drink freely. (It is your birthing, not the hospital’s, you have the right to have it as you like!) This can be mixed with any of your favourite relaxing herbs, such as Chamomile, Lemon balm or Linden flowers. (Some people are allergic to linden.)

After Birth

Add Fennel seeds to the raspberry leaf tea as this helps with milk production, amongst other things. If your milk production is sufficient, then you should stop, retake if you are dropping off again and you still want to keep feeding. You also add: Goat’s rue and Fenugreek too.


How to Grow Raspberry

Raspberry is a perennial that is decidious, that produces delicious fruit in the summer into autumn. It can be a rather vigorous and invasive plant and can grow into a dense spreading mass, and at times possibly considered impenetrable, if let go. Grow it in full sun in well-draining, loamy, rich and loose soil, and add either plenty of compost or mulch to the surface. Avoid clay and salty soils. Be aware, that ‘Primocane’ stems can pop out all over the place, but these are the best to take cuttings and root stock from not the floricanes, although they do work.

Raspberry Uses

Apart from growing heaps of delicious fruit that you can just eat straight off the bush, making wonderful dishes and desserts, drinks and beverages, the raspberry bush can be trained up trellises, over pergolas and other structures to act as wind breaks, sun shades and visual screens to gain privacy from neighbours, and have that secluded spot to rest. Also if placed carefully, trained and pruned well, they can be a thing of beauty, both in large pots and in garden. You could plant it in a spot to ‘intentionally’ let go wild, therefore making a hard to climb through hedge or barrier.

From seed

  • Sow seeds in a pot in mid- winter and keep indoors if you are in very cold climates, but not in snow or frozen ground of course
  • make holes in the mix about 2.5cm /1″ deep
  • Put one to two seeds into each hole
  • Cover and fill in with sand
  • Cover with a hessian bag or similar and put in cool place e.g. in the shade
  • Keep soil moist but not wet
  • In about a month and a half you should see leaves
  • When thy ehave at least four leaves transplant them into separate pots
  • When about 30cm / 1′ high transplant them into the ground
  • Water them in well and mulch to 7.5cm / 3″ deep
  • Train the branches as they grow

From Root Stock

  • If your root stock is dry, soak them for a couple of hours before planting
  • Plant about 8cm / 3″ below the soil
  • Plant the root stock about 60cm / 2′ apart
  • If planting in rows, keep the rows about 2.4 to 3.6m / 8′ to 12′ apart
  • Back fill each root stock and well water in, not flood in
  • Train as they grow

From Layering

You can progagate from first year canes by fixing the ends into the ground via a tent peg or similar.

Companion Planting

Good companions to raspberries are garlic, tansy, rue, turnip, marigold and even pine trees due to their pine needles helping to acidify the soil, as raspberries like a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.

Bad companions are members of the deadly nightshade family, such as, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, also they are not good neighbours to strawberries and fennel doesn’t seem to like anybody much except for Dill.

Maintenence

Pests

Raspberry Pests are Aphids, Raspberry fruit worms and Raspberry beetle, Red-necked cane borers, Raspberry cane borer, Raspberry crown borer, Japanese beetles, Spider mites, Tarnished plant bugs, Thrips, Squash bugs (rare), Vinegar flies and Birds, which can be avoided by covering with mesh. Otherwise encouarge preditory insects, such as lady bugs, green lacewings, wasps, dragonflies, spiders and birds when there is no fruit, or spray with a neem oil/water mix if getting out of control.

Diseases

Some diseases are: Sooty mould, Raspberry mosaic virus, Cane blight, Spur blight, Fire blight, Gray mould, Raspberry leaf spot, Yellow rust, Phytophthora root rot, Verticillium wilt, Raspberry ring spot, and Leaf curl. Generally these can be avoided by hygenic pruning, good ventilation, plenty of sunlight, good trellising and well-draining soil and just enough water to the ground.


