What It Is Like Living In A Commune

Have you ever thought about what it is like living in a commune? What really goes on might surprise you.

I live in a commune. This is my story.

Just joking, I don’t really. I live in a small apartment building in the suburbs with some awesome friends who just so happen to like to garden. We joke that we all live in a commune because we all like to garden and regularly hang out together.

What it is like Apartment Gardening

We are super fortunate to have a landlord who doesn’t like to mow and is okay with the idea of us turning the lawn space into a garden. The year before we had a small 10’x10′ area approved for a garden and tried to grow some veggies mid-summer. It didn’t work too well with our poor clay soil and starting our plants in July. So, this year, we got approved to turn the entire front yard of our building into a garden! How awesome is that! We also tried container gardening and but we did not get enough sunlight on our patios.

We have about a dozen 4’x4′ raised beds on the hill in front of our apartment building. We are looking at taking a permaculture approach to our garden. This means that we will be planting high maintenance plants near the building entrance and low maintenance plants further away. We are also going to be doing companion planting to naturally repel insects and improve plant health without having to apply too many pesticides and fertilizers. We even have some compost going for the garden.

Turning the front lawn into a garden will have a positive impact on our local community and environment. Visually, it will be an interesting site for those doing their daily commute. Grass is boring and our lawn will be full of color! It also provides us with an opportunity to talk with people about growing their own produce and even converting their own laws into a garden. Since we are taking a permaculture approach, we will have a lot of flowers and diversity for pollinators and local wildlife. Grass does not promote diversity but a garden will. We will also have a bee and butterfly garden in the back that has been dominated by bush honeysuckle since we moved in. Simply changing the lawn to a garden is going to make a big difference in more ways than one.

Living in A Plant-Loving Community

What I love about the group of friends we live with is that we are 1. all friends, 2. plant lovers, and 3. have a sense of community. We hang out, we garden, we walk our dogs together, we go out drinking together, but we all live our own lives. My husband and I have moved around a lot and we never knew most of our neighbors. Here, we are friends with all of them. Since we all love plants we are actively trying to better our environment. Beyond the garden, we compost, eat a lot of veggies, try to go organic, recycle, and all around try to reduce our impact on our planet. I guess we are just a bunch of suburban hippies.

Finding a community of people who share the same interest and passion for whatever you are interested in is important. For us, it was gardening and the environment. We found our community in the building we live in. For you, it may be through your own neighbors, gardening clubs, or community gardens. Find where you belong and embrace it, even if it might be seen as out of the norm for society. It certainly was for us.

Commune
noun
1. a small group of persons living together, sharing possessions, work, income, etc., and often pursuing unconventional lifestyles.
2. a close-knit community of people who share common interests.

We don’t share an income and we all have our own apartments, but I guess you could say we are a commune. 😉

History, Identification, & Uses of Black Raspberry

Black raspberries aren’t as popular as red raspberries but they too have edible and medicinal properties.

Black raspberries are different from both red raspberries and blackberries. They have a history of medicinal uses and are being study for cancer treatment today.

Black raspberries are related to red raspberries but they are two separate species. Both are native to North America but red raspberries are more well known for their fruit and medicinal qualities. You can find black raspberries growing in the wild and if you’re lucky, you may even find them for sale at farmers markets.

The berries from the black raspberry bushes have been used for food and medicine for as long as people have been in North America. Native Americans would preserve the berries for winter to provide them with nutrients that could not find during the winter months. They would also use the roots to treat stomach and intestinal issues as well as a leaf tea for dysentery and a wash for sores and wounds. Today black raspberries are being studied for their role in treating cancer. The Ohio State University found that mice with colon tumors saw a 60-80% tumor reduction while on a diet containing black raspberries. Mice with esophageal cancers also saw an 80% reduction on a diet containing 5-10% black raspberries. Human trials have started and hopefully will provide good results.Continue reading →

Plant Invasion: How Invasive Plants Are Impacting Nature

Plants are brought in from different countries on purpose and sometimes on accident. Bringing non-native plants into an entirely different ecosystem can have a drastic impact on that system and the flora and fauna living in that ecosystem.

Can you name a few invasive plants in your area? Everyone has some and you may have even planted some in your yard without knowing. It’s important to know and be able to identify problems plants before they take over your yard and wildlife areas.

How They Got Here

Plants have been transported around the world for hundreds of thousands of years and were originally traded for their medicinal and agricultural uses. Pleasure gardens soon became popular and these gardens once served a utilitarian purpose. They were not only beautiful and well maintained but also had many uses. As time progressed, pleasure gardens lost their utilitarian use and many plants were imported as ornamentals.

It is estimated that over 80% of the introduced woody plants in the U.S. were introduced for landscaping. These plants escaped cultivation and many are now invasive plants. An estimated 3% of invasive woody plants were introduced as both ornamental plants and for erosion control. It’s not just the U.S. either. Anywhere from 57%-65% of naturalized species in Australia are not native to the country. Many species are introduced through landscaping, botanical gardens, and seed trading.

Plants were also introduced as people began colonizing different parts of the world. White clover (Trifolium repens) was introduced to North America for the honey bees the colonists brought over to help pollinate their European crops. The French and Spanish also introduced plants to North America including peaches from Spain. People wanted plants that they regularly used back home as they were conquering the world. I supposed it’s understandable, but they had no idea how that would impact these environments.

