TONIC HERBS (for immunity, longevity, rejuvenation)
Chinese yamshan yao Dioscorea batatas - Herbaceous perennial vine, very fragrant bloom (Cinnamon vine); root is a highly regarded food / medicine (energy tonic). Harvest aerial bulblets (edible) to avoid weediness.
Peony rootbai shao Paeonia lactiflora - Beautiful, very long-lived, garden flower; the roots are an
important blood tonic (especially beneficial for women).
Fo-tihe shou wu Polygonum multiflorum - Strong-growing perennial vine; root tubers are a renowned
Gotu kolaCentella asiatica - Tender perennial herb, spreads fast by runners; overwinter in pot indoors. Well
known rejuvenative herb, favored by spiritual practitioners. Prefers wet soil.
Schizandrawu wei zi Schizandra chinensis - Hardy woody vine; fruit is tonic and immune stimulant.
Tang kueidanggui Angelica sinensis - Famous women’s (blood) tonic; attractive herb for moist shade.
biennial (if allowed to flower); easily propagated from fresh seed.
Ginseng, Americanxi yang shen Panax quinquefolius - Important yin tonic, especially benefits lungs.
Dogwood, Chineseshan yu rou Cornus officinalis Hardy small tree, fruit is tonic and astringent.
Lilyturfmai men dong Ophiopogon japonicus - Hardy, grass-like groundcover, 6". Small root tubers are an
important yin tonic.
Chinese chivesjiu zi Allium tuberosum - Hardy perennial with attractive flowers and edible leaves; seeds are
a yang tonic.
False daisyhan lian cao, Eclipta prostrata - Weedy annual of wet places; important tonic herb in both
traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.
Glossy privet/ niu zhen zi, Ligustrum lucidum - Large shrub, broad-leaf evergreen, borderline hardy here.
Fruit; tonifies liver & kidney yin; often paired with Eclipta ("Two Ultimate").
Mulberry/ sang shen,etc., Morus alba - Small-medium tree. Leaf, twigs, roots and fruit all used medicinally.
Adenophora/ nan sha shen, Adenophora stricta - Hardy perennial herb, 1-2’. Root is a yin tonic.
Amachazuki/ jiao gu lan, Gynostemma pentaphyllum - Herbaceous perennial vine / groundcover with many of
the actve compounds found in ginseng. Easily grown.
Teasel, Japanese/ xu duan, Dipsacus japonicus - Self-sowing biennial herb to 6’. Root is a yang tonic.
Asparagus, Chinese/ tian men dong, Asparagus cochinchinensis - Herbaceous perennial twining vine, hardy
once established. Root tubers are a yin tonic and said to benefit the shen (spirit).
Maralroot, Leuzia carthamnoides - Hardy perennial herb to 5’; potent adaptogen used by Russian athletes.
Milkvetch/ huang qi, Astragalus membranaceus - Hardy perennial herb; most potent immune stimulant.
Codonopsis/ dang shen, Codonopsis pilosula - Hardy herbaceous perennial vine; root is an energy tonic, used
as a substitute for slower growing (more expensive) ginseng. Easily grown.
Ashwaganda, Withania somniferum - Perennial subshrub, not hardy here. Roots are the foremost rejuvenative
herb in Ayurvedic medicine.
Bala, Sida cordifolia Perennial herb, not hardy. Important Ayurvedic rejuvenative root.
Nut-sedgexiang fu Cyperus rotundus Weedy sedge, 1-2’. Root tuber regulates qi energy, used in aphrodisiac / impotence formulas
other CHINESE MEDICINAL HERBS
Balloon flower/ jie geng, Platycodon grandiflorum - Hardy perennial garden flower; root is edible and an
important herb for lungs.
Akebia/ mu tong, Akebia quinata Attractive strong-growing woody perennial vine; drains dampness (diuretic)
Chrysanthemum/ ju hua, Chrysanthemum sp. Hardy perennial garden flower, 3’. Reduces fever, relieves
hypertension, benefits liver, soothes the eyes, etc. White and yellow varieties available.
Hardy Begonia/ qiu hai tang, Begonia evansiana Hardy perennial, 2’, ornamental.
Angelica/ du huo, Angelica pubescens Giant biennial to 10’, self-sows. Root is an important herb for
‘wind-damp’ conditions (rheumatism, etc).
