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(Inula Helenium) - Originally brought over to the U.S. by European immigrants (which most of the Aurora pioneers were), this herb was used externally for humans and animals to relieve wounds and skin diseases (hence its other name, horseheal). Now used industrially to flavor vermouth and other liqueurs and cordials. For landscaping, used for its height and large yellow flowers; seed vessels dried and used as a “striking addition” to dried flower arrangements.
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(Santolina Chamaecyparissus) - Grows slowly, so it makes a compact hedge. Used for astringent properties, and in sachets to repel moths from clothes drawers.
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Clove Pinks (Clove Gilleflower)
(Dianthus Caryophyllus) - "Gilly" was the Old English word for “July,” which is when the flower blooms. Used as a tonic cordial, “made from a conserve of the flowers.” Drinks used in celebration cups at coronations and weddings, believed to benefit the heart. Also used the flower petals to decorate soups, salads, etc. Modern use: petals coated with beaten egg whites and powdered sugar.
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Calendula (Pot Marigold)
(Calendula Officinalis) – the yellow flower blossoms were used to dye butter, cheese, custards and sauces. Ground blossoms were a cheap saffron replacement. As a tea, it was considered a treatment against measles. Now, gardeners often plant it to deter insects, but the flower petals can be tossed into stews, soups and salads.
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Orris Root
(Iris Germanica var. Florentina) – used since ancient Egyptian and Greek times in perfume; dried, it has a sweet violet fragrance. Mixed with anise, it was used to scent linen. Now, many companies (Prada, Lacroix, St. Laurent) use it to "fix" the fragrance of perfumes or cosmetics.
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Sweet Cicely
(Myrrhis Odorata) – used since the time of the ancient Greeks as antiseptic and in wine to drink in case of being bit by a poisonous snake, spider or mad dog. All parts are “culinary and have a sweet licorice flavor.” Chew the greens like licorice candy; use the leaves in fruit salads, or in cooking to reduce the acidity of tart fruit like rhubarb. Industrially, the seed oil is used in chartreuse.
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(Mentha Piperita) – used a bug repellent in the garden. As a drink, to prevent colds, and to relieve cramps, colic and indigestion. Gargled to cure mouth and gum sores and freshen breath. Now, peppermint oil flavors candy, toothpaste and medicines. The oil can also be rubbed on the skin to ward off mosquitoes.
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(Mentha Spicata) – treated hiccups, indigestion, vomiting and pneumonia, among other ailments. Was put in bathwater to soothe nerves. A “strong decoction of Spearmint was said to cure chapped hands.” Strewing leaves around the house was thought to deter mice and ants! Now, it’s the mint used in juleps, and the traditional accompaniment to lamb – mint jelly, etc. It’s also mixed into tabouli and other Middle Eastern salads. The oil flavors toothpastes and desserts.
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(Rosmarimus Officinalis) – symbolizes friendship, fidelity and remembrance, then and now. Rosemary oil was thought to prevent baldness. Now, it's usually thought to be a good strong flavor complement to chicken or meaty stews. As an infusion, it is a "good rinse for dark hair" and "has been used to combat dandruff."
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French Garlic
(Allium Scorodoprasum) – garlic was “the supreme antiseptic.” It was eaten as a healthy diet supplement that would eliminate impurities in the body, and as a seasoning in cooking. Medicinally, it was used as a sterilizer. Today, of course, it’s culinary staple. Medicinally, it is today a treatment for “hypertension, arteriosclerosis, colds and infectious diseases” and as an antiseptic/disinfectant for wounds.
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English Thyme
(Thymus Vulgaris) – was thought to give a person courage in battle, and to ward off nightmares (if it were put under one's pillow, in the Middle Ages). Its astringent properties of Thyme oil was used to medicate bandages. Now, it is not only a culinary herb but also a main ingredient in many mouthwashes and hand sanitizers. Its also a treatment for toenail fungi.
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(Origanum Vulgare) – as a tea drink, it was thought to relieve spasms, colic, indigestion, headaches, and nervousness. Its flowers were used as a purple dye for wool, and a reddish-brown for linen. Considered an antiseptic, it was tossed “over church floors at funerals and placed in sick chambers.” Now, it’s mostly used in cooking, especially Italian, Mexican or Spanish flavored.
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(Cochlearia Armoracia) – used as a poultice to ease limbs and joints aching from arthritis or gout. To remove freckles, the juice was mixed with vinegar. Now, the young leaves are used in salads, or boiled like spinach. Of course, the grated root is a common condiment for meats and addition to mustards, tartar and cocktail sauces. Good companion for potatoes “if it is restricted to corners of the potato patch.”
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(Salvia Officinalis) – tea used for coughs, colds, stomach ailments – and to “mend broken bones.” Oh, and to “strengthen the memory,” also. And as a hair rinse to darken graying hair. And to rub on teeth to whiten them! Now, used in cooking to flavor egg and cheese dishes. Medicinally, still used to lessen colds, sore throats, or as a hot compress on sprains and bruises. Good companion plant for cabbage.
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(Levisticum Officinale) – ancient cure-all, for everything from improving circulation to deodorizing. Young women would drape a little bag of lovage around their neck to smell sweet when they were “about to meet their true loves.” Now, use leaves for soups, stews – its celery taste goes well in stuffing for poultry, or sprinkled on breads or in salad dressings.
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(Lavandula Angustifolia) - long appreciated for its fragrance, and thus used in perfumes, baths, ointments and potpourris. As medicine, it “worked as a mild stimulant” and “was said to cure headaches, hysteria and fainting.”
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(Borago Officinalis) – “was considered the herb to ‘make men merry’ and to relieve depressioin. Borage tea was drunk to “bolster courage and calm emotions.” Leaves were used as a poultice to alleviate inflammation. Now, young leaves are used in soups, stews, and salads, (and with tomatoes). They have a mild cucumber flavor and are very nutritious. Their blue flowers are candied and used to decorate cakes, salads or punches. Borage attracts bees (yeah – pollinators!) and companion to strawberries.
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Winter Savory
(Satureja Montana) – used in tea as a remedy for colic, indigestion, cramps, and a sore throat gargle. Leaves crushed for use as a poultice to relieve bee stings, and to treat colds and chest ailments. Oil dropped in the ear was “thought to help deafness.” Now, used mostly in cooking – strong zesty flavor “goes well with pork, stews, sausages, soups and poultry.” Added to beans, can “prevent flatulence” as well as add flavor. Good companion to beans and onions.
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(Althea Officinalis) - the root was boiled and fried with butter; the young tops in spring were eaten in salads. The juice of the root was mixed with sugar and made into a throat relief or confectionary candy. Now, it is used as a relief for inflammation and in expectorants and in commercial pills (as a binding agent).
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