Plant, Herb, and Tree Lore

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Article/Research by Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Research

Genus species: Origanum vulgare. Plantae, Angiosperms, Eudicots, Asterids, Lamiales, Lamiaceae, Origanum vulgare.

Common Names:Oregano, Carvacrol, Dostenkraut, Hulle d’Origan, Mountain Mint, Oil of Oregano, Organy, Origan, Origano. “Oregano” comes from the Anglo-Italian word “Origano” possibly originating from the Latin “Organum” relating to the Greek “origanon” meaning “an acrid herb”, or deriving from “mountain” and “delight in” or “joy of the mountains”. The exact origin is unknown.

Locality/Location/Environment: Native to the Mediterranean as well as Western/Southwestern Eurasia. Transplanted around the world and very common house plant in the United States

Where to Obtain: The Tree Leaves Oracle The Tree Leaves’ Oracle. Essential oil: Dried Herb:

Description: “Oregano” is a perennial herb belonging to the common species Origanum species as part of the Lamiaceae mint family. It can grow upwards of 20-80 cm in height displaying opposite spade-shaped, olive-green leaves approximately 1-4 cm in length. While it is commonly known as a perennial, it can also be found as an annual in colder climates with human intervention as it doesn’t naturally survive winter conditions. When blossoming, Oregano displays a myriad array of 3-4 mm long purple flowers produced in erect spikes and can often be mis-identified as wild marjoram (or sweet marjoram – its sister Origanum majorana). Marjoram and Oregano share much in relation so it is common to mistake the two. Another sister species is Syrian Oregano (Origanum syriacum). Numerous sub-species and strains of Oregano have been created throughout human intervention primarily to create different flavors, scents, aromas, and tastes. Some sub-species have variations in its leaves and stems such as the Aureum with golden foliage, Greek Kaliteri hirtum with small, hardy, dark, compact, thick, silvery-haired leaves containing purple undersides. Lippia graveolens, also called “Mexican Oregano” does not belong to the Oregano family, nor the mint – it is more closely related to the Vervain family verbenaceae. Also it is used by some as an Oregano alternative like Marjoram.

Cultivation: It is most commonly planted in early spring, often as early as February, within recommended spacing of 30 centimeters in dry or loamy soil exposed to full sun. Oregano loves a hot dry climate but can survive in most conditions especially with human assistance. Oregano can grow in mildly acidic (ph. range 6.0) variably to strongly alkaline (ph. range 9.0) soils however will be more successful within a 6-8.0 PH range. Easy to begin from seed, it can also be propagated from cuttings off an established plant. When first planting, place in well-drained soil under relatively warm conditions. It is a great companion plant in vegetable gardens. When it reaches approximately 4 inches, it is suggested to pinch or lightly trim the plant to make it denser and branch again. Do not over-water, best to just water when the soil feels dry. Be wary of aphids and spider mites that are attracted to this plant. Watch for root and stem rots. When ready to harvest, especially for culinary use, do so before flowering to keep flavor. Drying – hang upside in bundles. Once dried keep in airtight container. If keeping fresh, freeze in the freezer during winter.

Culinary: A very popular culinary herb, Oregano can be found in most kitchens. Some describe its taste to be similar to that of thyme, with a strong zesty flavor. Its leaves possess more flavor when dried rather than fresh. It possesses a warm, aromatic, slightly bitter taste. When shopping for Oregano, you can tell the better quality ones from poorer variants by its ability to numb your tongue. Most cooks and culinary specialists will recommend a different strain of Oregano than the common Origanum vulgare which is known for its pungent and less remarkable taste. The Aureum sub-species has a golden foliage and mild taste. Greek Kaliteri is common in Greek cooking known for its flavor and pungency. A common culinary herb throughout Indo-Europe, it is also widely used in the Mediterranean, as well as the Philippines and Latin America. Oregano is most common in Italian-American cooking especially with pastas and pizza. It became popular during World War II when it gained its nickname “the pizza herb” as soldiers returning brought back the herb and added to their pizzas. It is also a very common herb to be used to spice up meat, fish, and grilled, roasted, or fried vegetables. In Turkey it’s commonly used to flavor meats, especially lamb and offered as a condiment in kebab restaurants. The Greeks use it commonly in their salads and the lemon-olive oil sauces when barbecuing fish or meat. The Philippines use its aroma to get rid of odors from boiling water buffalo and adding flavor.

Common Uses: Cooking and a Culinary Spice. In gardening it is commonly planted as a companion plant, ornamental, and as ground cover. When flowering often used in decorations and within artistic wreaths. Oregano oil is used topically as an insect repellent. The tops of the plants are used to produce a reddish-brown dye. The leaves can be used as a wood polish when rubbed over wood.

Medicinal: According to folklore Oregano has numerous medicinal qualities. Through the ages it has been listed as a powerful antiseptic. It is a folk cure for stomach and respiratory issues. In Austria it is used as a tea or ointment to treat gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract disorders as well as to treat the nervous system. The Greeks use the sister Origanum dictamnus (Cretan Oregano) for sore throats. In Herbalism and folk healing, Oregano is used to treat coughs, asthma, croup, and bronchitis. It is also known to relieve heartburn and bloating, menstrual cramps, rheumatoid arthritis, urinary tract disorders, UTIs, headaches, and heart conditions. Its Oil is taken internally to treat colds, flues, arthritis, sinus pain, allergies, intestinal parasites, swine flu, earaches, and fatigue. It is also applied to the skin for acne, athlete’s foot, oily skin, dandruff, canker sores, warts, rosacea, ring worm, spider bites, insect bites, gum disease, toothaches, muscle pain, varicose veins, and psoriasis. Some claim its ability to ease seasickness. It is believed to be a natural antihistamine – and drank as a tea to relieve hives or other allergies, often mixed with tarragon, basil, chamomile, and fennel. Added to the bath, some say it will relax sore muscles and help one unwind after a long day. Made into a tea and used as a mouthwash has claims to ease sore gums and toothaches. Add the oil to massage oils to aid in muscle aches.

