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Giveaway Monday – Artwork by Carey Jung

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16th, 2015 by kristine — 15 Comments

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! CONGRATULATIONS TO JANELLA CZECH, SHE WAS RANDOMLY DRAWN TO WIN THE WATERCOLOR PAINTING AND CONGRATULATIONS TO DEBRAH ROEMISCH, SHE’S THE WINNER OF THE WOOD BURNED ETCHING!***

This week I am delighted to give away 2 lovely pieces of artwork by Carey Jung! There are 2 chances to win as I will be drawing 2 winners, each one will receive one of these artworks.

Carey is the cover artist for The Essential Herbal magazine and her artwork has a wonderful feel about it. She created two beautiful works of art, one with watercolor and chalk and the other heat etched, to send off to two lucky winners! Both of these pieces are matted, ready for framing.

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Art:  7 3/8 x 7 3/8 in.
Matted:  12 5/8 x 12 5/8 in.
Watercolor and chalk on paper

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Art :  5 7/8 x 7 in.
Matted:11 1/4 x 12 3/8 in.
Burned on paper

Carey is going to be listing some of her watercolors as notecards soon and I cannot wait to snatch some up! Though she does not have them listed for sale yet, you can see some more beautiful examples of her work on her website.

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Carey Jung is an artist and herbalist and lives in Forest Hills, NY.  She is the owner of ApotheCarey Arts and Herbs, a small herbal and illustration business and is the cover artist for The Essential Herbal magazine.    “I love painting worlds that people want to walk into.”  Carey enjoys creating tea blends for the people in her community and can be found walking the neighborhood looking for herbal and flower friends to draw.  

You can become a fan of ApotheCarey Arts and Herbs on Facebook if you would like to do so.

If you’d like a chance to win one of these beautiful pieces of art, leave a comment below. For more chances to win, you can leave a separate comment each time you advertise this giveaway by:

-Kids, you get 1 extra point for being a kid! Leave a comment telling me how old you are and what you like best about Herbal Roots zine.

-blogging about it

-tell us which herb you’re most excited to be learning about this year with Herbal Roots zine

-telling me your favorite illustration in her store or on her website

-share this giveaway on your Facebook page

-follow Herbal Roots on Pinterest and pin this giveaway with hashtags #ApotheCareyArts&Herbs #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your Pinterest name in comments so we can find you)

-follow Herbal Roots on Instagram and pin this giveaway with hashtags #ApotheCareyArts&Herbs #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your Instagram name in comments so we can find you)

-follow Herbal Roots on Twitter and tweet this giveaway with hashtags #ApotheCareyArts&Herbs #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your Twitter name in comments so we can find you)

Sign ups end and I’ll announce the winner on Monday, March 23, 2015. Good luck!

[Herbal Rootslets]: No. 43 – Preparing Your Garden for Spring Planting

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12th, 2015 by kristine — Be the first to comment!

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All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.  - Helen Hayes

It’s never too soon to prepare your garden beds for planting! This can become a fun activity to actively involve your kids in learning about herbs.

There are many styles of gardening from conventional plowing/tilling of the space to more permaculture methods of building up the soil while suffocating weeds. Permaculture methods include raised beds, lasagna gardening and no-till methods.

Lasagna gardening is a method of layering materials such as compost, leaves, straw and cardboard, that will eventually decompose to make a wonderful nutrient rich soil that your plants will thrive in.

After clearing the debris, the garden is ready for cardboard, compost and straw, also known as the lasagna method of gardening.

After clearing the debris, the garden is ready for cardboard, compost and straw, also known as the lasagna method of gardening.

