Monday, July 30, 2007

Blog Party Berries Salal

I chose the Salal Gaultheria Shallon because it is native here in the Pacific Northwest. The name Salal comes from Pacific Northwest Native Americans. This plant was the first to get the attention of David Douglas when he landed on the Oregon Coast May 9th, 1825, he brought it back to Europe as a garden ornamental. These berries are great, they have a slight almond flavor and are similar to blue berries. You can make Salal jam, syrup, or mix them with other native berries such as Oregon Grape, Salmonberry, or Thimble Berries for pies, jams, and deserts. Salal makes a great wine (see recipe below) The coastal Native Americans used to dry them in large cakes weighing 10 to 15 pounds to store for winter use. Later when they wanted to eat them the cakes were soaked and then dipped in whale or seal oil. The leaves had medicinal uses among Native American tribes as well. The leaves were chewed to relieve colic or heartburn. The chewed leaves were used as a poultice to apply to wounds and sores. The leaves could also be used as a tea for coughs, TB, or diarrhea. Some of the Northwest tribes would blend Salal with Kinnikinnick to make a smoke blend.

Fresh Berry Soup

1 quart fresh orange juice
4 cups of any combination of yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream
1 Tbsp. honey (more, to taste)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1 1/2 pints fresh berries (raspberries, Salal, strawberries, thimble, Salmonberry)

Whisk together everything except berries.
Chill thoroughly.
Wash and drain berries.
Blueberries or raspberries should be left whole. Large strawberries should be sliced.
When ready to serve, divide berries into individual serving bowls.
Ladle the soup on top.
Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint.

Salal Berry Salad Dressing

Salal berry jam
Olive oil
Rice wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar
Tossed salad greens, or baby spinach
Dijon mustard (optional)

Mix together equal amounts of salal berry jam, olive oil, rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar. Serve over tossed greens. Add Dijon mustard for additional zest.

As seen on "A New Day" with Bruce Williams
VILand Television, April 18, 2003


  • 4 lbs salal berries
  • 1� lbs granulated sugar
  • 6� pts water
  • � tsp acid blend
  • 1 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 1 crushed Campden tablet
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 pkg wine yeast

Put half the water on to boil and stir in sugar until dissolved. Meanwhile, wash berries and cull out any that are not ripe or are unsound. Put berries in nylon straining bag and tie closed. Place in primary and mash berries. Pour sugar-water over berries and add remaining water to help cooling. Cover with colth and set aside until room temperature. Stir in acid blend, yeast nutrient and crushed Campden. Recover and wait 12 hours. Stir in pectic enzyme, recover and set aside another 12 hours. Add activated yeast and recover primary. Stir twice daily until fermentation dies down. Remove straining bag, squeeze to extract maximum juice, and discard pulp. Allow to settle overnight and rack into secondary. Top up if required and fit airlock. Rack, top up and refit airlock after 60 days and again when wine clears. Set wine in cool, dark place for 4 months, checking airlock periodically. Stabilize, sweeten to taste (if desired) and set aside for 14 days. Rack into bottles and enjoy.

Resource: Profiles of Northwest Plants Peggy Robinson

wine recipe source

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

Well today is my Birthday, I am 34!My husband Tony, our dog Koa, Ella & me are all going for a hike & picnic down by the Sandy river. Today is overcast so it should be nice for the baby. Nothing to exciting planned, just a relaxing day. Cheers to another year of herbal wonders!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Wands Harry Potter Yew Vrs Holly

Yew Taxus Brevifolia Baccata

This post is a continuing series I will be writing about in the next few weeks, Harry Potter herbs & other Legends see Hazel

Lord Voldemort's wand is made of Yew. It is the only wand (so far) in the series made of yew.

Yew has been associated with death in legends. The Greeks and Romans used yew as fuel for their funeral pyres. Yew was also planted in church yards as a symbol of immortality (since it is an evergreen) Horcrux is the receptacle in which a Dark wizard has hidden a fragment of his soul for the purposes of attaining immortality. Yew was also useful in soaking up "poisonous vapors" escaping graves. To dream of yew meant an old person was about to die and leave the dreamer a large sum of money.

Yew is not a food source, the needles and leaves are poisonous. Some northwest Native American groups smoked the needles. The yew is unusual because it reproduces itself by means of "berries" actually they are aril, not true berries. The "berries" appear on the female plant.

Since the wood was strong according to the doctrine of signatures this strength could be imparted to humans. The Swinomish Native American tribe rubbed themselves with it to gain strength. The Cowlitz and th Quinalult tribes made poultices of the wet needles to apply to wounds.

The Latin name Taxus baccata means "bow yew" the very strong wood is excellent for making bows & yew was used by ancient armies for this purpose. So did Robin Hood, who was buried under a yew tree at his request.

Yew was one of the ingredients in witches' brew in MacBeth, and according to Pliny a natural history wine cups made of yew were the cause of death for some ancient Romans. He also reported the smoke from a yew tree would kill rats and mice.

