It would take seven lifetimes to learn the Latin names of every plant, how to identify them and to which families they belong. Even more, to learn all the common names and their medicinal actions plus energetics is an impossible task.
So let’s start simply:
The best way to start is by introducing one family at a time.
My name is Krista Coyan. My family name is Coyan. All of my immediate family members share the same last name: Coyan. Dan, Rebekah and Roxie Coyan. You can identify us easily by name. We live in the Czech Republic, but some of us live in California. So if you meet Tom and Dawn Coyan or John and Carolyn Coyan, you can maybe assume they belong to us, to our family.
Plants have families too. There are hundreds of plant families and within them millions of plant species. It’s an impossible task. Luckily, we have the internet and the hundreds of years of effort of botanists globally.
Plant names are reduced simply to into three categories: Family, Genus and Species.
At the simplest level of scientific classification, each plant has a name made up of two parts, a generic (or genus) name and a specific name or species. Together, these two names are referred to as a binomial.
A generic name is a ‘collective name’ for a group of plants. It indicates a grouping of organisms that all share a suite of similar characters. Ideally these should all have evolved from one common ancestor. The species name, allows us to distinguish between different organisms within a genus.Australia’s Virtual Herbarium
There are hierarchical levels of classification (ranks) above and below the genus and species, the most commonly referred to is the grouping of several genera (plural of genus) into a family. As with plants within the same genus, plants in the same family have many characteristics in common.Australia’s Virtual Herbarium
The best way to begin is by getting to know one family at a time. During this course, Herbalism 101, you will become acquainted with five common plant families.
Imagine that you are at your friend’s garden party and you have yet to be introduced to your friend’s family. If I asked you to find all of your friend’s relatives at that party, how would you go about it? You could ask everyone’s name and sort it like that. Or, you could look for common characteristics and deduce family members with that information.
There is a saying: if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
We will start with a plant family that you know well:
Key Words: Square stalks and opposite leaves, often aromatic.
Members of this family include:
Medicinal constituents include the strong aromatic essential oil, tannins, saponins and organic acids. The oil is obtained by steam distillation. In aromatherapy, the oil is used for its soothing effects. The plant has sedative, diuretic, tonic, antispasmodic and antiseptic properties.scialert.net
Once you are familiar with the family characteristics, it is much easier to identify a plant within that family. You will recognise its basic shape and often know its medicinal properties.
A few years ago, when we lived in Hluboka, a plant which I had never seen before started to grow in my yard.
Starting with flower shape, I began the process of identifying its family, genus and species.
This plant has:
Given these characteristics, I can safely put this plant in the Lamiaceae family.
Using these resources, I am easily able to identify its genus and species:
Self-heal is used for inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), diarrhea, colic, and stomach upset and irritation (gastroenteritis). It is also used for mouth and throat ulcers, sore throat, and internal bleeding.
There are poisonous and dangerous plants out there. Please be sure about your herbal identification before eating, drinking or rubbing it all over your face!!!!
We will cover the most common and most dangerous of the poisonous plants in the Herbalism 101 short course.