I prefer the lasagna method for several reasons:

-my garden beds are sometimes small, making it hard to get a tiller in to effectively till the space

-many of my plants are perennials, returning year after year, not making tilling a good choice

-not tilling the soil helps to build important microbes in the soil

-tilling helps to churn roots which can often spread some ‘weeds’

-raised beds created from the lasagna method builds beds off the ground with nutrient rich soil

-it’s a great way to recycle card board boxes and yard waste

-it’s one of the easiest and healthiest ways to suppress weeds while building a healthy soil base

-this style of heavy mulching helps to lock in moisture in the ground, even during droughts

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Lots of debris that needs clearing out! Time to get busy…

To prepare a lasagna garden, first you will want to clear out the big debris. Every year I have 3 main garden beds that need clearing out. I generally wait until spring to do this but with lasagna beds, it’s even better to start in the fall so the beds can settle over winter. Either way, it’s easiest to wait until after the first frost so that the weeds have died back, making them easier to cover.

Use a marker to mark off any perennial plants that you want to return. Lasagna bed gardening will suffocate anything trying to come back up, including those you want to return.

Break down card board boxes, removing any plastic on them including packing tape and packing list envelopes.

Lay the card board down where you want it. I often ‘season’ it first by laying it down in a general area and letting it get rained/snowed on. This helps the card board to start to break down.

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Laying down cardboard…

Once the cardboard is in place, add a layer of yard clippings, such as grass, or leaves, depending on the time of year.

After the yard waste, it’s time to add a layer of compost. This is about the time we clean out our stalls and add a layer of goat manure. You can also add aged horse or cow manure or use regular compost.

The final layer is a thick layer of straw. It’s best if it’s been aged a bit, we let our straw bales sit out in the elements for a year, helping to start the breakdown process. Ideally, you will have 6 – 8” of layering above the ground, or more if you are starting in the fall. The thicker you layer it, the less likely the grass and other weeds will be able to grow back through it.

Everything in full bloom

Everything in full bloom

As time goes on, these top layers will suffocate existing weeds and grass (the biggest weed in my garden) and bury their seeds deeply so that they cannot sprout. The top layers wills start to break down, creating a thick layer of mulch and compost that will nourish and strengthen the plants you plant. Worms will also start to crawl through the lasagna layers, helping to decompose the layers and build the soil..

If I am building this in the spring, I often lay down a few layers of seasoned cardboard, top it with thick sheets of straw and start planting. Later I will go through and add in compost and yard waste as it becomes available.

To plant in this style garden, move the straw away from the section you are planting and use a hori knife (my favorite garden tool) to punch an X into the cardboard. I peel back the X to form a square, dig directly through the grass and weeds to plant the new plant.

Happily planted plant, nestled into the straw.

Happily planted plant, nestled into the straw.

Once it is planted, gently fold back down the corners of the X and tuck straw around the plant to keep it snugly in place.

When watering, water directly into the X so the water can go under the card board.

Kids love to help build these gardens and appreciate not having to have the task of weeding added to their chore list! My son’s favorite part is creating the X’s and planting the plants.

Happily tucked into their straw beds.

Happily tucked into their straw beds.

How do you prepare your garden beds for planting? Do you mulch your plants to help choke out weeds and retain moisture?

[Herbal Rootslets]: No. 42 – Make Your Own Single Use Herbal Salve Packets

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5th, 2015 by kristine — 4 Comments

salve

Only as a child’s awareness and reverence for the wholeness of life are developed can his humanity to his own kind reach its full development. 

 – Rachel Carson

So, now your kids are excited about making their own herbal remedies. Perhaps you’ve even made a nice all purpose salve that they love to put on their cuts and scratches that you’ve stashed away in the bathroom cabinet and use all the time when you’re home. But, what about when you’re on the go? Is your car’s first aid kit herbalized yet? I have a post coming up about putting together an all purposed car first aid kit but today, I wanted to share with you how to make your salve portable.

I adapted this idea from a tutorial I saw online several years ago (the original idea included using Neosporin type ointments, something we do not use) . I wrote about it on my other website but since many people don’t know about my other website, I thought it would be something fun to share with my readers at Herbal Roots zine. It’s a great late winter day project to do when it’s still too cold and icy to enjoy too much time outside but gets kids busy making something useful that’s a lot of fun to make. My kids love to help me put these together and when the need arises to use them, they share with pride how they helped making them.

