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Home > Cosmetics Constituents > Uses of cosmetics > Biennial Herbs
Biennial Herbs

Angelica is one of the herbs that is difficult to peg as a either biennial or perennial. It definitely does not fit into the annual category, because it wont flower, seed, and die until the second or third year (which would indicate biennial). If flowering is thwarted, however, the plant can survive for many years (suggestive of a perennial). Therefore, it is something of a perennial biennial, and will be listed as both on this page, since even the botanists are not in agreement on this issue. Angelica is a tall plant (up to 8 feet in some cases), so take this into consideration when placing it in the herb garden. The roots are long, thick, and fleshy. It has bright green, fine leaves and is an attractive plant, that somewhat resembles celery. It has an pervading, aromatic smell somewhat similar to celery, but that some liken more to musk, and others liken more to the smell of Juniper. It has a licorice taste, evident in the entire plant, from roots to seed. The root has a slightly bolder taste than the seeds, and combines well in yeast breads, cakes, muffins, and cookies (press it into the dough before baking). Then glaze or finish in whatever manner you choose. The stems can be candied for a unique, little known treat, and can be used to decorate cakes or puddings. The leaves can be used fresh in salads, soups, stews, or as a garnish. Both the roots and seeds are used commercially to flavor herb liqueurs, such as Benedictine and chartreuse, and the root is a flavoring agent in gin and vermouth. Angelica should be started from seed. It does not propagate well by division or by cutting the offshoots. It prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil and partial shade. The leaves can be harvested in the spring of the second year, the roots in the fall of the first year, and the seeds when ripe.

Medicinal Uses
Angelica has a long history of medical, magical, and culinary tales to its credit. In the past it has been used for such diverse medical problems as chest congestion, insomnia, flatulence, headaches, fevers, skin rashes, wounds, rheumatism, toothaches, to promote menstrual flow, and to induce abortions. Obviously many of these have not been borne out by modern science, but this is a plant that does have some medicinal merit, particularly with regard to digestive concerns and bronchial problems.

Magical Uses
Angelica is a plant whose name has been surrounded by myths and legends for centuries. Its Latin name is Angelica Archangelica, and it is said to bloom every year on May 8, the feast day of The Archangel Michael. It is bound to the Venus and to fire. Angelica is used magically as an herb for protection and exorcism. Grow it in the garden to protect the home. Make necklaces of the leaves, or carry the root in your pocket for protection. The dried leaves are burned in exorcism rituals.

Caraway is a biennial herb with a thick, tapered, edible root - much like a parsnip. The feathery leaves resemble carrot leaves, but droop a bit more. The flowers are cream white with a pinkish hue. Caraway is best-grown in clumps in full sun and reaches about 2 feet in height. The ground should be worked well to accommodate the long taproot. The seeds should be sown in place if possible, as the seedlings are fairly resistant to transplanting. Harvest young leaves as required but in the second year, after flowering, the entire plant should be cut off at ground level or pulled root and all. The seeds, leaves and root can then be dried on paper toweling in a cool place to be stored for future use. Caraway leaves can be used in salads and soups, and the seeds are wonderful on baked fruits, breads, cakes, and cookies. They also lend themselves well to dumplings, cream cheese, goulashes, stews, and casseroles, adding mild, smooth, buttery taste. The root can be cooked much like any other root crop, such as parsnips or turnips.

Medicinal Uses
Caraway seeds and oil have properties associated with improving gastric problems, flatulence, and indigestion. Caraway is safe and effective for relief of colic in young children.

Magical Uses
Caraway is bound to Mercury and Air. It is a protection and memory herb, and can be carried in a sachet on the person for protection from evil, and for enhanced memory function. Seeds can also be placed in or under a childs bed to protect against disease.
Caraway is also associated with love. The seed is carried to attract and keep a lover. Seeds can be baked into breads, cookies, or cakes for a smooth, sensual taste that will hopefully result in an amorous encounter.

Evening PrimroseEvening Primrose
Evening Primrose is an easy to grow and extremely useful very many other
herbs. The flowers of the most common types are yellow and fragrant, with a faint lemony smell, opening in the evenings and closing again around mid-morning. Bees and butterflies love this plant, making it a valuable addition to a Habitat-type situation.

Establishing Evening Primrose in the garden is quite easy to do. The plant will thrive a well-drained soil, and appreciates a little compost mixed in at planting time, but once established it is extremely drought and heat tolerant and requires little to no maintenance. It prefers full sun, but will also do well in light shade. It flowers over a long period - from June until October. It is usually started from seed, and is a staple in many perennial and wildflower seed mixes. It self-sows easily and once planted is almost sure to return year after year. In fact, in some areas it self-propagates so freely that it is considered a weed, however in the home garden it is easily controlled by just pulling unwanted plants, which can then be used in the kitchen as well as in the medicine cabinet! Once established, division in the spring can propagate clumps of Evening Primrose. The most common type (and the type pictured above) grows very quickly to a height of 6-8 feet or more, making this definitely a back of the border type of plant, so plan accordingly.

