The Herbs, Roots, and Bark Library

Herbs beginning with the letter F

Fennel growing wild A close up of a Fennel flower head with a visitor (Bee) Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare, also known as Hui-Xiang) is best known for it's "licorice" flavor. It's Greek name, Marathron, was derived from the verb for "to grow thin", and it has been used as a slimming aid for centuries. Fennel's botanical name, Foeniculum Vulgare, comes from the Latin for "fragrant hay". During the Middle Ages the rich used Fennel to add zest to their dishes, while the poor used it as an appetite suppressant on fast days. Because Fennel was believed to be magically beneficial people hung it over their doors to repel evil spirits. Fennel was introduced into North America by Spanish priests, and it still grows wild around their old missions.

Magickal Uses:
a close up of a Fennel seed head

Fennel is a countermagick herb, a Green Herbe, and an herb of protection. Fennel is purported to increase the length of one's incarnation. It also provides us with help when facing danger, making us strong of heart and capable of facing dire times. We may work with Fennel to protect us against negative energy from external sources. Fennel is best gathered at Midsummer's Eve and then hung as a protective charm in one's home. Fennel is an excellent herb to use in ritual working dealing with elemental fire.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Fennel seed has been used as an antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, stimulant, and stomachic. Fennel has also been used to stimulate lactation, as a remedy against colic, and to improve the taste of other medicines. Modern herbalists still prescribe it as an eye wash. Chinese herbal medicine includes the use of Fennel for gastroenteritis, hernia, indigestion, abdominal pain, and to resolve phlegm. Fennel seed is used in the food and flavor industry. The essential oil and the oleoresin of Fennel are used in condiments, soaps, creams, perfumes, and liqueurs. Some eat the leaves and "bulb" of this plant, and some chew the seeds as a breath freshener. **WC** Fennel has been known to cause skin irritation in some people handling it. **GT** Grow Fennel for an abundance of butterflies, birds and beneficial insects in your garden-they love it!

Fern, Bracken-
Bracken Fern
Bracken Fern (Pteris Aquilina, also called Female Fern, Brake Fern, Fiddlehead Fern, Eagle Fern, and Hog Brake) is named after Pteridium, from the Greek "Pteris" which means fern, and "Aquilinum", from the Latin meaning "eagle like". Fossil evidence suggests that Bracken Fern has had at least 55 million years to evolve and perfect antidisease and anti-herbivore chemicals. Unfortunately, if it is allowed to grow where livestock graze they will develop acute bracken poisoning which affects the bone marrow of both cattle and sheep, causing anemia and hemorrhaging, blindness and tumors of the jaws, rumen, intestine, and liver. It was considered so valuable during the Middle Ages it was used to pay rents. (it was used as roofing thatch and as fuel when a quick hot fire was desired)

Magickal Uses:

"...We have the receipt of fern-seed, we walk invisible..."

Excerpt from Henry IV by William Shakespeare

Bracken Fern is a countermagick herb, an herb of immortality, a visionary herb, and an herb of protection. Gather Bracken on Midsummers Eve and use the spores in amulets or charms to increase privacy and provide protection against others discovering the practitioner's personal business. Many believe using Bracken in Midsummer Rites will enable you to enter a visionary realm of the Fae. It is believed the seed (spores) can have a positive and expansive effect upon ones financial situation. All types of fern are suitable for love Magick.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Bracken Fern is commonly used today as a food for humans. The newly emerging croziers or fiddleheads are picked in Spring and may be consumed fresh or preserved by salting, pickling, or sun drying. Both fronds and rhizomes have been used in brewing beer, and rhizome starch has been used as a substitute for Arrowroot. Bread can be made out of dried and powered rhizomes alone or with other flour. Native Americans cooked the rhizomes, then peeled and ate them or pounded the starchy fiber into flour. In Japan starch from the rhizomes is used to make confections. Bracken Fern is grown commercially for use as a food and herbal remedy. The powdered rhizome has been considered particularly effective against parasitic worms. **WC** Warning! Be extremely cautious gathering Bracken Fern because its fronds may release Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) when they are damaged, and this gas is can be lethal. Bracken Fern has been found to be mutagenic and carcinogenic in rats and mice, usually causing stomach or intestinal cancer. It is implicated in some leukemias, bladder cancer, and cancer of the esophagus and stomach in humans. All parts of the plant, including the spores, are carcinogenic, and face masks are recommended for people working in dense Bracken. **GT** Bracken Fern increases soil fertility by bringing larger amounts of phosphate, nitrogen, and potassium into circulation.

