The Herbs, Roots, and Bark Library

Herbs beginning with the letter O

A Majestic Oak in Fall Color Oak Bloom
Oak, (Quercus "Species", also called Tanners Bark, British Oak, and Common Oak) this family has many members including Red Oak, White Oak, Live Oak, White Oak, Swamp Oak, Scrub Oak, Blackjack Oak, Pin Oak, Chinkapin, and many, many others. Oak is reported to be a variation on the Anglo Saxon word "Ac" which means "tree". It is a very sacred tree in many cultures, and it was used in worship by the Druids. Druid legend holds that groves of Oaks were very sacred, treated as holy places, and used as ritual sites. The Romans and Greeks also honored the mighty Oak. In "The Golden Bough" Frazer describes a holy place in Greece called Dodona, where an Oak was the site of an Oracle of Zeus. King Arthur's round table was made from a solid slab of Oak, and is displayed at Winchester.

Magickal Uses:

Oak is an herb of protection, and a fertility herb. Add an Oak acorn to your charm bag to bring fortune and luck, and to promote fertility. Burn Oak bark as an incense to promote protection. Oak is also used in Mabon Ceremonies and in Handfastings. Oaks with Mistletoe growing in them should be left alone regarding harvest, for their spirits lend themselves to ritual work, and to cut them down brings misfortune. The Mistletoe collected from these Oaks is considered to be the most powerful. Oak has long been considered a symbol of fertility. Oak acorns ground into flour make excellent ritual cakes. Oaks and their acorns are highly appropriate for the Hallow's Eve Celebration. In various cultures many believe the Yule Log should be of Oak, and the ashes are gathered and strewn throughout one's land to bring good fortune and wealth in the coming year. The ritual fire for Midsummer should include Oak. Many believe there is no wand as sacred as one made of Oak. Decorate altars with Oak leaves during Lammas and Hallows.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Native Americans use Oak in many ways, they use the bark medicinally, they grind acorns into flour, and they roast acorns for a drink similiar to coffee. White Oak bark is one of the strongest natural astringent herbs available. Rich in tannins, White Oak bark also provides Vitamin B12, and minerals like Calcium, Iron and Zinc. White Oak bark's astringent properties tighten tissues and strengthen blood vessels, making it ideal for treating diarrhea, hemorrhoids and varicose veins. The blood-clotting agents active in White Oak bark are also helpful to stop nosebleeds. White Oak bark has also been used to treat inflammation and irritations caused by poor digestion, ulcers, strep throat, skin problems, hemorrhoids, hemorrhage, goiter, gall bladder, leucorrhea, jaundice, parasites, ulcers, and varicose veins. Oaks are used for dye, wine barrels, ink, lumber, and the White Oak is one of our most important, largest, longest-lived, and most valuable timber trees in America.

An Olive Tree in Spain Olive Bloom
Olives (Olea Europaea) have been in recorded history since 3000 B.C. At a site in Spain, carbon-dating has shown Olive seed found there to be eight thousand years old. Olive trees have a life span of 300-400 years, and some grow to be 700 years and older. (Plato's Olive tree is still alive, though no longer productive) The Acropolis in Athens is always depicted with an ancient Olive tree growing on it. According to Greek mythology, the goddess Athena placed it there to win the favor of the inhabitants of the city. She was in contest against Poseidon to win the honor of patron deity of Greece. He produced salt and she produced an Olive tree and was the victor. They named the city "Athens" in her honor. For the Ancient Greeks, the Olive tree was a symbol of peace, wisdom and triumph. An Olive wreath was made, and used to crown the Olympic champions. Indicative for the significance of the Olive tree to the Athenians is the fact that their coins portrayed Goddess Athena with an Olive wreath on her helmet and an amphorae with Olive oil. The Roman goddess of peace and harmony, Concordia, is depicted holding an Olive branch. The Hebrews used Olive oil in sacred ceremonies and saw the Olive as a symbol of peace and prosperity as well. I guess I should include the christians here as well. *grin* It was an Olive leaf that Noah's dove brought back to the arc to herald the ability to return to a growing Earth. Spain is the world's leading Olive Oil producer, and even America has joined the Olive growing industry by establishing groves in California. (They were brought to California in the 1700s by Franciscan missionaries from Mexico) In Australia, Chile, China, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa, Olives are considered a new crop.