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To make them you will need:

-drinking straws (clear are best so you can see inside, though colored or striped work if you are creating several different kinds of salve packets)
-tea light
-needle nosed pliers
-scissors (forgot to photograph but you know what those are!)
-your choice of salves
-optional: sharpie marker (if making more than 1 kind and you don’t have colored straws to color code)

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Begin by poking your straw into your salve. Imagine how much is usually needed for a typical wound and fill it to that point. Typically a section about 1/2” – 3/4” is enough.

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Pinch the end of the straw with your finger to push the salve further into the straw and create an empty space. Using the pliers, grip that space, leaving a tiny bit of straw sticking out of the side.

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Hold the straw over the tea light to melt the end. Slide your pliers to the end and pinch it shut.

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Gently squeeze the salve towards the sealed edge to verify your seal.

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Turn the straw around and pinch the other edge as close to the salve as you can without squeezing the salve out the other side. Use your scissors to cut off the edge and seal as you did the other side, being sure to squeeze and check for leaks.

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All finished! The straws I used gave me 5 individual packs per straw. These are perfect for storing in the first aid kit and will also be great for building a mini first aid kit to put in the kids’ back packs for when they go hiking in the woods. To open, simply use a knife or scissors. Alternatively, you could heat an exacto blade with the flame and melt a score mark in the end for an ‘easy tear’ opening.

Optionally, you can use a sharpie marker to write what type of salve is in the tube. Since I used 3 different types, I wrote down their names on each. Be sure to wash the tubes in soapy water first to remove any salve residue so the marker writing will be permanent.

Giveaway Monday – Honeysuckle Tea Cup

Posted in Uncategorized on March 2nd, 2015 by kristine — 50 Comments

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO CHRISSY, SHE IS THIS WEEK’S WINNER!***

mulberrymudd

This week I am delighted to give away this beautiful Honeysuckle teacup from Mulberry Mudd. This one of a kind handmade ceramic teacup features Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) on both sides and is perfect for serving up your favorite cup of herbal tea or steaming cup of nourishing bone broth. A close up of Honeysuckle’s blossom adorns the front…

honeysuckle-front

This beautiful teacup is handleless and rests comfortably in your hands. The dark red clay, natural beige glaze and acrylic accents make this a work of art that is as beautiful as it is practical! A snippet of pretty little Honeysuckle’s vine loaded with fragrant flowers and leaves adorns the backside of the cup…

honeysuckle-back

This teacup holds approximately 16 oz. They fit comfortably in your hands, warming them as the hot beverage contained within it warms your insides!  What would be your favorite drink in this cup?

About Rebekah:

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Artist and herbalist Rebekah Dawn has been walking with the plants for as long as she can remember. A life long love has translated into passionate study of herbal lore that has deepened and grown through the years. She currently lives with her family at Labyrinth Gardens, a United Plant Saver Botanical Sanctuary, where she gives monthly plant walks and medicine making workshops. When she is not in the garden or wild-crafting she is most likely in her ceramic studio. Rebekah is the Teen Camp Coordinator for the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference.

Be sure to stop by to check out her other items in her store. She makes beautiful Herbal Faeries, pendants, birdhouses, mugs and more! She also does custom orders so if you have a special ally or idea, convo her with questions! There may be a few other one-of-a-kind pendants featuring past Herbal Roots herbs as well! Rebekah uses naturally found elements in nature combined with clay to create these amazing pieces. Her sculptures are amazing, incredibly original and just plain wonderful. I fall in love with each one she creates.

Each piece in Rebekah’s store is original in every way, she uses no molds or reproductions ever. A percentage of her profits go to Tree Sisters and Radical Joy for Hard Times each month, and the rest builds her own Botanical Sanctuary at Labyrinth Gardens.

You can become a fan of Mulberry Mudd on Facebook if you would like to do so.

If you’d like a chance to win this one of a kind Honeysuckle tea cup, leave a comment below. For more chances to win, you can leave a separate comment each time you advertise this giveaway by:

-Kids, you get 1 extra point for being a kid! Leave a comment telling me how old you are and what you like best about Herbal Roots zine.

