May 31, 2024A herbal guide for our alpine meadows
SUMMER

Discover the diversity of our alpine meadows: An herb guide for local plants

Our meadows are not only a scenic sight, but they also hide a true paradise for herb enthusiasts. We invite you to take a closer look at the native herbs around the Forsthofalm, discover them, and learn about their various uses. From June to October, our surroundings hide real treasures just waiting to be found.

However, please make sure to collect only as much as you actually need. Always leave a part of the plants for nature so they can regenerate and be useful for future generations. Be thoughtful of other generations and our nature while exploring it.

June: The start of herb season

June marks the beginning of the herb season around the Hotel. The alpine meadows are awakening from their hibernation for the first time and offer an abundance of fresh, young herbs. In June you can collect the first tender plants and get to know their diverse uses. Below we list the first herbs and plants in June.

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Daisy (Bellis perennis)

The most classic wildflower of the Austrian alpine meadows is the well-known and beloved daisy. Easy to find, the daisy is scattered across every meadow and is a real treat for our local cows.

Identification: You can recognize the daisy on any meadow by its small white petals and yellow center, arranged in rosettes.

Usage: Daisies are edible and can be used fresh in salads. They are also decorative on desserts. Their petals contain valuable nutrients like potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin C, which can help with skin irritations.

Medical use: In natural medicine, the flowers are valued for their anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. They can be used for minor skin injuries, rashes, and light inflammations. They also help in the healing of bruises and abrasions.

Application guidelines: Daisies can be used as tea, tincture, or ointment. For external use, ensure that they are not applied to open wounds. For soothing skin care, the flowers can be infused in oil and used as a massage oil.

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Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

Plantain is a robust plant commonly found all over meadows and along roadsides.

Identification: You can recognize plantain by its long, narrow leaves with prominent veins and inconspicuous, cylindrical flower spikes.

Usage: The fresh leaves of plantain are excellent for providing relief from insect bites or small wounds. Simply crush the leaves and apply them to the affected area.

Medical use: Plantain has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. A tea made from the leaves can help with coughs and respiratory diseases.

Application guidelines: Fresh plantain juice can be applied directly to insect bites or small wounds. For internal use, however, the dosage should be observed.

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Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Yarrow, also known as soldier's herb, is a widespread plant in the alpine meadows of Leogang and the surrounding area.

Identification: You can best recognize yarrow by its feathery leaves and small white-pink flowers that grow in dense clusters.

Usage: Yarrow can be prepared as a tea that promotes digestion and helps with menstrual cramps. The flowers and leaves can also be used in salads or as a seasoning.

Medical use: It is known for its blood-cleansing, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic properties.

Application guidelines: Yarrow should not be consumed in large quantities, as it can be toxic in high doses. People with allergies to Asteraceae should be cautious.

July: Herb diversity is increasing

The close by meadows are now in full bloom, offering an overwhelming variety of aromatic and medicinal plants. This month is ideal for taking advantage of nature's abundance and gathering the valuable treasures of our meadows. From soothing St. John's wort and nutrient-rich nettles to fragrant woodruff, in July you can discover the full power of the herbs and learn about their many uses. Join us on an exploration through the summer alpine meadows and find out which herbs you can find now and how you can use them for yourself.

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St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)

St. John’s wort, also known as hardhay, is another well-known medicinal plant in the region. The plant grows in sunny meadows and at the edges of forests.

Identification: You can recognize St. John’s wort by its yellow flowers with five petals and small, translucent dots on the leaves.

Usage: St. John’s wort is often used to make oils and tinctures known for their calming and mood-lifting properties. St. John’s wort oil can help with skin injuries and muscle tension.

Medical use: It is traditionally used to treat mild depression and anxiety and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Application guidelines: When using St. John’s wort, caution is advised as it can make the skin more sensitive to light. It is best to avoid strong sunlight exposure after application.

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Nettle (Urtica dioica)

The nettle is a widespread plant in the Austrian Alps and is often found in alpine meadows and at the edges of forests. Despite its defensive properties, it is a valuable medicinal and useful plant.

Identification: The characteristics of nettles are long, serrated leaves and small green flower clusters. It is also known for its sting when touched, an experience many of us have likely had in our childhood.

Usage: Nettles are rich in vitamins and minerals. They can be used for teas, soups, smoothies, and even as a substitute for spinach.

Medical use: They have blood-cleansing and anti-inflammatory effects and are an excellent remedy for supporting joints and detoxification.

Application guidelines: Nettles can be used internally as tea or externally as a compress. To make tea, pour hot water over the dried leaves and let them steep for 5-10 minutes. For external use, an infusion or tincture should be applied to the affected areas. Caution is advised as the fresh leaves can irritate the skin upon contact, so it is recommended to wear gloves when collecting them.

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Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Woodruff is a characteristic plant of Austrian forests and meadows, popular for its distinctive aroma and healing properties.

Identification: Woodruff is best recognized by its small, white, star-shaped flowers. Its leaves are narrow and shiny, arranged in whorls.

Usage: The herb is often used to make May wine, syrup, or desserts. It gives beverages and sweet dishes a pleasant, slightly bitter aroma.

Medical use: Woodruff has calming and antispasmodic properties and can help with headaches and insomnia.

Application guidelines: Woodruff should be used in moderate amounts, as the coumarin it contains can be harmful in high doses. When making May wine, the herb should be wilted before use to intensify the aroma and lower the coumarin concentration. For medicinal applications, woodruff can be prepared as a tea by pouring hot water over the dried leaves and letting it steep for 5-10 minutes.