The Impact

Not all plants that are introduced to a region become invasive. An invasive plant is a plant that has become established, can successfully reproduce and becomes dominant or disruptive to an ecosystem. Plants that become invasive usually have an advantage over native flora. They could reproduce rapidly and produce a lot of seeds. Some may have allelopathic properties in their roots that prevent plants around them from reproducing or growing. Others may lack competition, predators, or grow rapidly. Any of these properties can make a plant hard to control or eradicate and allows them to completely take over a region. Because of their advantages, they can completely wipe out all of the native flora which in turn affects the animal populations in the region.

Invasive Plants in North America

It’s important to know what plants are considered invasive in your area so you can avoid planting them and pull them out when you see them. Almost everyone has some sort of invasive plant, however, since I’m from the U.S. I’m going to cover some plants that have become a problem here.

1. Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata)

Kudzu is probably one of the most well known invasive plants in North America. It was introduced in the late 1800’s as an ornamental plant and in the early 1900’s to help with erosion and help save America from the dust bowl. Kudzu grows rapidly and can create dense shade that inhibits some native plant growth. It can also completely engulf a tree and weight it down. It is a host of a few diseases and insects that impact agriculture crops including soybeans. It is more predominant in the Southeastern U.S. but has made its way up into some Northern states.

2. Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)

Autumn Olive was introduced for erosion control, as an ornamental, and as wildlife habitat. It produces berries both edible for animals and humans. The plant can grow up to about 20 feet and displaces much of our native flora. It reproduces quickly, is hard to remove, and is spread around rabidly by wildlife. It is found throughout the eastern U.S. and in some parts of Canada.

3. Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)

Japanese honeysuckle is a woody vine honeysuckle introduced from Japan and Korea as an ornamental and for erosion control. It outcompetes native flora by growing very densely and shading out areas and utilizing all of the available resources. They will also climb up small trees and bushes and choke them out. Japanese honeysuck is found in the Southern U.S. and parts of the Midwest and Eastern U.S. It has been found in Canada.

4. Euonymus

There are quite a few Euonymus species both native and invasive to North America. Euonymus americanus is native but Euonymus alatus, burning bush or winged Euonymus, is native to Aisa. Winged Euonymus was introduced as an ornamental because of its attractive fall color and fruit. It can reproduce by seed, a lot of seeds, or asexually. It starts to leaf out before native flora does, keeps its leaves longer than natives, and the seeds are spread by wildlife. It is found primarily in the Midwest and along the Eastern Coast of the U.S. It is also found in some parts of Canada.

6. Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

When you see tree of heaven you can tell it is not native to North America. It is native to China and was brought over as an ornamental plant. It grows just about anywhere, has rapid growth and reproduction, and crowds out our native flora. It can even destroy pavement and building foundations. It has allelopathic properties in its leaves which, once they fall, help keep plants from gowning around it. It can be found throughout most of the United States and Eastern Canada.

7. Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Garlic mustard was brought to North America as a medicinal and culinary plant. Since its introduction, it has completely dominated the understories of many forests. It can self-pollinate, send out adventurous roots that can become new plants, and can overwinter without dying back. It is hard to control and remove because of how rapidly and easily it reproduces. It outcompetes native flora and prevents anything must garlic mustard from growing. It is found throughout the Midwest and Eastern United States and is creeping west. It can also be found in Eastern and Western Canada.

8. Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.)

There’s actually a few species of honeysuckle that are not native and are an invasive plant in the U.S. Tatarian honeysuckle (L. tatarica) can be found throughout most of the Northern U.S. And through most of Canada. Amur honeysuckle (L. maackii) is found through most of the Midwest and Eastern U.S. Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lmorrowii) can be found throughout most of the Midwest and Northeastern U.S. and Northeastern Canada. These bush honeysuckles can grow from 6-20 feet tall and prefer full sun but can survive in partial shade. They were brought over to North America as an ornamental and erosion control. Now they have taken over many of our natural regions by out-competing native flora and growing in dense thickets. Native birds eat the plant’s berries and transport the seeds. However, the berries do not provide sufficient nutrition for native and migrating birds. Native honeysuckles have solid stems when cut off whereas nonnatives have hollow stems.

Control

Each plant has their own method of control. It is important to stay vigilant and try to prevent the plantings of invasive species and removal of what is already established. Control can be as simple as pulling the plant up by hand or could require special equipment and herbicides. Research what methods work best for what every plant you may be dealing with. These eight plants aren’t the only plants affecting our native environment. Learn what plants are issues in your area and try to help stop the spread of problem plants.


Sources

Invasive Species – Coming to America By Land, Sea, and Air…
Honey Bees Across America
Controlling Non-Native Invasive Plants in Ohio Forests: Bush Honeysuckle
USDA Morrow’s honeysuckle
USDA Tatarian honeysuckle
USDA Amur honeysuckle
Invasive Plants Fact Sheet Japanese Honeysuckle
USDA Japanese Honeysuckle
The History and Use of Kudzu in the Southeastern United States
USDA Kudzu
Invasive Species: Autumn Olive
USDA Autumn Olive
Winged Euonymus: An Exotic Invasive Plant Fact Sheet
USDA Winged Euonymus
Invasive Species: Tree of Heaven
Tree of Heaven: An Exotic Invasive Plant Fact Sheet
USDA Tree of Heaven
Penn State Garlic Mustard
USDA Garlic Mustard

Do Pink Himalayan Salt Lamps Work?

