Chestnut Herbal School



Cherished water, teacher of infinite lessons and giver of life, May I possess the grace and wisdom to know when to rest in a shallow still pool and when to jump into the current’s strong pull.  As I bump up against the temporary solidness of rocks and yield in resilience, I pray that I can […]

Meadowsweet - Filipendula ulmaria


Meadowsweet - Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet is an easy to grow perennial with many medicinal uses and a tasty wintergreen flavor in tea and tincture. In my opinion it is underutilized here in the United States, I have learned about its medicinal virtues by reading English herbalists work. I use it for heartburn, peptic ulcers and [...]

Oak Apple Galls

Oak Apple Galls make nice powder puffs, once they are vacated. Another lesser-known use is a wet willy- tickler, as demonstrated by the adventurous Megan Riley. These are some of the most common galls I see in the southern Appalachians, and can be found growing from various red oaks, such as the Scarlet, Red and […]

Sweet Shrub

Sweet shrub or sweet bubbies (Calycanthus floridus, Calycanthaceae) is a fragrant shrub, found in the forest understory of rich hardwood coves, and alongside streams and rivers. Its range includes the southern Appalachians and piedmont. The origin of the name sweet bubbies is not entirely clear, perhaps referencing the historical adorning of breasts with the fragrant […]

Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

If you’ve ever picked any part of milkweed, you couldn’t help noticing the deluge of copious white latex spewing forth. If any of the white sticky substance made contact with your skin, its gluey texture and tenacity was soon evident. Milkweeds latex deters herbivory through chemical and mechanical means. Imagine being a little monarch caterpillar […]

Fierce Farmer Ants Protecting Elecampagne (and Treehopper Larvae)

  A couple days ago while gathering some giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida, Asteraceae) with my apprentices, we were attacked and bit by some very uppity ants. Now, ant-insect relationships excite me, and ant-plant relationships even more. Naturally I was intrigued, especially because we don’t usually have biting ants in the southern Appalachians. Upon closer investigation, […]