Herbs: Calendula, Chamomile, Chives, Comfrey



Subject: Calendula

Date: Wed, 16 May 2001 23:52:36 +0100 ***

COMMON NAME (English/German): Calendula/Ringelblumen
LATIN NAME: Calendula officinalis
TYPE OF PLANT: annual--ornamental with flowers of yellow, gold and orange

SYMBOLISM: Keats referred to them as "Apollo's eye," so maybe the sun.

MYTHS/LEGENDS/HISTORY: The ancient Romans observed that the flowers were in bloom on the first day, or 'calends,' of every month, and so named them. According to the 12th Century _Macer's Herbal_, calendula should be picked when the moon is in Virgo but not when Jupiter is in the ascendant; by someone fasting and recently cleansed of sin, who recites three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys. (And if you weren't a Catholic astrologer, I guess you were S.O.L.) In the 16th Century, it was believed that a calendula concoction enabled one to see fairies.

MAGICKAL: Associated with the sun. Calendula is supposed to be good for legal purposes. Carry a flower in your pocket when you go to court. Calendula in the bath makes people admire you - good for before job interviews, etc. [Thanks to "Nyniane" for this info.]

MEDICINAL: Calendula creme is good for all kinds of external sores, cuts, dry patches, bruises, burns, rashes, stings and chapped lips.
bath: stimulating
cosmetic: Applied daily, calendula creme prevents stretch marks!!! I am living proof!

EDIBLE: Can be dried and ground into a powder that substitutes for saffron. In the Netherlands, it is common to use it in soups.

CULTIVATION: When they go to seed, we just scatter the seeds, and they come up again the following year.

HARVESTING AND STORAGE: Pinch the flower head off the stem and pull off the petals. Dry them in the shade on paper (they tend to cling to screening). Petals should be stored in a moisture-proof container to preserve color and flavor.

ETC.: Can be used for yellow dye. Flowers dry well for crafts or potpourri.

Subject: Chamomile

Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 00:19:55 +0100 ***


COMMON NAME (English/German): Chamomile/Kamille s.k.a. Mayweed
LATIN NAME: Chamaemelum nobile (Roman), Matricaria recutita (German)
TYPE OF PLANT: Roman--low perennial; German--tall annual; aromatic

SYMBOLISM: Multi-functionality. The Germans say: "Alles zutraut." (lit: capable of anything.)

MYTHS/LEGENDS/HISTORY: "Chamomile" in Greek means "ground apple."

MAGICKAL: no idea

MEDICINAL: "Extracts of the plant or the oil itself have three primary uses: as anti-inflammatories for various afflictions of the skin and mucous membranes; as anti-spasmodics for treating ailments like indigestions and menstral cramps; and as anti-infectives for numerous minor illnesses. Ointments, lotions, vapor baths, inhalations and the like can also be made with chamomile extract."--Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs
bath: soothing; especially good for sore genitals
cosmetic: Accentuates blond or golden highlights. Good for steam facials.

EDIBLE: A common tea.


HARVESTING AND STORAGE: If you are using the herb for teas, carefully harvest the flowers for drying when the petals begin to turn back on the disk.

ETC.: Fresh chamomile tea can aggravate hay fever. Flowers are aromatic and dry well for crafts or potpourri. Can be used for yellow dye (I think).



Subject: Chives

Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 12:04:04 +0100 ***

COMMON NAME (English/German): Chives/Schnittlauch
LATIN NAME: Allium Schoenoprasum
TYPE OF PLANT: bulb with cylindrical leaves

SYMBOLISM: usefulness

MYTHS/LEGENDS: Chives, like garlic, drive away diseases and evil influences, and should be hung in bunches around the home.

MAGICKAL: no idea

MEDICINAL: Helps lower blood pressure, but only if eaten in large quantities.

EDIBLE: Minced fresh leaves are like sweet, mild onions. Goes well with onions, potatoes (esp. baked!), artichokes, asparagus, cauliflower, corn, tomatoes, peas, carrots, spinach, poultry, fish and shellfish, veal, cream sauces, cheese and eggs. Great in all kinds of soups. Flowers can be eaten in salads and used in herb vinegars.
Lunch, when we're working in the garden: Combine chunks of cucumber, tomato and feta cheese with minced chives. Add a splash of olive oil and serve with crusty bread.
Herb vinegar--savory, chive blossoms with cider vinegar
Savory butter--garlic, sesame seeds and chives

CULTIVATION: Need to be divided every three years. Also need a cold dormant period (winter) in order to regrow.

HARVESTING AND STORAGE: Leaves can be snipped any time after established plants are six inches tall. Cut several blades low to the ground, leaving about two inches. Flowers and leaves are most often eaten fresh, and most attempts at storage produce disappointing results. Home-dried chives are unacceptable.

ETC.: Attempts at storage produce disappointing results. Use fresh.

Subject: Comfrey

Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 12:04:21 +0100 ***


COMMON NAME (English/German): Comfrey/? s.k.a. slippery root
LATIN NAME: Symphytum officinale
TYPE OF PLANT: perennial--leafy

LEGENDS/HISTORY: Comfrey's name comes from the Latin 'conferta,' which means "grow together." 'Symphytum' means "coming together." It was prescribed in the first century to heal wounds and mend broken bones.

MAGICKAL: no idea

MEDICINAL: Suspected carcinogen, but an externally useful medicinal herb. Contains allantoin, which destroys bacteria and regenerates skin cells. Mashed leaves, or dried leaves steeped in hot water, can be used to treat external wounds, burns, bedsores, insect bites and various other skin problems. Do not boil: high temperature can break down the allantonin.
bath: for skin, anti-tension, astringent
cosmetic: Added to lotions and creams, comfrey promotes growth and regeneration of skin cells.

EDIBLE: Internal use or consumption not recommended. According to the FDA, comfrey contains alkaloids which are depressants to the central nervous system. Both root and leaf have been shown to cause cancer in rats.

CULTIVATION: low maintenance; stubborn as mint

HARVESTING AND STORAGE: Leaves can be dried and stored in a tightly sealed container.

ETC.: The Henry Doubleday Association, established in the 1840s and still active today, is a charitable association for researching and publishing books and pamphlets on comfrey's history, use and cultivation. Can be used to make brown dye.

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***Excerpted from my original contributions to an online discussion graciously sponsored by Dracona Pagan Web. {back}