Himalayan salt lamps have become popular recently with claims that it can improve your health and clean the air in a room. Is it just another internet hoax or does it really have health benefits?

(This post contains affiliate links. Learn more.)

It is believed that Himalayan salt lamps can improve mood disorders, reduce depression and anxiety, boost the immune system, improve sleep, lower blood pressure, and purify the air. How? Negative Ions.

How It Works

Some studies have found that increasing the number of negative ions you are exposed to can improve your mood and could potentially be an antibacterial agent. The idea is that the chunk of salt naturally produces its own negative ions. Salt is naturally hygroscopic, meaning salt absorbs moisture from the air, and water will stick to the outside of the lamp. Pollutants in the air get trapped by moisture in the air which is then attracted to the lamp. The salt lamp has a light bulb inside of it which is supposed to warm up the salt and dry out the water. As the water dries it releases negative ions and leaves the pollutants on the lamp.

Does It Work?

The explanation above sound pretty convincing doesn’t it. This is what a lot of Himalayan salt lamp sellers boast about and promote on their websites. However, none of it is true and there is no evidence currently available to back up any claims about Himalayan salt lamps.

Dr. Jack Beauchamp, a professor and researcher at the California Institute of Technology, analyzed one of the most popular Himalayan salt lamps off of Amazon to test how many negative ions it produced. He and his team found that the salt lamp did not produce a single negative ion. So far he is the only one who has tested this, but it does not look promising that any lamp will produce negative ions. Another chemist, John Malin, explained to Live Science how the salt lamp cannot produce negative ions and how they don’t have any befits these companies are promoting. Essentially, salt is a very stable element and would have to be heated to 1,500*F (816*C) to release ions. The chances of pollutants also mixing with what little water is attracted to the salt is very small. What water that does land on the salt lamp can split the salt ions into sodium and chloride ions. However, when it dries up it goes back to being salt.

Other Possibilities

There are a lot of claims when it comes to Himalayan salt lamps. There is no evidence currently that shows that it has any health benefits. However, some people have claimed that their allergies and asthma have improved while using a Himalayan salt lamp. This could possibly be a placebo effect but more research is needed to test its health benefits. Right now it does not appear to improve any health conditions.

Even though it doesn’t help the way many companies claim it does it has a beautiful glow. It makes a great night light and an excellent addition to any room. If interested in a Himalayan salt lamp for whatever reason, I recommend this one.


Sources

Himalayan Salt Lamps: What Are They (and Do They Really Work)?
Do Salt Lamps Cure Everything?

Disclaimer: All information on Not Your Typical Hippie is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor, veterinarian, dietician, or health expert. If you wish to have advice on a medical problem, please consult a doctor. I cannot guarantee that any information provided will work for every person. Please consult a doctor before making any health changes. I am not liable for any choices you make based on the information provided on this website. (Learn more here)

Whole30 Diet: A System Reboot

The Whole30 diet is a type of elimination diet that is highly restrictive and short term. It is meant to help heal and reset your body and identify food that negatively affects you. However, does this diet actually help and can you lose weight?

This diet is not your standard weigh lost diet, in fact weight loss is not even the point of this diet. Whole30 was designed to eliminate common foods and ingredients that regularly cause people to have health issues.  From acne, diabetes, to intestinal issues, different kinds of food can affect your body differently. This diet eliminates some of those common foods such as dairy and sugar. However, this diet is not for the faint of heart and takes a lot of planning and dedication.

How It Works

The idea behind Whole30 is that food can influence you in a negative way but can also heal you. The diet only last for 30 days, it is not a long-term diet. During these 30 days, you stop eating foods that commonly influence different health issues. At the end of the 30 days, you begin to reintroduce certain foods to find out which may be causing you issues. There are a lot of rules to follow, no cheat days are allowed, and there are no current studies available to show if this diet is at all beneficial.

What You CANNOT Eat

  • Sugar of any kind
    • No honey, maple syrups, agave, Splenda, xylitol, or Stevia
  • Alcohol- not even for cooking
  • Dairy
  • Grains
    • No corn, rice, quinoa, wheat, rye, millet, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, or sprouted grains
  • Legumes
    • This includes peanuts and legume products (soy sauce, tofu, etc.)
  • Processed & Junk Foods
    • Avoid foods with carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites

If you eat any food on this list, according to the diet, you have compromised your system and have to start over at Day 1. There is no room for cheat days or slip-ups in this diet. You have to read every label on food that you buy from the store.

Junk Food & Comfort Food

One thing that is different about this diet is that they also look at the phycological side of eating food. During the Whole30 diet, you are not allowed to make Whole30 compatible junk food. This means you cannot take food that you can eat while on the diet and use it to make a “Whole30 friendly” recipe. No almond flour bread, cauliflower crust pizza, or coconut flour cupcakes. They claim that this affects your state of mind and still encourages you to go after those sweets and junk food.

What You CAN Eat

  • Vegetables (even potatoes!)
  • Fruit
  • Meat, unprocessed
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Oils & Ghee
  • Coffee

Reintroduction of Food

After you have successfully completed the 30 days, you start to reintroduce the foods that you cut from your diet. The written diet plan also helps you add these foods back into your diet slowly. The idea is that after eating wholesome food for 30 days you will be able to see what foods your body negatively reacts to as you slowly reintroduce it.

Does It Work?