-blogging about it

-tell us which herb you’re most excited to be learning about this year with Herbal Roots zine

-telling me your favorite item in her store

-share this giveaway on your Facebook page

-follow Herbal Roots and Mulberry Mudd on Pinterest and pin this giveaway with hashtags #mulberrymudd #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your pinterest name in comments so we can find you)

-follow Herbal Roots on Instagram and pin this giveaway with hashtags #mulberrymudd #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your Instagram name in comments so we can find you)

-follow Herbal Roots on Twitter and tweet this giveaway with hashtags #mulberrymudd #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your pinterest name in comments so we can find you)

Sign ups end and I’ll announce the winner on Monday, March 9, 2015. Good luck!

March 2015 Issue

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1st, 2015 by kristine — Be the first to comment!

March2015

Often cursed, Honeysuckle can be a bit invasive in North America. This month we’ll explore this highly valued Traditional Chinese Medicinal herb and learn how we can use this herb for valuable medicine. As the popular adage goes, “If you can’t beat them, use them!”….or something like that.

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Both invasive and native species of Honeysuckle can be used so work with the plant that you find to be growing most abundantly in your backyard or region.

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Heady Honeysuckle Table of Contents:

Note to Parents
Supply List
Calendar
Herb Spirit
All About Honeysuckle
Herbal Glossary
Scramble, Search and More: Word Search, Circle the Energetics, List the Vitamins and Minerals,  Word Scramble, Multiple Choise
Herbal Botany
Herbal Lore: How Honeysuckle Got Her Flame Red Flowers
Songs and Poems: Honeysuckle, Honeysuckle Haiku
Herbal Recipes: Honeysuckle Extract, Honeysuckle Elixir, Honeysuckle Tea, Honeysuckle Infusion, Honeysuckle Infused Oil, Honeysuckle Salve, Honeysuckle Poultice, Honeysuckle Flower Essence
Coloring Page
Herbal Crafts: Pressing/rubbing/drawing of Honeysuckle, Honeysuckle Vine Crafts, Preparing Honeysuckle Vines, Honeysuckle Vine Bracelet
*NEW* Herbal Jokes and Puns
Maze: Which Path Should The Hummingbird Moth Take to Find the Honeysuckle?
Journal: Write your thoughts, medicine making notes and other information about your month with Honeysuckle
Crossword Puzzle
Resources

54 pages from Cover to Cover. This month only, $3.99. After March 31, 2015, the price will go up to $7.99. To purchase your instant eBook download in PDF format, click here:

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Or, you can subscribe for an entire year of Herbal Roots zine for just $34.99

[Herbal Rootslets]: No. 41 – 7 of our favorite sources for herbal coloring and activity books

Posted in Uncategorized on February 26th, 2015 by kristine — 3 Comments

our favorite coloring and activities books

Whenever I have found myself stuck in the ways I relate to things, I return to nature. It is my principal teacher, and I try to open my whole being to what it has to say.”

- Wynn Bullock

Brrr! It’s cold outside and now that the novelty of snow has worn off and temperatures are plummeting into the negative numbers, my kids do not want to be outside right now. Days like these, I brew up a batch of Spicy Cocoa and break out the coloring books and crayons. It’s great fun to color and they get to learn a bit about herbs while they are doing it! There are some great coloring books available and these are a few of my favorites:

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Medicinal Plants of North America: A Flora Delaterre Coloring Book by Beth Judy
We just love Flora Delaterre! Created by Beth Judy, her website is a wealth of herbal information in bite sized pieces. She extended that to this her coloring book which features 14 herbs found in North America.

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A Kid’s EcoJournal with Nature Activities for Exploring the Season by Toni Albert
This series includes winter, spring, summer and fall. While they are not coloring books, they are a great way to introduce nature into your life with seasonally appropriate activities and journaling exercises. There is also an accompanying EcoPrints: A Complete Kit for Writing About Nature package that can be purchased and has some great writing prompts for those wanting to incorporate more nature into their other activities.

