I love fall, with the crackling fires and piles of leaves. Some of my favorite plants bloom in the late summer to fall and many of them have uses we’ve never even thought of. Here are just a few.
Fall Plants that Have Many Uses
Asters – for pain and bites
Asters come in many colors ranging from white to deep purple and even yellows and oranges. In researching them I found that they have been used to treat headaches and stomach pain, as well as snake bites and insect bites. This is best done with a tincture, made with the leaves, flowers, and roots. (Find out how to make a Simple Homemade Tincture.) You can take a few drops a few times daily to relieve symptoms.
Note: This remedy is intended to help fight infection, not to treat poison. Seek immediate help if you are bitten by a poisonous snake.
Chrysanthemums – in a bug spray for plants
Chrysanthemums are another fall bloomer that are so pretty in the garden. They also produce a substance called pyrethrins that have long been used to kill bugs. The extract is mixed with water and sprayed on roses and cucumbers to combat pests. It is safe and can be consumed, but you might want to wash it off anything that you might be eating. I don’t spray it directly on flowers since it may also kill beneficial pollinators like honey bees, but I do use it on the leaves.
Gentian – for digestion
Gentian, such as bottle gentian, also blooms in the fall. They have pretty bluish purple flowers that never quite open all the way and form more of a vase or bottle. Gentian is one of the most bitter substances known to man. Make a tincture of the roots and take just a few drops to aid in digestion.
Note: It should not be used by those who have ulcers or high blood pressure.
Mullein – for earaches & respiratory problems
Mullein is a fall blooming plant with tall spires containing numerous small yellow flowers. The flowers can be dried and infused into oil. That oil can then be used to treat earaches. Any oil can be used, though I prefer something with a longer shelf life like sunflower or safflower.
The leaves are very fuzzy and have been used as an emergency toilet paper. The leaves can also be simmered in water and that “tea” used for respiratory problems. An extract of the leaves has been shown to be antiviral and antifungal. It is even being studied in Ireland for its effectiveness in treating cancer.
Goldenrod – for allergy relief & a natural dye
Goldenrod is often blamed for allergies, but it is ragweed that blooms at the same time that causes most of the problems. In fact, a tea of goldenrod, both leaves and flowers, will help relieve symptoms of allergies, not add to them. The flowers can also be used to dye fabrics and yarns.
Ragweed – for allergy symptoms
Ragweed, which is the cause of many allergy symptoms, has some use in fighting them. Make a tea from the leaves and drink it several times a day. Just be sure leaves are washed and free from pollen, or it could make the situation worse.
Mountain Mint – for nasal issues & insect repellent
Mountain mint blooms in the late summer and fall. There are many varieties, and all of them are hardy and can be grown almost anywhere. Most of them have a fairly large coarse leaf that has a vanilla mint scent, although some are more herbal, often smelling more like oregano.
All of them can be used as a tea or in a tincture for nasal issues. You can also use the tincture as an insect repellent. Some of the mountain mints contain higher amounts of pugelone which can disrupt hormone activity in large amounts. Note: It should not be used by pregnant women.
Other Fall Plants to Use
Pumpkin means fall to me. There are so many more uses for pumpkin than just pie. Pumpkins have many antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that benefit the body. Even pumpkin seeds have uses such as getting rid of parasites in the body. If you like pumpkin, you may enjoy these articles:
Mountain Ash Berries
Mountain ash berries should only be used with caution. You can make a jelly or juice from the berries, but all the seeds must be carefully removed. The seeds contain prussic acid and can be dangerous. The fruit can also be made into a tincture and used as a gargle for sore throats. The fruit contains significant amounts of Vitamin C and has been used to combat scurvy.
American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) has long been a staple in landscaping. I’ve seen birds eat the berries of this shrub and wondered if humans could also consume them. Then I saw jam made from beautyberries. They are mild, tasting something like a cross between an apple and a grape. Pick them ripe as the berries can be astringent when unripe.
The leaves have been known to make an effective insect repellent. Make a tincture, add some water (50/50), and spray where ants or other crawling bugs might be. It is safe for people and pets, so you can bruise the leaves to release the oils and rub them directly on your skin.
Have you found a fall plant that has interesting uses? Let us know!