Burdock/ niu bang zi, Arctium lappa Giant biennial to 8’, self-sows. Root is edible and medicinal; seeds used
in Chinese medicine for ‘wind-heat’ conditions (E.g. colds, flu with fever)
Aster/ zie wan, Aster tataricus Perennial herb to 6’, spreading by roots. Relieves cough (expectorant)
Pinellia/ ban xia, Pinellia ternata Hardy perennial, 12",shady areas. Tubers (treated) are used for lung conditions, relieve nausea, etc.
Forsythia/ lian qiao, Forsythia suspensa Arching shrub5-6’. Fruit is antibiotic for fever, hot sores, etc
Ox knee/ huai niu xi, Achyranthes bidentata Hardy perennial, 2-3’, self-sows. Root ‘invigorates the blood’ (circulation) for low back or knee pain, etc.
Salvia/ dan shen, Salvia przewalskii Hardy perennial, 2’, ornamental. Root invigorates the blood, clears heat, soothes irritability
Common reed/ lu gen, Phragmites communis Grass, 6’+, spreading by roots, prefers wet soil. Clears heat.
Kudzu/ ge gen, Pueraria lobata Well-known woody vine, invasive. Multiple uses: food, fiber, nitrogen fixer /
erosion control. Medicinally, root used for exterior heat conditions, especially shoulder and neck tension.
Motherwort, Chinese/ yi mu cao, Leonurus heterophylla Self-sowing annual / biennial herb to 5’. Herb invigorates the blood, regulates menstruation, etc
PERENNIAL (and self-sowing annuual) FOOD PLANTS
WineberryRubus phoenicolasius Attractive bramble, arching canes 10’+, tip-rooting only; delicious fruit.
Good King HenryChenopodium bonus-henricus Hardy perennial Lamb’s quarters, 2’; leaves edible.
RampsAllium tricoccum Traditional spring wildfood, easily grown native of rich woods
MallowMalva verticillata Annual or biennial herb to 6’, self-sows. Early greens for cooking.
Black currantRibes nigrum Shrub, 3-4’. Highest vitamin C of temperate zone fruits
PeppermintMentha piperita, cv. Blue Balsam Good selection for mint tea.
DaylilyHemerocallis middendorffii, var. esculenta Preferred oriental variety for edible flower buds.
Indian cucumber rootMedeola virginica Attractive native woodland herb with delicious (but small) roots
Sweet cicelyMyrrhis odorata Attractive hardy perennial, 2-3’. Sweet anise flavored leaves used as a
vegetable or sweetening agent, seeds for aromatic flavoring.
Perennial chervilAnthriscus sylvestris Hardy perennial herb, 3’; edible spring greens. Hedgerow plant.
Earth almondBunium bulbocastanum Hardy perennial herb, 2-3’; root tubers edible.
Giant Solomon’s sealPolygonatum commutatum Beautiful woodland herb with arching stems to 5’. Young
.stalks (taste like asparagus), flowers, young fruit all edible, root edible and medicinal
AsparagusAsparagus officinalis Well known perennial vegetable, 6’. Edible, ornamental, medicinal.
Hot TunaHouttynia cordata ‘Chameleon’ Hardy perennial, 2’, with vivid red, yellow & green leaves. Used as
flavoring and cooked greens in SE Asia, also medicinal (reduces fever). Spreads by roots.
BambooPhyllostachys aureosulcata One of the hardiest bamboos, also one of the best for eating (spring shoots). Canes to 2" diameter. Control invasiveness by harvesting for food.
Bronze fennelFoeniculum vulgare ‘atropurpurea’ Attractive perennial herb with bronze-purple feathery foliage and yellow flowers. Edible & medicinal; beneficial insects.
SorrelRumex acetosa Perennial herb with large edible leaves early in spring, very productive. Not invasive
Sorrel, true FrenchRumex scutatus Perennial herb, smaller leaves than R. acetosa, better flavor Not invasive
Lemon balmMelissa officinalis Easily grown hardy perennial, 2’. Edible and medicinal.
Lemon balm, goldenM. officinalis ‘aurea’ As above, with bright yellow foliage.
UdoAralia cordata Spectacular hardy perennial herb, 8’. Blanched shoots are a prized spring vegetable in Japan; also used medicinally (giseng family).