There’s not a lot of data or independent studies available on this type. In theory, it might work, however, there’s nothing to back up the claims that this diet will help reduce or heal ailments you might be suffering from. There is a possibility that you could lose weight on the Whole30 diet. Losing weight is possibly on any diet where you cut out sugary foods and start eating more fruits and veggies.

Talk with your doctor before starting any new diet. If you think something you are eating is causing a health issue, talk with your doctor about going on a supervised elimination diet.


Sources

Whole30 Program Rules
Here’s What You Can and Can’t Eat on Whole30
Whole30 Diet Overview

Disclaimer: All information on Not Your Typical Hippie is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor, veterinarian, dietician, or health expert. If you wish to have advice on a medical problem, please consult a doctor. I cannot guarantee that any information provided will work for every person. Please consult a doctor before making any health changes. I am not liable for any choices you make based on the information provided on this website. (Learn more here)

Essential Oil Safety For Pets

Essential oils have increasingly become popular as a natural ingredient and for medicinal uses. From aromatherapy to bug spray, they can be found in a lot of products including some you may even use for your pets. Not every essential oil is safe for pets and some can’t tolerate any oils.

If you have pets of any kind whether that be cats, dogs, ferrets, horses, or birds it is important to understand how your use of essential oils may affect your pets. Speak with your vet before using any essential oils with your pets. And just like with humans, essential oils should never be used without first diluting it.

Essential Oil Poisoning

Essential oils can cause your pets to become extremely sick. Symptoms may include:

  • Unsteadiness on the feet
  • Difficulty walking
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing (labored breathing, fast breathing, panting, coughing, or wheezing-these are not a normal thing for cats!)
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Pawing at the mouth or face
  • Redness or burns on the lips, gums, tongue, or skin
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low body temperature

If you expect your pet to be suffering from essential poisoning contact your vet immediately. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is available 24/7 by phone (888) 426-4435. *A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.*

What oils you use, their concentration, dose, and whether it was applied topically or consumed could produce different reactions with every pet. Pet size and age can also play a role in their reaction and some pets may be more tolerable of one oil more so than another. Toxicity or poisoning could appear immediately or over time.

Hydrosols & Liquid Potpourri

Hydrosols are the distilled steam left over during the essential oil process. They still contain remnants of the essential oils. While they are very diluted, they can still cause issues for some pets. Some animals are able to tolerate hydrosols but generally, you should avoid using them around your pets, especially if it is made from a plant toxic to them.

Liquid potpourri is exactly what it sounds like, liquid potpourri. It is an alternative to dried flowers and is much more dangerous to animals. It can be made up of essential oils and perfumes that are either derived from plants or are synthetic. These should also be avoided around pets who are sensitive.

Essential Oil Safety

There are many products out there for pets that contain essential oils including ones that may be toxic to them! Make sure you look at ingredients in pet products before buying them.

Essential oils should never be used undiluted or internally on animals! Always make sure that any essential oils that your pet can tolerate or is not considered toxic to them are always diluted.

Diffusers can still be used in your home if used properly. Avoid using oils that may be toxic to your pets and place your diffuser in a room that the pets rarely visit or are not allowed in. Make sure to also keep it in a location where your pets cannot knock it over. Do not use diffusers at all around birds, ferrets, young and old animals, and those with respiratory problems. The best option would be to save the use of a diffuser while at work.

Always keep essential oils out of reach of pets. If knocked over, especially while open, could cause some serious issues with your pets. Never use essential oils undiluted.

Cats

Cats are rather sensitive to essential oils and can become irritated. These oils once absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or consumes, get processed by the liver and other organs. Cats do not have the right enzymes to break down and get rid of the oils. This can lead to a build-up of toxic oils in their system that they cannot process. They are also very sensitive to phenols which can be found in many essential oils.

Here are some oils you should avoid using with cats. This is not a complete list and each pet may react differently to each oil.

  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Lavender
  • Melaleuca/Tea Tree Oil
  • Cinnamon Bark
  • Wintergreen
  • Peppermint
  • Spruce
  • Thyme
  • Birch
  • Cassia
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Any oils containing phenol

Ferrets

Generally, if it is not safe for cats it is usually not safe for ferrets. In the case of essential oils, ferrets are just like cats and their liver cannot break down the oils and can build up in their system. However, it is recommended that all essential oils should be avoided with ferrets.

Dogs

Dogs have a strong sense of smell so essential oils can irritate them because of how concentrated they are. Some are toxic to dogs and should be avoided. Puppies and dogs with liver issues have a hard time processing essential oils so they should be avoided with at-risk dogs.

Here are some oils you should avoid using with dogs. This is not a complete list and each pet may react differently to each oil.

  • Clove
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Citrus
  • Juniper
  • Sweet Birch
  • Rosemary
  • Pine
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Melaleuca/Tea Tree Oil
  • Thyme
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Wintergreen

Birds

Birds have a very sensitive respiratory tract so it is recommended that essential oils not be used around them or allow them to inhale the oils.

Other Pets

Talk with your vet and do your own research to see how essential oils may affect any other pets you may have. It’s better to be safe then sorry so if you can not find any information or don’t know if an oil is safe to use with or around your pet, do not use it.

It is important to keep your pets safe and know that not everything we use is safe for them. Always talk to your vet before using something new with your pets and always know what oils could be toxic to them.


