What if you could walk up to a plant you’ve never seen before and know immediately what it is and what it can do for you? This isn’t the stuff of fantasy — it’s really possible!
The botanist Thomas J. Elpel is known for his “Botany In A Day” books about the secret tricks anyone can use, even a total beginner.
All you have to do is learn to look for patterns and memorize a few distinctive features in each family. Plants in the mint family, like lemonbalm above, have square stems and and “opposite” leaves (which is botany jargon for leaves that line up directly across from each other). Most have pungent aromas, too.
Elpel has posted online articles about some of the most common plant families that you can read for free here.
Lemonbalm is one of my favorite plants. Not only does it make a nice tea, but did you know you can smoke it for a calming effect? Just pick it, hang it up, let it dry out for a couple days and you’re set: Free and gentle anti-anxiety medicine.
Then explore many more wild plants on the Search Plants! page.