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Native Texas Herbs

  Just a few of my favorites!  Enjoy,
Ellen
 

Herb Herbal Tidbits Gardening Tips

Passionflower, Passiflora incarnata

 



This easily grown climber's leaves and flowers are used as an anti-anxiety medication.
  Its non-addictive sedative properties treat insomnia; it can help regulate blood pressure and also acts as a pain killer.

 

For the cultivation of a Passionflower plant, it is best to plant a small transplant, in the full sun, in the early spring. Passionflower is a perennial and will return abundantly year after year. I make a simple Passionflower tincture as well as including this herb in my Peaceful Spirit tincture, At-Ease Tincture and EZ Relax Tea.

 

 

Echinacea, Echinacea purpurea
Purple Coneflower. 



A beautiful, stately, landscape and medicinal plant,
Echinacea purpurea, as well as Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea pallida are presently in danger of losing their wild habitat, and are becoming less plentiful and available in the wild as they once were.
  Echinacea, as many of you already know, is an herb that is used to boost your immune system.  You can use Echinacea as a preventative; i.e. when traveling to avoid getting sick, and to assist your own healthy immune system in fighting a cold, flu or infection.  The root, flower, leaves and seed of the Echinacea plant can be used as a tea or tincture and the medicine tingles in your mouth while making its magic. 

 

To grow Echinacea, it is best to scatter fresh, organic seeds in the fall.  October is ideal.  Scatter them as you do other wildflowers by making sure the seeds make contact with the earth.  Be sure they receive some water and then wait until spring.  The perennial herb will return every year.  Remember you need to use a 3 year old root to make herbal medicine. I have been making a powerful Extra Echinacea tincture for several years now, including the leaves, flowers, buds and roots of this incredible plant. 

Directions for making the tincture are given in my book:

 Medicinal Herb Gardening: An EZ Guide for Growing and Using Herbs.

Cedar, Juniperus ashei

This prevalent hardwood tree has useful blue berries that act as a urinary antiseptic.
  It can also be used for indigestion, colic and flatulence.  Eating one juniper berry a day prior to cedar fever season can help ease the uncomfortable symptoms of Cedar Fever.

I don’t think many folks in the Central Texas area would plant a Cedar tree as it grows so abundantly in our area. The berries are beginning to appear now. Make sure when it is time to harvest these berries you do so away from the roadside to avoid auto pollutants.
Agarita,  Berberis trifoliolata
This common wild plant grows abundantly in fields, meadows and wooded areas.  The stems and bright yellow root of the herb are known for their anti-viral and digestive properties, as it is high in berberine. The tasty red berries are used to make a delicious jam.  The Native Americans used it for toothaches.

It is very difficult to transplant an Agarita bush, but you could try with a small transplant in the fall or very early spring. 
B
e cautious when harvesting the berries, stems, or roots as Berberis trifoliolta has very spiky, pokey leaves.

Butterfly Weed
Asclepius tuberosa



Commonly called Butterfly Weed (as it is a favorite home to the Monarch butterfly), or
Pleurisy Root,  is a spectacular flower, and sadly, “At-Risk” in the wild.    This showy Milkweed is used as a diaphoretic (promotes sweating), antispasmodic, expectorant and a tonic.  As one of its common names indicates, it was often used for pleurisy and lung and bronchial congestion.


We can easily grow Butterfly Weed from seed, sown in the fall, or it can be propagated from root cuttings.
Slippery Elm, Ulmus rubra

I have seen Slippery Elm growing along creeks and streams here in Austin.
  The inner bark of the trunk is harvested and used as a soothing remedy for inflammation.  The strong demulcent properties of this herb make it useful for gastro-intestinal irritation and for the throat and lungs.  It can be used externally as a poultice for ulcers and abscesses and its highly nutritional value make it useful as a food during convalescence. 
I utilize the benefits of Slippery Elm powder as a soothing ingredient in my Kidney Tonic Tea.


A small sapling can be planted in your yard and nurtured as a lovely shade tree.
  I’ve planted two saplings into the ground and the one that is growing in my garden is at least 15 feet high and gorgeous.

 

Other natives and naturalized herbs to review and learn more about include:

Prickly pear cactus, Opuntia engelmanni

Turk’s cap, Malvaviscus arboreus v. drummondii

Inmortal or Antelope Horns, Asclepius asperula

Yellow Dock Root, Rumex crispus

Cleavers, Galium aparine

Frostweed, Verbesina virginica

Mullein, Verbascum thapsus

Chasteberry tree, Vitex agnus-castus

Black Haw, Viburnum rufidulum

Cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis

Yaupon, Ilex vomitoria

Goldenrod, Solidago altissima