Ever Heard of Herbalism for Plants?

Is herbalism exclusively for animals and people? Why not herbalism for plants?

I’ve never heard of anyone else using herbs to treat plants. There’s lots of information about how to use plants to treat people (and animals), but not for using plants to treat plants. And why not? Certain plants have affinity for certain other plants, especially for certain trees. Certain fungi grow around only very specific trees. It isn’t a huge leap of the imagination to think that these plants benefit each other in some ways, even fostering good health when one or the other is stressed.

I’d just spent all day pruning and cleaning up an apple tree that had been neglected for about five years. All looked very nice when done. Except one thing. There were signs of borers at the base of the trunk. So many of them that the outlook for this tree’s survival is likely slim. You can click on the photos to enlarge them.

 

photo of damage from  apple tree borer
borer damage

 

Comfrey grows well beneath fruit trees. As the plants die back each winter, the broad leaves add nutrients and humus to the soil. The roots of Comfrey have impressive healing powers, affecting regrowth of skin and tissue and mending of bones.

As I tried to decide what to do about the damage the tree had suffered, I thought of comfrey’s medicinal virtues. Fresh root is best, but I don’t have any growing yet so I resorted to dried. I put some in the blender, along with some water and a shot glass full of “Super Tonic” for good measure. Super Tonic is a Dr. Christopher formula great for all sorts of things that might ail a person, but the taste is equally potent. I, personally, can’t take it without wanting to throw up. But my eldest swears by it and doesn’t find the flavor so disagreeable. My herbalist friend Dena gave me a bottle of it years ago and we do pull it out from time to time when the really tough bug strikes at home. You can find the recipe on this page of forum discussions about it.

A jar of comfrey plaster
Comfrey root all ground up and mixed with water and Super Tonic.

Before applying the plaster, I scraped away all of the spongy dead wood and scraped out the holes that were soft enough. The damage is so extensive, I’ll be truly impressed if this saves the tree.

apple tree base after debriding borer damage
Trunk base after debriding the dead material away.

Then came the plaster. I used an old basting brush to apply it. If you’ve ever used comfrey to make a sort of cast around a broken pinky toe, you’ll know it smarts. The Super Tonic would bring that sting to a whole ‘nother level. I hope the tree knows it was for its own good…

apple tree with herbal remedy applied to base of the trunk
After the plaster was applied.

It’s not supposed to rain for at least a few days, so hopefully this will have time to dry and harden into a sort of “skin” for it. Now we wait and see what happens. The rest of the tree looks great, so I hope this works.

Have you ever used herbalism for a tree? If so, please leave me a comment about the experience.


First Hunt by Ima ErthwitchPredator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, not published yet, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.

Nature Farming


Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


Thoughts, info, or feedback to share?