The U.S.A. Federal Trade Commission in 2005 sued firms claiming its ability to treat colds and flu saying the “representations were false or were not substantiated at the time the representations were made and that they were therefore a deceptive practice and false advertisements.” The result of the suit required in America that one could not advertise Oregano for its health benefits without reliable scientific evidence accompanying it. A ridiculous outcome since it has been known for its medicinal attributes for hundreds of years. Oregano possesses polyphenols and flavones. The essential oil is composed primarily of monoterpenoids and monoterpenes. Oregano is composed of numerous compounds, the most common being carvacrol and thymol as the major composition, with lesser compounds including p-cymene, y-terpnene, caryophyllene, spathulenol, germacrene-D, etc. Oregano is known to interact with Lithium. Preliminary science suggests the chemicals within Oregano might help reduce cough and spasms. Science also suggests it could help digestion by increasing bite flow. There is also some preliminary science suggesting possibilities of fighting against bacteria, viruses, fungi, intestinal worms, and parasites. Clinical research also suggests its treatment for high cholesterol when taken after each meal for three months could reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Other science have determined Oregano oil might kill the intestinal parasites Blastocystis hominis, Entamoeba hartmanni, and Endolimax nana. Some suggest 200 mg of oil of oregano three times daily for 6 weeks for intestinal parasites.
Potential side effects: While Oregano is determined to be likely safe when ingested within the common amounts found in foods containing it, it is determined possibly safe when taken by mouth or applied to the skin in medicinal amounts – it has been noted to cause stomach upset, especially in excessive amounts. Those allergic to plants in the Lamiaceae family also have noted allergic reactions in its use. Oregano is cited as possibly unsafe when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts during pregnancy and breast feeding. It has a reputation of possibly causing miscarriage. Those with bleeding disorders or those about to enter surgery are recommended not to take Oregano due to the possibility Oregano can increase bleeding. Those preparing for surgery should stop use at least 2 weeks before surgery. Since Oregano can possibly lower blood sugar levels, use of Oregano by people with Diabetes should consult a physician first. Oregano use might cause effects similar to diuretics. Since Oregano interacts with Lithium, it can also decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium causing side effects. If taking Lithium, consult your physician before using oregano.

Magical / Mythology / Folklore: Medicinal and folk-healing properties are abundant in folklore about Oregano, especially in relaxing nerves and settling upset stomachs. Some claim the Assyrians utilized Oregano in 3000 BCE. Folk remedies claim it being a poison antidote, headache cure, asthma ease, and relief for insect bites as well as stings from scorpions. It is believed that Aristotle noticed would eat the leaves of an oregano plant after eating a snake thinking this would be an antidote to poison. Through Shakespearean lore, it was thought to cure overdoses of opium and hemlock. Oregano is used in magic, ritual, and ceremony. In Ancient Greece, it was an element in weddings as the crowns the wedded pair would wear would often be oregano laurels. During the middle Ages, the herb was planted around graves so departed spirits could be at peace. Those seeking psychic dreams would wear Oregano leaves on their heads. It was commonly carried as a charm for good luck and health. In spell craft, it is an ingredient for promoting happiness, luck, health, protection, letting go of a loved one, deepening existing love, and tranquility. Outside the home, it was grown to protect the house from evil. Oregano tea would often be prescribed by healers to assist patients in letting a loved one go. Oregano is believed to be ruled by Venus and the element of air. It is one of Aphrodite’s herbs. Oregano represents “joy” (possibly from its namesake “joy of the mountain”) and is used during rites imbued with celebrating happy occasions such as love, romance, marriages, or the passing of loved ones to find happiness in their next life.

This article is continuously being updated and revised. Please check back often for more research, links, references, photos, and content.

To obtain the Essential oil, visit

To obtain the dried herb, visit

  • Bespoke Spices 2015: undated “The History, lore, and Uses of Oregano”. Website referenced 6/6/16 at
  • Collins Dictionary 2014 “Oregano”
  • Francis, Meagan HGTV 2015: undated “Herbivore: Get a Dose of Good Luck by Growing Oregano”. Website referenced 6/6/15 at:
  • The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2015: undated “Oregano”. Website referenced 6/6/15 at
  • USDA undated “Origanum vulgare L. oregano”. Plant database
  • WebMD 2015: undated “Oregano”. Website referenced 6/6/15 at
  • Wikipedia 2015: undated “Oregano”. Website referenced 6/6/15 at
  • Witchipedia 2015: undated “Oregano”. Website referenced 6/6/15 at


Hopewell Mounds, Hopewell, Ohio

Echinacea spp.
Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Asterids: Asterales: Asteraceae: Asteroideae: Heliantheae: Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, etc.