Sources

Do Essential Oils Pose a Risk to Pets?
Is the Latest Home Trend Harmful to Your Pets? What You Need to Know!
Essential Oil and Liquid Potpourri Poisoning in Dogs
Essential Oils and Cats: A Potentially Toxic Mix
Essential Oils and Cats
Essential Oils for Pets – Medicine or Toxin?
Are Essential Oils Harmful to Cats and Dogs?

Disclaimer: All information on Not Your Typical Hippie is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor, veterinarian, dietician, or health expert. If you wish to have advice on a medical problem, please consult a doctor. I cannot guarantee that any information provided will work for every person. Please consult a doctor before making any health changes. I am not liable for any choices you make based on the information provided on this website. (Learn more here)

The Best Plants For A Pollinator Garden

Creating a pollinator garden not only can help provide food and other resources to pollinators, such as bees and monarchs but can also help increase your garden crop yield!

(This post contains affiliate links. Learn more.)

Pollinator gardens provide food and host plants for many of our pollinating species. The best-known pollinizers are honey bees and butterflies but there are so many different insects and even animals that need pollen and can help pollinate plants. There are many different types of bees, moths, butterflies, and wasps that pollinate plants. Other species include ants, flies, beetles, bats, birds, and even rodents and lizards!

There may be many different types of pollinators but you won’t necessarily attract all of them to your garden but don’t freak out if you find ants or pollen wasps in the garden. Attracting insects to a garden is very important and it is expected when you are creating a mini ecosystem in your yard. Some insects and animals will only be attracted to the garden if their host plant is available. Monarch butterflies need milkweed, spicebush swallowtail needs the spicebush, and the zebra swallowtail needs the pawpaw tree. Not every species needs a specific plant but some might be very picky! Keep this in mind when choosing plants to attract pollinators.

Most of these plants can be planted in zones 4-8 but double check if these are compatible in your region. Also, make sure that none of these plants are invasive, weedy, or banned in your area. Planting natives is always a great option but there are some nonnatives that are great for pollinators as well.

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Everyone knows that Monarchs need milkweed but why? Monarchs lay their eggs on the milkweed plant and then the little baby caterpillars eat the leaves. They also utilize the pollen from milkweed but also collect pollen from other plants. Milkweed also attracts other butterflies and bees. This is a great plant to include in your pollinator garden as it is deer resistant and can tolerate poor soil. Other species to consider are A. incarnata or A. speciosa.

Perennial
Native Range:
 Eastern North America
Zone: 3-9
Sun: Full Sun
Water: Dry-Medium

Get seeds here

Beebalm (Monarda hybrida)

There are different types of beebalm available but many hybrid species are more tolerant to powdery mildew and poor soil. This plant is great for a rain garden and attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Go with a hybrid species or find some that are native to your regions.

Perennial
Zone: 5-9
Sun: Full Sun-Part Shade
Water: Medium-Wet

Get seeds here

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

This flower is a relatively short plant that is actually a type of milkweed. Like the other milkweeds, it is tolerant of poor soil and resistant to deer. It can take awhile for this plant to establish itself which means it could take 2-3 years before they begin to flower. They attract butterflies and monarch caterpillars will eat the foliage.

Perennial
Native Range:
 Eastern & Southern United States
Zone: 3-9
Sun: Full Sun
Water: Dry-Medium

Get seeds here

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

This fragrant flower is a great attractant for both butterflies and bees. It is not native to North America so it can be tricky to grow. In some places, it is treated as an annual due to harsh winters. They do not like to get their feet wet and are relatively drought tolerant once they become established. There are different types of lavender and varieties so pick one that will grow best in your region.

Perennial
Native Range:
Mediterranean
Zone: 5-8
Sun: Full Sun
Water: Dry-Medium

Get seeds here

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Also called marigolds, calendula is a short spring blooming flower that attracts butterflies and bees. It can tolerate rabbits and likes average soil. However, it can suffer from powdery mildew so keep an eye out for that. Deadhead flowers to promote flowering throughout the season.

Annual
Zone: 2-11
Sun: Full Sun-Part Shade
Water: Medium

Get seeds here

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Catnip does a great job of making cats go crazy but bees and butterflies love them too! This herb can be used in the kitchen as well as providing nectar for pollinators. It is tolerant of poor soil, air pollution, and deer. Deadheading the flowers will promote more flowers to grow but watch this plant as it self-seeds and can spread if not taken care of.

Perennial
Native Range:
 Europe & parts of Asia
Zone: 3-7
Sun: Full Sun-Part Shade
Water: Dry-Medium

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Did you know that chives produce a bushy round purple flower? Chives are a great plant to consider adding to your vegetable garden. Chives are tasty to eat but their flowers also attract bees.

Perennial
Native Range:
Balkans, Siberia, Asia Minor
Zone: 4-8
Sun: Full Sun-Part Shade
Water: Medium

Get seeds here

Dandelions (Taraxacum spp.)

Yes, you read that right, dandelions. Though they may be a lawn weed you should really consider letting these guys grow throughout the spring. They are some of the first flowers that come up that provide food for bees and butterflies. You can also grow some gourmet dandelions for their leaves if you like to eat dandelions in your salad.

Perennial
Native Range:
Greece, naturalized throughout the world
Zone: 3-10
Sun: Full Sun
Water: Medium

Get seeds here

These are not the only plants that you can plant for pollinators. There are hundreds of different plants available and it changes depending on the region you are in. If you live in the U.S. there are butterfly seed collections for the eastern, midwestern, and western parts of the U.S. that help attract butterflies and bees. If you plant your garden right you could also have it registered as a natural wildlife garden.

