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Medicinal small trees or bushes?

 
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I have a forest garden and I grow a lot of medicinal plants. However, almost all of them are small leafy plants (forbs?).  Can you think of some small medicinal trees or bushes to grow?

Thanks,
John S
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Witchhazel? Elderberry?
 
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Hawthorne
Rosa rugosa
Lavender
Rosemary
Choke cherry
Goji
 
John Suavecito
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Those are good ideas. I am already growing almost all of those. Many of them are good plants, but very small, like most of my other medicinals.   I've seen chokecherries that were pretty large trees.  In what way are they medicinal? I don't need to grow elder, because here in the PNW, you can gather them pretty easily.  I am only familiar with witch hazel as a sort of astringent cleansing agent. Are there other uses? I was thinking of something like cinnamon, except that cinnamon is tropical and won't grow in a temperate climate.  Maybe Ann would have some ideas.
John S
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Maybe knowing what part of the country you live in might help as I can name several though I don't know how well they would work for you.
 
John Suavecito
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I live in the Pacific North Wet, so most temperate trees should do well for me.
John S
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I think we could be looking at more trees and shrubs that are good for living well not just purely 'medicinal'! How about myrtle (Myrtus communis)? It is a wonderful aromatic shrub, evergreen and hardy in sheltered spots, though not really a shade plant. The shrub can be pruned or will steadily expand up to a small tree. It has so many uses, you can distil the leaf, the buds and flowers are edible, also very fragrant and good for all occasions, the leaves make an antiseptic infusion for gargles and skin washes, the fruits are edible as a food flavouring. It is one of my favourite plant families - the Myrtaceae also includes eucalyptus and clove - in The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook I try to identify some more which could have a real contribution to make as climate breakdown progresses.
Myrtle-leaf-harvest.jpeg
Myrtle leaf harvest
Myrtle leaf harvest
 
Lauren Ritz
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Witchhazel is an astringent and anti-inflammatory with possible antiviral and antibiotic effects.
 
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How about spicebush (Lindera benzoin): https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lindera+benzoin
 
John Suavecito
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Yes, I agree Ann,
If you listen to certain doctors like naturopaths, phds, osteopaths or chiropractors, many will talk about the effects of antioxidants and several other positive effects on health that lead to a good life.  Bay leaves are anti-viral and add great flavoring to dishes. Most culinary spices also have health inducing effects, whether anti-viral, anti-oxidant, cholesterol-lowering, or lymph moving.  Eucalyptus is commonly used for breathing in with a hot cloth.  I have coppiced mine in the past to keep using the leaves. Many are used in flower arrangements, as a fragrance, and for tea.  Many MD's that are involved as practitioners, especially for those with chronic illness or in functional medicine, talk about these effects too.  Native Americans used many conifer needles for tea.  They don't all have to be cultivated. Some can be gathered or foraged.    In the BLue Zones, people tend to use plants these ways also.

John S
PDX OR
 
Anne Stobart
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These are great suggestions! If you are able to maintain coppicing then this is a good way to have supplies and keep things manageable. I am all for this kind of intervention and the effect of coppicing to the ground is to restart the younger plant growing process, much as in nature when plants are damaged by predators or weather. At Holt Wood Herbs we cut back the more vigorous deciduous plants like willow, to provide young stems for bark and leaf production. In theory this can be done indefinitely. This approach is still used in European traditions where forage for animals is wanted. In the UK pollarding (coppicing at shoulder height or above) used to be done by agricultural tenants for winter forage but many pollards were deemed poor for timber use and unsightly by landowners and so removed. Similarly many coppiced woodland areas went out of use as demand for products (from bobbins to clogs to roof tiles) dropped. Today most traditional use of coppicing now focuses on ash, chestnut and hazel for fencing and timber poles. In fact you can coppice most trees and shrubs, so long as the roots can stimulate new shoot and leaf production. The exception is that most conifers will stop growing if they lose the leading shoot. Since many trees and shrubs flower on one-year-old shoots, such as elder and hawthorn, I think it is best if you can cut on a 2-3 year cycle so that there is still flower and fruit production.
Cramp-bark-coppice.jpeg
Cramp bark coppice
Cramp bark coppice
 
