Mission Statement

My goal with mande plants is to teach about medicinal and edible plants, show how to grow these plants, where to find these plants, and how to use these plants. There are many useful botanicals in our world. I will growing seasonal crops and perennial edibles using organic methods as best as possible. One of my long term goals is to grow a temperate food forest garden. As I grow new plants and harvest them I will be sharing photos and details on this blog. All photos on this blog are taken by me. If you like this blog and you would like to help me further my research you can use the paypal donate button on the right. All donations will be used to buy tools, plants, seeds, and pay for expenses needed to develop gardens.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I am a husband, father, gardener, researcher, herbalist and teacher. I study Ethnobotany and Permaculture. I grow a variety of rare and unusual edible plants. I am always looking to develop new techniques.

I am hoping to raise money to help pay for research material and reference books for a book I am writing. The goal of this book is to be a guide to The Ethnobotanical uses of plants and how they fit into Permaculture design.

From Wikipedia, "Ethnobotany (from ethnology, study of culture, and botany, study of plants) is the scientific study of the relationships that exist between peoples and plants.

Ethnobotanists aim to document, describe and explain complex relationships between cultures and (uses of) plants, focusing primarily on how plants are used, managed and perceived across human societies. This includes use for food, clothing, currency, ritual, medicine, dye, construction, cosmetics and a lot more"

Wheras Permaculture is described as a creative design process based on whole-systems thinking that uses ethics and design principles. It guides us to mimic the patterns and relationships we can find in nature and can be applied to all aspects of human habitation, from agriculture to ecological building, from appropriate technology to education and even economics.

My target readerbase are those living in North America, but my hope is that anyone living anywhere can make great use of the book. The set up of the book will be organized by design layer and how the plants can be utilized. I will cover the edible, medicinal, and practical uses of plants (dyes, fibers, tools, toys, instruments, etc). I intend to cover a large variety of plants. I want to inspire others to explore the amazing variety of plants that are available to us, to use what is best for themselves and their family. I hope to come across with simplicity, yet to be all inclusive in what is covered.

Any amount doanted would be greatly appreciated. And to show my thanks I will include every donors name in a list of special thanks in the book, unless you would rather remain anonymous. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope we can all benefit from this.

With much appreciation and love,

Steve Flanagan

Or, alternatively you may donate a book from this wishlist.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Edible Daylily

   The daylily, Hemerocallis fulva, seems to only be appreciated for its beauty these days, but it also has another use.  Nearly all parts of the daylily are edible.  The most sustainable harvest are the flowers and flower buds, which can be chopped up and added to soups or stir-fries, or eaten as a garden snack.  The young shoots can be used much the same way you would eat celery or asparagus, raw or cooked.  If you want a more starchy option you can dig up the tubers; you can bake, boil, or eat them raw.  It is important to keep a few things in mind with this plant.  Some cultivated forms can cause gastrointestinal distress, as can too much of any part of the raw plant, so it's better to stick with the wild form cooked.  Secondly, this plant is toxic to pets, although I have had no problems with this myself.

  This plant is quite nutritious, being a decent source of protein, fat, and carbs.  It contains quite a bit of carotene, vitamin C, Calcium, and Potassium.  And when the flowers are dried they can be stored and added to soups later on.  If you want to use the fresh flowers you must pick daily, as the flowers only bloom for a day.  You can also pick the petals of a spent flower and dry them.

  These are not without medicinal uses.  The roots have been found to have some anti-tumor compounds.  The Flowers and leaves have a mild laxative effect, promoting good bowel health.  They are also considered to be anodyne (relieves pain), antiemetic (prevents vomiting), antispasmodic (relaxes muscle spasms and cramps), febrifuge (reduced fevers) and sedative (promotes calm or induces sleep). In Traditional Chinese Medicine this herb is also used to purify the blood.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pineapple Sage and Lemon Balm

Pineapple Sage
    Pineapple Sage, Salvia elegans has a wonderful fruity fragrance.  The flowers are red and tubular,
which is appealing to hummingbirds, a prime pollinator.  Both the flowers and leaves can be used to make a mild, fragrant tea.  This plant comes from the mountains of southern Mexico.  In my garden this perennial plant gets up to about 3 feet tall and overwinters without any problems, although it is not a very hardy sage, surviving down into USDA zone 8.

Pineapple sage has been traditionally used to treat anxiety and depression, lower blood pressure, and to help with digestion issues like heartburn.  Some herbalists even believe that it has adaptogenic properties, much like ginseng and ashwagandha.  It certainly promotes a sense of well being, and being a salvia it no doubt benefits the immune system too.  I have found that this herb combines well with Lemon Balm, for both it's culinary and medicinal effects.

Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm, or Melissa officinalis has a longer documented history of use, as well as more scientific scrutiny.  This perennial herb has a wonderful lemon like smell.  It can be a little aggressive in some gardens, but with constant use this shouldn't be a problem.