Common names:
echinacea, purple coneflower, coneflower, American coneflower, American Cone Flower, Black Sampson, Black Susans, Brauneria Angustifolia, Brauneria Pallida, Comb Flower, Coneflower, Echinacea Angustifolia, Echinacea Pallida, Echinacea Purpurea, Echinaceawurzel, Échinacée, Échinacée Angustifolia, Échinacée Pallida, Échinacée Pourpre, Échinacée Purpurea, Equinácea, Fleur à Hérisson, Hedgehog, Igelkopfwurzel, Indian Head, Kansas Snakeroot, Narrow-Leaved Purple Cone Flower, Pale Coneflower, Purple Cone Flower, Purpursonnenhutkraut, Purpursonnenhutwurzel, Racine d’echininacea, Red Sunflower, Rock-Up-Hat, Roter Sonnenhut, Rudbeckie Pourpre, Schmallblaettrige Kegelblumenwurzel, Schmallblaettriger Sonnenhut, Scurvy Root, Snakeroot, Sonnenhutwurzel.

Native to North America. Endemic to eastern and central North America especially in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas. They are drought-tolerant perennial plants growing up to 4 feet in height growing from taproots except purpurea that grows from a short caudex with fibrous roots.

Hopewell Mounds, Hopewell, Ohio

Named from the Greek word echino meaning “sea urchin” due to the way the large spiny central disk of the flower appears. There are nine known species of Echinacea most of which are native to North America. Most common species is Echinacea purpurea. It is the genus of a group of herbaceous flowering plants of the Asteraceae daisy family with nine species all called coneflower. They possess large showy heads of composite flowers blooming from early to late summer. The species E. tennesseeosis and E. levitate are endangered species.

The roots, leaves, and stems are used fresh or dried for teas, capsules, to make an extract, juice, or poultice. In addition to medicinal cultivation they are used as ornamentals. The erect stems are unbranched, with both basal and cauline leaves arranged alternately, leaves are normally hairy with a rough texture having uniseriate trichomes but sometimes they lack hairs. Basal leaves nad lower stem leaves have petioles and as leaves progress up the stem the petioles decrease in length. Some species have linear to lanceolae shaped leaves while others have elliptic to ovate shaped leaves. Flowers are collected together into single rounded heads that aterminate long peduncles. Corollas are pinkish, greenish, reddish-purple or yellow and have tubes shorter than the throats. Pollen is normally yellow. 3-4 angled fruits are created tan or bicolored with a dark brown band distally.

Traditionally used to enhance the immune system as a natural antibiotic, best used for colds, flus, and other infections. Some also use it for wounds and skin problems including boils and acne. Scientifically it has not been documented officially for dependable effects on immune system. Some have stated allergic reactions to the plant including rashes, increased asthma, and anaphylaxis. Sometimes gastronintestinal side effects have been noted. Used for fighting infections, common cold, and other upper respiratory infections. Often taken during the first sign of the cold or flu hoping to keep it from developing, while others take it after getting a cold hoping to make the symptoms less severe. It is reputed to reduce cold symptoms, including flu, urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, genital herpes, bloodstream infections (septicemia), gum disease, tonsillitis, streptococcus infections, syphilis, typhoid, malaria, and diphtheria as well as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), rheumatism, migraines, acid indigestion, pain, dizziness, rattlesnake bites, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Others have reputedly used it applied to their skin to treat boils, abscesses, skin wounds, ulcers, burns, eczema, psoriasis, UV radiation skin damage, herpes simplex, bee stings, and hemorrhoids. It is believe to activate chemicals in the body to decrease inflammation that might reduce cold and flu symptoms. Laboratory research states it does stimulate the body’s immune system but has not been proven to be effective in people.

Traditionally used by the Great Plains Indian tribes and followed in use by European settlers. It was reputedly used by the Kiowa for coughs and sore throats, for sore throats by the Cheyenne, for headaches by the Pawnee, and other tribes as a analgesic. Native Americans supposedly learned of the most potent form Echinacea angustifolia by observing elk seeking out plants and consuming them when sick or wounded and identified those as “elk root”.

Hopewell Mounds, Hopewell, Ohio

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Betula pubescens / alba

Birch Tree
Article by Thomas Baurley, herbalist for Technogypsie Productions and The Tree Leaves’ Oracle. © 2014 – copyrighted and all rights reserved. Full on-going article and research diary here: To purchase or obtain birch bark for your own use, purchase from us here:

Common Names: Betula alba, Birch, downy birch, moor birch, white birch, European white birch, hairy birch, Beithe, Bereza, Berke, Beth, Bouleau. The name comes from the Old English birce, bierce, or Proto-Germanic *berk-j?n and the generic name betula is from Latin.

Taxonomy: Kingdom: Plantae; Angiosperms; Eudicots; Rosids; Fagales; Betulaceae; Betula; Betula; Betula pubescens

Locality: Native throughout North America, Northern Europe, Iceland, Northern Asia, and Greenland. They love light, dry and acid soils and can cling to rocks on mountain sides. Growth preference in colder climates and can be found further north than most trees.

