Elecampane

Elecampane

General Information

Scientific Name: asteracae Inulae Inula Helenium
Common Names:  Horse heal, Elfdock, Marchalan
Zones 4-9
Perennial
Growth Habit: Rosette to flowering stalk
Height: 4-5 feet
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Permaculture Designation: Flowering Beneficial, Medicinal

 Comments

I’ve got some elecampane started in the front yard.  It’s been a slow grower, but I’ve got 3 plants that seem well established.  This plant was featured in one of Jack Spirko’s survival podcast as one of 10 essential herbal medicinals.

http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/10-medicinal-herbs-perennial

Elecampane is touted for it’s use in treating chest ailments including bronchitis.  Losenges and small candies can be made from 2-3 year old roots.  It shoots a flowering stalk with a double sunflower head (thus the Aster family).

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Marshmallow

Marsh Mallow

General Information

Scientific Name: Malvaceae Althaea officinalis
Common Names:  Marshmallow, Althaea, Mortification Root, Althaea and Cheeses
Zones 3-
perennial
Growth Habit: Central Stalk with a few branches
Height: 4-5 feet
Permaculture Designation: Medicinal, Food, Flowering Beneficial

 Comments

Marshmallow is a tall herb with a central stalk, and works well as a northern edge backdrop.  Does not require marshy conditions as the name suggests, but does need to be well watered.  As a perennial, the stalk dies back in the Fall and winter, and comes up from the roots the following season.  The flowers appear late in the summer and into the fall, and give way to small round fruits that are commonly called “cheese” for their similarity to small bricks of cheese.

What I’ve got growing in the front has been kind of slow, perhaps because it was started in late spring and transplanted.

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Clary Sage

Clary Sage

General Information

Scientific Name: Salvia Sclarea
Common Names:  Cleareye, Eye Bright
Zones 5-8
Biennial
Growth Habit: 1st year, rosette; 2nd year, flowering stalk
Height: up to 4 feet
Permaculture Designation: Flowering Beneficial, Medicinal

 Comments

I first encountered this plant on a site visit to the Permaculture Institute just north of Santa Fe.  In this location, the flowering stalk was a fairly short 18-24 inches with more white than purple flowers, which may have been the “Vatican” variety as opposed to the “turkestanika” variety with purple to blue flowers.

Grown as an insect attractor for pollination, the leaves and flowers can be used as a flavoring agent or in teas.  The oil from the flower is a popular essential oil in aromatherapy.

The herb starts its first year as a rosette, producing a low-lying mass of leaves radiating from a central point.  In the second year, the herb shoots up a flowering stalk.  After flowering, the herb dies, though it may reseed itself from the flowering stalk.  At the Permaculture Institute, our tour leader mentioned that the tap root will shoot as far into the ground as the stalk shoots up. Thus, the plant can also be considered as a dynamic accumulator and soil decompactor.

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First Post

Like the tagline says, you gotta start somewhere.  I will be using this blog space as my journal/homework for the permaculture design course I’m taking through PermaEthos.  I’ll start with some posts on useful plants for the climates that I will be designing, and also add updates on my designs as they progress.  At some point in the future, I may migrate over to a self-hosted wordpress site, especially as it becomes time to start my business dealings.  Until the second post…