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Dover Coloring Books
I just love the variety Dover Coloring Books offers! There are so many to choose from, they make a great addition to our herbal learning resources.

Our favorites include:

Common Weeds Coloring Book

Trees of the Northeast Coloring Book

Medicinal Plants Coloring Book

Favorite Wildflowers Coloring Book

Herbs Coloring Book

Mushrooms of the World Coloring Book

Young botanists might also enjoy the Botany Coloring Book.

Check out the complete plant related coloring book list on our website.

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Wild Foods and Animals Coloring Book by Linda Runyon
Linda Runyon has created many delightful books on the foraging aspect of plants. Her coloring book is great fun, pairing up animals with the plants.

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Children’s Permaculture Guild A B C’s Coloring Book
Annual subscribers get a revised edition (created with Roman’s permission) but the pages are available on the Children’s Permaculture website for free. The revised edition is bigger, with one picture per page instead of four.

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USDA Wildflower and Noxious Weeds Coloring Pages
Free online coloring pages of wild plants. Lots to choose from! You can print off single pictures or entire coloring books, they have 7 coloring books to choose from and over 60 single pages available.

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Herbal Roots zine
And of course, Herbal Roots zine always has lots of coloring and activity pages in every issue! There are typically 10 pages of activities including a maze, crossword puzzle, word search, word scramble, botany matching, coloring page and more, plus 2 journaling pages and a page to add a plant pressing in each issue.

What are your kids’ favorite herbal coloring and activity books?

Giveaway Monday – Numen: The Healing Power of Plants DVDs

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23rd, 2015 by kristine — 37 Comments

*** THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THE 5 LUCKY WINNERS ARE:
13 – Deidre
7 – Calla
19 – Lisa
26 – Rebekah
18 – Elisha

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF YOU AND THANKS FOR VISITING HERBAL ROOTS ZINE!!***dvd_single_rev

This week I have a special treat! I am giving away 5 copies of the film Numen: The Healing Power of Plants to 5 lucky winners! This beautiful and educational film was created by Ann Armbrecht and Terrence Youk, the same folks who are working to bring you the Sustainable Herbs Project.

Just what is Numen? I’ll let this excerpt from the Numen website answer that question:

Numen, defined as the animating force in nature, is a 75-minute documentary film focusing on the healing power of plants and the natural world.

Featuring stunning footage of medicinal plants and thought-provoking interviews with Drs. Tiearona Lowdog and Larry Dossey, the late Bill Mitchell, ND, author Kenny Ausubel, herbalists Rosemary Gladstar, Phyllis Light and many others, the film calls for a re-awakening of traditional knowledge about plants and their uses.

Numen is for herbalists, gardeners, medical practitioners, plant lovers—and everyone concerned about human and environmental health. It offers an introduction to the following topics:

  • Whole plant medicine
  • Ecological medicine
  • Environmental toxins
  • The limits of allopathic medicine
  • Spirit and healing and more

A primary objective of Numen is to bring the same awareness to medicine and the medical industry that the organic food movement has brought to food and the food industry. The film presents a sobering view of conventional healthcare and the dangers of environmental insults, as well as a vision of safe, effective and sustainable medicine. It offers stories about how individuals have improved their own health and well-being and provides concrete steps for viewers to do so as well.

Most broadly, the film encourages viewers to think deeply about the sources of their medicine and how their healthcare choices affect themselves and the larger web of life. It inspires us all to deepen our relationship with the natural world and reminds us of the healing made possible by re-embracing our place in the wider web of life.

Love Numen? You can show your support by ‘liking’ them on Facebook. Tell them Herbal Roots zine sent you!