Jerusalem artichokeHelianthus tuberosus Perennial sunflower, 6’. Easily grown root vegetable; leave in ground and harvest as needed through the winter.
American groundnutApios americana Native herbaceous vine with strings of edible tubers; wild food plant
with tremendous potential for cultivation.
Stinging nettleUrtica dioica Perennial herb, 3’. Spring greens are delicious, extremely nutritious. Fiber plant
Ostrich fernMatteuccia pennsylvanica Ornamental fern, 3’, spreading by roots. Best species for fiddleheads,
a choice spring vegetable. Not native here, but easily grown.
Sho chenRudbeckia laciniata Native perennial herb, 6’, yellow flowers. Favorite Cherokee spring greens.
Lamb’s quarters, magentaChenopodium giganteum Self-sowing annual, 6’, resembling common lamb’s
quarters but with vivid magenta new growth. Effortless summer greens, seeds also an edible grain.
Amaranth, red leafAmaranthus spp. Several varieties of red-leaved and flowered, self-sowing annuals, 3-5’.
Ornamental, edible summer greens and grain.
PurslanePortulaca oleracea Self sowing annual, 6-12". Extremely nutritious summer greens.
Grape holly, OregonMahonia aquifolium Evergreen shrub to about 10’, ornamental. Early spring bloom (for
bees), followed by large clusters of edible blue fruit. Roots medicinal (~ barberry).
Anise rootOsmorrhiza longistylis Attractive native woodland herb, 2’, with edible roots.
Woods nettleLaportea canadensis Native woodland perennial herb, 2-3’. Edible & fiber (like Urtica)
WasabiWasabia japonica Hardy perennial herb, 12"; grows in clear, cold mountain streams. Condiment (root)
miscellaneous USEFUL PLANTS
Sweet vernal grassAnthoxanthum odoratum Clump-forming grass, 12", non-invasive. Incense plant
Russian dandelionTaraxacum kok-saghyz Large dandelion investigated as source of rubber latex
WeldReseda luteola Hardy biennial, 4’. Important dye plant.
Japanese indigoPolygonum tinctorum Spreading annual, 12". Hard to find dye plant, also medicinal
SoapwortSaponaria officinalis Attractive, somewhat invasive perennial herb; produces a very mild lather.
Indian hempApocynum cannabinum Perennial herb, 3’; important native American fiber plant.
Dutchman’s pipeAristolochia macrophylla High-climbing native woody vine; dense shade for pergolas, etc.
Host plant for pipe-vine Swallowtail
PyrethrumChrysanthemum cinerarifolium Attractive hardy perennial, 2’; dried flowers are insecticidal
Orris rootIris germanica var. Florentina Hardy perennial, 2’; root is a fixative for perfumery & potpourri
ENTHEOGENS (psychoactive plants)
(all of these are legal to grow, but not all are legal to ingest)
Diviner’s sageSalvia divinorum Robust perennial herb, not hardy here. Maintained by Mexican indians, unknown in wild. Easily propagated by cuttings. Prefers moist conditions.
SinicuichiHeimia salicifolia Small shrub, not quite hardy here. Used in Mexico for altered state.
San PedroTrichocereus pachanoi Tall columnar cactus, not hardy here; shaman’s plant, rich in mescaline
Canary grassPhalaris arundinacea 2-3’ coarse grass, spreading by roots; special DMT strain.
KhatCatha edulis Evergreen shrub, 3’+, not hardy. Fresh tips are a highly prized stimulant in mideast.
CalamusAcorus calamus Perennial herb, 2’, moist-wet places. Root is a stimulant (& hallucinogenic?)
WormwoodArtemisia absinthium Hardy perennial herb, 4-5’, silvery foliage. Source of absinthe.
Siberian motherwortLeonurus sibirica Self-sowing biennial to 5’, reputed marijuana substitute.
Passion flowerPassiflora incarnata Native vine, spreading by roots, beautiful flowers. Added to smoking mixtures for relaxing effect.
Wild lettuceLactuca virosa Self-sowing biennial, 6’. This is the species most often cited as "lettuce opium" Used in smoking mixtures as above.
Opium poppyPapaver somniferum Self-sowing winter annual, 2-3’+, attractive flowers, edible seeds.
