Archive for August, 2010

In the Key of Flowers

Posted by Erin|29 August 2010

Sunlight peeks through the misty morning canopy and dapples the open book in my lap with gold. A soft breeze whispers through the forest carrying the fragrance of May blossoms and bird songs. I sit in a wet patch of fluttering Oxalis, a wild yellow violet smiling into my hand lens, and read the couplet aloud…

26a – Leaves finely dotted, flecked, or reticulately mottled with purple, rather firm and coriaceous, persistent and generally pubescent, plant stoloniferous; mostly in moist woods. Viola sempervirens

26b – Leaves not flecked with purple, thin, generally withering during the winter, often glabrous, plant not stoloniferous; montane to alpine. Viola orbiculata

After careful examination of snaking shoots and leathery leaves, I discover that this spring beauty is indeed Viola sempervirens, the Evergreen Violet!

Learning to identify lovely little flowers will surely enrich how we experience these special places.


All friendships require a bit of curiosity, patience, and understanding. Keying plants in the wild calls for this kind of delightful commitment, too. Learning to identify the lovely little flowers blooming along beloved old-growth trails, bubbling river banks and in the crevices of rocky crags will surely enrich how we experience these special places. It’s quite exciting to meet the new magenta flowers opening on a familiar Rubus spectabilis. As I gaze into the glittering corolla, I remember last year’s juicy salmonberries and feel my connection to this plant deepen.

Deciphering botanical vocabulary can seem a daunting task, but mastering this language can be fun as you unveil the strange and mysterious lives of plants through a sort of scientific poetry.  Words roll off the tongue to illuminate an orchid’s pouty labellum, the maple’s winged double samaras, and the wonderfully zygomorphic silhouette of skullcap flowers.

Some phrases are so meticulously descriptive that I am struck with wonder!

Corolla strongly bilabiate with a flaring throat and a prominent maroon blotch.

Just imagine a fuzzy bee zooming in for landing on this flower’s beckoning maroon nectar guide.

I like to make botanical flash cards to learn the subtle nuances of different inflorescence forms, flower parts, and leaf shapes. Simply drawing a pistil and writing the definition helps to solidify the concept in my mind, while allowing time for pleasant meditation. These study cards also make a handy reference tool when hunting and keying out the countless medicinal, edible, and poisonous plants during a weekend in the woods.

Botanical terms are fun to learn with homemade flash cards.

Here in Oregon, I use a well worn copy of Hitchcock and Cronquist’s Flora of the Pacific Northwest to identify plants, but there are excellent field floras available for every region in the US and around the world. The Flora of North America is also being created and regularly updated online. An illustrated botanical glossary is important for any budding botanist to have on hand. A good choice is Plant Identification Terminology: An Illustrated Glossary by Harris and Harris. Be sure to check for botany classes or a native plant society in your town. These groups often have amazing resources available that are specific to your local area.

Whether you feel compelled to photograph, press, eat, or simply enjoy the company of the plants you study, their enchanting beauty will definitely inspire a closer look.

Herbal Infused Honey

Posted by Irene|23 August 2010

Raw local honey infused with organic botanicals.

Imagine Lavender laced honey atop freshly churned ice cream or pear slices dipped into Star Anise honey!

Honey infused with herbs is pure decadence! Not only is it a simple and delicious way to enjoy the medicinal goodness of herbs, but honey has anti-bacterial and soothing properties on its own.

You will need:

- Fresh or dried herbs: Lavender, Rose petals, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Basil, Ginger, Sage, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Vanilla, Star Anise, Rosemary, and Thyme are just a few of the many options.

- Honey (preferably raw honey from a local beekeeper)

Fill a clean mason jar halfway with fresh herbs or a quarter full with dried herbs. Top with honey, stir, and cap with a tight-fitting lid. Place in a sunny windowsill, and turn the jar over once per day.  Add more honey if the herbs swell and rise above the honey. Allow to infuse for a week or longer, then strain once the desired flavor has been achieved.

Enjoy drizzled over desserts, fresh fruit, ice cream, oatmeal, on toast with butter, in salad dressings, marinades, sauces, or as a sweetener for tea and lemonade.

Just imagine Lavender laced honey over freshly churned ice cream, Rose petal infused honey drizzled on luscious strawberry shortcake, Chamomile and Vanilla honey atop homemade granola, or Pear slices dipped into Star Anise  honey. 


~ irene

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Meet Us

  • ErinErin (363)
    Erin is the Marketing Director at Mountain Rose and studied herbalism, botany, and ethical wildcrafting at the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. She spends her days making botanical illustrations, playing in the garden, creating culinary gems, and formulating medicine in the magnificent Oregon Cascades.
    ChristineChristine (128)
    Christine is our Product Manager here at Mountain Rose Herbs and our Certified Aromatherapist on staff. She's a longtime Mountain Roser with nearly a decade under her belt and assists with selecting new and exciting herbal and herb-related products. She also makes sure our current products are the best they can be!
    KoriKori (76)
    Kori is our Public and Media Relations Coordinator! A West Coast native, Kori is a seasoned nonprofit activist and community organizer. Having launched six adult kids, she spends her free time in her burgeoning organic and very urban “farm”—taming Heritage chickens, building top-bar beehives from reclaimed materials, baking, brewing, and preserving.
    IreneIrene (53)
    Irene Wolansky is the Customer Experience Director at Mountain Rose Herbs. Born and raised on the Oregon coast, her interests include crafting body care products and herbal medicine, harvesting mushrooms, gardening, brewing herbal mead, fermentation, and exploring wild areas.
    AlietaAlieta (45)
    Alieta is our Marketing Assistant! An Oregon native, she studied philosophy, Spanish and graphic design at Portland State University and has a natural affinity for the natural foods industry. She spends her time outside of work playing her 54 key Rhodes piano, hanging out with her cat Penelope, and cooking delicious gluten-free and dairy-free meals to share with friends.
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    An array of voices from around Mountain Rose Herbs and beyond share their wisdoms, inspirations, and exciting stories from the herbal world.
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    Our team of farm representatives travel around the US and the world to visit our organic crops. They bring back stories and photos from their meetings with our farmers and important news about our herbal harvests.
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    Shawn is the Vice President at Mountain Rose Herbs, which means he has his hands in just about everything here, but he is most passionate about advancing the company's ecological platforms for sustainable business practices. In his spare time, he can be found deep in Oregon’s designated wilderness areas or fly fishing (strictly catch and release) with his furry friends Abigail and Maggie.
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