Family: Aster (Asteraceae)
Annual or overwintering annual, native to the Mediterranean and widely naturalized. Giant, shiny-leaved plant with distinct white variegations, producing bright purple flowers that give way to hefty brown-black seeds that are one of the best liver protective herbs on Earth. Seed may be ground as needed in an electric coffee mill. Dosage is 1 tablespoon up to 3 times daily. This is a significant liver supportive herb for those at-risk through workplace toxicity (you work with hexane in a lab, you spraypaint cars, you glue down floors, etc.) as well as those suffering from liver-related diseases (jaundice, hepatitis). Plant prefers moist, rich soil and full sun to part shade. Best to sow seed in late summer and harvest ripe seed the following year, but in areas with very cold winters it is possible to direct seed in the very early spring and pull off a harvest by fall. Wear gloves, cut off the partially dried capitulae and drop in a bucket, further dry in the sun for a few days, then wail with a stick until the seedhead is well broken apart, and screen and wind winnow until you get pure seed. The plant is surprisingly seed productive and although it takes some work to get the goodies out, it is well worth it. Tap-rooted plant does poorly in pots and is best sown directly in the soil. Plant all the seeds, because as nature would have it, some of them come up right away and some lie dormant to come up another day. Thin to 3 feet apart. 50 seeds per packet, certified organically grown
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