What are you planting this year to attract pollinators?


Sources

Create Habitat for Monarchs
Missouri Botanical Garden

History, Identification, & Uses of Valerian

Valerian has been used since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans and they gave this plant the name “Phu” because of its unpleasant smell. Today it is a common remedy for insomnia and anxiety but if you’re hoping for a nice, calming cup of tea you will be sadly disappointed by its bitter taste and “old sock” smell.

(This post contains affiliate links. Learn more.)

Valerian is such a fascinating plant with a long history in medicine and can be found in many tales. It is one of my favorite herbs, granted a smelly one, but it sure does work.

One of the first know medicinal uses of valerian root dates back to the time of Hippocrates in ancient Greece. During the same time in Greece, it was also believed that if you hung valerian root in your home it would help repel evil spirits.

In Nordic mythology, it is said that the goddess Hertha used a whip made from valerian to make the stag she rode to run faster. The Celts also hung bags of valerian root in their homes but not to ward off evil spirits, but lightning.

The root does have its place in magic, being used in love potions, sleep pillows, to bring protection, stop couples from fighting, and to tame wild beasts! This herb was even mentioned in the Harry Potter series as an ingredient in tea to help aid in sleep.

Pied Piper

One of the best-known tales involving valerian root is that of Pied Piper of Hamelin. The German tail says that one day the town of Hamelin wanted to get rid of their rat problem. Pied Piper, a flute player, and an accomplished herbalist was contracted to help lure the rats away. In one version, he played his flute and drew the rats away and when he returned the town refused to pay him. Since they refused to pay him for ridding the town of rats he played his flute once again and lured all of the children in the town away to never be seen again. In another version, he lured both the rats and the children away the first time. In this version, he used not only his music but valerian root to lure the rats and children away.

In most tales, there is some truth to the legend. Valerian root actually can attract rats and cats! The root does contain a chemical similar to that in catnip. If you plant valerian in your garden you could potentially end up with some furry friends…some wanted and some unwanted.

Insomnia

Valerian root has been used for hundreds of years for sleeping troubles. Today we have some evidence that it might indeed be a good treatment for insomnia. One study found that valerian does indeed contain sedative properties. However, a review of 18 studies done on the use of valerian for insomnia treatment shows some promise that it is effective in humans but more research is needed. Other studies have found that valerian reduces the time it takes to get asleep, improves the quality of sleep, and participants experienced little side effects compared to common insomnia medications such as Xanax or Valium. The German Commission E approves of valerian for sleep problems and the root can be found in over 100 over the counter medication in Germany.

More research is needed but many people benefit from using valerian root for insomnia and other health issues and disorders. One of the biggest problems with its efficiency is that the quality of the herb changes based on where it is grown and other environmental conditions. Not every plant is equal. Scientists aren’t even 100% sure how valerian works. It is believed that it may increase GABA in the brain which helps regulate nerve cells and can calm anxiety. This could be why it works as a treatment for both anxiety and insomnia.

Profile

Common Name: Valerian
Scientific NameValeriana officinalis
Identification:
Perennial
Leaves- dark green, opposite, simple, pinnately lobed, 7-10 leaflets, hairy underneath, lower leaves are toothed
Flower- tiny, 5-lobed, pale pink-white, tight clusters, sweet smelling
Stem- hollow, grooved
Root- light grayish-brown when fresh, little smell when fresh
Height- 2-5 feet
Harvest Time: Spring or Fall
Parts Edible: Root
Found: Native to Europe & Asia, found throughout much of North America; found in fields and woodlands, likes full sun and average soil

Historic Uses

-Was once used as an antidote to the plague
-The ancient Greeks and Romans would prescribe valerian as a diuretic, poison antidote, pain reliever, decongestant, and sleep aid
-Early Europeans considered the plant an “all-healing” plant and used it for just about anything
-Native Americans would make a poultice from the root to treat wounds
-Was used to treat shell-shock (PTSD) during WWI
-Has been used to treat painful menstruation, cramps, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, anxiety, nervousness, stomach cramps, chest congestion, convulsions, bruises, coughs, heart palpitations, epilepsy, and aggression
-Used today to treat nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and intestinal cramps
-Has been added to perfumes as an “earthy” or “mossy” scent
-Roots were placed in closets and dresser to scent clothing
-Was once a common condiment and added to soups in the middle ages
-Leaves were once eaten in early spring

Vitamins, Minerals, & More

Root

Contains:

  • Calcium
  • Selenium
  • Tin
  • Aluminum
  • Chromium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Flavonoids

Active ingredient: valepotriates

Properties: antibacterial, antidiuretic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, hypnotic, nervine, sedative, stimulant

Preparations

-Root tea is available but does not have a pleasant smell or taste to most
-A tincture or glycerite is often available or can be made
-The root can be powdered and put into capsules
-The root can be found or added to bath and feet soaks

Precautions

-Do not take if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
-Do not give to children under 14 years of age
-Can interact with St. John’s Wort and medications changed by the liver
-Do not take valerian if you are on sedatives, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, or antidepressants
-Side effects may include: headaches, excitability, uneasiness, dizziness, stomach problems, drowsiness, and paradoxical reactions (anxiety, restlessness, insomnia)
-Do not take valerian with alcohol and do not operate large machinery after taking valerian
-Do not take for more than 1-2 months at a time
-Could cause withdraw symptoms from long-term use
-Stop taking valerian at least two weeks before surgery

Harvest

-Harvest in either spring or autumn after the first frost and before the shoots come
-Harvest plants that are two years old
-Be careful cleaning the roots and avoid damaging them
-If growing them yourself, deadhead the flowers in the summer to increase root growth

Where to Purchase

Valerian Root
Valerian Root Extract

Recipes

Valerian Mint Cordial
Valerian Root Tincture

Practicing Sustainable Wild Harvesting

  1. Only harvest plants you know are safe and can identify
  2. Only harvest plants in safe areas that are not contaminated or polluted
  3. Do not harvest on private property without permission
  4. Harvest no more than 10% or use the method: take 1 leave 2
  5. Know how to handle and prepare the plants you are harvesting
  6. Always check the legal status of the plant you want to harvest (is it endangered?)


