A LITTLE HERBALISM FOR YOUR DAY- Plant Identification and Majorum


Plant identification and Majorum

When I began learning herbs from someone other than my grandmother I was taken back at how little information was being given and in my brazen style decided I could do better. So I asked if I could teach a class or two and was given permission. Little did I realize the amount of work and research that really went into knowing more about herbs!

As I proceeded I realized herbalism had its own language. In an earlier blog post, I wrote an herbal glossary that focused on types of concoctions and the actions of the herb. Today I include the language of plant Identification. It is very important to know you have the correct herb as there are many look-alikes out there that can harm rather than heal.

At the end of the glossary I show the type of research I do on all my herbs while discussing Majorum, but first the glossary. Sources are available on request.


AXIS: The axis is the plant stem; more generally the line of growth of a stem or any of its branching parts that carry flowers, other branches, or leaves.

AXIL: This is the upper angle between a bract or leaf and the stem on which it grows, or an axillary flower or bud.

ACHENE: A small dry, nut-like, one-seeded fruit that does not split open when ripe to release the seed, It can be winged, such as a maple seed, or caraway seed.

ASCENDING: This simply means curving upwards.

BASAL: These are the leaves growing at the base of a stem.

BIPINNATE: A leaf that is twice pinnate i.e., a pinnately divided leaf whose leaflets are themselves pinnately divided. (See Pinnate description below)

BRACT:  A small leaf or scale-like structure from the axil of where a flower often begins.

COMPOUND LEAF: This is a leaf divided into two or more leaflets or a leaf or flower cluster with a branched main axis.

DECIDUOUS: These are plants with shedding leaves at the end of the growing season.

DIVIDED: A place in the plant where they separate towards the mid-rib or base.

ELLIPTICAL:  Leaves that are oval but slightly pointed at each end.

FEATHERY: Leaves that are cut into many fine segments along the edge that look “Feathery”

FURROWED: Leaves with longitudinal (long) channels or grooves that run toward the base of the leaf.

GLOBOSE: This term is usually applied to a fruit or a seed that is round like a sphere

LATERAL: This term means something that is situated at the side of the leaf. “It is lateral to the object being viewed”

LEAF AXIL: Is the part between the leaf and the stem

LEAFLET: This is a subdivision of a compound leaf where you find several small leaves in a group.

LINEAR: Leaves that are long and narrow, almost parallel-sided.

LINEAR- LANCEOLATE: These are leaves that are long and narrow but tapering to a point at the tip

LOBED: Leaves that are divided toward the mid-rib but not into separate leaflets, each division is rounded at the apex, like an oak leaf.

LATEX: This is a milky fluid produced by several kinds of plants such as poppy, milkweed, rubber plant, and many more.

MARGIN:  The outside edge of a leaf or seed.

MID-RIB: Is the center vein of a leaf, usually thickened and obvious.

NODE: This is a point on a stem in which one or more leaves grow or have grown; the part of the stem between the nodes is called an internode.

OBOVATE: This describes a leaf that is oval, with the end farthest from the stalk being wider than the end attached to the stem that is somewhat egg-shaped, also called OVATE.

OPPOSITE: Leaves that grow in pairs at the same level on opposite sides of the stem.

PALMATE: This describes a leaf that has the shape of a hand. The leaf will have a center like our palm with three or more leaves extending from it as our fingers do on our hand. The Virginia Creeper vine is one of these types of leaves.

PETIOLE: Is the stalk of the leaf, not the whole plant.

PINNATE: A leaf that has the structure of a feather in that similar parts occur on opposite sides of an axis. A pinnate leaf is divided into numerous leaflets that grow along either side of the leaf stalk and have their own center stalk, which is called a petiole.

RAY FLOWER: These are flowers that edge a central disc, such as sunflowers daisies and many more.

RHIZOME: This is a creeping, usually horizontal underground storage stem, which sends up leafy shoots each season, like ferns, and water hemlock.

SESSILE: These are stalkless flowers or leaves. They have no petiole or stem of their own but grow right from the main stalk much like Chickory does.

SIMPLE: Leaves that are not divided into leaflets of stems but are unbranched in any way.

SPREADING: These leaves stand out horizontally or at a wide angle from the stem.

SHEATH; The sheath is the lower part of the leaf that wraps around the stem or stalk, near the base that is separate from the main part.

