Siberian Ginseng and Chickweed; Featured May 2017

Featured for May

May is mid-autumn, by the horticultural calendar, and the life cycle of each plant has now determined the performance for the winter period. Chickweed is joyfully expanding over the ground in the preferred season of growth in our sub-tropical climate, while Siberian Ginseng is busily building energy reserves in preparation for winter dormancy.



Siberian Ginseng

Made famous by Russian athletes for decreasing recover time after physical exertion. Now broadly used to treat exhaustion of all types, including physical, emotional and sexual.

Native to Siberia, this species shows remarkable adaptability, thriving in all climates and most positions. Habit changes with climate and position. In full sun in the sub-tropics (photo above) habit is large, generous and expansive. When grown in shade in the same climate, the habit is compact, reserved and (almost) demure.

Medicinal action is that of an adaptogen, balancing out any existing imbalances in the organism. Plants with adaptogenic properties generally have a common name which refers to Ginseng. Korean or Asian Ginseng is the best known adaptogen, others include Maca (Peruvian Ginseng), Ashwaganda (Indian Ginseng), Golden Root and Jiaogulan.

Although it is the root harvested for making plant medicine, the leaves also have the same medicinal properties, albeit much diluted in comparison.

Propagation by seed is challenging, but rewarding. Vegetative propagation is much easier. Semi-hardwood cuttings in late spring to early summer, or hardwood cuttings in winter. Suitable for all climates and areas in Australia.


Chickweed is our favourite forage herb. It has naturalised in our valley and now eagerly volunteers in late summer, in permanent shade, all through winter into spring. This plant is highly underrated and undervalued. In southern areas, this species would be an annual over summer.

Chickweed performs as a luscious ground cover under established perennial and evergreen shrubs and trees. It is a straight forward plant to weed if the ground space is required, with a single plant covering up to a quarter of a square metre. The foliage makes a nutritious pesto in its own right, or combined with parsley – delicious. Skin treatments and cosmetics are also made from Chickweed. In the world of herbs, Chickweed would be second only to Nettle in terms of nutritional value.

An important tonic food for all poultry and birds, particularly caged birds. Chickweed is one of the few readily edible herbs containing a richness of copper. Praised by Turkish gypsies, not only for its edible qualities, but also its potent medicinal properties, containing many of the soothing and tonic powers of Slippery Elm.

Economical to grow, producing a lot of foliage in a small area. Easy to propagate from seed and quick to establish. Suitable for all coastal, mountain and inland areas. Suitable for moist soil in partial shade to shade.



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