Holly Ilex aquifolium

Harry Potter's

wand is made of Holly. In N Europe holly is called "Christ's thorn" because it was supposed to have first sprung up under Christ's footsteps as he wandered the earth. The Thorns and red berries resembling drops of blood symbolized his sufferings.
The use of holly for Christmas decorations dates back to Roman Christians, and the custom was brought to America from England, along with the plant.

Medicinal uses:

The tea from the leaves was used in the past to treat gout, stones, rheumatism, and arthritis. An application of the decocted root was used to extract objects embedded in the flesh. The bark and leaves were used as fomentation for broken bones.

Other: the wood is white (opposite of dark as in the "Dark Lord") it resembles ivory. It was sometimes used for piano and organ keys, handles of tools and metal tea pots.

The berries are poisonous.

Recourse Profiles of Northwest Plants Peggie Robinson

Skunk Cabbage Lysichiton Americanum Legend

Time is short today, I will add more to this post at another time. This story really stuck with me and I wanted to share it. This is part of an continuing series of posts about folklore see Hazel

Native American Legend

In the days before there were any salmon, the Native Americans had only plants to eat including skunk cabbage root (very hot and peppery). The skunk cabbage decided to help the people and caused the first salmon run to occure. As a reward the skunk cabbage was given an elk skin blanket and a war club which he has kept to this day.

Photo by Pam Archer

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Willow Salix Tails folklore & magical uses

This post is part of my continuing series about Harry Potter Herbs, & other herbal legends and folklore See Hazel

The Willow

The willow has fascinated people for centuries, it has so many legends and uses I could not possibly list them all. The bark of the willow is famous to most because of it's use in modern medicine, the extraction of one constituent to make a multi million dollar drug that continues to be marketed to this day, Aspirin gives us mixed feelings........ This was the beginning that led medical scientists to discover single constituents in plants, isolate them and create modern drugs, this would change peoples view of medicine forever. The pros and cons for this are for another post. Now on to the fun stuff!

Harry Potter Herbs

The Whomping Willow is planted right in the center of Hogworts grounds. It was planted when Remus Lupin first attended Hogworts. Remus would go in a hole under the tree and transform safely into a werewolf, with the tree guarding his entrance to the Shrieking Shack he did not have to worry about hurting anyone or being discovered. The students were not told the real purpose of the Whomping willow only to stay away from it because it would pummel anyone who came close to it. Harry and Ron had quite a ride when they hit the tree in the enchanted car.

Willow is also used to make wands.


The power of the willow Tree

The Legend of the Weeping Willow

There are literally hundreds of legends involving the ancient and beautiful willow. Here are a few more for you to enjoy.

There is a European legend about the origin of Alder and Willow. April 21st was the festival day for the Goddess Pales, Roman goddess of shepherds and herdsmen. Two men decided to spend the day fishing instead of participating in the required ceremonies. As a punishment the Goddess turned them into these trees so they would forever have to haunt the banks and streams leaning over watching for fish.

It has been a custom to plant willows in cemeteries, a symbol of sadness and death for some, I personally have always thought they were absolutely beautiful. The first recording of this custom is in China where the willow is also a symbol of immortality because of it's long life.

In European folklore the willow has been believed to be "planted by the devil to lure people to suicide by the restful swinging of it's branches"

According to Bible stories it was the tree where Judus hung himself after betraying Jesus.

It has been said that the willow produces snakes, while it's ashes will drive them away.

Witches give the tree special importance and use it as a meeting place.

In Louisiana folklore Willow leaves are used. You treat the fever by laying on the cool leaves, when the leaves become warm, it meant the fever had transferred into them.

Willow smoke is believed to sooth and guide the souls of the dead

Old Time Medicinal Uses

Henriette has some great info & pictures on her site: White Willow bark contains salicin . In 1827 a french chemist Named Leroux extracted the active substance that relieves pain and named it " Salicin." In 1899 Friedrich Bayer in Germany marketed aspirin.

Willow has been used for 1000's of years to treat pain & fever.
Pliny A Natural History records several other uses for willow: The ashes from the burnt bark of the tips of the branches was said to cure corns and calluses and to remove spots on the face. A decoction of the bark and leaves in wine was applied externally for gout. Earache was treated with willow sap warmed in pomegranate rind with rose oil or with boiled willow leaves beaten up with wax.
Both European herbalists and Rocky Mountain Native American tribes both independently discovered the use of the decoction as a hair rince removes dandruff, the English mixed the decoction with wine for their shampoo.
Native Americans also used the leaves for a poultice to apply to wounds & cuts, it was also used for making strings for baskets and other uses.
Hippocrates used white willow, the cuniform sign for the willow appears frequently in prescriptions on the 4000 year old Sumerian tablet from Nippur
The Ebers Papyrus lists a liquid from the tree which was mixed with figs, frankincense, beer, and other things, and "boiled, strained, and taken for four days to cause the stomach to receive bread"
Willow appears in Dr Thompson's translation of the Assyrian tablets
The Bible makes reference to the trees for comfort, shade and water.
Dioscorides pointed out Willows astringent qualities, and makes reference to it's use for gout, and the ashes steeped in vinegar used for corns on the feet
Galen a Greek physician who came along a century after Discorides (his name is where the term "galenicals" comes from) noted willow bark extract was helpful in cleansing & healing the eyes when infected.
In The Herball of John Gerard 1597 states " to stay the spitting of Bloud when boiled in wine and drunke."

