The Buzz

Scariness in the Herb Garden


Halloween is just a few days away and it seems as if everything is trying to get into the groove this year – even the Herb Garden.   

 While weeding the other day, I felt as if I was being watched. I shrugged, looked around, and spied an eyeball plant (Acmella oleracea) staring at me with its bulbous fishy eyes. This plant has also been called toothache plant, buzz buttons, Szechuan buttons, and Para cress.  An ancient plant, it has been used to deaden tooth pain. Reportedly, young leaves can be cut up and added sparingly to salads – both the leaves and the flowers can cause a “buzzing” sensation in one’s mouth. Eating an entire flower purportedly causes one’s mouth to go so numb that the unfortunate soul who has munched on one will drool uncontrollably.    

Still weeding, I pulled back a clump of wood sorrel (or sour grass) and uncovered a few clumps of pretty Rumex sanguineus. This plant is more commonly known as bloody dock. A member of the buckwheat family, the young leaves are edible if one can get past the name which describes its bloody red leaf veins.   

Right behind the bloody dock there are a few Bhut jolokia, or, more commonly, ghost peppers. I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that they are called ghost peppers because they are so hot they will definitely make you give up your ghost if you eat them!   


Wormwood (of the redstem variety) catches my eye next. Fluffy leaved Artemisia scoparia has a scary name, but wonderful medicinal uses (it has been used to treat hepatitis and jaundice). Redstem wormwood also has a promising future in the treatment of staph infections.  

 Hmmm. I am seeing a trend here: just because something sounds scary, that does not mean it really is!

Posted by sherri mccalla at 3:30 PM


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