Want a chance to win a copy of the Numen DVD? Leave a comment, telling us which of the 10 things you commit to doing this year. For more chances to win, leave a separate comment every time you do one of the following:

-if you’re a kid, tell me how old you are and what your favorite Herbal Roots zine activities are

-Check out Numen’s website and make a pledge to try to do 10 things this year

-Blog about it (leave reference link)

-Follow Numen Film and Herbal Roots zine on Pinterest and pin this giveaway with hashtags #numenfilm #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your pinterest name in comments so we can find you)

-Become a follower of Numen Film and Herbal Roots zine on Twitter and tweet this giveaway with hashtags #numenfilm #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your twitter ID in comments so we can find you)

-Follow Numen Film and  Herbal Roots zine on Instagram and share this giveaway with hashtag #giveawaymondayhrz  and tag @herbalrootszine (list your Instagram name in comments so we can find you)

-Sign up for the Herbal Roots zine monthly newsletter (and receive an issue for free!)

Sign ups end on and I’ll draw the winner on Monday, March 2, 2015. Thanks for entering and good luck!

The Sustainable Herbs Project

Posted in Uncategorized on February 19th, 2015 by kristine — 5 Comments

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Has your subscription to Herbal Roots zine lapsed? Have you wanted to subscribe but just haven’t gotten around to it? Well, now’s the time to renew or get that subscription you’ve wanted while helping out a great cause. I’ll explain more about that in a minute but first, I want to talk to you about something that is very important in the herbal world, sustainability of our plants.

Many people have started seeing the importance of the food they feed their families. They are learning about the dangers of GMOs, herbicides and pesticides and do their best to keep the exposure to these poisons away from their children and loved ones. Because of consumer demand, farmer’s markets are cropping up in towns all across the country (yay!) and the commercial food industry’s jumping on the bandwagon, so to speak, offering more natural ingredients in their products.

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But what about our supplements and medicinal herbs?

While we can attend farmer’s markets, get to know the farmers who grow the produce and raise the animals, often there are not local herb growers to supply us with our herbs for medicinal use. Where do our herbs come from? Are they sustainably grown? Are they free from pesticides and other toxic substances that shouldn’t be there?

As an advocate for the plants, I have always encouraged folks to grow their own herbs or harvest them from the wild in locations that have not been sprayed. But the reality is, not everyone can do that. And there are times that I can’t do that either. So where do we turn?

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The commercial herb industry has some wonderful companies who care about this but unfortunately, there aren’t enough to go around. You may have noticed this too when trying to order your herbs from reputable herb companies, the herb you need is sold out. So then what? If we cannot buy it within the herbal community, we are forced to try to find herbs that may not be as sustainably sourced. This has bothered many of us herbalists for a long time and now, herbalist Ann Armbrecht (co-producer of Numen) has decided to do something about it and has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the sustainability of herbs.

This is important for anyone who is interested in herbal medicine, whether you choose to become an herbalist or simply have a working knowledge to help your family and friends when they are ill. As herbs become more popular and the demand increases, the supply needs to keep up but it also needs to remain sustainable.

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And because it’s SO important, I have offered up TEN annual subscriptions of Herbal Roots zine to help support the campaign!

That’s right, 10 lucky people will be able to kill 2 birds with one stone! By supporting the campaign, they will also receive a subscription to Herbal Roots zine. And, if you’re already a subscriber, they have many other wonderful gifts from folks such as Paul Bergner, jim mcdonald, Henriette Kress, Rosemary Gladstar, United Plant Savers, The Essential Herbal and many more.

EDITED TO ADD: You will still receive the bonuses that you would receive if you subscribed directly from my website.

You can be a part of this sustainability by helping to support Ann in her campaign. Please take a moment to check out her campaign and read more about why this project is so important to the herbal community. Once you’ve done so, consider sharing her kickstarter page with all your friends and contributing a few dollars to her kickstarter project if you can. Sharing her page will only take a few moments and will help to show your support of herbal sustainability, regardless of your ability to contribute financially.

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At this point, Ann only has 6 days left to get the funds needed to move forward with this project. It would only take everyone who’s reading this to contribute only $5 each for this project to be fully funded! Please help as much as you can, as jim mcdonald said so well: “Ann Armbrecht’s Sustainable Herbs Project can add a whole new layer of understanding and empowerment to this endeavor (of knowing where our herbs come from). Yes, it’s supporting Ann and it’s supporting her project, but it’s also, to an even larger degree, supporting the *plants* that are so dear to us, and work so much healing in our worlds. And that return of support is a part of a pledge that we, as herbalists, take in practicing our art. Please, consider what you can offer, and give what feels good in your heart.”

