have played an important part
in man's life for countless
years -- in his politics, romance,
love, religion, health, and
was used by the Abyssinians
for stuffing pillows. Ancient
Greeks and Romans crowned their
heroes with dill and laurel.
Dill also was used by the Romans
to purify the air in their banquet
herbs were given magical properties,
probably because of their medicinal
uses. The early Chinese considered
artemisia to have special charms.
In France during the Middle
Ages, babies were rubbed with
artemisia juices to protect
them from the cold. Ancient
Greeks used sweet marjoram as
a valuable tonic, and parsley
as a cure for stomach ailments.
Rosemary was eaten in the Middle
Ages for its tranquilizing effects
and as a cure-all for headaches.
still a common herb often found
growing wild, had economic importance
throughout Asia and many Mediterranean
countries. Odd as it seems now,
the early Dutch settlers in
this country intentionally planted
chives in the meadows so cows
would give chive-flavored milk.
another popular herb today,
also had its beginnings early
in history. Greek athletes used
bruised mint leaves as an after-bath
lotion. In the Middle Ages,
mint was important as a cleansing
agent and later was used to
purify drinking water that had
turned stale on long ocean voyages.
Mint also was given mystical
powers It was used to neutralize
the "evil eye" and to produce
an aggressive character.
was lauded by Hippocrates, the
ancient Greek physician, and
Shakespeare called it a desirable
condiment in several of his
herbs with importance dating
back to early times include
basil, saffron, sage, savory,
tarragon, and thyme.
settlers brought herbs to America
for use as remedies for illnesses,
flavoring, storing with linens,
strewing on floors, or burning
for their pleasant fragrances.
Some herbs were used to improve
the taste of meats in the days
before preservation techniques
were developed. Other herbs
were used to dye homespun fabrics.
gardens were almost an essential
feature of pioneer homes. They
were placed in sunny corners
near the house to be readily
available to the busy homemaker.
As the population of the new
country grew, people from many
nations brought herbs with them.
This resulted in an exchange
of slips, seeds, and plants.
herbs familiar to settlers from
other countries were found growing
wild in the new country. These
included parsley, anise, pennyroyal,
sorrel, watercress, liverwort,
wild leeks, and lavender. American
Indians knew uses for almost
every wild, nonpoisonous plant,
but they used the plants chiefly
for domestic purposes -- tanning
and dyeing leather and eating.