With all the rain that drought-stricken Austin has experienced lately, my lawn has gone kind of crazy with green growth. In addition to the weedy grass that inevitably grows there, I have a great herbal pharmacy and salad bar.
So far the following plants have graciously popped up in my front yard:
- Milk Thistle
- Shepherd’s Purse
- Wild Lettuce
- Sow thistle
Most people wouldn’t understand my excitement. Cleavers? That’s the sticky weed that clings to your pants. Shepherds Purse? It’s tall and spindly with its flower stalks and little heart-shaped seedpods. And dandelion? Heaven forbid. But I’m giddy with excitement, particularly when I saw the giant dark green rosette appear – my very first milk thistle!
I’ve already discovered that wild lettuce, added to the bath, makes for a relaxing soak and Shepherd’s Purse is a favorite herb because of its antihemorrhagic properties (I tend to cut myself and get nosebleeds so something that can stop bleeding is a-ok in my book). So I’ve made wild lettuce and shepherds purse tinctures by harvesting the leaves/aerial parts, removing excess moisture and processing them in the food processor. I filled two quart jars about 2/3 or 3/4 full of fresh herb and then filled the jars with (cheap) vodka.
Henbit and sow thistle aren’t particularly strong medicinals, but they both can be eaten as fresh greens (the sow thistles are best when young). Other good greens include dandelion, which is also a great diuretic and liver cleanser. Cleavers is fantastic to support and strengthen the lymphatic system. Plantain contains baicalin, which among other things helps to support other herbs’ anti-microbial functions.