Sourwood Tree, Gorgeous Foliage and Tasty Flowers

Sourwood Tree (Oxydendrum arboreum) in the fall

Sourwood tree (Oxydendrum arboreum) is a small deciduous tree that’s native to eastern North America. This tree is especially common in Southeastern US. You can find them growing in oak-heath forests, near riverbanks, and along roadsides. This tree can easily be identified by their lush dark green foliage which turns a striking fiery red in […]

Dandelion, a Surprisingly Beneficial Wild Edible

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Seeds

Who doesn’t know dandelions (Taraxacum officinale)? This lovely flower grows almost all around the world. You’ve likely blown fluffy dandelion balls at least once to make a wish during your childhood. Children love to blow on dandelion’s feathery light seeds into the wind, hoping that they would soar to the sky and make their wishes […]

White Clover, a Sweet and Nutritious Edible Weed

  Editor’s note: This article was originally published in May 2019. Updated April 2022. White clover (Trifolium repens) is a low-growing perennial plant that’s native to Europe and Central Asia. It’s one you’re likely very familiar with, as it has been naturalized all over the world as a common lawn plant. Its most distinguishable features […]

Red Clover, a Powerful Herb with Great Healing Powers

Red clover (Trifolium pratense)

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a wild edible that has distinctly beautiful red round flowers. It’s a herbaceous perennial plant that’s native to Europe, western Asia, and northwestern Africa. But, due to its beauty as well as culinary and medicinal uses, this plant has been naturalized in almost every region of the world. As mentioned […]

Kudzu, an Invasive Weed with Hidden Virtues

Kudzu (Pueraria montana)

Kudzu (Pueraria Montana), also known as Japanese arrowroot, is a perennial blossoming vine that is native to large areas of Southeast Asia. This plant was originally brought over to the US from Japan in the 1800s to be cultivated as livestock feed. Farmers were encouraged to plant fields of Kudzu before its invasive nature was […]

Hops, an Essential Beer Ingredient with Health Benefits

Hops (Humulus lupulus)

Beer enthusiasts must be familiar with this plant. Hops (Humulus lupulus) is commonly used in the beer-brewing industry. The name “hops” itself can refer to the plant as well as the female flowers from that plant. These flowers are essential for flavoring, preserving, and stabilizing beer. Hops plant is a perennial twining vine that belongs […]

Yarrow, a Delicious and Nutritious Panacea

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) White Variant

Known for its lovely flat blooms and classic beauty, yarrow (Achillea millefollium) is a common garden perennial. Aside from that, it’s also popular for its amazing medicinal qualities. Some herbalists have even dubbed yarrow as a herbal panacea. This plant is commonly found in the temperate climate of the Northern hemisphere. It’s native to Asia, […]

St. John’s Wort, a Vibrant Edible Great for Depression

St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) Flowers

St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a flowering perennial plant that’s native to Europe. This plant can be distinguished by its yellow, star-shaped flowers which were said to first appear on St. John the Baptist’s birthday. For centuries, this plant has been used as a herbal remedy, mainly for skin problems, depression, and other mental […]

Motherwort, Calming and Relieving the Anxious Mind

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is an herbaceous perennial plant that belongs to the mint family. This herb is native to Eurasia, but it can be found cultivated all around the world as an herbal remedy. Motherwort is most commonly used to treat heart diseases and women’s disorders. In the wild, they can be found easily in […]

Marsh Mallow, the Sweet Edible that Inspired the Candy

Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis)

When you hear the word “marshmallow”, you will definitely think of a puffy, white candy. And while you wouldn’t be wrong, did you know that there’s a marsh-mallow plant (Althea officinalis)? This plant inspired the texture of the modern sweet treat. Ancient Egyptians used to make the dessert by mixing honey and nuts with the […]