Collecting

Fruit

Pick the fruit during mid-summer onwards into early autumn and during the mornings and only pick fruit that comes off easily with a very light tug. If selling, protect greatly against damage due to handling and stacking and rough transport, and keep cool and sell quickly as they don’t keep very long.

Leaf

Leaves can be picked anytime, but may be better just before blossoming, as this would collect the energy before it is directed into the flowers and then steer the energy into the flowers and then fruit, collecting the energy before it shifts into the reproduction process. Make sure you are collecting healthy leaves that are of similar colour, and after all the moisture has dried off, cut with snips or a sharp knife or carefully pick off with your fingers, don’t strip the plant of its leaves. Make sure that there are no defects, from insect damage, discolouration, fungi damage, and free from insects, such as spiders and aphids and insect eggs.

Drying

Simply place the leaves on clean paper towelling or on clean dry kitchen towels in a well ventilated room until brittle.

Storage

Fruit

The fruit does not store for long, unless using a freezer, so you may be better off just eating them off the bush or follow the raspberry vinegar mentioned above.

Leaves

When thoroughly dry and feel brittle, place them into sealable airtight glass jars, label and date, and store in a cool, dry and dark place.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

COMMON NAMES:

Raspberry, European wild raspberry, American red raspberry, Bramble of Mt. Ida, Hindberry, common or Red raspberry

PARTS USED:

Mostly the leaf, but the fruit can be used and sometimes the root

DOSAGE:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 2.0 – 6.0 grams

MAIN ACTIONS:

Astringent, febrifuge, partus preparator, uterine tonic, smooth muscle stimulant, parturifacient, refrigerant, anti-spasmodic, alterative and antidiarrhoeal 

INDICATIONS:

Preparation for labour, dysmenorrhoea, morning sickness – second trimester, acute diarrhoea, mouth ulcers, diarrhoea, stomatitis. Topically for: inflammation of the throat and mouth, tonsillitis, conjunctivitis, and pharyngitis. Plus, Uterine prolapse, uterine haemorrhage, and gastrointestinal bleeding

CONSTITUENTS:

Flavonoids – rutin and quercetin, tannins – gallotannins and dimeric ellagitannins, volatile oils, vitamin C and organic acids – gallic acid

SAFETY CONCERNS:

DO NOT use in first trimester, use only in second and third trimesters. Don’t use with mineral supplements or with constipation

ADULTERANTS:

Has been confused with bramble or blackberry leaf



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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“I must hippity-hop and I must not stop” said Mister Rabbit. So, Hippity hop, off went Mister Rabbit, hippity hop, hippity hop, but all of a sudden, Mister Rabbit felt very tired, Yawn and yawn again, in fact, he began to feel very sleepy, “think I have a little lie down, surely a little sleep won’t hurt” said Mister Rabbit. So he curled up under some tall green vines with florally fruity smelling flowers, and he slept the whole day away.

Hops or its botanical name Humulus lupulus, is so well known for its ‘Beer’ production, that some may think that this is what this post will be all about. There really isn’t any need for me to put forward any details and recipes of this process as many have thoroughly covered this subject in many ways and it would be rather superfluous for me to harp on about these subjects and there are those who know much more about this process than I.

Therefore, I am intending to keep with the herbal theme as this side of Hops isn’t as well documented. But where they are relating, or of interesting and just a ‘matter-of-fact’ details of things, that may cause some cross-over a bit, so yes some mentions of the history of beer will be made.

It is believed that the earliest details point this plant back to originating in ancient Eygpt, but others have suggested “northern temperate zones”, which I tend to believe. The ancient Greeks and Roman doctors used hops as a digestive aid and the ancient natrualist Pliny suggested it as a garden vegetable and during the first century was already being used in salads.

Ancient Traditonal Chinese practitioners also used it for leprosy, dysentry and tuberculosis.