Description: Very common in European landscape and lore, it is one of the most common native broad-leaved trees. It is a deciduous tree Growing to a tall height of 10-30 meters in maturity with a slender crown and a trunk upwards of 70 cm thick with smooth dull grey-white bark marked with dark horizontal lenticels. The sapling starts out like a small shrub in its sapling phase with grey-brown finely down shoots – always with elegant, drooping branches providing a light canopy and whip like twigs. Ovate-acute 2-5 cm long and 1.5-4.5 cm broad finely serrated marginated leaves create wind-pollinated catkins that bloom early spring before the leaves sprout. This creates a pendulous cylindrical aggregate fruit that is approximately 1-4 cm long a nd 5-7 mm diameter in size disintegrating during maturity into individual seeds that are upwards of 2 mm long with two small wings along their sides. The tree bark has a white color and sheds layers like tissue paper – which is used by some as paper. The smooth twigs have little dark warts. The Downey birch has a greyish bark that doesn’t peel and twigs that are smooth with no warts, barks of both become rugged with darker diamond shaped crevices throughout growth. The leaves and flowers are small, triangular, pointed with a toothed edge producing female flowers called “catkins” beginning with a bright green maturing into a dark crimson throughout summer. Before the seeds drop to the ground, they hang off the tree like ‘lamb tails’. There are many species of “Birch” and sometimes this species gets confused with Betula pendula – the Silver Birch. In North America, these two trees are sometimes treated as conspecific, although in Europe are distinctly two different species. Best way to tell the difference is the Downey Birch (pubescens) has smooth, downy shoots that are hairless and warty in the silver birch (pendula). Downy’s bark is dull grey white while the silver birch has striking white papery bark with black fissures. Leaf margins differ as in downey being finely serrated and silver having coarse double-toothed margins. The downy birch is a tetraploid (4 sets of chromosomes) and the silver birch is a diploid (2 sets).

Cultivation: These are pioneer species with light wind blow seeds that can grow quickly on bare ground without planting. Preference of light, dry and acid soils. The birch stands up to harsh weather elements including wind, frost, and heat.

Common Uses: Commonly used in lotions, rinses, and creams for its fragrance. It was used by Native Americans to build canoes, wigwams and other structures as it is water-resistant. They are a preferred tree for their ability to provide a light open canopy with spaced small leaves giving light shade on the ground giving ability to grow mosses, grasses, and flowering planets beneath the canopy. A common timber tree in Scandinavia used as a pale, smooth, light hardwood for furniture, spools, bobbins, boxes, handles, and plywood. Smaller trees used for toys, tools, and handles. The bark is waterproof so used for roofing materials and tanning leather. Twigs are bound together as “besoms” and used as brushes or brooms. A tar made from the bark is thermoplastic and waterproof used as a glue for arrows and medicinal applications. Ground birch bark fermented in sea water is used to season wool, hemmp, or linen sails and ropes in Norwegian boats. As a firewood burns well without popping and very flammable.

Culinary: In Sweden the bark is ground up and used to make a bread, in Finland made into “mämmi” a traditional dish for Easter packed and baked in boxes of birch bark. In Iceland, the Bjork tree is used to make a sweet birch liquor. A birch beer root-beer like soda is made in northern regions.

Medicinal: Birch oil is a well known treatment for skin conditions and to repel insects. The tree sap is used as a natural shampoo and can be used as a remedy for dysentery and urinary infections. An infusion of the leaves is used as an antiseptic and diuretic. The bark soaked until moist in water can be formed into a cast for broken limbs.

Magical: Seen as having the powers of beginnings, renewal, protection, stability, and new journeys. Used in charms and talismans to ward off evil, banish fright, and instill courage. Associated with beauty, tolerance, and new beginnings. A broom made of birch is used by Witches to brush out the old year the morning of the Winter Solstice. Cut bark is added to protection spells. Birch beer is drank for protection from psychic attacks. Maypoles are commonly made of birch. Newborn cradles made to protect infants.

Folklore and Legends: Nicknamed by some modern Neo-Pagans as “The Lady of the Woods”. It is associated with the first Celtic Tree calendar month (December 24th – January 20th), and is prescribed as the first consonant of the Ogham alphabet “Beith”. Astrologically associated with the planet Venus and elements of air and water. It symbolizes renewal and protection as the Tree of Inception and New beginnings. Associated with Crystals, Daisies, Eagles, Pheasants, Egrets, and the color white. Associated with the Goddess Freya, Brigid, Venus, and Thor. Believed to ward off evil, fear, terror, and instill courage. The birch is commonly used in yule logs. The twigs used to light Beltane fires. Copulation in Birch forests encouraged pregnancy. In Celtic cultures, the birch symbolizes growth, renewal, stability, initiation and adaptability. The tree is also associated with the Tír na nÓg, the land of the dead and the Sidhe, in Gaelic folklore, and as such frequently appear in Scottish, Irish, and English folksongs and ballads in association with death, or fairies, or returning from the grave.

To purchase or obtain birch bark for your own use, purchase from us here:

  • Encyclopedia of Life “Betula pubescens”. Website referenced 10/26/2014 at
  • Forestry Commission “Birch” Website referenced 10/26/2014 at
  • The Goddess Tree “Birch: The Lady of the Woods” Website referenced 10/26/2014 at
  • Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia “Betula pubescens”. Website reference 10/26/2014 at
  • Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia “Birch”. Website referenced 10/26/2014 at


Styrax Benzoin

Article by Thomas Baurley, Herbalist for Technogypsie Productions and Tree Leaves’ Oracle Botanicals. October 26, 2014: Technogypsie Press. © 2014: Copyright, All Rights Reserved. Benzoin Gum can be bought from us here:

Genus/Species: Kingdom: Plantae; Angiosperms; Eudicots; Asterids; Ericales; Styracaceae : Styrax benzoin.

Common Names: gum benjamin tree, loban, kemenyan, onycha, snowbell, styrax, storax, sumatra benzoin tree, ben, benjamen, gum benzoin, Siam Benzoin, Siamese Benzoin.

Locality: Native to Sumatra in Indonesia. The Genus Styrax is found Warm temperate to tropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere, especially eastern and southeastern Asia.

Description: A common tree in Sumatra growing upwards of 12 meters. The Styrax Genus has over 130 species ranging from shrubs to small trees, one of which the benzoin belongs to. Possesses alternate, deciduous and/or evergreen simple ovate leaves 1-18 cm long and 2-10 cm broad with pendulous 5-10 lobed corolla flowers producing 3-30 on open or dense panicles 5-25 cm long, producing a oblong dry drupe fruit with smooth and/or lacking ribs or narrow wings.

