Herbs: Lavender, Lemon balm

Subject: Lavender

Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 12:16:43 +0100 ***


COMMON NAME (English/German): Lavender/Lavendel
LATIN NAME: Lavandula angustifolia (There are at least 28 species.)
TYPE OF PLANT: perennial shrub

SYMBOLISM: devotion

MYTHS/HISTORY: Name comes from Latin "to wash." Herb dealers propagated the myth that snakes made their nests in lavender bushes, in order to drive up the price of the harvested flowers.

MEDICINAL: For relief of sore feet, chest congestion, bruises and bites.
bath: skin tonic, foot, stimulating, fragrant
cosmetic: Mostly used by perfumeries. Freshens sickrooms and sick bodies. Stimulates and cleanses skin.

EDIBLE: Add a spring to apple or raspberry jelly. Leaves can be used in herb butter, fish soup, or a relaxing tea.

CULTIVATION: protect from strong winds

HARVESTING AND STORAGE: For dry storage, harvest flowers either when they first open or when they are full. Hang them in bunches or set them on screens in a shaded, airy place with a high temperature (i.e. attic or garden shed).

ETC.: Protects clothes from moths. Good in lingerie drawer and hand-wash water. Leaves are mild insect repellent. Great for potpourri. Flower spikes should be cut in early blossom, just short of full bloom.

Subject: Lemon balm

Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 12:59:17 +0100 ***


COMMON NAME (English/German): Lemon balm/Citron melisse
LATIN NAME: Melissa officinalis
TYPE OF PLANT: perennial--mint family

SYMBOLISM: sympathy

MYTHS/LEGENDS/HISTORY: Thomas Jefferson grew it at Monticello. The name "Melissa" means "bees."

MEDICINAL: Sedative effect; tasty and relaxing tea.
bath: anti-tension
cosmetic: Cleanses skin and steam facials help against acne.
EDIBLE: Best used fresh for cooking, but can be dried and used for tea (alone or with black or green tea). Fresh leaves go well in green salads, marinated veggies, chicken salads, poultry stuffing, fruit punch; with corn, broccoli, asparagus, lamb, shellfish, beans. Fresh, chopped leaves are a great addition to orange marmalade.
Tea blend: lemon balm, spearmint and elderberry


HARVESTING AND STORAGE: Should be harvested before it flowers for optimum fragrance. Cut off the entire plant two inches above the ground. It should be carefully dried within two days of picking. It has a tendency to turn black otherwise. Drying is best done in the shade at temperatures above 90F. It's best to use trays or sieves, rather than tying it in bunches.

ETC.: Pleasant lemon-mint fragrance. Good in potpourri; best if harvested in late summer. Attracts bees, but repels other insects. Toss some leaves into outdoor fires to keep bugs away. Also can be used to polish wood furniture, which also provides a safe way to keep bugs away from your dinner!

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