Helpful Herbs: Blue Vervain
A wild flower with deep history and magical associations, Blue Vervain can be a helpful part of any herb garden. Easy to grow with beautiful purple flower clusters, Blue Vervain is native to Europe and North Africa, but grows heartily in a variety of climates.
Blue Vervain is most commonly grown from seed, which is sown in the early fall for spring growth. The seeds prefer cold temperatures for germination, so if you're sowing in the spring try putting the seeds in your refrigerator for a few days before introducing them to the earth. Plant in full to partial sun with moist soil and by the end of summer you should be rewarded with long, thin stalks of blossoms.
The best time to harvest Blue Vervain is at the very beginning of its flowering. Harvest the blossoming stalks, leaving some flowers behind for the bees and regrowth. Vervain is a favorite of bees, especially bumblebees, and butterflies, and is often cultivated specifically for these purposes.
Dried Blue Vervain makes a herbal tea that is extremely healthy. Its bitter flavor can be counteracted with a large dollop of honey. Vervain seeds can also be used as flour for baking, or as a rub on various meat dishes. However, Blue Vervain is not a common culinary herb.
Blue Vervain's health benefits are numerous. The tea will help to clear up congestion and ease intestinal pains. Natural anti-inflammatory, Vervain tea is also used to provide relief from migraines and fever.
Vervain has been used to treat kidney stones and to keep teeth healthy. Its rumored health benefits are numerous, and it was once cultivated in China as a cure for malaria. In fact, the name "vervain" is said to come from the Celtic words for "to remove" and "stone", possibly a reference to its abilities with kidney stones.
Legends around Vervain abound. The most well known is its mythical ability to protect humans from witches and vampires. It is said Vervain was the herb used to heal Jesus' wounds after his removal from the cross, and traditional names for it included "holy herb" and "Devil's bane". In ancient Egypt it was called the "tears of Isis", the Egyptian goddess of health and women.
Vervain has been cultivated for magical reasons since ancient Egypt, from Persia to Scandinavia. Sacred to Thor in Norse legend, it was a key ingredient of magician's potions during the Middle Ages. Commonly used in love potions, it was also said to help inspire vivid dreams. Used to treat plague victims, Vervain was a sacred plant to the Druids, Romans, and Greeks, and was used in those culture's sacred rituals.
The bright, purple blossoms of Vervain brighten your garden and easy to maintain. The plant's cultivation will connect you with a rich and magical history, and give you a healthy boost.