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
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
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
The HerbFarm Website: