Medicinal Shrubs and Trees to Use in Your Landscape
As I’ve studied the medicinal uses of plants, I have been amazed to learn that so many common plants–flowers, herbs, shrubs and lawn “weeds”–are actually medicinal and have been successfully used by families and herbalists for hundreds of years. It has made me curious to get to know the medicinal shrubs and trees and use them in landscaping.
Actually, many of the shrubs or trees that you already have in your yard may be medicinal and if you are adding bushes and trees to your landscape, why not use ones with medicinal properties, too?
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- Landscaping with Medicinal Shrubs and Trees
- More Medicinal Trees and Bushes to Add to Your Yard
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I am not a medical clinician and am not giving medical advice. As with all medicines and herbal preparations, you should do your own research and consult a physician or certified herbalist when necessary before use. Don’t use when pregnant or if you are taking other medications without consulting your physician or pharmacist.
Landscaping with Medicinal Shrubs and Trees
Growing medicinal bushes and trees in your yard can be fun, easy, and beautiful. Below is a list of medicinal shrubs and trees that you can grow in your yard. Which do you already have in your yard? And which would you like to add?
Is there a more well-known or well-loved landscape plant than the Rosebush? We know the pretty blossoms and lovely scent well. There are such a variety to choose from for our landscape, from large bush roses to smaller hybrid tea rose bushes to climbing roses.
While wild roses have long been the favored ones for medicinal uses, many more domesticated roses are also used in herbalism. Make sure that the roses have a strong scent and have not been sprayed with pesticides. Roses with little scent will likely have little medicinal value. In her book, Alchemy of Herbs, Rosalee de la Foret, says that roses can be used topically for skin sores and sunburns, and also internally for diarrhea, inflammation, and pain.
2. Elderberry Bush
Elderberry bushes can grow from 6-10 feet high and from 6-12 feet wide. It could work well in a landscape with part to full sun and plenty of space to grow. They have pretty lacy white blossoms in late spring and dark berry clusters in the summer.
Medicinally, Elderberry has become quite popular in the past 10 years. Both the flowers and the berries are medicinal but are used a little differently, according to Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs. The flowers help induce sweating which helps to reduce fevers. Elderberries help boost the immune system and have antiviral properties.
3. Barberry Bush
Barberry bushes are commonly used as landscape plants. They have green, red, and purple foliage, depending on the variety, and have red berries that last through part of the winter. The contrast of their foliage against green bushes makes a lovely addition to your landscape.
The roots and bark of the Barberry shrub are used as medicine. Barberry, Berberis canadensis and Berberis vulgaris, have yellow roots which is a primary source of berberine. Berberine is used by herbalist 7Song for bacterial and viral infections and to increase insulin sensitivity.
4. Hawthorn Tree
The Hawthorn tree is a nice-sized deciduous for a yard landscape because it only grows 15-30 feet tall. It has pretty white or pink blossoms in the spring and red berries in the fall and winter.
While Hawthorn berries, flowers, and leaves are used for many health issues, the main use today is for heart health. I myself have taken Hawthorn for years and it has helped to lower my blood pressure. According to The Earthwise Herbal, Vol. II, Matthew Woods says that it is good for hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, heart weakness following illness, and more.
5. Willow Tree
Willow Trees of all types provide a soft-looking statement to your landscape. Some grow into large trees like the Weeping Willow and some are smaller like the Pussy Willow.
All Willows have similar medicinal properties, but some have more of them than others. White Willow, Salix alba, is most commonly used for medicinal purposes. According to Practical Herbalism by Philip Fritchey, the inner bark can be used to treat fevers, headaches, mouth sores, and more.
6. Pine or Fir Tree
Pine and Fir trees will make a statement in your landscape. Most will grow very tall if not pruned, but in the meantime, their evergreen branches being beautiful green to your yard all year round. Many have decorative pinecones that add to their beauty.
Many Pine Trees and Fir trees have medicinal properties. Their sap is used in drawing and healing salves and many parts of the trees are used for healing. In The Earthwise Herbal, Vol. II, Matthew Wood lists many traditional uses for White Pine including colds, flus and coughs, constipation, fever, skin sores, scurvy and more. Make sure that the trees in your yard are the kinds that are safe for consumption and medicinal use.
7. Oregon Grape
Oregon grape bush has evergreen leaves that look very much like holly leaves. It has showy yellow blossoms in the spring and red berries in the fall and winter.
Oregon Grape, Berberis Aquifolium and other species, like Barberry, have yellow roots which contain berberine. According to Matthew Woods, The Earthwise Herbal, Vol. 1, Oregon Grape has been used for many ailments including antimicrobial, allergies, lungs, digestion, lymph system, dry skin, muscle and joint pain, and more.
8. Chasteberry Tree
The Chasteberry Tree, Vitex agnus-castus, is native to the Mediterranean and is grown as an ornamental around the world. It can be trimmed into a tree shape or left bushy. The blossoms are long and purple and remind me of a butterfly bush.
Chaste berries are commonly used to bring hormonal balance to women, but it is also other uses like heart palpitations and anxiety, according to The Earthwise Herbal, Vol. I by Matthew Wood.
9. Red Raspberry Bush
A single Red Raspberry bush is not all that bushy and not all that beautiful on its own, usually. But planted together, three-five plants deep, along the border of your yard, raspberry bushes can make a nice hedgerow. My mother planted hers in front of a chain-link fence and picked berries for a couple of months in the summers.
Red Raspberry not only gives us and the birds delicious berries, but the leaves of the plant have medicinal qualities, too. The leaves make a lovely tea with a nice flavor and according to Practical Herbalism by Philip Fritchey, the leaves, fruit, and root all have medicinal benefits used for canker sores, diabetes, diarrhea, pregnancy, and much more.
10. Blueberry Bush
Blueberry bushes can be very pretty in your landscape. You will want a sunny spot with 6-8 hours of sun. They could look good in the front of your house or mixed in with other shrubs. Keep in mind that there are taller and shorter varieties.
Blueberries are powerful antioxidants and are good for strengthening blood vessels, and improve eye, heart, and brain health, according to Body into Balance by Maria Noel Groves
11. Witch Hazel Tree
The Witch Hazel hazel tree doesn’t grow very tall and I have seen it most often as an understory tree in the woods. So it can handle dappled shade. The small branches of the Witch Hazel don’t grow straight, so it will give an interesting focal point to a corner of your landscape. It has yellow blossoms which bloom anywhere from late fall to early spring, depending on your climate.
Made from an infusion of the bark, Witch Hazel is sold and used for many skin irritations and to clean scrapes and heal bruises. According to Body into Balance by Maria Noel Groves, distilled witch hazel (bark) is also a remedy for acne, itches, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins.
More Medicinal Trees and Bushes to Add to Your Yard
The truth is, many bushes and trees have medicinal properties and are worth looking into and adding to your landscape. These include:
- Forsythia Bush
- Kousa Dogwood Tree
- Juniper Tree
- Cherry Tree
- Hydrangea Bush
- Redbud Tree
- Birch Tree
- Black Walnut Tree
- Oak Tree
- Sassafras Tree
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