As far as I can find, the first documentation of Hops detailing its cultivation is in the region of Hallertau or Holledau a region in Bavaria Germany in 736 AD. The next mention is in 768 AD, where Pepin the Short, who was the father of the famous Charlemagne, wrote in his will of leaving his hop garden to Cloister of Saint-Denis.

I find this small snippet and seemingly meaningless piece of information rather interesting, why, because why were they purposefully growing it in the first place? Salads maybe? Like seriously, practically nobody ever grew anything back in those days unless they ‘had to’ for example, for food and income, or they were rather rich and could afford to grow something that is more decorative or ornamental in nature. So what was Pepin the Short growing it for in the first place, you can’t tell me he liked the look of the vine and the smell of the flower!

Somewhere from then until the 13th century the use of hops in beer making must have been developed and made popular as the use of “Gruit” was starting to decline and no doubt the governments of the time taxing either the gruit or hops would have had an affect on the use of either ingredient, which would have affected what choices would be used due the cost of manufacturing. It is interesting to note that the Archbishop of Cologne, had a monopoly with rights to gruit.

So what is Gruit? Gruit was a mix of bitter herbs and flowers that was used to bitter or flavour the alcohol. Gruit was made of several different herbs, such as, dandelion, mugwort, horehound, wormwood, heather, marjoram, ground ivy, burdock, marigold and butcher’s broom, and I would not be surprised if a few other ‘secret’ ingredients weren’t added during those times. The interesting thing about this list of ingredients, is that they all have specific healthy benefits, and therefore the alcoholic drinks at the time would have acted similar to a tincture. Although the high alcohol consumption probably completely ‘discounted’ any real health benefits; you know, there is a difference between a teaspoon of tincture and a pint of beer.

John Gerard (1597) said of hops, “The buds or first sprouts which come forth in the spring are used to be eaten in sallads; yet are they, as Pliny saith, more toothsome than nourishment for they yeeld but very small nourishment.”

Nicholas Culpeper (1826), said of hops that “In cleansing the blood, they help to cure French disease, and all manner of scabs, itch and other breaking-out of the body … The decoction of the flowers and tops… expel poison that anyone hath drank.”

I’m frankly not sure what “French disease” is?

Hops has a male and female plant and it is the Female variety that is use medicinally and commercially. If you want to grow seed, you will need to have both growing together.

One of the principle differences between Beer and Ale, is that beer uses hops in its production and Ale uses malt without hops in its process.


Uses of Hops

A small square bowl of dried hops flowers for a cup of tea

Hops does have many other uses other than beer making, and also apart from the medicinal benefits, which are anti-anxiety, sedative, analgesic, antimicrobial, and diuretic for example, (but no good for depression) there are other practical uses that can be explored.

  • The stems of the vine were used in basket weaving, although I believe not as good as wicker
  • A reddish brown dye was made from the wax that formed on the vines tendrils
  • Also the leaf can help make a brown dye too
  • As a replacement for textile fibre, the fibres of the hop vine were collected and used
  • The un-used parts of the plant were used a fodder for livestock
  • It has been used in making floral arrangements, therefore has uses in potpourri
  • In making garlands and decorations for ceremonies at weddings or to wear bodily
  • When sugar beet is being processed, hops are used for an antibotic
  • Has been suggested as an antibotic used in ethanol production
  • As an antibacterial in the process of small goods, baker’s yeast and cornstarch
  • As a preservative during other fermenting processes (If you know of any others, other than beer, which everybody already knows, send me a line, I would love to hear from you.)

Herbal Teas

Hops can be used straight as a herbal tea that has lots of benefits, therefore making it worth the effort to drink it, you can also flavour it by adding chamomile, lemon balm or lemon verbena or to add more efficacy by adding other herbs such as passionflower or valerian to gain other actions or stronger sedativeness. If you are going to drive or operate dangerous equipment, I would not advise you to use hops or even in stronger mixes.

