The keys to good health are growing all around us, if we know where to look and what to do with medicinal plants.  Kim Calhoun a.k.a “Planty Kim” took the initiative to revive a beautiful herb garden started by Piedmont Biofarm intern Adah so that we now have a beautiful and functional Herbal Health Learning Garden at 220 Lorax Lane.

The Herbal Health Learning Garden is featured at our Youth Sustainability Education Tours and explored in depth as part of our DIY Workshop Series and Summer Camp.

Plant list and tips:

Can you find these medicinal plant friends in the garden? (Some are edible too)

The benefits and suggested uses listed below highlight only a fraction of each plant’s gifts and are shared for educational purposes only. Explore the plants more in depth in person, using the resource list below, or by joining a local herbalist’s walk or workshop.

AMARANTH species, Amaranth family; leaves and seeds edible; mild astringent internally and externally

ANISE HYSSOP, Agastache foeniculum, Mint family; sweet flavor, soothes stomach, treat colds and fevers

BEE BALM, (aka Bergamont), Monarda species, Mint family; antiseptic, cooling, soothes digestion; tea for coughs, sore throats, flu, fever; yummy in food

BONESET, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Sunflower family; for fevers, colds, and flu

BORAGE, Borago officinalis, Borage family; mineral-rich, relieves anxiety and stress

CATNIP, Nepata cataria, Mint family; gentle antispasmodic relieves indigestion and gas, infant colic

CHAMOMILE, Matricaria recutita, Sunflower family; antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, pain reliever; fevers, internal & external applications

CHIVES, Allium schoenoprasum, Lily family; relative of onions and garlic, yummy appetite stimulater and digestive tonic

COMFREY, Symphytum officinale, Borage family; aka Knitbone, heals fractures, wounds, ulcers; demulcent

DANDELION, Taraxacum officinale, Sunflower family; all parts useful; high mineral diuretic; liver cleanser


Echinacea, Queen of a medicinal herb garden!

ECHINACEA, Echinacea purpurea, Daisy family; First sign of cold or flu and to treat infections.

ELECAMPANE, Inula helenium, Sunflower family; roots heal respiratory infections and congestion

FENNEL, Foeniculum vulgare, Parsley family; good for gas, cramping, coughs, and congestion

FEVERFEW, Tanacetum parthenium, Sunflower family; headaches, digestive bitter, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory

GOLDENROD, Solidago spp., Sunflower family; allergy relief; urinary tonic; remedy for diarrha, fevers, coughs

HOLY BASIL, Occimum sanctum, Mint family; amazing tonic helps body adapt to stress; also expectorant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and

HONEYSUCKLE (Native species), Lonicera sempervirens, Honeysuckle family; poultice for stings

HOREHOUND, Marrubium vulgare, Mint family; cough remedy, expectorant

HORSERADISH, Armoracia rusticana, Mustard family; spicy root helps with lung problems, digestive stimulant, diuretic

JOE PYE WEED, Eupatorium fistulosum, Sunflower family; aka Queen of the Meadow; ally for the urinary system, passing kidney stones, rheumatism

LADY’S THUMB, Polygonum persicaria, Buckwheat family; leaves edible raw or cooked; astringent, diuretic

LAMBSQUARTER, Chenopodium album, Goosefoot family; highly nutritious wild leafy green related to spinach; eat me!

LEMON BALM, Melissa officinalis, Mint family; uplifting nervous system ally; helps focus one’s energy; antiviral; yummy

LYRE LEAF SAGE, Salvia lyrata, Mint family; whole-plant tea used for coughs, colds; folk remedy for cancer and warts; mildly laxative; diaphoretic (promotes sweating which cools the body)

MARSHMALLOW, Althea officinalis, Mallow family; leaf and roots soothing for digestive, urinary, and respiratory systems; origin of marshmallows ; leaves edible

MEADOWSWEET, Filipendula ulmaria, Rose family; contains salysilic acid from which the drug aspirin can be synthesized; pain reliever and anti-inflammatory with soothing effect on the stomach; reduces fever and treats diarrhea