Elderberry, Tasty and Packed with Nutrients

Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), also known as American black elderberry or common elderberry, is a shrub that can easily be found throughout North America. It’s known for its delicious, dark purple berries and lacy white flowers. Elderberries and elderflowers are famous for their culinary and medicinal uses. Edibility and culinary use Almost all parts of this plant are poisonous, except for its flowers and ripe berries. Elderflowers are delicate and fragrant with a slightly tart flavor. These cream-colored flowers are typically used as an edible garnish or to flavor desserts and beverages. Elderflowers can also be made into jelly or deep-fried to make fritters. Dried elderflowers can also be brewed to make medicinal herbal tea. Much like elderflowers, elderberries taste tangy and tart, although stronger. These dark purple berries should never be eaten raw as it might cause stomach aches. Elderberries are usually made into jam, marmalade, pastry filling, juice, wine, tincture, and syrup. Elderberry tincture and syrup are often used for medicinal remedy. Health benefits Elderberry is packed with important nutrients. Both the berries and flowers are rich in vitamin A, B, and C. The tiny berries even contain more vitamin C than oranges. They’re high in dietary fiber which can promote a healthy digestive system. Elderberries and elderflowers also contain a lot of antioxidants like anthocyanins, flavonols, and phenolic acids. This means they’re great for reducing oxidative stress in the body, preventing cancer, and reducing inflammations. Elderflowers and elderberries are often used to treat and prevent cold. They’re also great for alleviating cold symptoms, such as cough, nasal congestion, and fever. Elderberry is also said to be good for treating allergy and asthma symptoms. Its anti-inflammatory property also makes it great for alleviating pain, treating mouth and gum inflammation, reducing toothache, and treating digestive problems. Lastly, consuming elderberry can improve cardiovascular health as it helps lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels. Cultivation Elderberry is not very hard to cultivate. With some work and patience, you’ll be able to grow some elderberry shrubs in your own garden. While it loves moist, fertile, and well-drained soil, this plant can tolerate almost every type of soil. But, it can’t tolerate drought at all. So, be sure to water the plant regularly. Plant elderberry in a location with full sun for a better harvest. Before planting, prepare the soil by incorporating manure or compost. Plant elderberry bushes in the spring, after the last frost date has passed. Plant each plant 6” to 10” apart, make sure the roots are well-covered. Water them once or twice a week to ensure they don’t dry out. Get rid of surrounding weed regularly, especially when the shrubs are young. Let the shrubs grow wild for the first two years. Don’t prune them or harvest the flowers and berries. This way, they’ll grow nicely and produce a lot of berries. Then, starting from the third year, prune the shrubs each spring and remove all the dead areas. The berries will start to appear at the end of summer and they will ripen around mid-August to mid-September. Make sure to pick them before the birds finish them off. Cautions Common elderberry leaves, stems, and roots are poisonous. Ripe elderberries are generally safe, but unripe elderberries contain toxins that can only be destroyed through cooking. Eating unripe or uncooked elderberries may result in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Elderberry may cause the immune system to be more active, so people with autoimmune disorders should avoid consuming elderberry. Also, be careful not to confuse elderberry shrubs with the toxic water hemlock. These plants look somewhat similar, moreover, they typically grow in the same area. Elderberry has opposing leaves while water hemlock has alternating leaves.  Water hemlock doesn’t grow berries, but they do grow flowers. Water hemlock flowers look similar to elderflowers, but they have a firecracker-like formation. Do not touch or ingest water hemlock flowers at all. Conclusion Elderberry can be a valuable source of food and herbal remedy if you know how to prepare it. This plant’s tiny berries and dainty flowers definitely pack a punch when it comes to flavor. They’re versatile and can be used in a lot of delicious recipes. And their health benefits are undoubtedly amazing as well. It’s not a surprise to find that Native Americans have been using elderberries and elderflowers to make traditional herbal medicine.

Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), also known as American black elderberry or common elderberry, is a shrub that can easily be found throughout North America. It’s known for its delicious, dark purple berries and lacy white flowers. Elderberries and elderflowers are famous for their culinary and medicinal uses. Edibility and culinary use Almost all parts of this […]

Echinacea, the Gorgeous and Useful Purple Coneflowers

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) Flowering Meadow

Purple coneflowers or echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) boomed into popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s. This North American herb gained attention due to its medicinal benefits. At the height of its popularity, this herb can be found easily in pharmacies in the form of herbal supplements and as a part of various medications. Now echinacea […]

Blue Skullcap, a Small Medicinal Herb that Packs a Punch

Blue Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Hearing the word skullcap, people might immediately think of helmets or even skeletons. However, the blue skullcap plant (Scutellaria lateriflora) is none of those things. Blue skullcap is a hardy perennial plant that belongs to the mint family. It’s native to North America and it has been cultivated for its medicinal properties. This plant got […]

Musk Mallow, Dainty and Elegant Yet Very Nutritious

Musk Mallow (Malva Moschata) Flowers

With delicate pink flowers, you might not have guessed it, but the beautiful musk mallow plant (Malva moschata) is edible. In fact, all parts of this plant are edible and good for your health. This includes its roots, leaves, flowers, and seeds. This elegant perennial plant is native to the British Isles, mainland Europe, and […]

Chervil, a Delicate and Versatile Spring Herb

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) Flowers

Sometimes also called French parsley, chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is a mild herb that plays an important role in French and Mediterranean cuisines. This annual plant is native to Europe. This herb is closely related to parsley and the two herbs look very similar. But, chervil leaves tend to be smaller, frillier, and paler in color […]

Catmint, a Useful and Irresistible Herb

Several spires of purple catmint flowers.

  Editor’s note: This article was originally published in May 2019. Updated April 2022. As its name implies, the catmint plant can be irresistible for cats. This perennial herb is known to induce a mild euphoria in animals, especially cats. Catmint is part of the mint family and there are several species that are native […]

Bee Balm, Great for Bees and Humans Alike

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) Plant with Pink Blooms

The bee balm plant (Monarda didyma)  is a perennial native to North America. This plant is especially common in the Eastern US and can be found growing in woodlands area and along stream banks. They typically grow up to around 2’ to 4’ tall and clump together in a cluster. Most people recognize this plant […]

Anise Hyssop, a Fragrant and Nutritious Herb

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Commonly known as anise hyssop or simply Agastache (Agastache foeniculum), this perennial herb is part of the mint family. It’s a native from northern America and north-central America. This plant has striking lavender-like flowers which start blooming in the early summer. These flowers are what made them a popular favorite for both bees and gardeners. […]

Perilla, a Delicious and Nutritious Asian Edible

Perilla (Perilla frutescens) Green Variant

Commonly seen as an invasive weed in the Western world, perilla (Perilla frutescens) is actually a prized herb hailing from Asia. It’s native to mountainous areas in Southeast Asia and India and is widely cultivated in East Asia as a popular crop. As a hardy and self-sowing plant, it can be found in just about […]

Borage, the Lovely and Tasty Starflower

Borage/Starflower (Borago officinalis)

The Borage herb (Borago officinalis) is a Mediterranean native that is also commonly found in different parts of Europe and in the UK. Borage can typically grow to be 2’ to 3’. Many people can recognize this herb from its beautiful star-shaped flowers. They are typically blue, but white and pink variants also exist. As […]