A Simple Herbal Tea

  • Add 1 teaspoon into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Cover and allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Drink over the next hour or so

Culinary Uses of Hops

From a culinary point of view, the young shoots were added to salads as an interesting treat. They were basically steamed or lightly boiled and then they are eaten and used in recipes to that of asparagus. The male flowers can be used as well, here they are parboiled (partly cooked), then allowed to cool and then tossed into salads. The leaves of the hops can be used in soups and salads, but they will need to be blanched to help remove the bitterness.

Hops Sleep Pillow

To make a sleep pillow, either purchase a small breathable cloth bag, which you can close up in some way such as a zip or pull string, or you can make it yourself by obtaining two pieces a loose open weaved soft cloth about 10cm x 15cm / 4″ x 6″, and sew up three sides, then you can either sew in a pull string to close up the bag or you can sew it up entirely. When stuffing the bag, don’t pack it in tightly as you want it to allow air flow through the pillow and loose enough to be able to ‘fluff it up’ a bit. Here also you can mix in the herbs chamomile, lavender, rose, lemon balm, lemon verbena or any other herb that promotes relaxation.

Place the pillow next to your own pillow and allow yourself to breath its aromas.

Also make sure that the ingredients for the pillow are really quite dry, because if they are damp in any way it can become mouldy.

Antiseptic Wash

The very same recipe described in the herbal teas can actually be used as an antiseptic wash for wounds, cuts and abrasions, or can be used in making poultices. If unsure of its effectiveness, just double the hops.

Potpourri

There are several ingredients that can be used to colour potpourris and hops certainly can be one of them, due to either using its flowers or ‘cones’ or better called strobiles or from the shape, look and scent of the papery calyces.


Gardening Uses

As mentioned earlier, hops can be grown for its young shoots, which act some what like asparagus, therefore providing food, and you could also use the vines to make a simple means of tying up various plants in the garden or making a light weight type trellis. Just as you can use other plants that grow on a strong trellis, you can use hops as a screening to keep out nosey neighbours or winds or cool a wall from the sun. Or you can keep it in large pots and place them on porches or verandahs, to hide yucky areas or grow them over pergolas for shade.

For screening and ease of harvesting there is a “hedgerow” variety, which grows only up to 2.4m / 8″, literally called hedgerow developed by the Wye College.

If you live near a brewery ask for their spent hops, as it can make great mulch or compost material.

Companion Planting Hops

Here hops tends to have different uses when thinking companion planting for a few reasons. It is a decidious plant, therefore you can plant it with another plant or vine that tends to grow better during the colder months dying back exposing the other companion. Or you can grow hops with another variety called Golden Hops – Humulus lupulus ‘aureus’, which when intertwined can make a lovely display of colours.

It can grow on strong tall plants as each crop will draw nutrients differently, plus some plants like corn like having the base roots covered, and you can cut down both plants once they are spent.

A list of herbs to companion plant hops with are: marigolds, yarrow, chives, coriander and anise.

Growing Hops

Hops grow better in cooler temperate climates, but if need be, it can tolerate subtropical conditions if given some shade at times to rest from the heat. Tasmania, the southern most state in Australia commercially grows hops. It likes moist conditions or at least good access to water, with loamy yet well drain soils that have a pH of 6.5 to 8.0. They will need something to climb on, which will need be a strong trellis as mentioned earlier, but will climb wires and string etc. These will need to be strong due to the increasing weight and mass of the plant. Do not grow near electrical wires and cables as it may completely cover them and lead on to more serious issues around fittings, lights or switches, eaves, roofs and other structures.

Hops can grow up to 6m /20′ and can grow up to 30cm / 1′ per day in its peak growing season, so give it plenty of space. Also, if you are attempting to grow it in much colder climates you will need 4 months of no frosts.

From Seed

You can grow from seed when attempting to grow hops, but germination isn’t very reliable and can be slow to germinate, but cold scarification will encourage better results. The biggest issue with growing from seed is the fact that you do not know if it will be male or female. Now if you are for growing for shade or seed, then that dosen’t matter, but if you are growing for the flowers then you’ll need female plants only. So personally, I wouldn’t bother. But if you’re keen enough, just use a container with seed raising mix, and once sown, keep moist and keep in a warm area until they are up.