HopsHumulus lupulus Strong growing perennial vine. Young shoots edible, cones used in beer-making and
hop pillows (a sleep aid), sedative. (Humulus is the only other genus in the Cannabis family.)
MEDICINAL PLANTS (not native or Chinese)
AngelicaAngelica archangelica Self-sowing biennial, 6’+, ornamental. Warm, aromatic, digestive tonic
Milk thistleSilybum marianum Attractive, but prickly, annual / biennial, 3’+Seeds are regenerative for liver,
EchinaceaEchinacea purpurea Well-known perennial garden flower, 2-3’. Stimulates immune system.
ValerianValeriana officinalis Hardy perennial to 5’, attractive, fragrant. Root used for insomnia, anxiety,
nervous disorders (including nervous indigestion), etc.
AlkannetAlkanna officinalis Hardy perennial garden flower, true blue, 3’. Old medicinal and dye plant.
Hound’s tongueCynoglossum officinalis Self-sowing biennial herb, 2-3’. Old medicinal plant.
ColtsfootTussilago farfara Perennial herb, 1-2’, forming colonies in moist, sunny areas. Leaf used for coughs
and other lung conditions, major ingredient in herbal smoking mixtures.
FeverfewChrysanthemum (Tanacetum) parthenium Attractive short-lived perennial herb, 1-2’. Lowers fever
and relieves pain: headaches (esp. migraine), menstrual, etc.
CatnipNepeta cataria Attractive perennial herb, 3’+, prefers dry soil, self-sows. Mild sedative; feverish colds
ThymeThymus vulgaris Attractive perennial ground cover, 6". Medicinally: benefits lungs, digestion.
CrampbarkViburnum opulus Ornamental deciduous shrub to 15’. Menstrual cramps, miscarriage, etc.
ComfreySymphytum officinalis Hardy perennial herb, 2-3’. This is the true medicinal species, with white
flowers. Primarily used externally, nowadays: promotes healing
MulleinVerbascum thapsus Ornamental, self-sowing biennial to 8’. Leaves and (better) flowers used for lungs,
cough, also (in oil) externally (earache, etc); smoking mixtures.
HyssopHyssopus officinalis Attractive small shrub, 2’. Sedative & expectorant (colds, flu, bronchitis)
CelandineChelidonium majus Attractive, self-sowing perennial herb, prefers moist soil and light shade. Anti-
inflammatory and cleansing, used internally (with caution) & externally (warts, tumors, eye problems)
PrimrosePrimula veris (officinalis) Ornamental spring-flowering perennial, moist shady areas. Mild (suitable
for children) sedative, expectorant, antispasmodic, etc
Herb RobertGeranium robertianum Attractive perennial herb, 6-12", self-sows in shady areas.
Pennyroyal, EnglishMentha pulegium Perennial herb, 12", spreading.
HorehoundMarrubium vulgare Hardy perennial herb, 2’, dry soil and sun. Primarily for lungs (cough, etc.).
MeadowsweetFilipendula ulmaria Perennial garden flower 3-4’. Antacid and pain-relieving properties.
MarshmallowAlthaea officinalis Perennial herb of moist-wet soil, 5’+. Mucilaginous and soothing: lungs,
urinary tract, digestion, etc. - all parts edible.
Small-flow. willowherbEpilobium parviflorum Annual or short-lived perennial herb, 2-3’, self-sows. Used
for prostate problems.
NATIVE MEDICINAL PLANTS
Black cohoshCimicifuga racemosa Beautiful woodland wildflower to 6’. Increasingly popular for menopausal and menstrual problems.
Blue cohoshCaulophyllum thalictroides Perennial herb of rich woods, 2’. Uterine stimulant, facilitates birth process; also for menstrual problems, endometriosis,etc
GoldensealHydrastis canadensis Rare colonial herb of rich woods, 12". Antibiotic and anti-inflammatory; used against infections internally and externally.
StonerootCollinsonia canadensis Robust woodland perennial, 2-4’. Root is diuretic, useful for cystitis, etc
SpikenardAralia racemosa Large perennial herb, 4-5’, woods. Root has been used in tonic preparations (Ginseng family), cough and other lung problems, etc.