TERMINAL: This is the end of a stalk or stem or branch that limits more growth.

UMBEL: Is a bract of flowers that are umbrella-shaped in which all the flowers or the secondary umbels in a compound umbel are borne on smaller stalks that spread out and are equal in length. They arise from a common stem, like on water hemlock and wild carrot.

VEIN: This is the passageway for water and nutrients to and from a leaf; also the mechanical support system you see them when you look very closely at a leaf.

So now that we know more about how to identify a plant let’s talk about one of my favorites, Marjoram! I have fond memories of this herb as it was one of the first teas my mom introduced to me. I knew when mom brought out the Marjoram it was time to sit and quietly talk.

How the following is laid out also shows the type of research I do on all of my herbs. The reason I do this is because I was taught herbs are medicine. Many of the terminology used here can be found in my blog article Herbal Glossary.


CONTAINS: vitamins A,B-12,C AND K, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, zinc, silicon, phytonutrients, beta-carotene, lutein, and flavonoids.

ACTIONS; Tonic, carminative, diaphoretic, calmative, anodyne, stomachic, antidote, antispasmodic, anti-fungal, antioxidant, aperitif, diuretic, antibacterial, anti-viral, optic tonic, aromatic, expectorant, emmenagogue, and hypertensive.

USES; asthma, violent cough, spasms, cramps, measles, dropsy, respiratory issues of all kinds, digestive problems, nervous headache, colic, gas, gargle, allergies, colds, nervous disorders, rheumatism, toothache, prevents neural damage in the brain, food poisoning or staph infection

I have used Marjoram as a calmative and tonic. Any time I am over-stressed and worn out, or wrung out during or after a cold or flu or other illness. I find it has restorative qualities and feels very relaxing to the system and I love the earthy aroma!

You can infuse oil to use on sprains or joint pain, by putting the fresh herb in olive oil and let stand in the sun for 2-3 weeks. Another way to do this is to get one of those small warming crock pots for sauces. They heat to 140. Put ingredients in and let warm overnight or two days to get the same effect. This oil can be used for earache and toothache and massage for varicose veins and gout.

The planet of Marjoram is Mercury, and it is used for communication, thinking logic, writing, motivation, and wisdom. This is a good tea to serve at a study group or business meeting.

Its tarot card is the Magician because it has all the tools it needs to do the job. It brings temperance that promotes growth and changes that make one humble. Excellent before meditation. Marjoram’s Goddess is Aphrodite who is the symbol of happiness, love, joy, and serenity. This herb is one of my staples. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Many Blessings!





Cinnamon, A herb for the Season

Cinnamon is the bark from the lauraceous tree. While the tree is of the moon the herb is of the sun. Once I began researching cinnamon, I was surprised at the qualities of this un-assuming herb in my kitchen! It has many medical qualities. It is a great anti-fungal and antibacterial herb that makes a nice non-toxic bug repellant when sprinkled in kitchen cabinets. In large amounts, it even keeps away fire ants as long it is freshly applied around their mounds.

Cinnamon can be a lady’s best friend. A tea made with honey and cinnamon powder taken regularly arrests the advance of old age keeping the skin soft and reducing wrinkles!. For this take four spoons of honey, one spoon of cinnamon powder, and three cups of water and boil. Drink one cup per day. I have used cinnamon honey tea to reduce overall inflammation in the form of one cup each morning for a month with good results.

Cinnamon helps with fatigue when made with half a teaspoon of honey in a glass of water sprinkled with cinnamon around two or three in the afternoon when your energy is the lowest. If taken daily at the same time you will see an increase in your energy in about a week.

Cinnamon is high in antioxidants and the oil has anti-microbial properties. It also has manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium. Several studies show it may help type two diabetes, lower cholesterol, and blood pressure. For blood pressure, I make a tincture of cassia sticks. I break them up roughly and place them in a small jar with three ounces of 100 proof vodka. I place them in a dark place and shake now and then for 4 weeks.


This makes a strong tincture, no one should be on other blood pressure medicines if they are using this tincture. Dosing is one or two DROPS per day NO MORE and use for only 1 week at a time NO MORE. I have seen this tincture misused and drop a person’s blood pressure to dangerously low levels.

