Aronia melanocarpa: A Native We Grow And Sell

canstockphoto4744661-1Black chokeberry is a North American native shrub that is very useful to both wildlife and as a healthy food for humans. The berries are a favorite of grouse, turkeys and other birds. Though quite tart, when sweetened the fruit is very tasty and good for you, being a strong antioxidant. Many medicinal benefits are claimed and practiced from using the extracts. They have extremely high antioxidative activity, are used as an anti- inflammatory, and are super high in vitamins ( A, C, D, B9, B2 and vitamin E) and beta-carotene. Growing from 3 to 10 feet tall, depending on the cultivar, chokeberry is an easy keeper being not fussy about moist or dry soils, PH, and light conditions from full sun to part shade. It can develop into small colonies that are simple to manage with minimal pruning and thinning if so desired. Along with the fruit is an amazing display of orange and red foliage in the fall. Several forms are available to suit the size of your garden or landscape.
We tincture the berries and keep them on the pantry shelf for use through the winter.canstockphoto30347744-1
Here is a more thorough list of their incredible health benefits:

Alleged Health Benefits:

Cancer (brain, lung, colon, liver)
Cardiovascular ailments: lowers blood pressure, lowers bad and improves good cholesterol, promotes heart and arterial health, improves elasticity of blood vessels and prevents their clogging, reduces discomfort due to varicose veins and inflammation (flavonoids, proanthocyanidin, biophenols, vitamin P)
Accelerates recovery from heart/brain stroke (anthocyanins, phenols, vitamin P).
Stops arteriosclerosis, prevents dementia and Alzheimer’s, helps with headaches and migraines through improved circulation (anthocyanin, vitamin P)
Eyes: cures macular degeneration, prevents cataract, protects from UV radiation, improves vision (anthocyanin, vitamin P, beta-Carotene).
Diabetes: regulates hemoglobin and blood sugar level, regulates pancreas, and cures diabetes (sorbitol, anthocyanin)
Liver and gallbladder: improves the function of both organs, regenerates liver even in major diseases and cleanses it from fatty deposits; gallstones, inflammation, jaundice (phenols, flavonoids)
Regulates thyroid and other hormones.
Gastrointestinal: reduces inflammation, pain, cramping, stomach ulcers (anthocyanins) and stops diarrhea.
Urinary tract infections(5-10 times more effective than cranberry),some prostate problems
Increases immune function, so helps with colds and influenza (flu) (biophenols and vitamin C)
Cleansing: Aronia binds heavy metals and radioactive materials and helps their excretions (beneficial in post-radiation therapy or accidental exposure to radiation).
Disinfects wounds and dramatically accelerates healing time (helpful post-operatively) (biophenols, vitamins P, C and E).
Skin: Improves elasticity, reduced wrinkles, stretch marks, sun spots, and broken capillaries; freshens skin and slows down the aging process (vitamin E, beta-Carotene, flavonoids)
Aging: slows down aging (antioxidative function)

Tea Making Workshop
Still spots open for the tea making class at Fernwood! Hot or cold, tea always hits the spot!
Join us on Saturday, July 16th, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. for an afternoon of herbal tea making. Learn to craft your own tea blends using garden-grown herbs. We’ll also be including some local wild harvested plants that are easy to identify and well-known for their health benefits. Herbs are plants that are valued for their medicinal, aromatic, or savory qualities. From chamomile to mint to lemon balm, drying fresh herbs for aromatic teas is simple and gives you yet another reason to put your summer herb garden to use. The class will begin with an informative talk on selecting, growing, harvesting, and drying herbs ….we’ll be taking into consideration both taste and the specific health benefits of these plants while blending our tea.
Next, It’s time to get creative and start making tea ! Each participant will make their very own tea blend to take home, using an array of dried herbs from our gardens. At the end of the class, you will also get a selection of 3 herbs, potted, and ready to take along with you and plant in your own herb garden.
Of course, if there’s going to be tea, there will most certainly be scones! For more information check out our ‘classes and more’ page. If you’d like to sign up for this class, you can email us at or call us at 207-589-4726.