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[Herbal Rootslets]: No. 40 – Just What is Usnea, Anyway? (part of the Plants-to-Teach-Your-Kids-to-Identify Series)

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18th, 2015 by kristine — 4 Comments

Just What is Usnea?

I love being asked to identify plants, and I don’t know which gives me more pleasure: to know what they are or not to know what they are.

-Elizabeth Lawrence, Through the Garden Gates, 1990

This month’s herb is Usnea here at Herbal Roots zine. I’ve gotten a lot of curious people wondering, just what IS Usnea? To answer that question, I am sharing the “All About” section of this month’s issue of Herbal Roots zine.

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Known as old man’s beard, Usnea is found growing throughout the northern hemisphere. Though he is slow growing, he is long lived and extremely prolific. He is often found growing high up in various trees such as pine, fir, larch, fruit trees, oaks and other trees and can be easily harvested from the ground after a storm.

A member of the Parmeliaceae family, there are around 86 species in the genus Usnea. In North America, many commonly found are Usnea californica, U. florida, U. ceratina, U. hirta, U. barbara, U. longtime, U. dasypoga, and U. arizonica. All species of Usnea can be used interchangeably though some variations in constituents exist. Species of Usnea are used in Chinese medicine, contemporary homeopathic medicine, and traditional medicine in the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, and every continent except Australia.

Usnea is a lichen. Lichens are fascinating in the fact that they are a combination of a symbiotic relationship between a fungi and an algae. The easiest way to identify Usnea is by taking a moistened strand and gently pulling it apart. If it is usnea you’ll see an inner white strand that is very elastic. This inner white strand is the fungus while the green outer covering is the algae. Chewing on Usnea is not a pleasant task but if you were to do that, you would notice a bitter taste. You would also find Usnea to be drying in your mouth and cooling. These energetics tell us that Usnea is good for clearing up damp, hot conditions.

Not much research has been done on the nutritional value of Usnea. U. barbara has been found to have vitamin C. The most studied constituent is usnic acid though Usnea also contains many other constituents such as hirtusneanoside and vulpinic acid.

Medicinally, Usnea is considered to be analgesic, antibacterial, antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antineoplastic, antioxidant, antiparasitic, antiprotozoal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitumor, antiviral, astringent, bronchodilator, drug synergist, expectorant, immunostimulant, vasodilator and vulnerary. The inner core of Usnea contains immune-stimulating polysaccharides while the outer cortex contains antibiotic substances. Usnea has an affinity for the gastrointestinal system and the skin.

There have been many studies on Usnea, finding him to be extremely effective against gram-positive bacteria [see the bar below], often more so than penicillin, but not so much against gram-negative bacteria. A few individual studies have disputed this, however, finding him to be effective against Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli and Bordetella pertussis. Usnea has also been found useful in treating urinary tract infections. As a drug synergist, Usnea has found to increase the effectiveness of the antibiotic clarithromycin against Helicobacter pylori, a type of bacteria that causes ulcers. As an antibiotic, Usnea is a nonsystemic herbal antibiotic.

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Being nonsystemic means they do not easily absorb into the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal tract, therefore they are best used as a localized herbal antibiotic.

Usnea is great for treating upper respiratory infections and lung infections with his antispasmodic, a bronchial dilator, expectorant, antibacterial and antiviral actions. For those who have hot conditions, with ‘stuck’ phlegm and unproductive coughs, Usnea can help to break the phlegm and help work it out of the lungs.

Usnea’s antiviral actions have been proven to be effective against Epstein-Barr, herpes simplex, Junin virus, polyomavirus, and Tacaribe virus.

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As an antifungal, Usnea is effective against Candida spp. and other fungal strains such as Malassezia yeasts, Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes (ringworm), and T. rubrum (athlete’s foot, fungal infection of nail, jock itch, and ringworm).