MILKWEED, Asclepias syriaca, Milkweed family; various parts edible when cooked; latex sap applied to warts, moles, ringworm

MOTHERWORT, Leonurus cardiaca, Mint family; tonic for the heart; valuable women’s herb helps with delayed menses, cramps, and treating symptoms of menopause

MULLEIN, Verbascum thapsus, Figwort family; leaves soothe inflamed mucous membranes; anti-inflammatory, expectorant, antiviral; for colds, coughs, bronchitis, asthma

NETTLES, Urtica dioica, Nettle family; mega-nutritious yummy whole-body tonic; eat and drink my leaves (steamed, stir-fried, pesto, tea…); allergies; strengthens urinary system; supports adrenals and builds energy

OREGANO, Oreganum vulgare, Mint family; yummy digestive stimulant also relieves gas; antiseptic properties help with respiratory conditions

PEPPERMINT, Mentha piperita, Mint family; Good for indigestion, colds and flu, hot conditions, nausea, flatulence, headaches, tired achy feet, and more!

PLANTAIN, Plantago major, Plantain family; abundant and powerful first-aid plant for stings and infections; leaves and seeds edible

PASSIONFLOWER, Passiflora incarnata, Passionflower family; wonderful calming herb, sleep aid, pain relief, antispasmodic; tender tips edible

POMEGRANATE TREE, Punica granatum, Pomegranate family; yummy nutritive fruit can soothe upset stomach; parts of the plant can help expel worms

ROSEMARY, Rosmarinus officinalis, Mint family; long revered as a memory herb, tonic effect on the nervous system; good for circulation, strengthens the heart and lowers blood pressure; fights infection, alleviates headaches, and lifts depression

SELF HEAL, Prunella vulgaris, Mint family; gargle for sore throats; external wound healer; helpful for headaches and diarrhea

SORREL, Rumex acetosa, Buckwheat family; tangy leaves are edible, mildly laxative, and detoxifying

SPILANTHES, Acmella oleracea, Sunflower family; aka “toothache plant” b/c topical anesthetic for gums and teeth (chew flower head); immune system stimulant similar to Echinacea

SKULLCAP, Scutellaria lateriflora, Mint family; calms nervous system; pain reliever

STEVIA, Stevia rebaudiana, Sunflower family; leaves used raw or cooked as sweetner; 300 times sweeter than sucrose

VALERIAN, Valerian officinalis, Valerian family; sedative with anti-spasmodic properties; also antibacterial

VIOLETS, Violeta sp., Violet family; leaves and flowers edible and high in Vitamin C; gentle lymphatic; topical for antiseptic and dissolve growths

YARROW, Achilles millefolium, Sunflower family; classic first aid plant stops bleeding both internally and externally (stick a few fresh leaves rolled and bruised in the nose to stop a nosebleed); flower in a hot tea for colds and sweating out fevers; digestive bitter, antiseptic, expectorant, antiviral, tones blood vessels



• Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs (and) Edible Wild Plants by Peterson Field Guides
• Identifying & Harvesting Edible & Medicinal Plants by Steve Brill
• Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians by Patricia Howell
• Backyard Medicine; Harvest & Make Your Own Herbal Remedies by Seal & Burton-Seal
• Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards
• Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family
• The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods (and) The Green Pharmacy Guide to Herbal Remedies, both by James Duke
• Making Plant Medicine (and) The Medicinal Herb Grower; A Guide for Cultivating Plants That Heal by Richo Cech
• Nature’s Garden; A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer

Local Teachers:

• Kim Calhoun, AbunDanceHealingArts.com, plant walks, herbal wellness workshops, classes
• Suki Roth, herbhaven.com, classes, workshops, herbal products and herbal consultations
• Will Endres, willswildherbs.org, classes, workshops, herbal products
• Sarah Haggerty, piedmontplantlore.com, plant walks and classes
• Alan Russo, ethnobotanist128.blogspot.com, plant walks and classes

Internet Resources:

• Frank Cook’s website: www.plantsandhealers.com & any of his plant walk videos on YouTube
• www.plantsforafuture.com, database of over 7000 edible and medicinal plants
• www.redmoonherbs.com, herbal products and education, sponsors annual Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference in the NC mountains
• www.chestnutherbs.com, wonderful herbal medicine school in the NC mountains, also medicinal herb nursery
• www.wildcrafting.com Ila Hatter’s website with great resources, including DVDs
• Green Deane, www.eattheweeds.com, blog, links to great youtube videos


Kim CalhounI chose these six plant friends to highlight in the garden tours because they are safe, fun to taste and/or smell, and help heal some of our common health issues.