Sources

PFAF Valerian Root
Web MD Valerian Root
University of Maryland Medical Center Valerian
Valerian Root
Mayo Clinic Valerian
Getting to Know the Valerian Plant
Sheltering with Valerian

Disclaimer: All information on Not Your Typical Hippie is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor, veterinarian, dietician, or health expert. If you wish to have advice on a medical problem, please consult a doctor. I cannot guarantee that any information provided will work for every person. Please consult a doctor before making any health changes. I am not liable for any choices you make based on the information provided on this website. (Learn more here)

Herbal Lozenges & Their Beneficial Herbs

Have you ever heard of a lozenge? It may be a strange word but I guarantee almost everyone has had one while they were sick. They are available over the counter or can be made at home and are commonly called cough drops.

(This post contains affiliate links. Learn more.)

Lozenges have been around for quite some time but can be used for more than calming a cough. They are used to slowly administer a medication or an herb through the mouth. Common drugs that may be administered this way include analgesics, anesthetics, antiseptics, antimicrobials, antitussives, anti-nauseants, and decongestants. They are usually solid and hard and traditionally many lozenges contained phenol, sodium phenolate, benzocaine, cetylpyridinium chloride, and even chloroform!

Over the counter, cough drops are available but finding herbal based lozenges can sometimes be difficult. Honey is a very common ingredient in cough drops and there’s a great reason why. Below are some herbs that are great to look for in a coughdrop or to add to a homemade cough drops/lozenges.

Honey– antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory

Licorice Root– anti-inflammatory, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, laxative, pectoral, soothing

Marshmallow Root– antidiarrhoeal, antitussive, demulcent, diuretic, laxative

Ginger– anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, anti-viral, circulation-stimulating, detoxifying, diaphoretic, digestive

Slippery Elm– demulcent, diuretic, expectorant

Elderberry– antioxidant, diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative, immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory

Cinnamon– anti-bacterial, antifungal, anti-infective, anti-oxidant, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, astringent, stomachic, diaphoretic

Horehound– antidiarrhoeal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, cholagogue, diaphoretic,
digestive, diuretic, expectorant

I love to combination of honey, elderberries, ginger, and licorice root. This combination helps boost your immune system, soothe your throat, helps with coughing, and is tasty! Any of these herbs and more are great to add to a homemade herbal lozenge or to have in tea.

Always double check the herbs you are using and that they are safe for you and won’t interact with any medications. Some herbs are not safe to have while pregnant, breastfeeding, or with some health conditions. Always talk to your doctor before making any life changes.

What’s your favorite herb to use in a homemade cough drop?


Sources

Lozenges and Medication Sticks
PFAF Slippery Elm
PFAF Marshmallow Root
PFAF Horehound
Herbal Wisdom

Disclaimer: All information on Not Your Typical Hippie is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor, veterinarian, dietician, or health expert. If you wish to have advice on a medical problem, please consult a doctor. I cannot guarantee that any information provided will work for every person. Please consult a doctor before making any health changes. I am not liable for any choices you make based on the information provided on this website. (Learn more here)

History, Identification, & Uses of Queen Anne’s Lace

This beautiful flower is promoted as a wild edible but it has a long history, deadly look-a-likes, and is even the mother of modern-day carrots!

his beautiful flower is promoted as a wild edible but it has a long history, deadly look-a-likes, and is even the mother of modern-day carrots!
his beautiful flower is promoted as a wild edible but it has a long history, deadly look-a-likes, and is even the mother of modern-day carrots!

It is believed that Queen Anne’s Lace, also known as Wild Carrot, originated in Afghanistan and is now native to Europe. It is naturalized in North America but it is not a native and is considered a weed in many places. One awesome thing about this plant is that it is the ancestor of the modern day carrot. If we take a look at the scientific name for the cultivated carrot it is Daucus carota var. sativus. What differs the wild carrot from the cultivated carrot is that the cultivated carrot is a variety (var.) of Daucus carota that was bred to be larger, sweeter, and different colors. This means that the root of Queen Anne’s Lace is definitely edible!

This plant has a lot of names but Queen Anne’s Lace is one of the best-known names for this wild carrot. One legend says that the flower was named after King James I’s wife, Anne, who absolutely loved this plant. She held a contest to see who could produce a piece of lace that best represented the flower. She, of course, won the contest but while making the lace she pricked her finger. The blood from her finger fell in the center of the lace pattern and became the reddish purple floret in the center of the white flower. It is also believed that the flower is named after St. Anne, patron saint of lacemakers who was also the mother of the Virgin Mary.

