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Herb of the Week for 6th Oct 2006
The Witching Herb

Herb of the Week for 6th October


By Lynn Kirkland

The Witching Herb

Herb of the Week for Oct 6th by Lynn Kirkland

The Witching Herb

At this time of the year there are daily surprises in the garden as spring moves the plants to their seasonal rhythms.
A delightful surprise in our Herbalistís Haven garden is to see the bare branches of the witch hazel adorn themselves with petals which look like tiny yellow ribbons.
The sunny colour and the sweet fragrance give us a hint of summer times to come.

This shrub which grows to about a metre has been used fro generations as an astringent herb.
The astringency comes from the tannins in the bark and leaves.
Witch hazel distillate has been and is used for compresses for bruises and inflammation, for a treatment for piles and even by the North American Indians as poultices for swellings and tumours.
Witch hazel works due to the tannins having an astringent effect on the fibres of the veins.
It is helpful for treating varicose veins and in our grandparents day it was in every householdís first aid kit.

The main variety used for the distilling of witch hazel is Hamamelis virginiana which grows widely in Canada and some parts of the States.
The witch hazel in the photo is Hamamelis mollis which has been a slow grower over the years but still delights us at the end of winter and beginning of spring when it bursts forth with its bright unusual blooms.

The Herb Farm
Grove Road, RD10
Ashhurst
Manawatu
New Zealand


  



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