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Barefoot Herbs Newsletter February 2009

Nov 03, 2009

Issue 51                                                                                    February 2009

I have had a meadowsweet plant for about 4 years which, although it stayed alive, has done very little else.  However, this year it has done very well with lots of the most beautiful flowers with the most fabulous smell.  So as it is such a lovely herb I thought I would give you some info on it. It is a herb I will definitely stock in the nursery in future.

We are still very busy getting the nursery up and running – it has turned out to be a bigger project than expected, but we will be ready soon…The shop is also currently being restocked after emptying over the Christmas period.

On the food side Barefoot Kitchen is growing in leaps and bounds – we are now delivering to Carlswald and Kyalami and in the opposite direction as far as Northcliff, Roodpeoort and Krugersdorp.  So if you are interested in healthy ready made meals, delivered to your door, contact me for a menu,

Have a great month,


Herb of the Month


Filipendula ulmaria

Meadowsweet flowers smell like a delicious combination of almonds and honey which is why it was such a popular strewing herb in Elizabethan times, and was the favourite of Queen Elizabeth 1.

It was not called meadowsweet because it grew in meadows; the original name was ‘meadsweet’ as it was one of the most popular flavourings for mead – one such drink was simply called ‘Save’

Brides also included it their bouquets which gave rise to the other common name of ‘bridewort’.

The plant contains salicylic acid, the main ingredient of Aspirin, which was named after the German name for the herb – spirnsaure.  However, although long term use of aspirin can cause gastric ulceration, meadowsweet does not cause any damage and, in fact, protects the digestive tract.

It is a very pretty plant which can grow up to 1.2m.  The leaves are dark green with a grey underside and the flowers are long plumes of tiny cream coloured flowers with a strong almond scent.  It flowers throughout the spring and summer.
Cultivation: Meadowsweet needs semi shade and a rich damp soil. It grows well in a pot that is watered daily or in a bog garden. Propagate by root division in autumn or sow seed in spring.

Household: Use the flowers to scent linen with a sweet almond aroma.

The leaves smell like wintergreen when they are fresh which changes to a hay-like smell as they dry out. Use the flowers for a green-yellow dye, leaves for a blue dye and root for a black dye.  Use the flowers for an almond scent in pot pourri

Culinary: Used to flavour mead and beers, jams and fruit

Medicinal: Take an infusion for indigestion, ulcers and hiatus hernias, diarrhea, fevers, colds, headaches and rheumatism.

Apply a compress to painful joints.  A cold infusion is useful for conjunctivitis and strained eyes.  A decoction of the root is used for healing wounds

Cosmetic: Use a strong infusion as an astringent to improve the complexion. This is suitable for all skins types.  It is energizing when added to the bath water.

Indigenous Page

Uit Letitia se tuin:

'n Nuwe jaar met nuwe ervarings, nuwe vriende, nuwe plante en nuwe geleenthede.

Ons raak so gemaklik met die bekende, dit is 'n uitstekende tyd om iets nuuts te leer ken.  As jy die dieselfde rome al vir donkies maak, probeer ander kruie, wissel jou kruie tee met nuwe kombinasies af, gooi 'n knerts whiskey by jou gunsteling kruie ystee, maak stiggies van jou kruie en deel dit met almal, verander die uitleg van jou tuin!

Begin deur net jouself oop te stel, dit is wonderlik hoe dinge na jou toe kom as jy net ontvanglik vir verandering is.

Na 702 se praatjies oor Yarrow, wil almal weet waar om dit te koop – dis vrylik beskikbaar, maar skakel as julle dit nie kan kry nie.  Dis 'n wonderlke krui met BAIE meer gebruike as net vir vliee!


Other Dioscorea Species indigenous to Southern Africa

Dioscorea asteriscus

Dioscorea brownii

Dioscorea burchellii

Dioscorea cochleari-apiculatus

Dioscorea cotinifolia

Dioscorea diversifolia

Dioscorea hemicrypta

Dioscorea hirtiflora

Dioscorea quartiniflora

Dioscorea retusa

Dioscorea rupicola

Dioscorea stipulosa

Dioscorea sylvatica

Dioscorea undatilobe

Wild Yam

Dioscore spp

Family:  Dioscoraceae

600 – 850 species of yam in the genus Dioscorea. A perennial climber with twining or woody vines.  Many species are used as edible starch or for the manufacture of steroids and hormones or as oral contraceptives; BUT some species are lists as poisonous, D. macabiha can cause death within three hours!

Dioscorea Dregeana

Wild Yam (English);   udakwa (meaning inducing drowsiness), isidakwa (a drunkard) (Zulu).

Medicinal uses:  Sedative & natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy for menopause, PMS, decreasing cramps and reducing inflammation.

A Zulu remedy for epilepsy, convulsion, hysteria, insomnia and acute psychosis.  Used topically for scabies.

Traditional use:  Used by traditional bonesetters as general anesthetic.  Water warmed in hollowed tuber is used to treat cuts, wounds and sores.  Mixed with boophane disticha (poisonous) as part of a Xhosa initiation brew.  Infusions known as "inembe" taken regularly during pregnancy to ensure an easy childbirth is said to contain isidakwa

A small amount of 2 – 5 grams will induce sleep within 20 – 30 minutes.

