July is the month of calendula (Calendula officinalis), when we marvel at the fields of orange flowers. In fact, if I could, I'd declare it the official year of calendula! As you can tell, I like this plant very much, and it's Weleda’s largest crop. We use it in our Baby Care line and in our Calendula Toothpaste. In three or four days, we'll harvest the flourishing flowers, then we'll harvest the herba, the entire upper part of the plant. This is the only harvest we do by machine
Another beautiful medicinal plant that comes to flower in July is monkshood, or monk’s hood (Aconitum napellus). Although highly toxic, it is beneficial taken in appropriate amounts. I like to watch how the bees nearly disappear inside its flower when they're looking for nectar. When the flowers are against the light you can see all their fantastic small details.
Chicory (Cichorium intybus)—used in our Amara Drops for digestive health is a wonder. It always turns its blue flower toward the sun, and it produces new flowers every day from July to October, each one flowering only a single day. In the wild chicory grows nearly everywhere, since it can adapt to even very marginal soils. Its bitter-tasting root is used to help digestion problems.
A favorite plant of mine is thorn apple (Datura stramonium), its white flowers are beautiful and elegant, its fruit formidable. We harvest the whole upper part. Its characteristic alkaloid smell signifies the plant's toxicity.
Here are some other plants we harvest in July:
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): This seemingly modest plant, used in our Amara Drops, has many strong health benefits but not exactly an eye-catching appearance. Under a microscope you can see the plant's amazing structures and modules.
Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis): An old weed, typically found in wheat fields, although nowadays herbicides have almost eliminated it. Farmers used to find it useful because it closes its flowers before the rain comes! The flowers come in two colors, blue and coral-red.
Arnica (Arnica montana): Our soil in the garden is not optimal for arnica Montana—used in our Arnica Ointment, Burn-Care and Pregnancy Body Oil—so we have only a small crop for its unique tincture.
Starflower (Borago officinalis): This can be used as an herb in cooking, and its eye-catching flowers are delicious and decorative in salads. This plant requires rather painstaking work from us, because we harvest the individual leaves.
Centaury (Centaurium erythraea): You would never expect such a bitter taste from such a tender plant! We use it in our Amara Drops, for digestive health.
Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger): A very toxic plant, with yellowish and brown flowers that look somewhat unnatural. The fruit, leaves and flowers grow evenly, even geometrically, on the caulis, like the rhythm of the heart. The plant is used in our medicine Cordiodoron Tablets, where the Hyoscyamus mainly supports the rhythm of the heart.
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna): Another very toxic plant, although the berries look like sweet cherries, and therefore seem attractive.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea): Humans have become quite interested in this plant—used in our Echinadoron tablets (http://usa.weleda.com/our-products/shop/echinadoron.aspx) to promote immunity support. But insects and butterflies are curious about it, too!