I’ve always loved albizzia flowers, although as a kid I knew them as mimosa flowers. There was an enormous albizzia tree around the corner from my grandmom’s house and every summer I would stand under it, mesmerized. Pink fluff all over the ground, floating pink puff balls in the tree, and a sweet smell that is light and grassy – perfection. Today G collected a huge bag of albizzia flowers, otherwise known as he huan hua in Traditional Chinese Medicine. I’m actually holding one of these flowers on the ‘about’ page on this blog. But that one’s from Hawaii and was enormous, as things are in Hawaii. The flowers picked today are going to be transformed into a tincture.


Albizzia flowers are used for matters of the heart. They calm the spirit, helping with depression, anxiety, irritatability and insomnia. They also can help alleviate pain and swelling due to trauma. The pink of the flowers actually gets absorbed into the alcohol/water combination and in a few days the flowers will be white and the tincture a light tan/pink.


To learn how to make a tincture keep reading….



I had a clinic shift in the herb room and thought I would take some pictures to share. The herb room at my acupuncture school can be a mystifying, beautiful and spine tingling place all in one. From self heal flowers to cicada husks – it’s all there.


One entire wall are drawers of herbs and then there is another  wall lined with shelves of gallon size jars. I had time to take some pictures in between filling out prescriptions. Here’s a peek into some of the jars:


The snakes are called wu shao she and are used for wind disorders. (more…)

I am a renter so every few years or so I wind up leaving one garden to begin another. My truck is usually packed tightly with potted plants. It’s a spectacle. Every garden that my partner and I start includes at least a few artichokes. It’s a no-brainer, new garden – must plant artichokes. Right now there are two in the front yard and a cardoon in the side yard.


At last count, and before eating, we had 9 artichokes. I’ve let a few go past prime because I absolutely love the surreal color purple that winds up being it’s flower. I’ll make sure to take a picture when that happens this year. I suspect most of you know good artichoke recipes and I’ll leave the recipes to the experts like 101 cookbooks and Smitten Kitchen. The artichoke has medicinal values too though… (more…)

sitting with fennelYes, this is really fennel swallowing this public bench whole. I love that here in the SF Bay Area that fennel is basically a weed. Any abandoned lot, public park or traffic meridian may have a large bed of this wonderful plant. Yesterday I was around this patch and discovered that redwing blackbirds were nesting in between the tightly packed stalks. Dreamy, right? I’ve learned about using fennel medicinally in both my eastern and western herb classes. (more…)


   I thought that since I mentioned below how I was eyeing the mullein in the traffic circle that I would write about it a little bit. This picture is the beauty getting ready to bloom in said circle. Mulleins are really easy to grow. They thrive on being neglected if left in a sunny spot with aerated soil. They will quickly reseed an area and you will be left with a high drama, highly useful part of your garden.