Caution:  Very potent! Use with caution! The plant is known to be toxic!

Dioscorea dumetorum

Bitter yam (English), ingcolo (Zulu)

Used with Strophanthus species as arrow poisons.  Ground tubers also used with green mielies to trap monkeys.  Used in Nigeria in anti-diabetic therapy.

Dioscorea elephantipes

Elephants' foot, Cortisone plant (English);  Hotnotsbrood, olifantsvoet, skilpadknol (Afrikaans), Nakaa (Xhosa)

Has a characteristic corky tuber.  Used by the Khoikhoi as a valuable strength-giving plant.  Contains dioscorine, a natural cortisone.

Dioscorea villosa

Although not indigenous worth mentioning due to the amount of research done.

Aluka (Sanskrit name), Colic root, Devil's bones, Mexican wild yam, Pleurisy root, Rheumatism root, Shan-yao ("mountain medicine" in Chinese), Yuma, Wilde yamwurzel (German)

Native to Canada and southern United States.

Medicinal:  Known for treating menopause and PMS symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes and vaginal dryness, and in treating other gynecological complaints such as menstrual cramps, nausea and morning sickness in pregnancy.

Anti inflammatory, antispasmodic, cholagogue.  Used to treat irritable bowl syndrome, gall bladder colic, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, fibro-myalgia, tendonitis.

Tonic herb that supports spleen, lungs and kidneys

Traditional use:  Used by the Azrec and Myan people for female problems and to relieve childbirth pain.


Tomato and Basil Pasta

If you make your own compost you will probably find hundreds of cocktail tomatoes coming up everywhere!  Here is an easy way to use them up.

A large handful of cocktail tomatoes

Olive oil

1 Tbsp sugar

Small bunch of spring onions

A few basil leaves

Salt and black pepper

Cooked pasta

Parmesan shavings

Cut the tomatoes in half and fry quickly in a little olive oil.  They should be soft but still hold their shape.

Add the sugar and shake the pan to cover them.  Again fry for about a minute until they caramelise.  Add the chopped spring onions.

Combine the tomatoes and pasta, stir in the torn basil leaves and more olive oil if needed.  Season with salt and pepper and top with parmesan shavings.

Meadowsweet is considered to be a sacred herb by Celtic druids, who use meadowsweet to enhance their love spells!
Grapefruit and Catnip Cooler

I recently found this recipe again and it is really very good.  You can change the herbs for a different taste, and I have also made it with limes and added some vodka, which was delicious!

2 grapefruit

½ cup castor sugar

2 tsp fresh catnip, finely chopped

3 cups water

Crushed ice

Carefully peel the grapefruit, avoiding the bitter white pith.

Put the peel into a blender.

Roughly chop the grapefruit flesh and add to the blender with the catnip and sugar and water.

Blend until the mixture is light green.

Strain into glasses and add crushed ice.

Serve with a sprig of catnip flowers

Lemongrass and Mint Cordial

Dough & Louis (Healthy Living Herbs) se beroemde (berugte?) resep:

2 cups chopped Lemongrass

2 cups chopped Mint leaves

500 ml Water

2 cups sugar

200 ml Lemon Juice

500 ml Soda Water

Fresh Lemon Slices

Fresh Mint leaves for Garnish

Place Lemongrass and Mint in the water and bring to a boil, simmer for 10 min.  Strain to remove herbs

Add the sugar and stir until dissolved

Add the lemon juice and let it cool down

Store concentrate in fridge

When needed, mix concentrate with Soda Water to taste

Add a few slices of lemon and garnish with fresh mint leaves

(May add whiskey for a great sundowner)


Meadowsweet Cordial (Angervaksojook)

Makes 2 liters
25 meadowsweet blossoms
1 liter water
125 g sugar
1 lemons
Bring water and meadowsweet flower to boil,

Add sugar and stir.

When the sugar has dissolved, turn off heat, add juice of lemon

Strain, add more lemon or sugar to taste

serve cold – 1 part cordial and 1- 2 parts of water

The Last Page

Herb Courses  February 2009 to March 2009


21 Feb 9.00am Module 2 Culinary herbs and immune system

14 Mar 10.00am Basic herbal first aid box

21 Mar 9.00am    Module 3 Skin care

The following workshops are available on request for groups of 5 or more:  Liqueur making, organic gardening, bath and skin products, herb and spice mixes for culianry use, herbal first aid box, herbal products for babies and toddlers, herbal remedies for common ailments, green cleaning for the home. Workshops – Meyerton Branch

7 Feb – Mod 2, Immune & Lymph System, Cooking with Herbs

14 Feb –  Mod 7, Circulatory & Digestive Systems, Making of

Herbal oils & teas, (09h00-13h00) R300

21 Feb – Asian Cooking with locally available herbs

R250 all inclusive !!!!

14 Mrch – Mod 8, Muscular System, Making of tinctures & Cream

21March – Asian Cooking with locally available herbs

R250 all inclusive !!!!

Other Workshops available on request

Courses and workshops cost R300, which includes all materials, a recipe booklet and refreshments.
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