Queen Anne’s Lace has a couple of medicinal uses but it isn’t a very popular herb anymore. It is best known for its edible root and its seed’s abortion properties. The seed has been used for centuries as a “morning after” contraceptive. Today it is mostly used as a culinary food, eating the root and frying the flower.

🕱 Poison Hemlock 🕱

Queen Anne’s Lace actually has quite a few look-a-likes. A lot of plants in the parsley/carrot family (Apiaceae or Umbelliferae) have very similar flowers so it can be a bit confusing. The one plant you absolutely have to know the difference between is poison hemlock (Conium maculatum). This plant is poisonous and can be fatal. It killed Socrates and was once used in Greece as a method of execution. You can often find poison hemlock growing alongside Queen Anne’s Lace which means it is extremely vital that you can identify both plants before harvesting. Do not harvest the plant or eat any part of it if you are not sure!

Poison hemlock has a smooth stem (QAL is hairy), as well as being hallow and has purple spotting (QAL is all green). It can grow to be 2-9 feet tall and when the leaves are bruised it emits a bad smell. It is often confused with Queen Anne’s Lace and wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa).

Believe it or not, poison hemlock has been used as a medicine before. However, it is recommended that you do not consume any part of the plant. Side effects and toxicities include: increased saliva, burning of the digestive tract, drowsiness, muscle pain, rapid swelling and stiffening of muscles, kidney damage, rapid breakdown of muscle tissue and release of muscle tissue byproducts into the blood, rapid heart rate followed by a decreased heart rate, loss of speech, paralysis, unconsciousness, heart, lung, and kidney failure, and death.

 

flower-18351_1920
Queen Anne’s Lace

 

Profile

Common Name: Queen Anne’s Lace, Wild Carrot
Scientific NameDaucus carota
Identification:
Biennial
Leaves- alternate, up to 4″ long, pinnate-pinnatifid, light-med green top & smooth, underside light green & smooth-slightly hairy
Stem- light green, sometimes has a red tint, vertically veined, hallow, smooth-hairy
Flower- umbel, flat clusters, white, 1 small deep purple floret in the center, 3 forked bracts beneath
Height- 2-4 feet
Harvest Time: June-September
Parts Edible: Roots, Seeds, Flowers
Found: Native to Europe & SW Asia, found throughout North America; waste places, roadsides, full sun

Historic Uses

-Root use traditionally to get rid of urinary stones and worms
-Seeds were a folk remedy once used as a “morning after” contraceptive
-It was once believed that eating the purple flower in the center of the flower could cure epileptic seizures
-An infusion of the leaves was used to treat cystitis and kidney stone formation
-Flower tea has been used to treat diabetes
-The root has been used to delay menstruation
-An infusion made from the seeds has been used to treat edema, flatulent indigestion, and menstrual problems

white-flowers-2307654_1920

Vitamins, Minerals, & More

Properties of the entire plant: anthelmintic, carminative, deobstruent, diuretic, galactagogue, ophthalmic, stimulant

Leaves

Contain: porphyrins

Roots

Properties: anthelmintic, diuretic, emmenagogue, antioxidant, bactericidal

Seeds

Properties: abortifacient, diuretic, carminative, contraceptive, emmenagogue, anthelmintic

Preparations

-Are parts of the plant can be eaten and have been fried and added to soups
-Dried roots can be used as a coffee substitute
-Essential oil from seed has been used in perfumery and as a food flavoring
-Leaves, roots, and flowers used in making tea

Precautions

-Do not take any part of Queen Anne’s Lace/ Wild Carrot while pregnant. The seeds, especially, can cause menstruation and abortions.
-Avoid all parts of the plant while breastfeeding as not much information is available as to how safe it might be.
-Could cause an allergic reaction in those allergic to birch, mugwort, spices, and celery
-Could cause dermatitis and blisters
-Queen Anne’s Lace/ Wild Carrot could interact with the following medications:

  • Estrogens
  • Lithium
  • High blood pressure medications
  • Medications that increase sensitivity to sunlight

-Queen Anne’s Lace/ Wild Carrot could make worsen kidney issues and could increase the risk of sunburns
-Stop using two weeks before surgery

queen-annes-lace-bud-opening-2513565_1920

Harvest

-Harvest roots in spring for best tasting roots, first-year roots are also better tasting
-Harvest flowers throughout the summer
-Seeds can be harvested in the autumn

Recipes

Queen Anne’s Lace Flower Jelly
Fried Queen Anne’s Lace Flowers
Wild Carrot Cake Herbal Recipe
Wild Carrot Seed Ale

Practicing Sustainable Wild Harvesting

  1. Only harvest plants you know are safe and can identify
  2. Only harvest plants in safe areas that are not contaminated or polluted
  3. Do not harvest on private property without permission
  4. Harvest no more than 10% or use the method: take 1 leave 2
  5. Know how to handle and prepare the plants you are harvesting
  6. Always check the legal status of the plant you want to harvest (is it endangered?)

Sources

Wild Carrot Identification
Original Wild Carrot – Queen Anne’s Lace
Web MD Wild Carrot
PFAF Daucus carota
Web MD Poison Hemlock
Commoner with a Regal Name

Disclaimer: All information on Not Your Typical Hippie is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor, veterinarian, dietician, or health expert. If you wish to have advice on a medical problem, please consult a doctor. I cannot guarantee that any information provided will work for every person. Please consult a doctor before making any health changes. I am not liable for any choices you make based on the information provided on this website. (Learn more here)