Fern, Maidenhair-
Maidenhair Fern Another Type of Maidenhair Fern
Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum Capillus-Veneris, also called Rock Fern, Venus'hair Fern, Southern Maidenhair, and Black Maidenhair) is so delicate it is often referred to as the "Hair of Venus". Its one of the prettiest ferns nature ever came up with. Its name comes from the Greek "Adiantos" meaning unwetted (referring to impermeable leaves of some species shedding water). Many believe Maidenhair (wild in the woods) to be a plant of the faeries realm.

Magickal Uses:

Maidenhair is an herb of protection and love. The attributes of Venus may be invoked when working with Maidenhair Fern. Elivirs and potions based upon this fern are said to increase one's physical attractiveness and enhance the qualities of the Goddess within. Although an herb of love, Maidenhair does not bring about the love of another so much as enable one to recognize and love the divine within. All types of fern are suitable for love Magick.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Some use the dried leaf of Maidenhair for a tea to treat Asthma. It is astringent, hemostatic, and it is slightly stimulant to mucus membrane function. The most common use is for coughing and heaviness in the lungs, such as a bronchial infection. Its also used for sore throat, and chronic nasal congestion. In Europe and Latin America it has a long history of stimulating slow and crampy menstrual cycles. It seems most effective for young women and those having trouble getting back on cycle after birthing, nursing, or coming off birth control pills. The tea, either by infusion or decoction, is an excellent hair rinse, as it adds some body to the hair (particularly in sun-dried or over-processed conditions). **WC** Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its Vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in Vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase.

Fern, Male-
Male Fern The leaves of the Male Fern are still rolled up in the Spring and have the appearance of little bishops staffs
Male Fern (Dryopteris Filix-Mas, also known as Bear Fern, Basket Fern, Bear's-paw Root, Knotty Brake, Shield Fern, and Sweet Brake) is really a misnomer, there is no such thing as male or female fern. The name Male Fern was applied to this fern because of its robust appearance and erect growth as contrasted with the graceful, drooping and delicate fronds of the female fern. The genus name Dryopteris means "oak fern" in Greek, because the plant is often found in oak forests. Botanists gave the fern the name "Filix-Mas", meaning male fern, because of its vigorous nature

Magickal Uses:

Male Fern has been used in folk Magick since ancient times. The root is sometimes called the "Hands of the Gods" or the "Lucky Hand". It is considered a powerful talisman associated with great power, and is capable of wielding either good or evil. It is an herb of protection. It is considered a superior aphrodisiac for men. When using the fern to stimulate and invoke the energy of any fertility gods it is recommended to gather the root on Midsummers Eve. The root is burned within a ritually prepared circle (preferably outdoors beneath a Full Moon), and used to enhance potency. All types of fern are suitable for love Magick.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Male Fern rhizomes are bitter and have strong laxative properties. Many have used them as a vermifugant, and its rhizomes are used as a tapeworm remedy. The root contains a substance that paralyzes the worm and causes it to release its grip on the intestines. When cooked, they are said to be sweet-tasting, and some compare the taste of fern rhizomes to that of sweet potatoes. **GT** Ferns will flourish in a soil mixture of equal parts of loam and peat, but for pot cultivation, a bit of cow manure should be added. (Most varieties prefer slightly acid, "woodsy" soil) They need a lot of water, but its better to give small amounts daily rather than flood it biweekly. Give them partial shade (meaning full protection from burning Summer sun). I've had folks tell me the following, "I can't grow fern!" It doesn't take a brain trust, honest. :o)

Feverfew A close up of the flowers
Feverfew (Chrysanthemum Parthenium, also known as Featherfew, Rainfarn, Wild Quinine, Featherfoil, Missouri Snakeroot, Tanacetum Parthenium, Prairie-dock, Bachelor's Button, and Wild Chamomile) derives its name from Febrifuge, which is a term for medicine that reduces fevers. Feverfew was known to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks who regarded it as a valuable remedy to alleviate headaches, joint pain, stomach aches, menstrual pains and fever. Early settlers called it Featherfew referring to the plant's fine, lacy petals. In modern times it has gained immense popularity in the herbal treatment of migraine headaches.