Magickal Uses:
An Olive Tree with Fruits
Olive is an herb of fertility and consecration. Its invocatory can be Athena, Concordia, Fides, Poseidon, or Zeus. Olive oil is widely used in Magickal workings in modern times by burning it or using it to dress ritual candles. Many old formulas for ritual oils use Olive as the fixative. The Olive also represents fertility and fruitfulness. Olive oil is used to bless and consecrate incense burners and thuribles. Olive's Magick is a mixture of elemental air and elemental fire. The attributes of the Olive include peace and harmony, but also happiness, goodness, and purity. The history of the Olive's association with Eostara should encourage you to plant an Olive at the Spring Equinox.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Olive is best known for its high quality oil. All Olive oils are graded in accordance with the degree of acidity they contain. The best are cold-pressed, a chemical-free process that involves only pressure, which produces a natural level of low acidity. Extra virgin Olive oil, the cold-pressed result of the first pressing of the Olives, is only one percent acid. It's considered the finest and fruitiest of the Olive oils and is therefore also the most expensive. Olive oil is easily digested and aids the gall bladder, sometimes even helping to remove gall stones. It is an excellent source of oleic acid, a type of fat that has been shown to raise the levels of "good" cholesterol in the body. Olive oil is excellent for the skin, its used in soaps, can be used to fuel lamps, for healing, and for hair dressing. It has been used to help heal wounds and as an unguent for massage. My mother always brought out the "Sweet Oil" whenever we had an earache, and I can attest Olive oil does indeed help ease earache pain. The Olive tree defends itself against bacteria, fungi, parasites and insects through eutropic compounds it produces. Its leaf extract is popular in herbal and folk remedies and has benefited individuals for 150 years.

Dendrobium Chrvsotoxum Orchid, a very hardy type L.Cattalya Orchid, the typical 'florist' orchid
Orchid (Orchis Species, also called Salep and Satyrion Root) is the plant of love. The orchid's name originates from the Greek "Orchis", meaning "testicle," and its history is one of lust, greed, and wealth. There are nearly 25,000 varieties of Orchids. Greek women thought they could control the sex of their unborn children with Orchid roots. If the father ate large, new tubers, the child would be male; if the mother ate small tubers, the child would be female. Indeed, the Orchid's reproductive behaviour has intrigued botanists for germinate, an Orchid's seeds need to be penetrated by fungus threads! The "Paphiopedilum Orchid" was named for "Phaphos", a temple on Cyprus where the love goddess Aphrodite was worshipped. Most people think Orchid and envision a "Cattalya Orchid", which was made popular by florists...but there are soooo many other interesting types. I've grown Orchids for decades, and being a native of the South Florida tropics I also wildcraft them. Nothing on this Earth smells more divine than an Orchid in the early morning. Confucius called Orchids "The plant of the King's Fragrance".

Magickal Uses: My Brassavola Digbyana Orchid..isn't it erotically beautiful?..and you should smell it! Mmmmmm...
Orchid is an herb of love, fertility, and an aphrodisiacal herb. It has long been said that dried satyrion root could be used in potions and elixirs which would cause the object of desire to fall in love with the practitioner. (Doesn't sound like a healthy relationship to me...) The tuber may be dried whole and carved into an amulet or talisman to represent love and romance. The powdered root is considered by many as an aphrodisiac, capable of increasing sexual and amorous potency. The ideal of modern use is to include the Orchid root in the feast or cup for the Great Rite. The gift of an Orchid flower has far more Magick behind it than many would believe. If you are growing an Orchid and it produces a seed pod, it can be dried and added to a love sachet or charm. (you won't be able to germinate the seeds anyway, unless you are an experienced grower, and even then it takes a very sterile environment and special you may as well make use of it) I also save the dried flowers to powder and add to incense. The Orchid flower is a wonderful herb to adorn one's altar or temple.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