The Wisdom of Trees
Meditation and the willow tree

Resource: Profiles of Northwest Plants by Peggy Robinson, Natures Healing Arts 1977 National Geographic

Monday, July 16, 2007

Herbal Legends, folklore & mediaval uses Hazel Corylus

OK, I just back from watching the new Harry Potter movie The Order Of the Pheoenix, the secret is out I am a huge Harry Potter Nerd! Maybe I am just a kid at heart but I love epic fantasy novels, old myths and lore, movies like Lord of The Rings, or similar fantasy. My relatives are from Arkansas and a lot of folklore comes from those mountains, my Grandpa was a "well witcher" he used a forked stick sometimes called a "divining rod" to find water for wells and my aunt (his daughter) still does this for our family to this day, she just witched my cousin's well when they built their home. She also does things like the "ring test" for paternity and is a master gardener. Maybe this planted the seed for my fascination with the mystical & magical. As I count down the days until the final book 7 in the Harry Potter series comes out on Saturday, I thought it would be fun to cover some unusual uses for herbs in the past and present, talk about some of the herbs in Harry Potter, & other fairy tales & mediaeval uses of herbs. Let me just tell you ahead of time these uses are legends, I either heard it from others or got the info from various books and stories I read, I have no way of proving them (except for my aunt using the divining rod) so if you are left brained or need "proof" just consider these writings a pleasant fiction. Another note, a lot of the time the old uses are not put into practice today by modern herbalists (some can be dangerous), they are however fun to read about & keep in mind that old legends do sometimes have a grain of truth them (laughs mischievously) !

I will start with the type of wood many used for the divining rod. Hazel Corylus
Henriette has great pictures here

My Grandpa and I would go out and gather the hazel nuts they are very good to eat. I heard from a friend that you can wear the shells to help with arthritic symptoms. After gathering the nuts, Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest would burn the stalks to increase the nut supply for the next year.

Old Time Medicinal Uses

Pliny's Natural History, hazel nuts can be used for catarrh and chronic cough
Europeans believed that a double hazel nut carried in your pocket would relieve a tooth ache.
Hazel nuts were believed to increase fertility, there is a Bohemian belief that the presence of a large number of hazel nuts fortels the birth of many illegitimate children.
Hazel was also used to drive out devils in cattle.

Henriette has more uses at here site here

Other Uses

Back in the day, schoolmasters would use the hazel rod for a switch to slap the hands or butts of children.
For many centuries the hazel is used for the divining rod to find water or metal (or other objects)
One end of the fork is held in each hand with the end pointed toward the ground. My aunt reports that the rod will begin to shake, sometimes so violently it hurts your hand, then the end will point to the exact spot to where the water or object you seek is there. There seems to be some people with the gift for well witching, it does not work for every person. Often it runs in families, I have not yet tried my hand at it, but I may if the need arises. Before you become skeptical, let me assure you well witching still goes on today here is an interesting article
It doesn't have to be a hazel tree, but this tree is famous for it's use.


Hazel in European folklore is said to to be immune from all damage from lightning. The holy family is said to have taken refuge under a hazel tree during flight into Egypt. You can place a hazel twig in your window during a storm, and in some places they are used as lightning rods. If you nail 3 hazel pins into the beams of your house it will save it from fire.
In Sweden hazel nuts were said to make the carrier invisible.
A hazel branch cut at midnight on Walpurgis Night would keep the person from falling into holes while drunk. If a branch was cut on Good Friday or St John's Eve, it gave the power to "lash your enemy with it in your own apartments and without seeing him. Merely name him and law stoutly about you, and your foe will dance and bellow, no matter if hi is a thousand miles away" (Skinner, Charles M Myths and legends of flowers, trees, fruits, and plants 1911 pg 132)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Summer Herb Salad taking it easy

Enjoying Summer, new house.

Just wanted to let everyone know that my posts will be spotty for the next month. I am enjoying the summer, outdoor activities, making my new home my own. Spending lots of time with the plants. I will leave you with this herb salad. Enjoy the summer!

Fresh Herb Salad
1 garlic clove halved
Juice of 2 fresh lemon and zest
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon hot water
4 cups arugula
1-2 cups miner's lettuce
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup chickweed
1/2 cup curly endive
1/2 cup dandelion leaves
handful (20 or so) small tarragon leaves
10 (or so) small sage leaves
1/4 cup basil leaves
handful or so of chives minced
Fresh tomatoes from the garden (to taste)
A few of your favorite nuts to taste (pine nuts, pecans, almonds are great)
A few wood sorrel leaves on top
pepper (ground)
Garnish with your favorite edible flowers

Rub the garlic halves all over a large wooden salad bowl. Whisk in the lemon & zest, salt, olive oil, and water. Add greens and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 4