Wednesday, January 25, 2012


In the dark of winter we all need a ray of sunlight to carry us through. Enter medicinal plants, most of which also have a tradition as charms or spells.

Periwinkle in winter

Check south slopes for periwinkle flowers in winter

Need a little more love in your life? Periwinkle (Vinca major, V. minor) is reputed to help bring together lovers in body, mind, or spirit. Place a sprig of this evergreen vine under your pillows or sprinkle a few bright blue flowers in a bubble bath and voila tout, the coldest nights are warm again!

Greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia) has black tipped thorns

Stressed about heating bills and pending taxes? Grab some stout gloves on a mild day and head for the forest for a little sarsaparilla (Smilax species).  This thorny vine also known as greenbrier is verdant all winter but it is the sweet tasting root that soothes green worries.

Smilax rotundifolia
So don those gloves, bend your knees, grasp the base of a vine, and pull with all the might your legs and back can muster. Then use garden shears to snip the washed root into thin sections that will decoct into an orange tea destined to improve your fortunes.(see January 9 post Decoction by the Folk Method)

Spotted wintergreen

Feeling a little insecure in 2012 with all the election name calling and doomsday soothsaying? Call on wintergreen (Chimaphila species), a forest floor plant I introduced in the December 9 post Making a Medicated Salve. Harvest a handful of leaves from a woodland patch for a protection tea but be sure to help protect this rare plant too by leaving plenty untouched.

These three evergreens can be harvested in winter but many other magical plants can be discovered with a Google search on “magical plant properties”.  To make them work for you just listen to Olivia: “Have to believe it is magic…”.

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