Cultivation: It is harvested primarily for its resin in Indonesia, grown as an ornamental, and a shade tree in West Africa.

Styrax benzoin – Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-133 – Public Domain image, copyright expired.
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Culinary Uses: It is used to preserve fats.

Common Uses: Commonly used as a base in incense sticks, cones, and mixtures. It is an alternative to storax. The resin which comes from a dried exudation seeping from pierced bark. The chemical “benzoin” in small amounts can be found within as hydrocarbon styrene but too minute to work with today. It was first obtained from the Levant Styrax (Liquidambar orientalis) as an isolate and later industrially used to create styrene that is now used to create polystyrene plastics like styrofoam. The Styrax resin of most species is used for incense, medicines, and perfumes. Often used as an additive to cigarettes. The wood is used for woodworking and handcrafts. It is a common wood used in creating the koky? (??) or Japanese bowed instrument.

Magical Uses: A Masculine tree, astrologically aligned with the sun, element of air, and holds the powers of purification and prosperity. It is burnt to purify and is added to purification incenses. It is considered a fine “clearing” herb. Use as an incense mixed with cinnamon and basil and burn to attract customers to your place of business. Magical substitution for storax to which it is related.

Medicinal Uses: Minimally researched, but traditionally used in Islamic medicine that if mixed with other antibiotic materials and hardening material creates a good dental restorative material. It is also found as a ingredient in the “Theriaca Andromachi Senioris” Venice treacle recipe in the 1686 “d’Amsterdammer Apotheek”. The alcohol tincture was very popular in the 19th century for antibacterial applications, as first aid for small injuries, a disinfectant, local anesthetic, and used to promote healing. The tincture diluted with water acts as a mild stimulant and antiseptic for skin irritations. If taken internally known to act as a carminative as it is rapidly absorbed. It is a mild expectorant diuretic and antiseptic for urinary passage. In the Tincture of Benzoin, it is used as an inhalant with steam to treat bronchitis and laryngitis.

Folklore/Legend: In the Book of Exodus, the “nataf” of the incense sacred to Yahweh is loosely translated by the Greek term stakt? (??????, AMP: Exodus 30:34) or perhaps as another gum resin term. It is believed by scholars to have referred to Styrax officinalis. If burnt is believed to drive away snakes.

Need Benzoin Gum? Purchase it here:

  • “Benzoin”. Website referenced 10/26/2014 at
  • Cunningham, Scott 1990 “Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs”. Llwelleyn Press.
  • “Styrax Benzoin”. Website referenced 10/26/2014 at
  • “Styrax”. Website referenced 10/26/2014 at


National Botanical Gardens, Edinburg, Scotland

Lime: Tilia cordata

Taxonomy: Plantae: Tiliaceae: Tilia cordata

Other names: Lime, Teile (Gaelic), common lime, tree of love

Description: The Common Line is a cross between T. Cordata and the larger-leaved southern cousin known as “T. playphyllos”. It is a small-leaved lime tree. The hybrids are common in gardens in the U.K. and Ireland, but are not native there. They are prone to suckering from the base and many older specimens can be recognized by the bushy tufts of shoots surrounding the base of the trunk. During summer seasons, the lime bears clusters of sweetly scented pale yellow-cream flowers that are rich in nectar. These are attractive to insects, especially bees, who become drowsy when overdosing on nectar and can be found fizzing gently in the sward beneath these trees. The leaves are heart-shaped and bright green thereby inspiring its nickname as the “Tree of love”.

Common uses: Planted in estates and gardens as an ornamental. The wood is very soft and used often for small carvings. A crude string used to be made from stripping out its inner layer of bark called the bast.

Culinary: Fruit is used as a seasoning and a drink additive. It is used as a nectar for certain types of honey.

Magic and Folklore: Known as the Tree of Love and used often in love magic spells. Masculine; Planet: Sun; Element: Fire; Powers: Healing, Love, Protection. With the actual fruit – take a fresh lime and pierce it with old iron nails, spikes, pins and needles – toss into a deep hole in the ground to rid self of all ills, hexes, and curses. Wear a necklace of limes to cure a sore throat. Add the peel or essential oil in love mixtures and incenses. Drive a nail into the trunk of a time tree to cure a toothache (thank the tree and ask permission). Twigs of the tree protect against the evil eye when carried.

National Botanical Gardens, Edinburg, Scotland

Essential Oil:

Aura Cacia Essential Oil: LIME, .5 fl oz.

Citrus x aurantifolia from Mexico, U.S.A., West Indies

Description: 100% Pure Essential Oil by Aura Cacia. “Lime Essential Oil” – 1/2 fl. oz. from Mexico, USA, or West Indies. Product Dimensions: approx. 3 x 1 x 1 inches ; approx. 1.7 ounces – jar, lid, and oil. Shipping weight: approx. 7 ounces.

Aroma: Tungy, Typical Lime

Cautions: If Pregnant, injured or ill with any medical condition or if taking other medications, consult a doctor or adviser before use. Dilute properly, may irritate skin. This product is not for internal use. Keep out of reach from children.

Indications: Freshening

Ingredients: Citrus x aurantifolia (lime) oil.

Suggested Uses: Awaken the senses: 5 drops lime in a room humidifier or aromatherapy vaporizer. Cheering diffusion: 7 drops lime, 3 drops neroli in a lamp ring diffuser.