From Cuttings

Cuttings are one of the best methods to propagate hops.

  • Take your cuttings about late spring into summer
  • Prepare your ground or pots by making sure that they are well draining
  • It is best to use a sterile potting mix
  • Prepare your soil to about a pH of 6.5 to 8.0, neutral is fine
  • They do like good composting
  • Cuttings should be around 12.5cm to 15cm / 5″ to 6″ long
  • Poke a hole into the ground or mix
  • Push the cutting 3cm to 5cm / 1 1/4″ to 2″ deep with at least two nodes in the soil
  • Provide support for your cutting and keep the soil moist
  • If using pots, cover over with a plastic bag to prevent drying out when undercover
  • They should be ready in about two weeks

From Rhizomes

The rhizomes are found under the soil close to the original plant, and collect them late spring.

  • Dig out the rhizomes that are about 8cm / 3″ from the main crown
  • Cut them off at around 12.5cm to 15cm / 5″ to 6″ long
  • Use a clean sharp sterile knife or clippers
  • Prepare the ground or pots the same as with cuttings mentioned above
  • Place them 5cm / 2″ below the ground
  • Keep the ground moist, but not soaking
  • After about a week they should be shooting up and have roots
  • When they are 5cm / 2″ tall begin building suitable supports for training

Maintenance

A simple means to prevent disease in your hops plant is to keep the vine off the ground and well ventilated, meaning to keep it light and airy. Trim the lower branches to keep the lower end of the vine away from the ground and allow air flow underneath. When watering, using a drip supply to the ground is best, as it is easily affected by fungal diseases due to humid, damp and wet conditions.

Diseases

Some of its disease can be Hop mosaic virus and Sooty mold which are spread by aphids, then there is Fusarium canker, Verticillium wilt, Black root rot, powdery mildew, gray mould and crown rot


Collecting

One of the more important things to be careful of when collecting hops is not to lose the pollen from rough or poor handling. Harvest the female flowers early in the day but after all the dew or moisture has dried off. Harvest in autumn when they are turning an amber colour, but not brown and are firm to touch, and you should be seeing a yellow dust on them, not orange. The yellow dust is yellow lupulin, this has the resins and essential oils that have those sedating effects

Some people report that they develop a rash when picking the flowers that they call hop dermatitis, but so far no harm has been reported. If you do find that you do get a rash, just wear long gloves or any other protective clothing when picking.

If havesting the leaves gather them while they are young, but they will need to be blanched to remove any bitterness, and also the male flowers can be harvested any time, and then parboiled (partly cooked) and used in tossed salads as well.

Drying

Drying should also be done carefully and as soon as possible, it is suggested to dry them in an oven or similar at no higher than 60C / 140 F, checking them about every 20 minutes.

You can use a food dehydrator, but make sure that it doesn’t get too hot and has plenty of air flow. Or you can use a fine meshed screen with a fan and plenty of air flow around and under it. A warm dry location and if needed, a fan would help, plus, turn them over to encourage an even drying.

To test to see if they are properly dry, see if you can break it in half, if not, it isn’t ready yet. Also that yellow powder should easily fall out and the leaves of the cone should feel papery with a springiness to it.

Storage

Once throughly dry, carefully place the dried flowers into an air-tight sealed glass jar, and store in a cool darkplace, if using for flavour then use within three months, but medicinally it can be stored for about two years, but can become bitter. (Some medicinal values actually keep strengthening for up to two years.) If any mould forms throw it out.