Medicinal Uses
Without becoming too technical, the common Evening Primrose plant contains a high concentration of a fatty acid called GLA, and this fatty acid is largely responsible for the remarkable healing properties of the plant. In fact, Evening Primrose contains one of the highest concentrations known of this important substance and only a few other plants contain it at all. This makes Evening Primrose an important medicinal herb, and as studies continue, the list of benefits will likely become much longer. If you are troubled by the symptoms associated with PMS, you may finally find some relief with Evening Primrose! Tests have shown that it reduces or eliminates many problems associated with PMS, including irritability, depression, bloating, and breast pain, and that taken regularly it may actually help regulate menstrual periods. It is recommended that women who have PMS take up to 3000 mg of Evening Primrose Oil all month for relief of symptoms. In Europe, Evening Primrose Oil is already established as an excellent remedy for PMS. Other problems for which Evening Primrose Oil can be taken internally include asthma, allergies, cholesterol regulation, ar teriosclerosis, chronic headaches, prostate health, inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and scleroderma, complications arising from diabetes and poor circulation, cirrhosis of the liver, and drunk as a tea as a metabolic way to fight obesity. Externally, the leaves, stems, and roots can be boiled in water for a tea to be used externally that is very nourishing for the skin and is effective for use in treatment of acne, dry skin, rashes, itchiness, and for overall skin health in general. Extracting oils from Evening Primrose is really not practical for home gardeners, but oil preparations are readily available either via the links above or from your local health food store. Eating the flowers, seeds, leaves, or roots of Evening Primrose provides the same health benefits as taking commercial oil preparations, and as such, if you have Evening Primrose in the garden, you should definitely come up with creative ways to serve it at mealtime! In general, Evening Primrose is quite safe to take with few reports of any side effects, though people with a history of epilepsy should use caution.

If you have a shade or part shade situation that needs a bold, colorful, dramatic focus, take a good look at Foxglove. Easily grown from seed, Foxglove is a biennial that puts out a good-sized rosette-shaped clump of foliage the first year and blooms in the second year. Flower colors include white, pink, red, lavender, purple, and yellow. Flower stalks are tall - up to 6 feet with some cultivars, and are covered with small individual flowers with burgundy or brown spots inside those bees, butterflies and hummingbirds find irresistible. In colder regions, Foxgloves can take more sun, but in hot areas, they can be planted in medium to full shade with spectacular results. Soil preparation for Foxgloves consists of adding organic matter to make a light, well-drained soil, and mulching heavily after the plants emerge to keep the soil moist. Foxglove seed requires light for germination, so gently press into the soil without covering. Seed is very small, so you might consider planting in a cold frame or in flats the first time, but if the ground is suitably prepared and the plants are happy, you shouldnt have to worry about handling seed in the future, as these plants self-seed quite freely when given proper conditions. Be aware that since purple is the dominant color, self-sown seedlings may revert to the purple color even if they came from a different colored parent. Plants bloom in the spring or early summer in the 2nd year of growth. Cutting the flower stalk after it is finished blooming often causes the plant to send up a few more flower stalks later in the season. If you want to collect seed, leave the flower head intact and when the seed capsules split, gently thrash the seeds into an envelope or clean container.

Every part of the Foxglove plant is poisonous, so if you have inquisitive little kids or pets who are inclined to chew, this is not an appropriate plant for the garden, although there are very few reports of animals ingesting it, suggesting that they somehow "know" not to bother it.

Medicinal Uses
Of all the medicinal herbs for the heart, especially for heart problems associated with arteriosclerosis or hypertension, Foxglove is without doubt the most beneficial. However, this is also a very dangerous herb that can be fatal if taken inappropriately, with a thin margin between therapeutic and fatal dosage. Thus, in the case of this herb, we are better off taking commercial preparations prescribed by our doctors and limiting the home use of this plant to the ornamental garden. There are many medicinal derivatives of foxglove, but the best known and most often prescribed for heart conditions is Digoxin, also called Lanoxin. Overdose interferes with the electrical rhythm of the heart, causing irregular heartbeat, and also causes a variety of other symptoms including diarrhea, headache, and vomiting. Because of variations of the amount of drug in the plant at any given time, correct dosages are near impossible to calculate, even by experienced herbalists. Foxglove is a classic example of why you should be educated about herbs before making any herbal preparations of your own. The young plant can be easily mistaken for Comfrey or Plantain, and the consequences for making even one cup of herbal tea could be deadly if you have misidentified these herbs and gathered Foxglove instead. Every part of the Foxglove plant is poisonous, so if you have inquisitive little kids or pets who are inclined to chew, this is not an appropriate plant for the garden, although there are very few reports of animals ingesting it, suggesting that they somehow "know" not to bother it.

Magical Uses
Foxglove has been the subject of Fairy lore for centuries. Legend indicates that Fairies are supernatural entities who live in enchanted forests and shadow worlds, dancing and making magick (good or bad) with childlike abandon. The alternate names for Foxglove give a glimpse into how embedded this plant is in Fairy and Magick folklore, and includes Fairy Petticoats, Fairy Thimbles, Fairy Fingers, Fairy Weed, Fox Mittens, Witches Bells, Witches Thimbles, Folks Gloves, and Fox Bells. Indeed, the name Foxglove itself is derived from a legend that says that evil Fairies gave a fox the flower petals to put on his toes so that he could rob the chicken house without being heard thus the name "fox glove." Fairy gardens have become quite popular, and Foxglove is a must-have for attracting Fairies. Fairies supposedly play within the flowers, and each spot inside marks the spot where a Fairy has touched the surface. Placed in front of the house, Foxglove is believed to protect the occupants from evil influences. Picking Foxglove from the garden and bringing it inside is believed to anger the Fairies. Placed in a charm or talisman, a piece of Foxglove flower is believed to keep one inside protective Fairy light.

Considering its excellent form, easy growth requirements, and nutritional and medicinal qualities, its a surprise that we dont see Parsley growing everywhere. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and is used medicinally for a variety of conditions. It also lends itself well to cooking and is used worldwide in a wide variety of dishes.

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