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Herb of the week

By Lynn Kirkland

Visit the herb


Herb of the Week for 7th September
by Lynn Kirkland

The call of spring is being answered in the herbs which enjoy a winter dormancy period and over in the Herbalist’s haven our witch hazel is blooming.
Hammamelis is the botanical name of witch hazels and there are quite a few varieties of this deciduous small tree.
Witch hazel extract has been used for many generations as a healing remedy for bites and bruises and as an astringent cosmetic ingredient to tone the skin.
The North American native Indians made preparations from the bark and leaves and used them for everything from throat problems to piles!
They also used witch hazel branches in their steam baths in the sweat lodge to help relieve congestion and colds or as a treatment for muscle soreness.

I find our witch hazel has been slow to grow and there is certainly not enough of it to prepare our own witch hazel but it is a delight to have in the garden. From gnarly branches the slightly fragrant yellow flowers emerge like ruffled ribbons and give a bright spot in the border.

If you are planning a herb garden it is always nice to include herbal trees in the plans.
If space is an issue you could choose from olives, bays or a witch hazel as a centrepiece in the garden or a large pot.

By the way the herb did not get its name from an association with witches. Apparently the name comes from a derivation of an old English word “wych.” This was the word used to describe pliant branches which were once used for making bows for archery.
Forked branches of witch hazel were also used for water divining.

A lovely herb to greet the week which marks the official start of spring.

Thanks lynn another great read.

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