Chestnut Herbal School

Botany/Ecology

Large Milkweed Seed Bugs

I recently photographed some colorful milkweed bugs in my garden and decided to repost a small piece I had previously posted about these gorgeous gregarious insects with the new photos, figuring most of you didn’t read the original essay, and would absolutely love to learn more about these charismatic insects. The large milkweed bug, Oncopeltus […]

Even Violets Need a Plan B

Even Violets Need a Plan B Common blue violet (Viola sororia, Violaceae) The little blue edible flowers of common blue violet are a welcome sight in our garden in early spring, as my fleuravorous daughter loves to feed the sweet little flowers to our family, passersby, and her miniature menagerie. Most people are familiar with [...]

Passionflower – Ecology, Cultivation, Botany, and Medicinal and Edible Uses

Passionflower is ecologically intriguing, drop-dead gorgeous, and an incredibly useful herbal medicine and wild edible. So I introduce this passionflower materia medica with some ecological, botanical, and cultivation snippets specific to this amazingly charismatic native vine, and hope that you wont skip this juiciness for the medicinal information.

Longleaf Pine

Longleaf Pine is an iconic tree of the southeastern coastal plains, much as the Redwood and Sequoia trees dominate their respective regions of the West. It is hard to get a sense of the Longleaf Pine’s historical ecologic and economic importance as one passes through the fields, pine plantations, and forests of the southeast today, […]

Spring Ephemerals and Elaiosomes

Spring ephemerals are perennial wildflowers that take advantage of the early spring sunlight reaching the forest floor. When the temperatures begin to rise in early spring these wildflowers grow quickly, flowering, setting seed, and dying back to their root system when the canopy begins to fill out. Once the trees are fully leafed out, the […]

Oconee Bells

Oconee bells (Shortia galacifolia, Diapensiaceae) in flower at the UNCA botanical gardens, March 12th 2010. This extremely rare, legendary flower heralds in the early spring in the southern Appalachians. Oconee bells is in the fairy wand family, along with Galax diphylla, which really lives up to its family namesake with its white raceme, perfectly sized […]

Dawn

When the sky is still black Yet entertaining shades of steely blue Earth gathers her skirts about her and  rises up for the Suns first kiss of color She gently hushes the crickets and screech owls And rouses the dew-laden flowers from their slumber The beads of wetness captured from the cool night air joins […]

Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata, Brassicaceae) is one of our earlier wild spring greens. With a flavor slightly reminiscent of mild arugula and roasted garlic, it makes a nice addition in salads with milder wild greens like chickweed and violets. I find that its flavor doesn’t mellow when cooked, as do many other brassicas, and so […]