They also can be stored in freezer bags and placed in the freezer, and try to remove as much air as possible.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

COMMON NAMES:

Hop bine, Hoppen, Wild Hops, Beer Hops

PARTS USED:

The female flower or ‘Strobile’

DOSAGE:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 1.5 – 4.0 grams

MAIN ACTIONS:

Anodyne, antitussve, antiviral – topically, bitter tonic, digestive, hypnotic, oestrogen modulating, sedative, spasmolytic, and a anaphrodisiac – male, 

INDICATIONS:

Sleep maintenance, sleep onset for insomnia, anxiety, excitability, restlessness, panic attacks, anorexia, nervous dyspepsia, neuralgia, tension headache, trigeminal neuralgia, excessive libido in men, Plus, Menopausal symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome, and excess androgen

CONSTITUENTS:

Phloroglucinol derivatives, – bitter resin – contains humulone, lupulone; essential oil, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and osetrogenic chalcone (xanthohumol)

SAFETY CONCERNS:

Oestrogen sensitive breast cancer, and depression

ADULTERANTS:

Contaminated with wild hops, which is less effective



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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Little Miss Anise, yes the dainty lass and did you see her lacy parasol, just beautiful?

Little Miss Anise, “where are you going with that pretty unbrella, to a wedding?”, they asked. “No, I am not,” she said, and thanked them kindly, “a smart girl is always ready for any occassion” as she continued strolling along with out missing a step. This wisdom must have been shared with many of her family, the Apiaceae Family, why, you ask, because so many of her siblings seem to have the same idea, such as Miss Fennel, the counrty girl Miss Cow Parsley, the classy Miss Chervil, Miss Dill, and her brothers, Mr Carrot and Mr Celery.

Anise or as some say Aniseed – Pimpinella anisum, appears to have originated from West Asia and has been cultivated and used in the Egypt since ancient times (used in breads) and middle eastern regions, plus the Greece, Syria and Turkey and was introduced to Europe from the Romans, who used it in a type of cake after meals, because it helps with digestion, (I hope they declared it at the border) and the Americas received it from the early settlers, and since these times it has spread around the world. Spain, France and Russia are major producers of anise these days.

Speaking of Russia, Anise was one of the first herbs ever to be accepted by Russian herbalists. During the 19th century a Landlord began cultivating it in the province of Voronez and since then it is largely grown in the Caucasus and the Ukraine. It is one of the most popular ingregdients in over-the-counter remedies.

King Edward the First, had anise used to pay the custom tax ‘luxuries’ for the repairing of London bridge during the 14th century.


Miss Anise being ready for every social occassion is why she along with many of her siblings, end up at the social and entertainment table, with sweets and candy, drinks and beverages, buns and breads and excellent dishes and can be mixed with cumin and fennel.

This is due to her wonderful ‘liquorice-like’ flavour and aromaaassss.

Miss Anise is a great compliment to many a refreshing and healthy drink, for example: she can be mixed with coffee, chocolate and carob beverages, and makes great liquorice-flavoured tea combinations with such herbs as dandelion, and ginger. She is great in baked sweet pies containing mince fruit, plus various pastries, cakes, buns and breads – raised or flat such as, Pan Chuta – a Peruvian flat bread, muffins and biscuits/cookies, and due to its lollie-like flavour, can be used in after dinner dessert drinks. Plus soups, sauces, creams, and relishes.

Some other uses apart from medicinal, are potpourris, insecticides, antibacterial and fungicide, and aromatherapy. Some of these uses are in the essential oil form, and pure essential oils should not be ingested. An infused anise oil can be made from the seed too.

Anise can be confused with other members of her family and fennel is the main one due to being such alike, ‘look-a-like fraternal twins’, and so many others looking very similar.

Another herb and cooking favourite is “Star anise” this girl is a real foodie and looks nothing like Miss Anise, yet people will mix them up, due to having a similar flavour and their common names.

One character that you should never ever mix Star anise or Chinese star anise Illicium verum with is Japanese Star anise Illiicum anisatum or I. japonicum, as nice and kind as the Japanese people are, this plant is highly toxic and must be avoided.


