The Tangled History of Willow Tea

For decades many people’s response to a pounding headache has been to take a couple of aspirin with some water. What most don’t realize is that this reliable medicine is derived from salicylic acid (or salicin), a compound found in many plants such as myrtle, poplar, and willow trees. Although many modern pharmaceutical drugs are […]

Peppermint Twist: The Roots of a Favorite Holiday Flavor

peppermint tea

The holiday season is full of all sorts of iconic foods and flavors, from Christmas oranges and braided breads, to latkes and gelt at Hanukkah, to holiday feasts featuring favorite dishes on tables around the world. Perhaps the best-known taste of the winter holidays, at least in the West, is peppermint. It infuses sugary candy […]

A Brief History of the Pumpkin – From Ice-age Megafauna to New England Pumpkin Pie

The star of the autumn garden is the pumpkin! This iconic squash’s round shape and bright orange color are found in imagery surrounding harvest festivals all through the season, to include modern American favorites Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie is a beloved dessert for fall festivities, though the squash also lends itself well to soups, […]

Hail to the King: Introducing the King Bolete

two mushrooms, both brown, one with a much smaller stalk and one with a much thicker one, on a wooden table

Fall is a fabulous time for fungi, particularly in the temperate forests and meadows of the northern hemisphere. And there are few mushrooms that are as impressive—and widely appreciated—as the king bolete (Boletus edulis). King boletes are found in forests and nearby clearings; in the United States they are most common on both the east […]