Magickal Uses:

Feverfew is an herb of love, and protection. Feverfew is ruled by Venus, and it is an excellent herb for love Magick. Include a few flowers in your charms or sachets. Feverfew is also a strong herb for health and spiritual healing. Many use Feverfew to ward off sickness and keep resistance up. Feverfew protects travelers, so tuck a few flowers into your suitcase or car the next time you venture on a trip.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Feverfew is used to ease headaches, menstrual cramps, arthritis, and muscle aches and pains. The herb also controls inflammation that constricts the blood vessels in the head, and prevents blood vessel spasms which may contribute to headaches and other resulting problems. (There have been recent studies supporting the efficacy of Feverfew, including a double blind British study reported in the Lancet, which found Feverfew useful in relieving the symptoms of migraines when other treatments have failed). It is believed that the chemical parthenolide, found in Feverfew, retards inflammation and swelling which causes the pain, sensitivity to light and nausea associated with migraine headaches. Feverfew also contains Niacin and Iron. European settlers of the Midwestern United States discovered this root to be used for coughs and sore throats by the Native Americans. The Catwbas tribe used its fresh leaves as a poultice on burns as well. **WC** Feverfew should not be used during pregnancy. **GT** Feverfew will thrive in the poorest soils. They can even make a home in pavement cracks and and walls. Full sun is a must, as the plant is susceptible to mildew in the shade.

Digitalis Purpurea in the wild Digitalis Lanata
Foxglove (Digitalis Purpurea and Digitalis Lanata, also known as Fairy Caps, Deadman's Bells, Fairy's Glove, Foxes' Claws, Fairy Thimbles, Witch's Bells, Folks' Glove, and Witches Glove) is among the loveliest, most famous, and most dangerous medicinal plants. Foxglove is the common name for plants of the Digitalis species, primarily represented by common Foxglove, Digitalis Purpurea. Digitalis, a cardiovascular drug extracted from the leaves, is the most effective drug available for heart failure caused by hypertension or arteriosclerosis. (Digitalis slows the pulse and the conduction of nerve impulses in the heart and increases the force of heart contractions and the amount of blood pumped per heartbeat. Common preparations include digitalis, digitoxin, and digoxin) The name of this woodland perennial originates in folk lore: if the long flower bells are fitted over the fingertips, their bases resemble Foxes' claws. (The Latin word for finger is "Digitus").

Magickal Uses: A Digitalis Purpurea Hybrid

Foxglove is a visionary herb and an herb of immortality. To quote The Master Book of Herbalism: "Foxglove is an herbe of the Underworld, and has been used by those with intense initiatory training to commune with those who live there. This is a dangerous practice for the untrained, for Foxglove is also capricious, and the unwise or foolhardy could easily find the communion with the Underworld permanent and too vivid". The juice of this herb can be ritually collected (choose your time according to the Moon). In ritual it can be later used to mark the very center of your Circle, where you shall sit and wait to see the realm of the Fae. Grow Foxglove in your garden to attract all manner of plant Devas.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Foxglove is also used medicinally as a heart regulator, a diuretic, and an expectorant. (Digoxin and Lanatoside C from Foxglove are effective in the correction of arrhythmias). Foxglove is a cardiac tonic and is used in the treatment of circulatory failures because the cardenolides slow and strengthen the heart beat. Digitalis, a cardiovascular drug extracted from the leaves, is the most effective drug available for heart failure caused by hypertension or arteriosclerosis. To date, no synthetic drug has been as effective in this area as this herb. **GT** Foxgloves bloom mainly in early Summer but if the first stalks are cut off below the seed pods before the seeds mature, more flowers often appear in Midsummer. **WC** Warning: Digitalis is VERY poisonous, and symptoms include vomiting, headache, irregular heartbeat, and convulsions. Overdoses can be fatal.