PEPPERMINT, Mentha piperita, Mint family
Loved by many, this refreshing digestive aid also eases nausea. Nibble a leaf to wake up your mouth and body, chop finely to mix into salads and sauces, makes a great tea alone or mixed in to improve the taste of less yummy herbs, add to footbath. Antispasmodic, antibacterial, decongesting, and mineral-rich.

Parts used: Leaves and flowers. Suggested uses: Tea, fresh nibble, mixed into food, tincture, foot bath, rubbed fresh into the temples.

ECHINACEA, Echinacea purpurea, Daisy family
One of my most used and valued immune system boosters. I love to nibble the gorgeous flower heads to experience the tingling salivation of Echinacea’s medicine. Make your own tincture and save a bunch-o-money (and have a higher vibration medicine). Tincture flowers and leaves in summer and roots in late fall or early spring, then mix together for all-plant power. Can also be consumed in tea blends. Useful in prevention as well as speeds resolution of colds, flu, and all kinds of upper respiratory infections. While potent, it is safe for children and elderly. Tincture, tea, or infused oil can be used externally for antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties on wounds and bites.

Parts used: Leaves, flowers, roots. Suggested uses: Fresh nibble of leaves or flowers, tea, tincture, oil.

ROSEMARY, Rosmarinus officinalis, Mint family.
Many culinary herbs found their way into the kitchen because of their medicinal qualities…eat your medicine. Long revered as a memory herb, it has a tonic effect on the nervous system. Good for circulation, rosemary strengthens the heart and lowers blood pressure. Fights infection, alleviates headaches, and lifts depression.

Parts used: Leaves. Suggested uses: Fresh nibble, mixed into food dried or fresh, tea, tincture, oil, vinegar, rubbed fresh into the temples.

PLANTAIN, Plantago sp., Plantain family.
This green “band-aid plant” is a common weed across most of North America. It’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties help relieve insect bites and clear up infections (external and internal). Chew up a leaf and apply as a “spit poultice” to stings for immediate relief. Seeds are mucilaginous and provide fiber, leaves edible, especially yummy made into plantain chips (coat with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper and back in the oven until crisp).

Parts used: Leaves, seeds, roots. Suggested uses: Fresh nibble of leaves, poultice, tea, oil, powder (for topical treatment or food additive), make plantain chips, sprinkle seeds on salads and in oatmeal

Call & Response Plantain Song:

I am a weed
in first aid I am a must
on bee stings,
infections, and cuts.
Look under my leaf
parallel are my veins,
Tell me my name
My name is…Plantain!

ANISE HYSSOP, Agastache foeniculum, Mint family.
This is a new friend to my garden that I am still getting to know. I have a sweet tooth and I love the intense licorice flavor of the leaves as a fresh nibble and added to tea blends. The leaves and flowers are soothing to the stomach and used to treat colds, bronchial infection, and flu. Like other mint family friends, she likes to spread.

Parts used: Leaves and flowers. Suggested uses: Fresh nibble of leaves or flowers, sweet addition to salads and other foods, yummy tea.

LEMON BALM, Melissa officinalis, Mint family.
One of the first tinctures I made. Uplifting nervous system ally that can ease stress, help focus one’s energy (ADHD), and settle stomachs. Antiviral properties help prevent and treat herpes (internally and externally). Yummy as a tea and tincture; really yummy as glycerite (great for kids of all ages). Make an infused oil to rub into sore muscles and add to salad dressings.

Parts used: Leaves and flowers. Suggested uses: Fresh nibble, yummy lemony flavor to add to food, tea, oil, glycerite, tincture.

Green Blessings, “Planty” Kim Calhoun