These native and essential herbs are great choices for both your garden and kitchen.
Contributor: Ruben Tapia
Photographer: Sarah Shreves
While springtime is the perfect opportunity to look within for personal growth, it is also a beautiful time to for botanical growth. Sometimes the choices of what new plants to add to your garden, or your diet, can be difficult. So many possibilities can really put a strain on time and space if you are a gardening enthusiast.
With southern California’s abundance of nurseries, we have an exceptional opportunity to find not only an array of native plants but medicinal herbs as well. Native plants help support a strong local ecosystem whereas medicinal herbs can be used in the kitchen to prepare nourishing meals, tonics or teas. Here are five herbs that can help start this spring with health and beauty for you and your home.
Native Southern California Herbs:
Mountain Desert (Rose) Sage - Salvia pachyphylla
It goes without saying that you would expect to find sage on this list. Not only is it our namesake but it is an herb essential to living an optimally healthy life. If you look at the etymology of the word, it is clear that sage is an herb of wisdom meant to heal inside and out as both an astringent and internal regulating agent. Mountain Desert, or Rose, Sage is a type of sage indigenous to southern California and the Baja Peninsula according to the San Diego chapter of the California Native Plant Society. By incorporating this plant into your life you are helping to maintain local ecology and enhance your medicine cabinet.
California Spikenard (Elk Clover) - Aralia californica
The only member of the ginseng family native to the state of California, Elk Clover has many of the advantages one would expect, such as enhancing energy and boosting immunity. When used by itself or in a tincture, it has the ability to strengthen respiratory function. This powerful herb is also anti-microbial! California Spikenard may not be the most well-known herb, but with its immense benefits it is well worth being included in your garden this spring.
A root based herb, turmeric is best known as the defining ingredient in curry. Beyond its delectable use in curry and ease of growth in North America, turmeric has purifying properties that really define it as a symbol of spring renewal. Turmeric cleanses the liver of impurities, and according to the Huffington Post, is useful in reducing your chances of getting many major diseases afflicting too many in the U.S., such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Fennel, like turmeric, is a cleansing herb. Fennel’s broad range of targeted cleansing includes the liver, blood and kidneys, and it is an easy herbal addition to almost any meal. Used in ancient times by Native American warriors as an appetite suppressant during hunts, fennel has been used throughout history as an aid to digestion, relief of gastric pain and was even used as a tobacco substitute for the Hopi.
When it comes to mint we all know of the delicious bite and freshness it can add to food and teas. Probably the most well-known of herbs, mint has long been utilized for its healing abilities. According to organicfacts.net, mint has a unique ability to strengthen the mind therefore relieving headaches to curbing feelings of depression while having simultaneous uses for purifying the skin – definitely a must-have herb. Adding mint to a cup of a tea or fresh fruit salads for an invigorating start to the day are seamless ways to augment your dietary health.