ASIN: B001895GPQ

UPC: 051381911263

To learn more about Lime, visit ourLime page.

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Lime Essential Oil: .5 fl oz – Aura Cacia 100% Pure

Recommended Reading / References:

  • Aura Cacia undated Product Labels. Product Labels referenced 2/11/14.
  • Cunningham, Scott 1992 Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. Llewellyn: St. Paul, Minnesota. ISBN: 0-87542-122-9
  • Worwood, Valerie Ann 1991 “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy”. New World Library: San Rafael, California. ISBN: 0-931432-82-0.


Baurley, Thomas 11/26/2009 “Coconut Palm: Cocos nucifera”. Official web page: © 2009 – Technogypsie Productions: Colorado Springs, Colorado. If you enjoy this article, please treat the author to a drink or donate to keep this article preserved online.

Coconut Trees, Big Island, Hawaii

Coconut Palm
Taxonomy: Plantae: Gymnospermae: Cycadopsida: Commelinids: Arecales: Arecaceae: Arecoideae: Cocoeae: Cocos nucifera. Common names: Nut, Coco, Coconut

Description: Most of the world is familiar with coconuts, the fruit and seed of which comes from the Coconut Palm. Its one of the ever-more popular icons of tropical beaches and regions, uninhabited islands, Florida, Hawaii, and the Bahamas. The Coconut Palm is part of the Palm Family (Arecaceae) and holds its only species. Its a large palm that can grow upwards of 30 meters tall with pinnate leaves 4-6 meters long and pinnae from 60-90 cm long. When the old leaves break away from the trunk it leaves it clean and smooth. A largely tropical decoration plant, it is also used throughout the world for cooking, health, refreshment, beverages, and manufacture. Every part of the Coconut Palm has a use. The fruit of the plant is light, buoyant, and highly water resistant making it very easy to propagate and spread across the world via the oceans and seas. The flowers of the plant are polygamomonoecious possessing both male and female flowers in the same inflorescence that occur continuously. The fruit of the tree is a coconut, within the inner surface of the shell, a ‘nut’ that is an edible endosperm containing coconut juice/milk that is sweet and/or salty. Botanically its a simply dry nut containing a husk (mesocarp) composed of fibers (coir) hosting an inner stone (endocarp) that is the hardest part of the nut which contains 3 germination pores visible on the outside surface once the husk is removed. Through these holes the radicle emerges when the embroyo germinates. The coconut meat is within the shell and consists of a white fleshy edible albuminous endosperm that is highly noted for its medium-chain saturated fat, containing less sugar and more protein than many popular fruits like bananas, apples, oranges, and is high in iron, phospherus, and zinc. In the hollow interior space of the nut is air and a liquid referred to as “coconut water”. When the coconut fruit is still green, the husk is very hard, and only fall if attacked by molds. When the fruit falls naturally, the husks become brown, coir is dry and soft, and less hazardous when it falls. Coconuts can be very damaging when they fall to people, automobiles, and houses. They have been known to cause fatalities.

Beware of falling coconuts, Kalapana Village, Big Island, Hawaii

The exact origin of the “Coconut” is a controversy, ranging from scholars believing it to be native to South Asia while others claim it is from northwestern South American; Fossil evidence shows coconut plants in New Zealand from 15 million years ago; even older fossils in Kerala, Rajasthan, Thennai, and India. First referred to in the 2nd-1st c. B.C.E. in Sri Lanka. Coconuts were believed to be introduced to Hawaii by the Polynesians, to Europe by Portuguese sailors, etc. The name “coconut” came to be from the description of the brown and hairy surface of the nut that reminded the Portuguese explorers of a ghost or witch called “Coco”. Then Marco Polo in 1280 called it nux indica derived from the Arab’s name jauz-al-Hindi. The British retained the coco name and added “nut” to it.

Folklore and Magical beliefs::
Because of how the fruit appears, Portuguese travelers thought the fruit looked like “Coco” the scary witch from within their folklore, that used to be represented as a carved vegetable lantern. Coconut shell is sometimes used to ‘ward away the evil eye’ in South India. In the Philippines, dried half shells are used for a folk dance called the “maglalatik” for an musical instrument that demonstrates or tells the tale about conflicts about coconuts within the Spanish era. The Coconut is used often in rituals – with the Kaveri River worship in India it was seen as an essential element of several Hindu rituals where coconuts were decorated with bright metal foils. Often offered to Hindu God/desses, rivers, and seas in hopes of honor, tribute, or answers to prayers for successful/bountiful catches. In Hindu wedding rituals the coconut is placed over the opening of a pot (representing the womb) or breaking the coconut to ensure blessings as a successful completion of an activity or used in prayers. With Tantra sometimes coconuts are used to represent the human skull.

Coconut, Big Island, Hawaii

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The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Aconitum vulparia [ Plantae: Angiospermae; Eudicots; Ranunculales; Aconiteae; Family: Ranunculaceae: Genus: Aconitum: Aconitum vulparia ]

Common Names:
Wolfsbane, Badger’s Bane, aconite, monkshood, wolfsbane, leopard’s bane, women’s bane, Devil’s helmet or blue rocket.

Alps, Europe.