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First time posting- hi!
My favorite medicinal tree/shrub has already been mentioned (wild allspice,) it's also just a lovely one to have around.
I don't think these have been said yet, (sorry if I'm mistaken) but they should all be able to be grown in your area; chasteberry, forsythia, blueberry, jujube.  On the bigger side but maybe if you're willing to coppice; sassafrass, linden, birch, prickly ash.
 
John Suavecito
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Those are great ideas! I believe that spicebush was mentioned earlier and is a great suggestion.  I am growing many of the other plants as well.  Linden has edible leaves and is somewhat mucilaginous, so, as mentioned earlier, it has a food/medicine quality, as does blueberry.  I grow hawthorn for leaves and berries. I have grafted better tasting varieties of fruit on it, but I eat all of the leaves.  I have also grafted pears onto many of them and just eat the leaves for heart medicine below the graft.  

I grow forsythia. I am intrigued by using it medicinally.  It is one of the original 30 medica materia of Chinese medicine, I believe, but they mainly used the soft "fruit".  Where I live here in PNW, we don't get the fruit. We don't have the heat.  The leaves are said to be equally medicinal by the likes of Stephen Harrod Buhner, but there are reports that the mature leaves develop unhelpful compounds.  Next spring after flowering, I am considering making a tincture or glycerite out of the young leaves.  

I eat birch leaves from time to time.  They aren't particularly tasty, but certainly diversify the gut microbiome.  I didn't plant one. There is a giant birch tree nearby which regularly sends it progeny forth.  I do coppice the young trees, because I don't need that many leaves, and I don't want to give up that much space.  They seem to take well to it.  

I have also coppiced willow.  I haven't used the bark as "aspirin" yet, but since it is able to make magnesium bioavailable through its roots, coppicing it and chop and drop can act as a magnesium fertilizer, a la comfrey.

John S
PDX OR
 
Anna Merkwelt
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Love Anne's suggestion for living well!  I'm a fan of food as medicine.  One has to eat anyway...  and a healthy creature would need less *medicine* medicine.  
Though I did think of more during a nap (and I even remembered a few of those):  staghorn sumac, bayberry, barberry, walnut.

More on the forsythia... and why I should get better at using latin.
Forsythia suspensa is the Chinese medicinal shrub. It's a really close relative of the common one (f. x intermedia - which is a cross between f. suspensa and f. viridissima)  I'd think there would be medicinal properties that cross over, but I have zero personal or book knowledge on that.
The fruits are bitter and cooling. Helpful for clearing heat and toxins.  Notably upper respiratory infections, but many others; also used externally for sores and such.
With a lot of plants the parts that aren't *normally* used are often still medicinal.  Sometimes more/less so, sometimes in wildly different ways.  Tradition plays a part as well as modern studies.  I'm not saying forsythia leaf tincture would work the same as the fruits, or at all; but if your season is too short for fruiting it's worth looking into.
 
John Suavecito
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Yes, I'm growing barberry as well. Good idea. Quite a common food in the Middle East.  The berries are tart, but a great balance for something bland like rice or quinoa. The leaves on some (mine) are edible.  It has the same medicinal compound as its relative, the Oregon Grape. Natives here have used the root of Oregon Grape as medicine for millenia. Many people are now buying berberine as a supplement.  I prefer to make my supplements, as studies have shown that 25% of the supplements you buy have zero percent of the supplement they said you were buying.  Not a bargain.......

Also, that way, I know there aren't any toxicants or unhealthy things added so they weigh more, and cost more, and earn more profit.  I don't want to reward the bad guys/liars.

