Herbs: The life-enhancing plants
Photograph by Amberdc
By one definition a herb is “a useful plant.” These “uses” can be culinary, medicinal, cosmetic and even poisonous — hopefully only for garden pests and insects..
The herb enthusiast could probably find every plant useful in some form or other. I like to constrain herbs to that collection of plants that are “life-enhancing” — those delightful plants we use to enhance our cooking, the simple plants that resolve a multitude of common ills, the fragrant plants that perfume our day to day lifes, and the curious group of plants that provide us with dyes, soaps, resins, gums, insecticides and pesticides.
It is a long list, and provides a lifetime of study for the enthusiast.
While not providing major plant products — timber, staple foods (grains and rice) or textiles — and seldom life-supporting, herbs quietly enrich our daily lives. Imagine cooking without herbs, for example?
The history of herbs stretches back through time ever since man (and woman) first harvested wild plants for food, medicine and creature comfort, and continued as they learned to farm plants.
Today our knowledge of herbs is enjoying a resurgence as modern scientific research into their nutritional and health benefits continues to support historical reputations.