Parasitical disease organisms such as Trypanosoma cruzi, Echinococcus granulosus and its cysts, and Toxoplasma gondii have also been treated effectively with Usnea and his antiparasitical/antiprotozoal actions.

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Historically, Usnea was used as a wound dressing. It was packed directly into a wound or applied on top. When a wound was packed with the Usnea, the Usnea absorbed the blood, helped to astringe (pull together) the tissue, eased pain and killed germs. Today, dried and powdered Usnea (sifted to remove the fine white cords), makes a great wound powder to help fight off and/or prevent infection and ease pain while helping the wound to heal. In Canada, veterinarians use Usnea to treat abscesses. Other veterinary practices have used usnic acid treat conjunctivitis, endometritis, mastitis and oozing, pussy wounds.

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Research has also found Usnea and usnic acid inhibits cancer cell formation and proliferation for breast, pancreatic and colorectal cancer as well as sarcomas.

Harvesting Usnea can be tricky as he likes to grow in high branches. I find harvest is easiest after a windy day or storm as the ground will be littered with branches covered in Usnea as well as individual lichens that have fallen to the ground. Usnea dries and stores easily and can be powdered as needed.

Use Usnea in sprays, washes, powders, oils, salves, extracts, and teas.

Want to learn more? The Usnea issue is on sale for $3.99 until the end of February 2015.

Do you use Usnea in your home or is this first time you’ve heard of it? Tell us your experiences with Usnea on our website!

Next week I’ll be sharing some of our favorite coloring and activity books.

Giveaway Monday – Dried Honeysuckle from Mountain Rose Herbs

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18th, 2015 by kristine — 25 Comments

*** THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO COMMENTER #17 – MUNNA! SHE IS THE WINNER! ***

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This week, we are giving away some dried organic Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica, perfect for your month of creating herbal remedies with next month’s herb, Honeysuckle, which comes out on March 1, 2015 (February 27 for subscribers).

Honeysuckle_flower8 oz organic Honeysuckle

With all this scrumptious dried Honeysuckle, you’ll have plenty of dried Honeysuckle to make all the Honeysuckle recipes in next month’s issue!

Mountain Rose Herbs is a certified organic processor through Oregon Tilth which is fully accredited with the USDA National Organic Program. Since 1987 they have continuously worked for the advancement of sustainable organic agriculture and state they will continue this lifelong passion into the future. They wholeheartedly recommend discovering the joys to be found in organic food products and the best place to start is right here at Mountain Rose Herbs. From the herbs they offer, to the teas they process and the oils they have distilled.

M0untain Rose also has a great YouTube Channel which offers an amazing amount of tutorials and educational videos, many created by John Gallagher and Rosalee de la Foret of Learningherbs.com.

You can also follow them on their Blog for more information and great Giveaway offers!

Love Mountain Rose Herbs? You can show your support by ‘liking’ them on Facebook. Tell them Herbal Roots zine sent you!

Want a chance to win this awesome package from Mountain Rose Herbs? Leave a comment, telling us if you’ve ever worked with Usnea before. For more chances to win, leave a separate comment every time you do one of the following:

-if you’re a kid, tell me how old you are and what your favorite Herbal Roots zine activities are

-Check out MRH’s website and tell me some of your favorite things

-Blog about it (leave reference link)

-Follow Mountain Rose Herbs and Herbal Roots zine on Pinterest and pin this giveaway with hashtags #mountainroseherbs #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your pinterest name in comments so we can find you)

-Become a follower of Mountain Rose Herbs and Herbal Roots zine on Twitter and tweet this giveaway with hashtags #mountainroseherbs #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your twitter ID in comments so we can find you)

-Follow Mountain Rose Herbs and  Herbal Roots zine on Instagram and share this giveaway with hashtag #giveawaymondayhrz  and tag @herbalrootszine (list your Instagram name in comments so we can find you)

-Sign up for the Herbal Roots zine monthly newsletter (and receive an issue for free!)

Sign ups end on and I’ll draw the winner on Monday, February 23, 2015. Thanks for entering and good luck!