Old Independence

Regional Museum


Heritage Garden







Made possible through

the Greening of Arkansas Grant and the

Master Gardeners of

Independence County


Plants and their Uses

Alum Root (heuchera) Used to aid digestion.

Bee Balm (monarda fistulosa) Poultices were used for treating skin infections and minor wounds.† Tisane from this plant was used to treat mouth and throat infections, cavities, and gingivitis.† It is a natural source of the antiseptic thymol, which is the active ingredient in modern, commercial mouthwash.† Also known as Oswego tea.† The Oswego Indians shared it with the colonists who used it after the Boston Tea Party.

Black Snakeroot (actaea racemosa)† Used to treat sore throats, kidney problems, depression, rheumatism, and nervous disorders. Poultice from roots used to treat snake bites. Poisonous in large doses.

Southern Blue Flag (iris virginica) Traditional remedy for impurities of the blood and diseases of the liver. Poultice of leaves used for burns, sores, and bruises. Southeastern Native Americans planted near their villages for use.

Boneset (eupatorium perfoliatum) Used to treat fevers associated with colds, influenza, and malaria.† May have been used to treat dengue fever (called breakbone fever because of the severe pain it caused). Used to treat gout. Poisonous to humans and livestock and can cause liver damage.

Cardinal Flower (lobelia cardinalis)Teas made from leaves used to treat bronchial problems and colds. Native Americans substituted dried leaves for tobacco. Used as an emetic to induce vomiting and as an expectorant.

Chickory (cichorium intybus) Roots baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute.† Chickory tonics used as laxatives and diuretics.† Poultices from the leaves used to reduce swelling and inflammation.

Comfrey (symphytum officinale) Traditionally used to heal bone fractures, sprains, and arthritis. It should never be ingested. Contains 2-3 times more potassium than manure and can be used as a fertilizer.

Coreopsis (coreopsis tinctoria) Used for dyeing. Produced yellow, orange, and brown colors.

Cornflower (centaurea cyanus) Used as a treatment for conjunctivitis and as a wash for tired eyes. Juice from flower, mixed with an alum solution, can be used as ink, but the color is not fast for a cloth dye.

Cranesbill Geranium (geranium maculatum)was a very popular domestic remedy in nearly all parts of the country according to a 19th century handbook for physicians.† Used for diarrhea, dysentery, and hemorrhaging.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)Used as an antiseptic and blood purifier.† Documented to have been used in snakebite, anthrax, and pain relief.†

False Solomonís Seal (maianthemum racemosum) Used as a cough suppressant and laxative.† Poultice from roots was used to treat sunburn.† Roots were smoked by several Native American tribes to treat hyperactivity in children and for emotional depression.

German Chamomile (matricaria chamomilla) Applied topically to ease inflammation of hemorrhoids.† Used to treat ear and eye infections, aid in digestion, nervousness, and insomnia.† Used as a fabric dye, producing yellow, buff, and golden orange.

Golden Marguerite (anthemis tinctoria) Flower used for yellow dye.

Goldenrod (solidago canadensis) Thomas Edison experimented with goldenrod to produce rubber, which it contains naturally.† Edison created a fertilization and cultivation plan to maximize the rubber content of goldenrod.† His experiments produced a 12 foot tall plant that yielded 12% rubber.† The tires on the Model T given to him by Henry Ford were made of goldenrod. Used medicinally to treat inflammation and irritation caused by bacterial infections. Used as a tincture to cleanse the kidney and the bladder.† Native Americans chewed the leaves to relieve sore throats and chewed the roots to relieve tooth aches.† Goldenrod was also used to produce yellow and light green dyes.

Great Solomonís Seal (polygonatum biflorum) Topical paste of roots was used to help heal cuts and bruises.† A wash was made to treat acne, blemishes, and other skin imperfections.

Hollyhock (alcea) Roots were used medicinally to improve blood circulation, treat constipation, and hemorrhaging.† Crushed roots were made into a poultice for ulcers.


Horehound (marrubium vulgare) Used to make lozenge candies that were thought to aid digestion, sooth sore throats, and relieve inflammation. Current studies show horehound† is an effective expectorant and appetite stimulant.† Can be a mild laxative and sedative if taken in quantity.