Melissa is also used to treat anxiety, stress, and possibly depression.  It has a calming affect on the nerves.  There has been also been some positive research into using Lemon balm to help in the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, as well as improving memory.  The antiviral properties of lemon balm can also help to ease cold sores, which are caused by the herpes virus, and aid recovery from chicken pox.  A tea made from this herb can also help with dyspepsia, also known as heartburn.

Why not sit down to a relaxing cup of lemon balm and pineapple sage tea after a long, hard day?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Sunflowers

While Sunflowers can now be found all over the world they are originally from North and South America.  Helianthus annuus, the common sunflower is the most popular and well known of the sunflowers.  Artists Anthony van Dyck and Vincent van Gogh used features sunflowers in their paintings.  While these flowers are grown as a specimen of beauty they were originally cultivated for their food and value.

The most famous food use of sunflowers are their seeds.  They have a caloric profile of about 74% fat, 12% protein, and 14% carbohydrates.  They are also high in vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, and manganese.  Sunflower seeds also contain antioxidants chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, and caffeic acid, which help to lower blood pressure, blood sugar levels and are anti inflammatory. The flower petals and stems can also be eaten raw or cooked.
Wild Helianthus annuus

Maximilian Sunflower
Another popular sunflower, Helianthus tuberosus, known as Jerusalem artichoke (which is a misnomer) or Sunchoke has edible tubers.  These tubers are great raw, on their own or added to a salad.  They are crunchy and somewhat sweet. When cooked they have a texture and flavor somewhat like potatoes.   Because of it's high inulin content is can cause flatulence.  Inulin is not broken down by the human body, but by bacteria in our intestines.  It seems some Native Americans appreciated this as a regular food, while others only ate it in times of famine.

Sunchokes can grow to be very tall, up to ten feet tall.  Unlike their annual cousin these plants can live for many years.  They can be propagated by seed or by dividing the roots.

And lastly, Helianthus maximiliani, or Maximilian Sunflower.  This sunflower is also a perennial.  While the tubers can also be eaten they are produced at a much lower yield than the sunchoke.  Instead, you can eat the young shoots, raw or cooked in stir fry or soup.

Because of the prickly tough nature of the Maximilian sunflower they make a great barrier.  These too can grow tall once established.  It makes a great habitat and food source for seed eating birds.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May Fruits

One of my goals with my garden is to have a continuous harvest year round.  This is possibly where I live, but the type of harvest changes throughout the year.  Here are my first fruits, White Mulberry (Morus alba) and Goumi (Elaeagnus multiflora).  The mulberries are sweet, with a slight fig flavor.  The goumi fruit also sweet with a little tartness.  Neither plants produce ripe fruits all at once, so the harvest really only amounts to a small daily treat.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

California White Sage

White Sage (Salvia apiana) is found naturally in the far south of California, growing in chaparral and sage scrub communities.   It has long been used by Native Californians for its medicinal and edible uses.
Salvia apiana, White sage

The seeds of White sage are edible, much like its cousin chia, with about 8% protein and 7% oil.  When wet they swell up with musiclage as well.  The leaves were used to flavor game and the stem tops could be peeled and eaten like a vegetable.  The leaves are similar yet much stronger in flavor and odor to culinary sage.

Where ever this plant grew the native peoples would take advantage of its medicinal qualities.  The Cahuilla and Diegueno would make a cold remedy from the plant by making a decoction out of the leaves, which is essentially a more strongly brewed tea.  The leaves were also used as a deodorant when rubbed on the body.  Much like mugwort this herb is burned or made into a tea to help cleanse the body or air.  This is a powerful medicinal plant and should be used conservatively and respectfully.  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mulberries: Two foods, one tree.

    The Mulberry is a great addition to the permaculture garden or food forest, it's fast growing and provides two edible foods.  The fruits, being the first edible, can vary in flavor from species to species and cultivar to cultivar.  Because Mulberries can either be dioecious (plants are either male or female) or monoecious (male and female flowers on same tree) it may be a gamble to grow a mulberry from seed.

    Out of the more common mulberries Morus nigra is considered superior to Morus alba in regards to the flavor and size of the fruit.  The fruit contains anthocyanins, resveratrol, vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamin complex, zea-xathin, beta-carotene, iron, potassium, manganese, and magnesium.  Resveratrol has a wide range of benefits, from reducing inflammation and LDL cholesterol to helping to prevent Alzheimer's disease and insulin resistance.

    The second edible crop from this tree are the leaves.  They can be used to make a tea, or cooked and eaten like many other greens.  They are great protein source, about 15% to 28%, with 15 amino acids.  The leaves contain calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin C, beta carotene, chlorophyll, fiber, and quercetin.  The leaves also contain Gamma Amino Butyric Acid, which can help to lower blood pressure, as well as 1-Deoxynojirimycin, which may help to control blood sugar levels.

  Mulberries are not picky plants, they seem to do well on minimal care.  My white mulberry puts out fruit in April and May, whereas the black mulberry fruits in the summer to early fall.  By planting both you can have a nice long harvesting season.

'Illinois everbearing' Fruit