Horsetail….A Useful Plant To Some

Picture 882Throughout the years at the nursery, aside from discussing the plants we sell or talking about the ornamentals we grow, we are often asked to identify specific weeds. Next, we are asked for recommendations for eradicating them. A weed is defined as a plant that is considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome and growing where it is unwanted. So there is always some personal perspective to consider. We like to talk about weeds…..for several reasons. In many ways, if the disscussion goes well, learning about the weeds that grow in our gardens ( where we do understand, you may really not want them), can tell us a lot. Weeds are a good indicator of soil types and also nutrient levels. In addition, once identified, many can be appreciated for their medicinal or culinary use. Some may even become beautiful additions to your already existing gardens. I guess it depends on each individuals definition of a weed. Believe it or not, this opinion can really vary.IMG_0278
Once such plant that we hear a lot about…..and then ” how do we get rid of it”, is Equisetum arvense or horsetail. Horsetail is an ancient plant from the Carboniferous Age 230 million years ago. It is native to most of the North American continent thriving in moist soils in sunny areas. Common to roadsides, it does well in gravely or sandy soils. With extensive undergound rhizomes, 2-6′ deep, it can be hard to remove. The rhizomes have tubers along them that store food. After removing the top of the plant, the tubers have enough energy for it to just grow back again. So one of the best ways to kill horsetail is to starve it. First by cutting it off several times to weaken it, and then mulching it with black plastic or some other material to prevent sunlight from getting to the new growth. Eventually it will die out. A neighbor once had it in his lawn, introduced with new loam, and the repeated mowings removed it. This is our most effective method for removing a plant such as horsetail. We don’t use herbicides, but we imagine there are products on the market that can do the job. In most every case, we have been able to manage or get rid of a plant we don’t want by this very method of persistent pulling and starving.
IMG_0281Equisetum arvense has been used medicinally by many of the native tribes…..including the Chinook, Hesquiat, and Saanich. The Passamaquoddy Indians called the plant ahas’soqon, meaning horse’s tail. It has been collected medicinally as an astringent, as a diuretic, and to treat inflamation. Horsetail has been used specifically to treat urinary tract infections, for ulcers, and cystitis, Horsetail has a very high silica content which can help to fix calcium. therefore being useful for osteoporosis.
Friends of ours here in Montville continue to harvest horsetails to use as a wholistic remedy. In addition to sending along some photos of their recent harvest, they’ve allowed us to share a poem ( written by Susan, herself) describing the attributes of this native plant, horesetail.

Harvesting Horsetail
Susan Bakaley Marshall

Awakening with birds, singing the
Sun up the horizon.
It must be before that sky ball of fire
heats up our world that we emerge
baskets in hand to the outdoors.

And once there, last years lavender is placed on the ground,
an offering to the divine, knowing
we would not be here except for our creator.

In gratitude and awe our eyes seek
the buds and stems. Each spring they pop up
amongst crevices of stones, in that wet place by the willow,
there in open field and over here by the maple tree shadow.

Always surprised by our discovery. Yet,
we find exactly what we’re searching for.
This life-force, healer plant offering
strength, endurance, humility
and certainly beauty, gifts
we graciously receive.

In the silence, each clear stem snap
brings us closer to the

Our baskets full, spring green shoots,
tiny pine tree-like only eight inches
Tall and many less pink
stems speaking to us of ancient time past.

Now, our labor begins
Grinding, blending, mashing
to bring forth the earth juice
rich in silica, a fragrant
dark greenish liquid,
squeezing through our hands,
staining, creating dark veins of color.

This is our spring tonic and winter potion-for strong
bones and clean blood.
Each drop ounce by ounce more
Precious then gold.

May 19, 2008