A Very Young Frankincense Tree A Young Vendor of Frankincense in Yemen
Frankincense (Boswellia Thurifera, also called Olibanum) is an ancient herb (A 1500 year old site in southeastern Egypt called "Qasr Ibrimin" revealed burnt frankincense remnants) The earliest recorded use of Frankincense is found in an inscription on the tomb of a 15th century BC Egyptian queen named Hathsepsut (see our Egyptian area in the Cauldron). Ancient Egyptians burned Frankincense as incense and ground the charred resin into a powder called Kohl. Kohl was used to make the distinctive black eyeliner seen on so many figures in Egyptian art. The Egyptians burned it during religious ceremonies to drive away evil spirits, and to cleanse the air in sickrooms. (Its natural oil content and pleasant aroma made it desirable to be used in temples as incense) To collect the gum a deep incision is made in the tree trunk where the resin exudes in tear shaped drops which harden on contact with the air (this process takes up to three months). Today it is grown primarily in Somalia and the Arab States. (which is why its so expensive)

Magickal Uses:

Frankincense is an herb of consecration, protection, and purification. It is used for ritual primarily as incense. Frankincense is favored in Solar Festivals, Beltane, Lammas, and Yule. Frankincense shares an affinity with Topaz, and either will enhance the power of the other. The resin is suited for the consecration of wands and other ritual items associated with self-will, self-control, and the disciplines of one's ego. It is of particular use for those with Leo planets. The history and the combination of feminine and masculine energies lend Frankincense a singular place among Magickal Herbes. It represents the divinity's ability to move into manifestation. Frankincense is often associated with ritual workings to bring success, and is added to charm bags and sachets. Mix it with Cumin and burn as incense for powerful protective workings.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Frankincense is used in the West for aromatherapy, incense, baths, and massage. A modern day use of Frankincense is steam inhalation which is supposed to aid in relieving bronchitis and laryngitis. Some inhale it to release catarrh or phlegm. Add a few drops in a bath to relax and meditate. Its not recommended in Western medicine, but is used extensively in the East as an emmenagogue, carminative, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, and to help wounds and scars to heal.

Fumitory- Fumitory A close up of the flowers

Fumitory, (Fumaria Officinalis, also known as Earth-smoke, Erdrauch, Hedge Fumitory, and Wax Dolls) It's English name is a corruption of the medieval Latin meaning literally "smoke of the earth". In days of old It was told witches could become invisible by the smoke when they threw this plant into the fire. Like curls of smoke rising from the ground, Fumitory's gray-green leaves have a ghostly appearance when seen from afar. In the Greco-Roman world Fumitory's name was "Kapnos", which is Greek for smoke. In Shakespeare's day the herb was sold in apothecary shops under the Latin name "Fumus Terrae", which meant Earth Smoke.

Magickal Uses:

Fumitory is an herb of consecration, countermagick, protection, and purification. It has been recognized by herbalists since the dawning of the Age of Pisces for its ability to purify and cleanse, Fumitory has curious associations with the Underworld. It is an excellent herb to use on Hallow's Eve, for Fumitory is among the better incenses for dispelling all negative energies. It may be used to cense a temple, but it is also useful as a wash, infused in water for the consecration of ritual tools. Fumitory lends itself to rituals of purification, such as the preparation of a new residence before moving in and unpacking. An interesting use for Fumitory is as incense prior to the Great Rite, where it is used to remove natural tendencies and attractions toward the sensual, thus allowing for better mental discipline and increased spiritual focus.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Fumitory has a long history of use in the treatment of skin problems such as eczema and acne. Its action is probably due to a general cleansing mediated via the kidneys and liver. Fumitory is the herbalists’ number one choice for a blood "detergent" and, because of its blood purifying properties, it can be used internally and externally for the treatment of skin problems such as eczema, acne and psoriasis. Fumitory is used as a laxative and as a remedy for stomach, liver and gall bladder problems. It can be employed as a diuretic in cases of fluid retention, constipation and to stimulate the flow of bile. It may also be used as an eyewash to ease conjunctivitis. **WC** It should be collected when in flower, which is throughout the summer.

The Gs Are Next...

Back to the Herb Menu Back to the Main Menu


A Compendium of Herbal Magick by Paul Beyerl

A Modern Herbal by Maud Grieve (Vol 1 & 2)

Magickal Herbalism by Scott Cunningham

Edible Wild Plants by Thomas S. Elias & Peter A. Dykeman

Indian Herbalogy by Alma R. Hutchens

Sacred Plant Medicine by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Coyote Medicine by Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D.

Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by "Wildman" Steve Brill

The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman

The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody

Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham

Magic and Medicine of Plants by Inge N. Dobelis

Information given on this site is not intended to be taken as a replacement for medical advice. Any person with a condition requiring medical attention should consult a medical doctor. This information is given as reference only.