Chestnut Herbal School


Anemone: Medicine, Poison, Pollen, and Melodrama

Anemone: Medicine, Poison, Pollen, and MelodramaWritten by Juliet Blankespoor with Meghan Gemma Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Courageous of bloom, anemone often endures the wind and freezing temperatures of early spring or fall (depending on the species). I first fell in love with anemone while visiting the high boreal and alpine expanses of the Rocky Mountains [...]

Large Milkweed Seed Bugs

Large Milkweed Seed BugsWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Large milkweed seed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) - 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, [...]

Even Violets Need a Plan B

Even Violets Need a Plan BWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor 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 [...]

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 PineWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor 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 [...]

Spring Ephemerals and Elaiosomes

Spring Ephemerals and ElaiosomesWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis, Papaveraceae) 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 [...]

Partridge Berry

Partridge BerryWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor Mitchella repens in fruit; notice the two "eyes", which are the evidence of the two flowers sharing an ovary to form one fruit. - Partridge berry is an evergreen trailing vine which stays close to the ground as it weaves its way over the roots of hemlocks and [...]

Oconee Bells

Oconee BellsWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor 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 [...]


DawnWritten and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor   - 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 [...]

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)Written and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor - 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 [...]