How to use Anise

Herbal Teas

To make a simple Anise herbal tea, just throw in 1 teaspsoon of anise seed into a cup or mug. Pour in boiling hot water and cover for 5 to 10 minutes, after the steeping time, if needed you can add your favourite sweetner such as raw honey, stevia, erythritol, and enjoy. Yes it really is that simple.

My Anise Tea that I decided to make whilst writing this very Blog

If you want to Jazz it up a bit, you can mix anise seed with many other herbs to add more therapeutic affects or frankly just to add flavour, an example of this is dandelion root.

Here you would add 1 teaspoon of anise seed and 1 teaspoon of dandelion root, pour in the boiling hot water, cover and allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes, add your sweetener and enjoy. If you want extra ‘potency’, break or crush the seed a little with a mortar and pestle. And if you have issues such as seeds wanting to float in you cup of herbal tea then you can either strain out the seeds or use an infuser.

Culinary Uses

The leaves and soft stems of anise can be added to salads and mixed with vegetables when being cooked as they too are aromatic, or finely chopped and cooked into baked goods and pastries. Frankly the seeds and oils suitable for cooking can be used anywhere you want to add the anise/liquorice flavour.

Simple Anise Leaf Wafers

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoons of crushed anise
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped anise leaves
  • 60 grams of butter
  • 1 cup of flour
  • Boiling water

Process

  • Place the chopped leaves into 2 tablespoons of boiling hot water and cover
  • Allow to steep for 10 minutes and chill
  • Rub the butter into the cup of flour, until looking like breadcrumbs
  • Add the wet ingredients
  • Make into a dough
  • Roll into balls and flatten out on a greased baking tray
  • Bake in a hot oven that has been ‘preheated’ for 10 – 12 minutes
  • Or until the edges are slightly browning
  • Cool and enjoy

Soaps

Due to its aromatic freshness and anti-microbial actions, anise can be used in soaps, creams and ointments and lotions. For example a ointment can be rubbed on the chest to help relieve chest discomfort from a cough, or a syrup can be made to ease chest congestion as well.

For Potpourri

The leaf and stem may be of good use as well as cracked seed or powder, depending on what you waht to do, as they all are aromatic.

Anise for Bad Breath

Simply chew on a few seeds , before meeting your loved one, EASY! And cheaper than those sugar or chemical filled breath poisoners, oops, I mean fresheners.

Anise for Lactation

Traditionally anise has been used to improve breastfeeding for mothers, so it can often be found in nurse maid teas. With breastfeeding, it is best to have a selection of several different herbs working in a few different ways:

Oxytocics

These are herbs that help the mother directly to produce milk: some herbs are fenugreek, goat’s rue and blessed thistle.

Digestives

These support the mother’s digestive system, calming and assiting her body to digest and obtain nutrients and to help baby too, some of these are: Fennel, anise, caraway, hops, and milk thistle

Nutritives

These herbs help simply to obtain nutrients, and improving the mothers health and well being, that’s why it’s called ‘Nutrition’, along with reasonable vitamins and minerals helps her baby as well via the breast milk.

Nervines

These primarily are to calm and relax her, the more happy she is and content the more her natural hormone oxytocin goes up and this should improve her milk supply. ‘A frazzled mum don’t milk to well’. These herbs are lemon balm hops and oats, plus if you wish you can add some rose, lavender or chamomile.

Once the milk supply is confirmed by a qualified lactatition consultant then there really is no more need to continue the herbs and this may take a few weeks. If you wish to continue taking these herbs in a tea, I would advise just lowering the amount per day.

Please understand that there are many issues in regards to poor breastfeeding, so it is best not to self treat, and find a caring, supportive, qualified lactation consultant, who takes the time to explain things, answer your questions and care about you.

Anise Oils

Anise Essential oil can be applied in the use of aromatherapy, and can also be used topically to help assist against skin infections, because it has anti-microbial actions, and is toxic to insects, therefore it can help to remove scabies, fleas or lice (nits) in the hair by placing and combing a little evenly throughout the hair and can be used to inhibit growth of fungus. Don’t use pure essential oils on babies and infants only and use inconjunction with a carrrier oil, for example olive oil, to dilute the concentration.

