Passionflower© Orna Izakson
The flowers of these prolific climbers look almost extraterrestrial. Depending on the species, passionflowers can be hardy to Zone 6, evergreen unless knocked back by a cold snap. The sprawling vines require support, growing as much as 18 feet in a year. Warm-climate gardeners may even get some of the delicious tropical fruit.
Roses: Roses raise the spirits, both for their beauty and their medicine. Possibly the world’s most famous garden flower, roses come in every imaginable form, from groundcovers less than a foot tall to ramblers that clamber up trees or power poles. So many cultivars means there’s a rose for almost every situation, whether you live in chilly Zone 2, have a fully shaded yard, or garden within spitting distance of saltwater.
The most famous rose medicine comes from the fruit, known as hips, which are high in cold-fighting and antioxidant vitamin C. Picked after they soften in the year’s first frost, fresh hips are dried for tea or used fresh in jams.
Rose leaves, flowers and buds also make excellent medicine, calming the nerves, easing indigestion, and acting as a mild astringent for skin wounds or sore throats.
Purple coneflower: This native of the North American prairies is not only striking, but one of the best known medicinal plants—Echinacea. This sun-loving, hardy perennial grows from Manitoba to Texas, thriving down to Zone 3 and growing grander each year. The medicinal species (Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia and E. pallida) are covered with two-inch to three-inch flowers, each with a corona of pink or purple petals surrounding a prominent, spiky seed cone.
From root to flower, all parts of this plant are medicinal. In summer, one way to get coneflower’s medicine is by cutting the central cone in quarters and biting the soft inner part like an orange slice. Be careful at first: The medicinal constituents will zing your tongue like pins and needles.
Echinacea is thought to be an immunity booster, best taken as early as possible in the case of infection. Ideally, begin taking the tea or tincture when you think you might get sick.
ORNA IZAKSON writes and gardens on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. She also is an herbalist and student at National College of Naturopathic Medicine.