TONIC HERBS (for immunity, longevity, rejuvenation)

Chinese yam shan 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 root bai shao Paeonia lactiflora - Beautiful, very long-lived, garden flower; the roots are an

important blood tonic (especially beneficial for women).

Fo-ti he shou wu Polygonum multiflorum - Strong-growing perennial vine; root tubers are a renowned

anti-aging herb

Gotu kola Centella asiatica - Tender perennial herb, spreads fast by runners; overwinter in pot indoors. Well

known rejuvenative herb, favored by spiritual practitioners. Prefers wet soil.

Schizandra wu wei zi Schizandra chinensis - Hardy woody vine; fruit is tonic and immune stimulant.

Tang kuei danggui Angelica sinensis - Famous women’s (blood) tonic; attractive herb for moist shade.

biennial (if allowed to flower); easily propagated from fresh seed.

Ginseng, American xi yang shen Panax quinquefolius - Important yin tonic, especially benefits lungs.

Dogwood, Chinese shan yu rou Cornus officinalis Hardy small tree, fruit is tonic and astringent.

Lilyturf mai men dong Ophiopogon japonicus - Hardy, grass-like groundcover, 6". Small root tubers are an

important yin tonic.

Chinese chives jiu zi Allium tuberosum - Hardy perennial with attractive flowers and edible leaves; seeds are

a yang tonic.

False daisy han 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-sedge xiang fu Cyperus rotundus Weedy sedge, 1-2’. Root tuber regulates qi energy, used in aphrodisiac / impotence formulas


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

Wineberry Rubus phoenicolasius Attractive bramble, arching canes 10’+, tip-rooting only; delicious fruit.

Good King Henry Chenopodium bonus-henricus Hardy perennial Lamb’s quarters, 2’; leaves edible.

Ramps Allium tricoccum Traditional spring wildfood, easily grown native of rich woods

Mallow Malva verticillata Annual or biennial herb to 6’, self-sows. Early greens for cooking.

Black currant Ribes nigrum Shrub, 3-4’. Highest vitamin C of temperate zone fruits

Peppermint Mentha piperita, cv. Blue Balsam Good selection for mint tea.

Daylily Hemerocallis middendorffii, var. esculenta Preferred oriental variety for edible flower buds.

Indian cucumber root Medeola virginica Attractive native woodland herb with delicious (but small) roots

Sweet cicely Myrrhis odorata Attractive hardy perennial, 2-3’. Sweet anise flavored leaves used as a

vegetable or sweetening agent, seeds for aromatic flavoring.

Perennial chervil Anthriscus sylvestris Hardy perennial herb, 3’; edible spring greens. Hedgerow plant.

Earth almond Bunium bulbocastanum Hardy perennial herb, 2-3’; root tubers edible.

Giant Solomon’s seal Polygonatum commutatum Beautiful woodland herb with arching stems to 5’. Young

.stalks (taste like asparagus), flowers, young fruit all edible, root edible and medicinal

Asparagus Asparagus officinalis Well known perennial vegetable, 6’. Edible, ornamental, medicinal.

Hot Tuna Houttynia 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.

Bamboo Phyllostachys 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 fennel Foeniculum vulgare ‘atropurpurea’ Attractive perennial herb with bronze-purple feathery foliage and yellow flowers. Edible & medicinal; beneficial insects.

Sorrel Rumex acetosa Perennial herb with large edible leaves early in spring, very productive. Not invasive

Sorrel, true French Rumex scutatus Perennial herb, smaller leaves than R. acetosa, better flavor Not invasive

Lemon balm Melissa officinalis Easily grown hardy perennial, 2’. Edible and medicinal.

Lemon balm, golden M. officinalis ‘aurea’ As above, with bright yellow foliage.

Udo Aralia cordata Spectacular hardy perennial herb, 8’. Blanched shoots are a prized spring vegetable in Japan; also used medicinally (giseng family).

Jerusalem artichoke Helianthus tuberosus Perennial sunflower, 6’. Easily grown root vegetable; leave in ground and harvest as needed through the winter.

American groundnut Apios americana Native herbaceous vine with strings of edible tubers; wild food plant

with tremendous potential for cultivation.

Stinging nettle Urtica dioica Perennial herb, 3’. Spring greens are delicious, extremely nutritious. Fiber plant

Ostrich fern Matteuccia pennsylvanica Ornamental fern, 3’, spreading by roots. Best species for fiddleheads,

a choice spring vegetable. Not native here, but easily grown.

Sho chen Rudbeckia laciniata Native perennial herb, 6’, yellow flowers. Favorite Cherokee spring greens.

Lamb’s quarters, magenta Chenopodium 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 leaf Amaranthus spp. Several varieties of red-leaved and flowered, self-sowing annuals, 3-5’.

Ornamental, edible summer greens and grain.

Purslane Portulaca oleracea Self sowing annual, 6-12". Extremely nutritious summer greens.

Grape holly, Oregon Mahonia aquifolium Evergreen shrub to about 10’, ornamental. Early spring bloom (for

bees), followed by large clusters of edible blue fruit. Roots medicinal (~ barberry).

Anise root Osmorrhiza longistylis Attractive native woodland herb, 2’, with edible roots.

Woods nettle Laportea canadensis Native woodland perennial herb, 2-3’. Edible & fiber (like Urtica)

Wasabi Wasabia japonica Hardy perennial herb, 12"; grows in clear, cold mountain streams. Condiment (root)

miscellaneous USEFUL PLANTS

Sweet vernal grass Anthoxanthum odoratum Clump-forming grass, 12", non-invasive. Incense plant

Russian dandelion Taraxacum kok-saghyz Large dandelion investigated as source of rubber latex

Weld Reseda luteola Hardy biennial, 4’. Important dye plant.

Japanese indigo Polygonum tinctorum Spreading annual, 12". Hard to find dye plant, also medicinal

Soapwort Saponaria officinalis Attractive, somewhat invasive perennial herb; produces a very mild lather.

Indian hemp Apocynum cannabinum Perennial herb, 3’; important native American fiber plant.

Dutchman’s pipe Aristolochia macrophylla High-climbing native woody vine; dense shade for pergolas, etc.

Host plant for pipe-vine Swallowtail

Pyrethrum Chrysanthemum cinerarifolium Attractive hardy perennial, 2’; dried flowers are insecticidal

Orris root Iris 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 sage Salvia divinorum Robust perennial herb, not hardy here. Maintained by Mexican indians, unknown in wild. Easily propagated by cuttings. Prefers moist conditions.

Sinicuichi Heimia salicifolia Small shrub, not quite hardy here. Used in Mexico for altered state.

San Pedro Trichocereus pachanoi Tall columnar cactus, not hardy here; shaman’s plant, rich in mescaline

Canary grass Phalaris arundinacea 2-3’ coarse grass, spreading by roots; special DMT strain.

Khat Catha edulis Evergreen shrub, 3’+, not hardy. Fresh tips are a highly prized stimulant in mideast.

Calamus Acorus calamus Perennial herb, 2’, moist-wet places. Root is a stimulant (& hallucinogenic?)

Wormwood Artemisia absinthium Hardy perennial herb, 4-5’, silvery foliage. Source of absinthe.

Siberian motherwort Leonurus sibirica Self-sowing biennial to 5’, reputed marijuana substitute.

Passion flower Passiflora incarnata Native vine, spreading by roots, beautiful flowers. Added to smoking mixtures for relaxing effect.

Wild lettuce Lactuca virosa Self-sowing biennial, 6’. This is the species most often cited as "lettuce opium" Used in smoking mixtures as above.

Opium poppy Papaver somniferum Self-sowing winter annual, 2-3’+, attractive flowers, edible seeds.

Hops Humulus 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)

Angelica Angelica archangelica Self-sowing biennial, 6’+, ornamental. Warm, aromatic, digestive tonic

Milk thistle Silybum marianum Attractive, but prickly, annual / biennial, 3’+Seeds are regenerative for liver,

aid digestion..

Echinacea Echinacea purpurea Well-known perennial garden flower, 2-3’. Stimulates immune system.

Valerian Valeriana officinalis Hardy perennial to 5’, attractive, fragrant. Root used for insomnia, anxiety,

nervous disorders (including nervous indigestion), etc.

Alkannet Alkanna officinalis Hardy perennial garden flower, true blue, 3’. Old medicinal and dye plant.

Hound’s tongue Cynoglossum officinalis Self-sowing biennial herb, 2-3’. Old medicinal plant.

Coltsfoot Tussilago 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.

Feverfew Chrysanthemum (Tanacetum) parthenium Attractive short-lived perennial herb, 1-2’. Lowers fever

and relieves pain: headaches (esp. migraine), menstrual, etc.

Catnip Nepeta cataria Attractive perennial herb, 3’+, prefers dry soil, self-sows. Mild sedative; feverish colds

Thyme Thymus vulgaris Attractive perennial ground cover, 6". Medicinally: benefits lungs, digestion.

Crampbark Viburnum opulus Ornamental deciduous shrub to 15’. Menstrual cramps, miscarriage, etc.

Comfrey Symphytum officinalis Hardy perennial herb, 2-3’. This is the true medicinal species, with white

flowers. Primarily used externally, nowadays: promotes healing

Mullein Verbascum thapsus Ornamental, self-sowing biennial to 8’. Leaves and (better) flowers used for lungs,

cough, also (in oil) externally (earache, etc); smoking mixtures.

Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis Attractive small shrub, 2’. Sedative & expectorant (colds, flu, bronchitis)

Celandine Chelidonium 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)

Primrose Primula veris (officinalis) Ornamental spring-flowering perennial, moist shady areas. Mild (suitable

for children) sedative, expectorant, antispasmodic, etc

Herb Robert Geranium robertianum Attractive perennial herb, 6-12", self-sows in shady areas.

Pennyroyal, English Mentha pulegium Perennial herb, 12", spreading.

Horehound Marrubium vulgare Hardy perennial herb, 2’, dry soil and sun. Primarily for lungs (cough, etc.).

Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria Perennial garden flower 3-4’. Antacid and pain-relieving properties.

Marshmallow Althaea officinalis Perennial herb of moist-wet soil, 5’+. Mucilaginous and soothing: lungs,

urinary tract, digestion, etc. - all parts edible.

Small-flow. willowherb Epilobium parviflorum Annual or short-lived perennial herb, 2-3’, self-sows. Used

for prostate problems.


Black cohosh Cimicifuga racemosa Beautiful woodland wildflower to 6’. Increasingly popular for menopausal and menstrual problems.

Blue cohosh Caulophyllum thalictroides Perennial herb of rich woods, 2’. Uterine stimulant, facilitates birth process; also for menstrual problems, endometriosis,etc

Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis Rare colonial herb of rich woods, 12". Antibiotic and anti-inflammatory; used against infections internally and externally.

Stoneroot Collinsonia canadensis Robust woodland perennial, 2-4’. Root is diuretic, useful for cystitis, etc

Spikenard Aralia racemosa Large perennial herb, 4-5’, woods. Root has been used in tonic preparations (Ginseng family), cough and other lung problems, etc.

Turtlehead Chelone glabra Attractive perennial herb, 3-4’, streamsides. Benefits liver and digestive system

Bloodroot Sanguinaria 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)

Birthroot Trillium erectum Beautiful spring wildflower of rich woods, 12-18" For female reproductive system.

Wild yam Dioscorea villosa Herbaceous perennial vine, 10’, woods. Anti-inflammatory & antispasmodic, for menstrual and labor pain, colitis, gastritis, etc.

Unicorn root Aletris 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 root Chamaelirium luteum Rare perennial herb, 3’, woods. Tonic for female reproductive system (menstrual & menopausal problems, infertility, miscarriage)

American celandine Stylophorum diphyllum Beautiful native woodland wildflower, 2’. Has been used externally for skin eruptions, hemorrhoids, etc.

Squawvine Mitchella repens Attractive woodland groundcover, 6". Used for menstrual problems and birth.

Wild indigo Baptisia tinctoria Perennial herb, 3’, poor acid soil. Root stimulates immune system, especially for infections of head and throat.

Jack in the pulpit Arisaema triphyllum Well-known wildflower of rich woods, 1-3’. Treated rott is edible (indian turnip), variety of folk uses.

Wild ginger Asarum canadense Perennial groundcover of rich woods, 6". Root used as ginger substitute, medicinally for colds and flu (expectorant, promotes sweating), etc.

Wild geranium Geranium maculata Beautiful woodland wildflower, 12-18" Astringent and antiseptic, for diarrhea, colitis, ulcers, etc; externally for hemorrhoids.

Motherwort Leonurus cardiaca Self-sowing perennial herb, 3’, sun. Uterine stimulant and relaxant, cardiac and nerve tonic for heart palpitations, menstrual problems.

Horsetail Equisetum arvense Perennial herb, 12", spreading by roots in wet soil. High silica content (‘scouring rush’), biodynamic plant, variety of medicinal uses.

Culver’s root Veronicastrum virginicum Attractive perennial herb, 3-5’, meadows. Bitter digestive tonic, used for liver and gallbladder problems.

Joe Pye weed Eupatorium purpureum Perennial herb of rich meadows, to 10’. Cleansing, diuretic root for kidney and urinary problems (‘gravel root’), has immune properties.

Mad-dog skullcap Scutellaria lateriflora Perennial herb, 1-2’, shady streambanks. Sedative and antispasmodic for nervous complaints, insomnia, irritability, drug withdrawal, etc.

St. John’s wort Hypericum 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.

Bugleweed Lycopus virginicus Perennial herb of damp, shady spots, 12". Especially for hyperthyroidism.

Figwort Scrophularia marilandica Perennial herb to 3’, self-sows in light shade. Variety of uses

Heal-all Prunella vulgaris Perennial herb, 1-2’, self-sows. Astringent, lowers fever & blood pressure, for hemmorhage, excessive menstruation, etc.

Boar-hog root Ligusticum canadense Attractive perennial wildflower, 3-4’, part or full shade. Locally regarded as a sexual stimulant, aphrodisiac.

Bee balm Monarda didyma Showy perennial herb, 3-4’, spreading by roots in moist soil, sun or shade. Pleasant tea relieves digestive gas.

Mayapple Podophyllum hexandrum Woodland herb, 2’, spreading by roots to form colonies. Edible fruit, root is toxic, but source of important anti-cancer compounds.

Pokeroot Phytolacca americana Big, ornamental perennial herb, 6’+. Edible spring greens; root stimulates immune and lymphatic systems, clears toxins.

Indian tobacco Lobelia inflata Self-sowing annual, 1-2’, light shade. Much used in stop-smoking preparations (contains lobeline ~ nicotine), for asthma (bronchiodilator), etc.

American pennyroyal Hedeoma pulegioides Aromatic annual, 6-12", self-sows, tolerates dry, poor soil. Variety of folk uses including colds & flu. Insect repellant.