"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Chamomile is one of the most widely used plants for herbal tea. The dainty flowers give off a wonderful, relaxing scent and keep blooming throughout the summer. Excellent for teething or highly emotional children, Chamomile is one of the safest herbs to use. Anything from tummy troubles to colds and flu can be soothed with this sweet little flower. Even Peter Rabbit's mother gave him Chamomile tea before bed!
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Peppermint is easy to grow in a garden (maybe too easy!) and is not only a wonderful medicinal herb, but a culinary one, too. Whether it's indigestion, an upset stomach, or a headache, delicious and refreshing peppermint comes to the rescue. Infuse Peppermint leaves in chocolate syrup and you have a delicious topping for an ice cream on a warm summer night.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
A member of the mint family, Lemon Balm is very calming and can be helpful if you are looking to get a good night sleep but nerves are keeping you up. The leaves have a gentle lemon scent and the white flowers that come up later in the summer are favorites of bees, hence the name Melissa which is Greek for 'honey bee'. Whether it's in tea, tincture or essential oil form, Lemon Balm is a must have in your herbal medicine chest.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
This beautiful flower not only adds prickly pink drama to your garden, it's loved by pollinators as well. Echinacea is a well known plant used for supporting the immune system. Used by American Indian tribes for hundreds of years, Echinacea still plays a valuable part in keeping you healthy and happy. Just look at those lovely flowers, how can you not smile?
Violet (Viola odorata)
Nothing says Springtime like these sweet little purple flowers. The Victorians loved Violets, using them in perfume, eating them candied and in cakes and pastries and pressing them in books. Violet leaves are wonderful in tea blends, tinctures and salves and are full of Vitamin C. The blossoms are a lovely garnish for soups and salads or candied on a dessert. The next time you spot this delightful little flower, take a closer look. They are mightier than they appear!
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Don't get frustrated when you start seeing these bright flowers popping up all over your lawn. They are an excellent tonic to strenthen the body and the entire plant, including root, can be used. Try some dandelion wine or put some spring leaves in a salad to get those digestive juices flowing. Don't be too quick to get rid of these cheerful plants! After a long winter, these are one of the first sources of sweet nectar for the bees we need and love so much. Dandelions are there to help us feel good, and that makes them so much more than just a weed.