American Ipecac (gillenia stipulate) One of the oldest medicines known to man.† Used to induce vomiting.† Native Americans used the leaves as a tea for diabetes.† A root tea was used as a laxative and to treat pinworms and rheumatism.† A poultice made from the root was used to treat snakebites.

Indian Pink Root (spigelia marilandica) Sometimes called wormgrass because a prepared tincture from the pink roots was used to rid humans of worm.† All parts of the plant are poisonous.

Jack in the Pulpit (arisaema triphyllum) Native Americans used the roots to treat sore eyes, rheumatism, bronchitis, and snakebite.

Joe Pye Weed (eupatorium) Native American healer, Joe Pye, used this plant to treat various ailments which led to the name.† Used to treat fevers and kidney stones.

Lambís Ear (stachys byzantina) Used to bandage wounds.

Lavender (lavandula angustifolia) Lavender water has long been used as a sedative and was used in 19th century zoos to keep the animals docile.† It was thought to induce sleep and soothe headaches, bites, and burns.

Licorice (glycyrrhiza lepidota) Native Americans used as a pain reliever.† Roots used for toothaches and leaves steeped to make ear drops for earaches. Used to disguise the taste of medicine, heal ulcers and upset stomachs.† It acts as a mild laxative.† The root from the plant yields a sugar substitute.

Liverwort (hepatica Americana) Used to treat liver disease, sore throats, and coughs.

Madder (rubia tinctorum) Used to dye cloth and fibers red.† The coats of the British soldiers were dyed with madder, and the British officers coats were dyed with cochineal.† Used medicinally to treat jaundice, melancholy, palsy, hemorrhoids, sciatica, and bruises.

Marigold (calendula officinalis) Flowers were used medicinally and to make yellow dye for textiles.

Majoram (origanum majorana) Used to treat toothaches, digestion, venomous bites, and to relieve itching.

May Apple (podophyllum peltatum) Used by Native Americans as a laxative and to treat intestinal worms. The whole plant, except for the fruit, is poisonous.

Mullein (verbascum thapsus) Herbal remedy for sore throats, coughs, asthmas, and other respiratory disorders.† Used as a topical to treat a variety of skin problems.† Extract from the flowers was a very effective treatment for ear infections.† Used to make yellow or green dye.

Partridge Berry (mitchella repens) †Sometimes called birthroot because Native American women made tea from the leaves and berries to ease childbirth.

Peppermint (menthe piperita) Used to treat symptoms of nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, indigestion, irritable bowel, and bloating.† The aroma has been found to enhance memory and alertness.

Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) In addition to its culinary uses, it was used to improve memory.

Sage (salvia officinalis) Widely used in cooking, sage was also known to be a diuretic, an anti-sweating agent, and was used to treat snakebites.

Spearmint (menthe spicata) Used as a tea to treat stomach aches and gas.

Tansy (tanacetum vulgare) Used to treat intestinal worms, gas, rheumatism, digestive problems, fevers, sores and to bring out measles. Effective as an insect repellent and is used in commercial products like DEET.† Produces a yellow dye.

Thyme (thymus vulgaris) Thyme oil is antiseptic and used commercially in mouthwashes.† Used to medicate bandages and treat acne.† Thyme tea was used for coughs and bronchitis. Ancient Egyptians used it for embalming.

Wake Robin (trillium erectum) Used to control bleeding and diarrhea.

Wild Ginger (asarum canadense) Used to ease gas and stomach pains, to promote sweating, and as an appetite stimulant.† Was also a potent diuretic.

Wild Quinine (parthenium integrifolium) Tea from the roots was used to treat dysentery.†

Woad (isatis tinctoria) One of the earliest known dyes.† Creates a blue dye.

Yarrow (achillea millefolium) Infusion used for everything from head colds to urinary tract infections.† Used topically for wounds, cuts, and abrasions. Other yarrow uses include the treatment for: small pox, thrombosis, varicose veins, blood clots, chicken pox, toothaches, ear aches, measles, and pain.† In the 19th century it had a greater number of uses than any other herb.

Yellow Bedstraw (galium verum) Used to stuff mattresses. The scent acted as a flea killer.† Used to coagulate milk in cheese.† It was a sedative and also a dye.




Disclaimer:† This brochure is meant to be an educational guide to some of the historic uses of plants; it is in no way intended to be used as a guide for preparing herbal remedies.



Old Independence Regional Museum

380 South 9th Street

Batesville AR 72501