This herbaceous perennial grows naturally in damp woods, in the Northern hemispheres, especially in the Alps where it is an endangered species. It likes moist retentive well drained soil atop mountain meadows with snow melt. It is a plant that produces dark green leaves that lack stipules, are palmate lobed with 5-7 segments each with 3 lobed coarse sharp teeth, spiral or alternate leaf arrangement, with lower leaves having long petioles, growing tall erect stemmed crowned by racemes of large sulphur-yellow flowers from June to August with numerous stamens. The higher the elevation, the more flowers produced, and longer they last. The flowers are well know for having one of 5 petaloid sepals called the galea in the form of a cylindrical helmet that gives itself the English name monkshood. These are 2-10 petals in forms of nectaries, with two upper large petals, located under the hood of the calyx and supported on long stalks, with a hollow spur at the apex containing nectar, and other petals being small or non-forming with 3-5 carpels partially fused at the base. The plant produces a dry unilocular follicle fruit that has many seeds formed from one carpel and dehiscing by the ventral suture to release the seeds when ready to reproduce.

There are over 250 species.

Wolfsbane is easily propagated by divisions of the root or by seeds. The plant can be sown from seeds, although this method is challenging and is recommended to be germinated in a wet paper towel wrapped up in a unsealed plastic baggie for 4 weeks at regular room temperature (but no direct light). After germination, place in freezer for 6 weeks, then sow in sterile planting soil once temperatures get to 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors. Imitate its natural habitat of high elevations, cold, and icy terrain.

Common Uses:
Commonly used as an arrow poison throughout history for hunting and warfare.

Culinary Uses:
The roots are occasionally mistaken for those of horse radish. When touched to the lips will produce the feelings of numbness and tingling.

Medicinal Uses:
Most of the species of Aconitum contain large quantities of the deadly poison alkaloid pseudaconitine. Wolfsbane can cause severe itching and dermatitis if in contact with human skin, and the poison can be absorbed into the body quickly even with the slightest cut on the skin. Strongly recommended to always wear gloves when handling it. The tiniest amount can be fatal. It is traditionally used in Asian medicine to increase pitta (fire, bile) dosha and to enhance penetration in small doses. In Chinese medicine it is used to treat Yang deficiency or general debilitation. It is a known anodyne, diuretic, and diaphoretic. Internally, Wolfsbane is used to slow the pulse, as a sedative for pericarditis and/or heart palpitations, or diluted as a mild diaphoretic, and to reduce feverishness in treatments of colds, pneumonia, quinsy, laryngitis, croup, and asthma. Initial poisoning will cause gastrointestinal including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea followed by burning, tingling, and numbness in the mouth and face, and of burning in the abdomen. It can cause hypertension, sweating, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, headache, and confusion. It is a potent neurotoxin that blocks tetrodotoxin-sensitive sodium channels.

Magical Uses:
A herb associated with Saturn and Mars used in classical witchcraft. Sacred to the Goddess Hecate. The herb is used to reverse shape shifting spells and protects homes from werewolves. Some claim that witches dipped flints into the juice of wolfsbane as poisoned weapons, these flints were called elf-bolts. Used as an incense to honor Hecate and to receive omens/oracles from her. It is an anti-shapeshifting drug, so can help see people’s real forms. Its used for much baneful magic.

Folklore and History:
It is believed that this plant got the name “Wolfsbane” because early Germans used it to poison wolves. In Greek Myth, Medea attempted to poison Theseus with a cup of wine poisoned with wolfsbane.

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Ruta Graveolens / RUE
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Rue: Ruta Graveolens
Ruta Graveolens [ Plantae: Angiosperms: Eudicots: Rosids: Sapindales: Rutaceae: Rutoideae: Ruteae: Ruta: Ruta Graveolens ]

Common Names:

Commonly found throughout the Mediterranean, Southern Europe, Macaronesia, and southwest Asia.

Rue is a hardy evergreen shrubby plant that is highly scented disagreeble odor, ranging from 20-60 cm tall, with upwards of 8-40 species. The most popular “Rue” is “Common Rue”. Stems are woody in the lower part, Its leaves are alternate tripinnate or bipinnate with feathery appearance, green to blue green in color hosting yellow flowers with 4-5 petals that are approximately 1 cm in diameter usually from June to September, eventually forming 4-5 lobed capsulated fruit that hosts numerous sees.

Ruta angustifolia – Egyptian Rue; Ruta chalepensis – Fringed Rue; Ruta corsica – Corsican Rue; Ruta graveolens – Common Rue; Ruta montana – Mountain Rue

Grows anywhere, but thrives best in partially sheltered and dry areas. It can be propogated by seeds sown outside and scattered in spring, raking and beds kept free of weeds so that the seedlings when 2 inches high can be transplanted into fresh beds. Best to allow 18 inch spacing. With cuttings done in the spring, insert in soil until well rooted in shady borders or by rooted slips taken in spring until readily grown. Poor, dry, rubbishy soil is very good.

Common Uses:
Often used to ward off fleas and other biting insects and a common herbal insect repellent.

Culinary Uses:
Rue is very bitter with a nauseous taste, but utilized in many Middle Eastern cuisines, especially as an additive to grappa in Italy. It was a common element to ancient Roman recipes. Often added to salads.