John S
PDX OR
 
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Raspberry (for the leaves, I used to give these to my dairy goats for easier kidding and good milk production), and not sure if anyone has mentioned hawthorn yet? You can grow smaller pine varieties like mugo (mugho?) pine for the pollen and needles. Similarly, small varieties of arborvitae (eastern white cedar) for the leaves for vitamin C; taller varieties can be kept small by trimming. Sumac is a tall shrub/small tree that can be harvested for tea /cold sumac 'lemonade' and I think that also has vitamin C (but I could be wrong on that).
 
John Suavecito
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Yes the needles of several conifers are full of vitamin C, antioxidants and are effective anti-virals. Only some can be small trees, like mugo pine, pinyon pine, and arborvitae-Thuja.  Of course, if it's what you want to do, you can always learn how to make bonsai trees!
John S
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Anne Stobart
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I have been making lists this week for replies to medicinal forest garden queries. Here is the list of the medicinal plant bonanza, over 50 healing plants that we harvested from Holt Wood and our cottage garden in UK in the last 12 months, organised for convenience in layers, some for our own use and some go into body care products for sale, the growing needs and uses of many are mentioned in The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook
Ground cover layer: agrimony, chamomile, ground ivy, ladies mantle, lemon balm, marigold, mint, thyme, yarrow
Herby layer: angelica, comfrey, feverfew, lavender, marshmallow, meadowsweet, nettle, purple coneflower, St John’s wort, valerian, vervain
Shrubs: blackcurrant, broom, forsythia, prickly ash, raspberry, rose, rosemary, sage, myrtle
Small trees: alder buckthorn, crampbark, elder, fig, juniper, sweet bay, witch hazel, magnolia
Overstory: birch, Douglas fir, eucalyptus, ginkgo, hawthorn, lime, mulberry, pine, sweet gum, wild cherry, white and violet willow
In betweeners: hops, mistletoe, passionflower, turkey tail fungus, sphagnum moss
 
Andrea Locke
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Anne, that's a great list. What do you use the broom for? Here, Scotch broom is an invasive plant and I was not aware it had any redeeming qualities as a medicinal herb.
 
John Suavecito
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Yes, and I'm interested in what one does with alder. We certainly have a lot of it around here.

Just to clarify, when Anne describes a lime tree, I believe she is not referring to a citrus.  The linden tree, also known as basswood, is called a lime tree in England.  Tilia is the latin name. I grow tilia cordata, the little leaf linden.  There is also an American native linden, if you are feeling strongly that way.

John S
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Anna Merkwelt
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Thank you for those lists!
I was going to ask if anyone had suggestions for under the trees; *deep* shade. I'm trying to expand my grown herbals. I love foraging but I've recently been dealing with leg issues from lyme and it's just too difficult anymore.
I should poke around and see if there are already threads about this.
 
Anne Stobart
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Yikes, be careful with broom! Common broom (Cytisus scoparius) is a diuretic and can have significant effects on the heart. It was used in the past for treating dropsy, a fluid accumulation due to a failing heart. The level of active consituents is variable and dosage can be uncertain so it is best only used in conjunction with a herbal clinical practitioner. One of the reasons we are growing broom in addition to medicinal use is because of the pea family ability to provide nitrogen. BUT please note that Spanish broom (Spartium junceum) is even stronger and potentially toxic, so is NOT advised at all for medicinal use.

Alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus) bark is an effective laxative (not connected to alder), though should not be used fresh. This is a lovely European native small tree of great attraction for insect and wild life including the beautiful yellow Brimstone butterfly. Both broom and alder buckthorn are profiled in The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook if you want to see more on their effects and use.
 
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The invasive scotch broom we have here has proved to have medicinal benefit  for rabbits. They often get liver damage from coxidiosis which is spread by the bird population. When it is a small part of diverse forage the rabbits select the proper dosage and the livers are restored to health.
Occasionally the scotch broom will have both yellow and red in the bloom which is very decorative used as cut flowers. Be sure to chop and drop unharvested branches after flowering to prevent seed which happens when the pods split and twist throwing the seed long distances. The seed seems to be programmed to come up progressively over many years.
 
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