TurtleheadChelone glabra Attractive perennial herb, 3-4’, streamsides. Benefits liver and digestive system
BloodrootSanguinaria canadensis Beautiful early spring wildflower, 6-12", rich woods. Root has a variety of folk uses: coughs & lung problems, poison ivy cure, etc. Used commercially in toothpaste (anti-plaque)
BirthrootTrillium erectum Beautiful spring wildflower of rich woods, 12-18" For female reproductive system.
Wild yamDioscorea villosa Herbaceous perennial vine, 10’, woods. Anti-inflammatory & antispasmodic, for menstrual and labor pain, colitis, gastritis, etc.
Unicorn rootAletris farinosa Rare perennial herb, 12", moist sandy areas. Contains diosgenin - estrogeni and anti-inflammatory; also used for rheumatism and as a digestive tonic, etc.
False unicorn rootChamaelirium luteum Rare perennial herb, 3’, woods. Tonic for female reproductive system (menstrual & menopausal problems, infertility, miscarriage)
American celandineStylophorum diphyllum Beautiful native woodland wildflower, 2’. Has been used externally for skin eruptions, hemorrhoids, etc.
SquawvineMitchella repens Attractive woodland groundcover, 6". Used for menstrual problems and birth.
Wild indigoBaptisia tinctoria Perennial herb, 3’, poor acid soil. Root stimulates immune system, especially for infections of head and throat.
Jack in the pulpitArisaema triphyllum Well-known wildflower of rich woods, 1-3’. Treated rott is edible (indian turnip), variety of folk uses.
Wild gingerAsarum canadense Perennial groundcover of rich woods, 6". Root used as ginger substitute, medicinally for colds and flu (expectorant, promotes sweating), etc.
Wild geraniumGeranium maculata Beautiful woodland wildflower, 12-18" Astringent and antiseptic, for diarrhea, colitis, ulcers, etc; externally for hemorrhoids.
MotherwortLeonurus cardiaca Self-sowing perennial herb, 3’, sun. Uterine stimulant and relaxant, cardiac and nerve tonic for heart palpitations, menstrual problems.
HorsetailEquisetum arvense Perennial herb, 12", spreading by roots in wet soil. High silica content (‘scouring rush’), biodynamic plant, variety of medicinal uses.
Culver’s rootVeronicastrum virginicum Attractive perennial herb, 3-5’, meadows. Bitter digestive tonic, used for liver and gallbladder problems.
Joe Pye weedEupatorium purpureum Perennial herb of rich meadows, to 10’. Cleansing, diuretic root for kidney and urinary problems (‘gravel root’), has immune properties.
Mad-dog skullcapScutellaria lateriflora Perennial herb, 1-2’, shady streambanks. Sedative and antispasmodic for nervous complaints, insomnia, irritability, drug withdrawal, etc.
St. John’s wortHypericum perforatum Perennial herb, 2-3’; dry, sunny locations. Sedative and anti-inflammatory for anxiety, nervous tension, PMS, etc.; also used externally (in oil) for wounds, burns, etc.
BugleweedLycopus virginicus Perennial herb of damp, shady spots, 12". Especially for hyperthyroidism.
FigwortScrophularia marilandica Perennial herb to 3’, self-sows in light shade. Variety of uses
Heal-allPrunella vulgaris Perennial herb, 1-2’, self-sows. Astringent, lowers fever & blood pressure, for hemmorhage, excessive menstruation, etc.
Boar-hog rootLigusticum canadense Attractive perennial wildflower, 3-4’, part or full shade. Locally regarded as a sexual stimulant, aphrodisiac.
Bee balmMonarda didyma Showy perennial herb, 3-4’, spreading by roots in moist soil, sun or shade. Pleasant tea relieves digestive gas.
MayapplePodophyllum hexandrum Woodland herb, 2’, spreading by roots to form colonies. Edible fruit, root is toxic, but source of important anti-cancer compounds.
PokerootPhytolacca americana Big, ornamental perennial herb, 6’+. Edible spring greens; root stimulates immune and lymphatic systems, clears toxins.
Indian tobaccoLobelia inflata Self-sowing annual, 1-2’, light shade. Much used in stop-smoking preparations (contains lobeline ~ nicotine), for asthma (bronchiodilator), etc.
American pennyroyalHedeoma pulegioides Aromatic annual, 6-12", self-sows, tolerates dry, poor soil. Variety of folk uses including colds & flu. Insect repellant.