Medicinal Uses:
Used for much medicine in England, it is a main ingredient for poison antidotes. Piperno the physician in 1625 recommended Rue to combat epilepsy, vertigo, and malady – often to be worn around the neck of the sufferer. Pliny claimed it was good to improve eyesight and focus. Believed by Italian artists to make eyesight sharp and clear aiding in detailed drawings. Juice of Rue is often utilized to fend off ear aches. It was seen early to ward off contagion, attacks of fleas, and other insects. Culpepper recommends it for sciatica and pains in the joints, also for shaking fits of agues, etc. Volatile oil made from rue contains caprinic, plagonic, caprylic, and oenanthylic acids as well as rutin. Often distilled from the fresh herb used as a wine, decoctions and infusions for medicinal usage or tea as an emmenogogue. In large quantities it is an acro-narcotic poison. Used sometimes to address hysterical affections, coughs, croup, colic, and flatulence as it is a mild stomachic. On the skin its an active irritant and sometimes used as a rubefacient, helping ease the severe pains of sciatica. it can risk dermatitis on the skin and cause rashes, especially if under the hot sun when oils are rich on the outside, it can blister skin like a poison ivy rash. Taken as a tea often used to combat nervous nightmares and leaves rubbed to the temples are said to relieve headaches. However, taking the plant intself internally has been known to produce vomiting, convulsions, and stomach pains. The compresses of the leaves applied to chests can combat chronic bronchitis. Leaves chewed are believed to calm nervous headaches, giddiness, hysterical spasms, and palpitations.

Magical Uses:
The Ancient Greeks see it as a “anti-magical herb” because it served as remedies to nervous indigestion they suffered when eating before strangers which was blamed on witchcraft. Throughout the Middle Ages it was seen as a powerful defense against witches and a main ingredient in many spells. Crushed herb is known to ward off evil spirits and witches. Rue is also believed to summon second sight. Holy water was sprinkled with rue brushes at ceremonies preceding Sunday celebrations of high mass, giving it the name Herb of Repentance or Herb of Grace. Often boiled together with treacle, conserving the rue, and used to cure croup in poultry or to fend off diseases in cattle.

Folklore and History:
The name comes from “Ruta” (Greek ‘reuo’) meaning “to set free” as the herb is known to be very good at affecting various diseases. Used by many ancient cultures, it was written about by Hippocrates who commended it as a chief ingredient for combating poisons in antidotes. Said by Gerard that “If a man be anointed with the juice of rue, the poison of wolf’s bane, mushrooms, or toadstooles, the biting of serpents, stinging of scorpions, spiders, bees, hornets and wasps will not hurt him.”, it was commonly sprinkled in houses to kill all the feas and as an insecticide. It is one of the ingredients in the “Vinegar of the Four Thieves”. It is the floral symbol of repentance, sorrow, and of regret.

The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

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The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

Aristolochia clematitis [ Plantae: Aristolochiaceae: Aristolochia clematitis ]

Common Names:
Birthwort, Virginia Snakeroot, Snakeroot, Dutchman’s Pipe, Pipevine, etc.

Found throughout the Mediterranean, Asia Minor, and the Caucasus, it is found in many other regions.

A perennial flowering plant that grows upwards of three feet, possesses an unpleasant smell, and blossoms dirty yellow flowers. Its flowers resemble a birth canal or a pipe, hence lending to the name. The root is spindle-shaped, ranging from 5 cm to 3 dm in length, about 2 cm thick, fleshy, brittle, greyish on the outside, brownish-yellow inside, bitter tasting, and hosting a strong disagreeable odor.


There are over 350 species, including but not limited to: Aristolochia clematitis (Birthwort); Aristolochia serpentaria (Virginia Snakeroot, Virginia Snakeroot, Snakeweed); Aristolochia reticulata (Snakeroot) ; Aristolochia klugii (Amazonian Snakeroot/Birthwort) ; Aristolochia bracteata (Sudanese Snakeroot/Birthwort) ; Aristolochia rotunda (European Snakeroot/Birthwort); Aristolochia kaempferi and A. fangchi (Chinese Snakeroot/Birthwort) ; Aristolochia indica (Indian Birthwort); Aristolochia mexicana, A. watsonii, A. wrightii (Indian Root, Birthroot, Snakeroot, Dutchman’s Pipe, Spanish: Yerba del Indio, Raiz del India, Inmortal, Comino, Guaco, Yerba del Pasmo, Tlacopatli (Nahuatl) ; Aristolochia grandiflora (Duck Flower, Alcatraz, Spanish: Hierba del Indio, Contribo).


Common Uses:

Culinary Uses:

Medicinal Uses:
Due to the “Doctrine of signatures” this plant was used a lot in childbirth – a preparation was prepared for women in labor to expel the placenta. However, the aristolochic acid often killed the patient. This plant is so dangerous that not many parts of the plant are ever used anymore. It is highly toxic and lead to the development of tumors if low doses are taken over an extended period of time. Traditionally its fresh juice was used to induce labor. Theophrastus (372-286 BCE) claimed its success with treating disorders of the uterus, reptile bites, and sores to the head. Native Americans used it to treat snake bites, treat stomach aches, toothaches, and fevers. The Aztec used it to treat abscesses, dysentery, and deafness. It is a anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, analgesic, abortifacient, diaphoretic, nervine, tonic, wound healer, and is known to induce menstruation. It stimulates white blood cell activity and is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys. Decoctions were used to heal ulcers as well as asthma and bronchitis. In Sudan was used for scorpion stings. In India it is used as a contraceptive. Aristolochia serpentaria (Virginia Snakeroot) (as well as A. pfeiferi, A. rugosa and A. trilobata) were used alot for treating snakebites, hence the folk name “Snakeroot” even though the Aristolochic acid doesn’t appear to bind and deactivate the Phospholipase A2 of most snake venom. This species though is said to be instrumental in helping bilious, typhoid, typhus fever, small pox, pneumonia, amenorrhoea, and fevers as well as for the bites of mad dogs. The powdered root (1/2 to 1 drachm) has been said to be an aromatic stimulant in rheumatism and gout after childbirth.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History:
Birthwort came from the term “Aristolochia” which means “excellent birth” as its fresh juice once was used to induce labor.

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Invasive Species of the Week

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