Matthew Woods favourite herbs A photographic presentation

Matthew Wood is coming to town (Canberra) in April 2018 – OK you know that
This has spurred me into action to create a special product for the event. I’m a bit slow to get going so this project has a 10 year wind up behind it.

Using my photographic record I am creating a series of Power point slides each one focussing on a specific herb.  For April 2018 this will be volume 1 consisting of 10+ plants, many of them Matthew Wood favourites!

  • Heaps of quality detailed photos to show the herb in all its glory
  • All its parts roots shoots leaves flowers
  • Usage in herbal practice
  • Botany of the herb and its plant family
  • Quirky aspects of the plants
See the Amazing Herbal picture tab above for a sneak preview of one slide !!!!!!!

Bear in mind this is the low resolution version due to software limitations.

This will be for sale in April – you can register your interest by contacting me via email


Apothocary Action

To anyone who likes making herbal potions and preparations her yea! hear yea!

Limited places are available for people interested in learning how to make different herbal products. Two workshops per month, see the activity tab in the menu bar for further details.

Tinctures, jellies, herbal honey, salves and infused oils.

Take advantage of this opportunity to learn how to make a range of different herbal preparations.

Advance bookings are needed to secure your place and support the activity going ahead.

EMAIL me to book now []

Pictures from google images  with usage rights



Michael Moore Herbalist

In the book review section I have added more details and links about this great herbalist. Even though he was based in South Western USA, for herbalists he is one of the standard references. I invite you to head over to this section and spend some time viewing and reading about him. Go to Michael Moore

His books are spiced with his wry humour, scientific details, botanical descriptions and intricate plant – human physiology interaction. In the last few weeks  I have obsessed over this section of the site and added in a lot of material and commentary – hope you enjoy!

Botanical Desecration

I don’t use the word desecration often but this piece of news warrants it.

Firstly If I may, I need to fill you in on some background and context for it to make sense for you. OK.

Herbariums all round the world hold collections of pressed dried plants as a source of information about our plant diversity. This allows new species to be correctly identified,  classifications of plants to be reviewed and much other important research.

Apart from the scientific value they also have heritage value.  Consider the plants Captain Cook collected on his voyages, the plant specimens Richard Evans Schulte’s collected in South America as part of the worlds collective botanical heritage.

Generally, species are described by taxonomists based on a type specimen and the details published in a scientifically recognised publication. The published scientific name and the official description which defines the characteristics of the species are then permanently associated with this type specimen. ( Thanks to the WA Museum website for this description).

So in order to support research and scientific collaboration Herbariums around the world swap specimens and lend material to other herbariums. This had been standard practice for hundreds of years. Nothing new here. This work goes on in the background quietly without much fuss.

Enter stage right the spectre of bureaucracy in Australia with the Department of customs and import.
In an article by Erik Stokstad on News May 11 2017 the dreadful story was outlined of valuable herbarium specimens being incinerated and destroyed due to thoughtless adherence to rules and procedures.

Early 2017 – Specimens collected by a French expedition 1791-1793 held by the French National Museum of Natural History were destroyed by biosecurity officers. Reason paper work was incomplete, a reply email to clarify from the Queensland Herbarium went astray, the declaration paperwork said low value so after 30 days into the incinerator. This included six type specimens!

But that’s not all
October 2016 Sydney Botanical specimens from New Zealand including a type specimen were destroyed. No reason has been reported.

There are investigations and half hearted qualified responses from customs but the material is gone forever.

What appals me is the lack of intelligent intervention when something goes awry or not as expected. Notice I did not say the word wrong. You can see in the incident the mentality of a right wrong punishment attitude and mentality.

  • Paper was not filled out correctly – wrong
  • Value on the customs declaration was low value for such an item – wrong
  • Thirty days had elapsed, no response – wrong.

Resulting from that is punishment – incineration destruction.

So otherwise intelligent educated human beings when placed in a bureaucratic system abrogate, relinquish, abandon any ability to resolve issues. They seemingly cannot observe, inquire, stop, think, take time to resolve an out of the ordinary matter. To exercise an individual act of leadership. What we see is people following process in a narrow bandwidth of possibility. Don’t colour outside the lines.

Here is a parcel sent between official government departments with sender and receiver details and associated paperwork, so no phone call ? to check it out?

A bureaucratic action in the worse sense of that word.  It reeks of judgement, right and wrong, absolutism, no allowance for vagaries and variance of life that needs intelligent interaction to handle.

The website  The Conversation  has an article on herbariums which has embedded the link to this story. Search for herbarium on the site and up it will come.

The header picture is from Wikipedia permission allowed for non commercial reproduction. It shows a page from an Arabic Herbal.


