Notes from Herb Heaven

Bulbinella

This week's star herb is the ever-popular basil. There are different types of this spicy, aromatic herb and the ones that do well in my garden in Phalaborwa are lemon basil, sweet basil and the beautiful big perennial basil bush with its pinky purple flowers that attract the bees and butterflies.

This is a herbal home medicine kit all on its own, especially for skin conditions. It will almost instantly soothe the sting of a mozzie bite and all sorts of other insect bites as well. Bee and wasp stings, ringworm, eczema. It will even help banish a pimple (and this is from first hand knowledge! It has also been a great relief in the case of five tiny spider bites!). It can soothe a burn or heat rash, quell an angry allergy and help heal blisters, cracked lips, mouth ulcers and fever blisters, cuts, scrapes, sunburn, and even irritating rashes on animals.

It's easy to open this "tube" of gel. Just break open a leaf (I split it lengthways a little and open it out to use it as a little cleansing pad) or just squeeze, then smear the jelly-juice all over the trouble spot. When it dries it leaves a protective film over the skin.

Indigenous to Africa, (its people have used it for years to treat many skin ailments) bulbinella is a compact plant that has either yellow or orange flowers and grows almost anywhere, in any soil. Being a succulent, it tolerates dry conditions and needs to be watered only once or twice a week. Good in pots, it is perfect to keep in your bathroom or on a sunny kitchen windowsill. Plant some next to your favourite outdoor spot for instant war against a mozzie bite. (Citronella geranium underplanted with pennyroyal will also help to repel the little pests!).

Bulbinella makes an excellent rockery plant and is used extensively in landscaping as it grows well in the most inhospitable spots!

Easy as anything to grow, you just break off a piece with a bit of stem and stick it in the ground. You need only one plant, or beg a piece from a friend, and you will never be without your "tube" of soothing skin gel. Cheap at the price!


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