Learning about Native Appalachian Plants and Herbs

Amber Shehan May 24, 2010


Howdy, everyone…I hope Spring’s been keeping you as joyfully busy as it’s been keeping me! Between building the chicken coop, filling honey orders, and jumping on the trampoline, I’ve been keeping the growing things tended.

Oh, yes…I’ve been exploring and cultivating my yard like a thing possessed… since I last checked in:

~We’ve succeeded in moving decorative boxwoods from the only flat, sunny, well-draining spot in the front yard up to the top of a ridge to help combat the erosion there. Sarah and I got all scratched up and dirty and sweaty and happy while accomplishing that task.

~We broke up the soil in the newly cleared spot (about 4×5) and added some composted cow manure and sand, and worked it into the clay. While pulling out weeds and roots and rock, we saw more worms than I could count! They are certainly welcome guests. May they continue to grow and prosper here!

~We transplanted our tomato starts into that new place – a Cherokee Purple, a Jeune Flame, and two Oregon Spring tomato plants. We made cages for the bushy plants and stakes for the climbers. They all seem to be doing well, but the Oregon Spring tomatoes are a little slower than the Cherokee Purple and the Jeune Flame, who are flowering to beat the band.

~We got a Crookneck Squash, an Old Timey Kentucky Pumpkin, and a Pickling Cucumber vine from House of Herbs here in Candler, North Carolina. They are thriving and we already have a squash starting to swell! I did the happy dance when I saw it, and ran inside to tell the whole household. They know I’m a dork and love me anyway!

~The other side of our front porch also has good drainage and gets mostly dappled sunlight and shade due to the ornamental cherry trees that shield that side of the house.  This is where I’ve decided to relocate our pallet-bed…the spot where I put it initially was too sunny and wind-blown. One quadrant of the bed has some struggling spinach coming up, and one little lettuce sprout. I think they’ve been too warm and dry, but they may do better in their new home.

~In the second quadrant of the pallet-bed, we have some freshly transplanted Basil seedlings and a healthy and happy Oregano plant. I’ve also planted a Comfrey plant that I got from House of Herbs.

~Also on the herbal front, there are some happily growing peppermint plants and soapwort plants in pots on the porch, as they are both rather invasive. I’ve planted a native Elderberry bush and it is thriving on the hill under the Oak tree’s dappled shade, and we have a German Chamomile and White Lavender plants in full sun alongside the Chrysanthemum that I thought had died last fall, but is now starting to make quite a show.

~Wildcrafting: So far this spring, I’ve learned quite a bit about native plants of the Appalachians. I’ve correctly identified Trillium, Mayapple, Wild Ginger, and Umbrella tree while slipping and sliding and busting my butt climbing around the wild slopes and waterfalls of the Pisgah National Forest. I think that I also saw Solomon’s Seal and Bloodroot, but I’m not 100% and will bring a book next time!

~Even just while wandering our yard, I’ve identified:
Cinquefoil (Rough-fruited or Sulfur Cinquefoil, another “noxious weed” with medicinal uses. Stay Tuned for more.)
Red Clover (stay tuned for more)
Ox-eye Daisy
Dock, both Curly Leafed and otherwise
Wild Yarrow (Milfoil)
Bittersweet Nightshade
Plantain (stay tuned for more)
Japanese Honeysuckle (Invasive! I’ve trimmed it back quite a bit, and plan to use the flowers to flavor a wine) 
Dandelion (which is now a mead brewing)
Wild Blackberries (smells so sweet!)

So if I’m too muddy, tired, and sunbaked to blog about it as often as I did before, bear with me…I’ll keep you posted as often I can!

Amber Shehan

Hi! I'm Amber Pixie, and this is my site. Enjoy the recipes, information, posts, and please feel free to message me if you have questions!


  1. Gordon on May 25, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Oooh! A photo of Cinquefoil please! I've never actually seen it. That's one of those ingredients you could never find growing up in Australia.

    Funny, that.

  2. Connie Shehan on May 27, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Glad to know you are enjoying Nature in the mountains. Love the trampoline pic! xo

Leave a Comment