Susun Weed in Canberrra


This November the Hierophant hosted a one day workshop with Susun Weed.

This is part of Susan’s tour of Australia speaking in various areas. Susun talked for six hours with no notes or prompts and shared her knowledge and practice of Wise Woman herbal infusions.

This is based on using herbal infusions from a range of medicine – food herbs as a regular part of your daily health regime. The plant range was dandelion, red clover, oat straw, burdock, chickweed and nettle. Yes almost common weeds but containing potent medicine power in a safe way.

Simple home based herbal medicine, capable of being carried out in any kitchen. This is herbal medicine as a tonic, restorative, prevention practice, exactly the place where herbs really shine.

Susan’s books and CD were for sale as well and apart from the herbal infusions  practice her knowledge and experience in the area of Woman’s heath is first class.

Susun is based in USA so to have a chance to hear learn and talk with her is a real treat. Look up her you tube videos they are good.

Plantain Power


Plantain as a herb poultice

Used as a fresh herb poultice this herb really shines. A plant we have walked over and near most of our lives. N fact one of its names is white mans footsteps. Until I used this plant as a fresh poultice its medicinal power was largely unknown to me.

When herbals talk of this plant and its ability to draw out matter or as a first aid herb usually the vital ingredient is left out.

What is this vital point ? That the herb works best when poulticed fresh.  Used as a spit poultice its easy to make and apply.  I have used it to remove  a fibreglass splinter. Having moved fibreglass  bathtubs without gloves this was bound to happen.

The next day feeding the geese I thought why not try a plantain poultice? – the herb was there right in from of me at the gate so chewing up some lives with plenty of saliva I placed the mash onto my affected finger. I then held it on and went about the morning chores. Near the pool I felt a sharp pain in this area and lo and behold one splinter removed.  Very impressive.

Next occasion was a bottom wisdom tooth. We all have wisdom tooth stories! Occasionally it becomes troublesome and the gums swell and become rather sore. I suffered for a few days then again I thought the plantain poultice. I created a sludgy ball of herb into the back area of my mouth and went about my business. It was in place for about an hour then I got sick of it an spat it out. There was noticeable relief that day and then the next day much better and the next again. One application for under an hour. Pretty good value.

Lomatium update


Well once again the seasons have passed around and just as I was wondering if the Lomatium had survived it has actually grown two leaves.

Having been at the one leaf stage for a couple of years this is progress – in a Lomatium time scale. This plant do  not rush or hurry.

I had potted it up in winter as the soil level was low and needed replenishing, all the time wondering if it was dead.

So tips on growing this plant – easy to germinate from seed – prick out all seedlings and clearly label the pots. expect the seedling to go dormant is there if a change in heat or soil moisture.

DO NOT CHUCK OUT THE EMPTY POTS ( a mistake that I made)

This plant has seasonal dormancy that comes and goes at irregular times not linked to our normal autumn. Soil mixture should be free draining with some compost added.

Celebrate and appreciate each time it come to life again !


Vale Isabel Shipard

News has filtered through to me of the death of Isabel Shipard. Her book on herbs is a great resource and well worth having in the library of anyone interested in herbs.

In the plethora of herbal books for the lay person her work stands out for its first rate information. The closest I came to Isabel was doing the Pindari Herbs course with her understudy Jayne.


Herbal Botany Day

Last November it was a great pleasure to have the Herbal medicine students from Om Shanti College rambling through the garden. Having been used to my own workshops in the garden it was good to hear people interacting with the herbs while I was working on other things. The garden loves company and people interacting with it.

Steve Allen their trainer, showed them the wonder of herbs and botany. The students braved a monsoonal downpour which pulped all written material exposed to it in seconds.

The student’s sense of humour was sorely tested as their assessment sheets became smudged ink and illegible.  Later on in the evening a party returned to the farm as a ford in the road was too deep for them to cross. We sat around in the lounge and talked while sipping on some home-made chai – great memories.

Have a look at the faces of these people. They are the next generation of herbalists.

Looking forward to having the class out again this year 2015.

Botany day 2014 Steve Allen

Botany day 2014 Steve Allen

Successful Schisandra


Here you can see a schisandra plant I have grown from seed. I am still finding my way in what these plants need for strong growth. The Chi berry farm in America is situated on river flats so maybe fertile deep soils are what it desires. These plants are two years old and are still in pots.

This coming season I will fertilise with some worm wee – liquid run off from worm baths. Its the wonder tonic for just about anything in the plant kingdom.

It will be a good day when they fruit and produce berries for harvest. My American species of Schisandra described in another post has not germinated at all – sigh.

Schisandra root system

Schisandra root system