Infused Anise oil (not an essential oil)

Ingredients

  • Anise seeds (dried and approximately a handful)
  • A carrier oil – Almond oil or coconut or olive oil or similar

Equipment

  • Mortar and Pestle
  • Loosely woven cloth or cheese cloth
  • Glass container
  • Sticky label and pen

Process

  • Break up and bruise the Anise seeds, but don’t powderised
  • Place into a glass jar or bottle
  • Pour in the carrier oil, enough to thourougly cover the seeds
  • Seal on the lid and placed in the sunlight
  • Leave in the sunlight for at least 4 weeks, or a minimum of 2 weeks
  • Shake up the bottle once a day
  • After 4 weeks strain into another glass container through the cloth
  • Place the lid back on, and label with contents and date

You can speed up this process by following the same process as mentioned how to make Lavender oil in the lavender post.


Gardening uses

Anise is supposed to make a great companion plant to coriander, as it is said that coriander helps to speed anise’s germination and growth, and they assist the seed formation of each other. Anise attracts predatory wasps and helps to repel aphids. But its not a good idea to grow it with basil, rue and carrots.

How to grow Anise

Anise is an annual that grows to approximately between 45cm to 90cm or 18″ to 3′ that becomes a natural source of phosphorus and aids digestion. It should be noted that anise can be slow to germinate, depending on conditions, but I believe that it should be only 2 weeks. Sow after the last frost, when in colder climates, and when placing it out in the garden, give it a warm and sunny position, out of the wind, with well drained soil around 6.0 pH, and the best seasons to plant in are spring and summer. When young, it does prefer regular watering especially if it’s getting a dry, once established it can handle some dryness.

Plant the seed 6mm to 12mm 1/4″ to 1/2″ into seedling containers or into garden seed drills and cover over gently and water in and keep the soil slightly moist. If planting into seed drills, plant about one every 2.5 cm or 1 “. Water regularly 2 times a week until they are about 18cm high, then reduce watering.

A simple ready to sow packet of Anise seeds in my hands

If planting from seedlings from the nursery, be gentle with them as they are soft and fragile.

Maintenance

Pests and diseases

Some possible pests are: larvae from the Lepidoptera species, that is, butterflies and moths, for example, the lime-speck pug and the wormwood pug


Collecting

During late summer and into autumn collect from your garden or from the wild if it grows near you, (always carefully identify all herbs from the wild), once the first ‘Umbels’ appear, this is the beautiful array of tiny flowers that spread out like an umbrella.

Technically, an Umbel is the ‘infloresence’ from which the flower stalks arise from one point.

Drying

You can dry the seeds by tying them up together in small bunches upside down inside paper bags in an open space with plenty of fresh air to stay dry, for example, a well ventilated room or covered area

Once the seed is dry, you can store them in a cool, dry and dark place and will keep sealed in a glass container for up to 3 years, but if you grind it to powder, it will shorten its potency life, but the flavour should still be there.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

PARTS USED:

Seeds, but can use leaves and soft stems in cooking etc

DOSAGE:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 3.5 – 7.0 grams

MAIN ACTIONS:

Expectorant, oestrogen modulating, galactagogue, spasmolytic, carminative, and antimicrobial

INDICATIONS:

Intestinal colic, flatulence, flatulent colic, infantile colic, dyspepsia, acute and chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, tracheitis, gastrointestinal candidiasis, parasites, modify bowel flora, and hot flashes. Plus, Difficult lactation and pertussis, spasmodic cough, bronchial catarrh, scabies and pediculosis

CONSTITUENTS:

Essential oils, fixed oil, flavonoids, phenylpropenyl esters

SAFETY CONCERNS:

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder (GORD), do not consume in large doses, and do not use during pregnancy without professional advice.

ADULTERANTS:

Not very common



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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