In powdered or stick form, culinary amounts of cinnamon are non-toxic, however, the oil is different. On the skin, it may cause redness and burning. If you were to ingest the oil, which is not a thing to do, it can cause burns on your lips, in your throat, and esophagus.


Chinese herbalists mention cinnamon as early as 2700 B.C. as an herb and treatment for fever. Later it was the Greeks and Romans that adopted cinnamon as a spice.

In the seventeenth century, Europeans considered cinnamon primarily a kitchen spice, but they used it to mask the bitterness of other healing herbs. There is a sound reason for flavoring toothpaste and mouth wash with cinnamon because it is a powerful antiseptic that kills many decays and disease-causing bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

Cinnamon does more than add flavors to cakes and other high-fat deserts, the herb helps break down fats in your digestive system, possibly by boosting the activity of some digestive enzyme. I think cinnamon is my newfound friend!

Cinnamon is certainly an herb for the season, but few of us think of it in magic. As we approach winter it is time for new beginnings. A time to take a look at what our harvests have brought us. It is a good time to clean and clear out the old to make room for the new. As you do the cleaning and clearing think of ideas, plans, and good fortune you hope to draw to you in the coming year.

The following spell courts the favor of the Kings of four winds. For this spell, you will need to ascertain North and South and so forth.

The four winds were given magical names by the ancient Greeks—Boreas, Eureus, Notus, and Zephyrus. In some circles, they are known as the four guardians. It is these forces together with those of the elemental spirits of Air, Water, Fire, and Earth, that are called upon to carry your desired goal to the four points of the universe.

The spell is designed to be performed outside because you would not want a child or pet to lick up the cinnamon and get harmed. For this spell you will need:

A quarter Tsp measuring spoon

2 small dishes for powdered cinnamon

A small rock or dish of dirt to represent the earth

A white or red candle and holder to represent fire

A feather to represent air

A shell or dish of water to represent water

2-Tsp powdered cinnamon

To set up a proper place, cast a circle of protection as you create your sacred space. Arrange your items on your altar or table and light your candle. Take up one dish of cinnamon, and think for a moment about the four kings and what they mean to you. Then raise up the dish and say Oh great Kings of the Elemental quarters I make this offering to you in gratitude for all you do and have done. After you cast a pinch of cinnamon in each direction, say, Great King of the ( say direction here, north, south, etc) I ask you attend my working and accept my offering so mote it be.

Take the second dish of cinnamon and visualize the achievement of your goal in fine detail. Hold the herb to your mouth being careful not to let it touch your lips, and breathe on it gently, like an exhale to charge the spice with your goal.

Next, put a ¼ tsp in your hand and turn to the North and say; King Boreas of the Northwind, by the powers of Earth, I call on you and ask that you carry my desire to your realm in the Northern Quarter, that you may lend your great power toward my success. Now gently blow the herb from your palm in the direction of the North., and say So Mote it be. Do not blow on the cinnamon too hard or it will get in your eyes and that will be painful.

Take another ¼ of cinnamon into your hand and turn to the East and say; King Eureus of the East wind, by the power of the Air I call you and ask that you carry my desire to your realm in the Eastern quarter, that you may lend your great power so toward my success, then blow a quarter of the herb to the East from your palm and say So Mote It Be.

Put another ¼ tsp of cinnamon in your hand and turn South and say; King Notus of the South wind, by the power of Fire, I call you and ask that you carry my desire to your realm in the Southern quarter, that you may lend your great power toward my success. Blow a quarter of the herb to the South from your palm and say So Mote it Be.

Turn to the West with another ¼ of the cinnamon and say; King Zephyrus of the West, by the power of the Water, I call you and ask that you carry my desire to your realm in the Western quarter, that you may lend your power toward my success, blow the final quarter of the herb to the South from your palm and say So Mote it Be.

Now face the altar and raise your hands and voice and say Oh great kings of the quarters may you accept my offering and my works, thank you for your presence and power as you safely return to your realms with my desire. Then say so mote it be. Leave the items there and let the candle burn down all the way, making sure it is safe from pets and kids, or you can take the candle in and let it finish burning indoors.



(1)Catanna.com/yule spells


(3) alchemy-works.com/herb-cinnamon

(4)hub pages.com/hub/cinnamon


(6)healing herbs, by Michael Castelman

(7)spells by Mathew Green

8) web MD