**GT** Orchids are one of my passions, always have been. I've grown them for years and I want to put one "wives tale" to rest here and now. Orchids are not difficult, tempermental plants to grow. Here are the simple "can't go wrong" rules: 1. Filtered sunlight, this means if you stick them in full, hot, direct sun they will sunburn just like you, and that allows disease to set in on the damaged area. 2. Never place them in contact with soil unless their label states they are "terrestial" (they can catch bacteria or fungus from soil). Its best to hang them. Any quality nursery carries orchid potting mix, avoid mixes that are all wood chips 3. Keep temps above 40 degrees 4. Most Orchids are tropical and love humidity, so if you live in a dry climate, mist them a couple times a week. Thats it, simple, huh? My advice is, if you are nervous about trying Orchids, start with one of the hardy species like Oncidium, Dendrobium, or Vanda...they are darned hard to displease. **WC** If you decide to wildcraft Orchids be sure and check to see if they are on any endangered list. Its sad that many species have almost been driven to extinction because of greed. We have one nicknamed the "Ghost Orchid" here in the Everglades that has been virtually wiped out due to people ignoring the endangered list.

Oxalis- Oxalis in Bloom A Close Up of the Flowers
Oxalis (Oxalis Acetosella, also called Wood Sorrel, Wood Sour, Sour Trefoil, Stickwort, Fairy Bells, Hallelujah, Cuckowes Meat, Three-leaved Grass, Surelle, Stubwort, Seamsog, Sheep Sorel, and Wood Shamrock) is a common plant that many Irish claim to be the true shamrock. The "shamrocks" available in grocery stores and florist shops around St. Patrick's day are Oxalis Acetosella. Both botanical names Oxalis and acetosella refer to its acidity, Oxalis being derived from the Greek "Oxys", meaning sour or acid, and "Acetosella", meaning vinegar salts. In some states many members of the Oxalis family have spread to the point of becoming weed pests. The pink variety of Oxalis has always grown wild in my yard, but it matters not to me, because my "turf" is sparse, so its a welcomed visitor. My old Victorian two story home was built in 1896, and the sixteen Oaks planted around it back then have now created a rambling "Oak hammock" over my entire property, thus the lack of sunlight makes for a poor lawn, and I have wonderful patches of wild Violets, Lilies, and Oxalis everywhere.

Magickal Uses:
Oxalis Starting to Close For the Night
Oxalis is an herb of of fortune ruled by Venus. Oxalis has long represented good fortune. This herb was part of the myths surrounding the Celtic Sun wheel. The simplest method of adding luck to one's life is to grow Oxalis in one's garden, or pot it and grow it as a houseplant. Oxalis flowers and leaves may be added to sachets and charms for luck. The dried leaves and flowers may be burned as incense during spells to increase your fortune.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Oxalis juice from the leaves contains oxalic acid and tastes similar to rhubarb. Its no longer used as a medicinal herb. **WC** Its all right in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since oxalic acid can bind up the body's supply of Calcium leading to nutritional deficiency. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take special caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition. **GT** Oxalis dislikes very heavy and wet soils. Oxalis Acetosella is a shade plant which folds its leaves when exposed to sun rays. (They have the unique habit of folding up at night and re-opening in the morning). They will, at times, look very sick and lose leaves... when this happens, they are tired, so let them "sleep". They are bulbs and require a dormant period every once in a while. At this juncture restrict all watering. The leaves will dry up, and it will be easy at this point to take them off. As with any bulb, let the leaves die back naturally. Don't pull off the leaves until they are brown. Like any bulb-type plant they will sprout back when the time is right. (Oxalis grows wild in my yard)

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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.