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Arnica (Arnica montana)

Arnica, also known as mountain daisy, is one of the most well-known medicinal plants in the region. The plant is very robust and can be found in mountain meadows and light forests until late summer.

Identification: It closely resembles a daisy with large yellow flowers. Arnica also has a very distinctive scent with a spicy note.

Usage: Very popular in medicine but toxic in high concentrations, arnica is ideal for external use. Often in the form of ointments, tinctures, and compresses, the herb can help treat bruises, sprains, and inflammations.

Medical use: Known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, arnica also helps with muscle and joint pain and promotes blood circulation in the affected tissue.

Application guidelines: Be cautious with sensitive and open skin. Arnica should not be applied to open wounds or severely injured skin, as it can cause irritation.

August: The full ripeness of the seasonal herbs

In August, the herb season around the Forsthofalm reaches its peak. The meadows are now a true sea of fragrant and potent plants that have reached their full maturity. This month is perfect for harvesting the rich herbal treasures and utilizing their strongest active ingredients. From versatile thyme and healing calendula to soothing chamomile, August offers an abundance of herbs that are valuable both in the kitchen and the home pharmacy. Let yourself be inspired by the richness and diversity of nature and discover which herbs you can find now and how you can use their powerful properties for yourself.

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Wild thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

Wild thyme, also known as broad-leaved thyme, can be found in sunny, warm, and rocky places such as dry sandy grasslands, pine forests, and dunes. The herb is an evergreen, ground-covering subshrub that can grow two to ten centimeters high.

Identification: Wild thyme has small purple or pink flowers and narrow, aromatic leaves. The plant grows low and creeping on dry, sunny meadows.

Usage: Wild thyme is used as a spice and medicinal plant. It is used in teas, tinctures, and baths.

Medical use: Wild thyme has expectorant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps with respiratory diseases such as coughs and bronchitis and promotes digestion.

Application guidelines: Do not use in large quantities, as it can cause stomach irritation. Ideal as a tea or for inhalation during colds.

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Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

Marigolds can also be found in our alpine meadows. However, they particularly favor very sunny spots with clayey but nutrient-rich soil.

Identification: Marigolds have bright orange to yellow petals arranged in a basket shape. The leaves are elongated and slightly hairy.

Usage: The petals are often used to decorate salads and desserts. In natural cosmetics, they are found in creams and ointments for skincare.

Medical use: Marigolds have anti-inflammatory properties and promote wound healing. They are often used for skin irritations, eczema, and minor injuries.

Application guidelines: The petals can be used as tea or infusion for external application. To make marigold ointment, the flowers are infused in oil and then processed into an ointment.

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Marigold oil to make yourself

Marigold has a wide variation of applications and is therefore very popular among healing experts and herb enthusiasts. We ourselves love making our own soaps and cosmetics with it and using the local herbs from the area. Our wellness area has provided us with two recipes that you can use to process your collected marigolds into a soothing marigold oil.

Recipe instructions

Application Areas:

- Helps with insect bites

- For cracked hands

- For injured cuticles

- Bruises

- Very good wound ointment

- Inflammations

- Barber's itch

Ingredients

- 20 g fresh or dried marigold flowers

- 100 ml sunflower or olive oil

- 1 glass bottle

Preparation

It's best to let the petals dry for two days before using them. To do this, pluck the petals from the flower and place them on a paper-lined baking sheet. Let the petals dry slowly in a cool, dark place. This pre-treatment prevents the flowers from molding in the oil once air gets in. Then, put the petals in a screw-top jar and pour in the oil. Seal the jar well and let it sit in a cool, dark place for two to six weeks. Daily shaking ensures that the ingredients mix well with the oil. After a few weeks, strain the liquid through a cloth or tea filter, and you're done! You have now prepared your homemade marigold oil from your own collection.

Tip:

Use a dark glass bottle for storage, or wrap a light bottle in aluminum foil so no light gets inside. This way, the valuable ingredients are preserved, and the oil lasts longer. Stored in a cool place, marigold oil lasts up to a year.

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Marigold ointment recipe

The second recipe from our wellness area can also be wonderfully made with marigolds. It's perfect for pampering your skin and giving it an extra dose of care. We hope you enjoy trying it out!

Ingredients:

- 125 ml vegetable oil (cold-pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil)

- 25 g beeswax (available at health food stores or from beekeepers)

- two handfuls of marigold flowers

- jars with lids

Preparation:

Harvest the marigold flowers fresh from the garden. To do this, pinch off the flower heads with your fingernail or cut them off with scissors. Wash the flowers with water and then dry them. A salad spinner can be used for drying. To better release the active ingredients when preparing the marigold salve, pluck the petals apart individually.

First, the oil and the beeswax need to be gently warmed—carefully heat them on the stove (max. 60 degrees Celsius). Gradually add the marigold flowers to the oil and let them warm in the pot for ten minutes. This allows the active ingredients and colorants to be released from the flowers. The temperature should not exceed 60 degrees Celsius, otherwise the ingredients won't blend with the oil.

Let it sit overnight or for 24 hours. After 24 hours, briefly reheat the mixture and strain it through a linen cloth or muslin. Then, fill the homemade marigold salve into clean jars. The homemade marigold salve can be stored in the refrigerator.

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Wild thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Wild thyme prefers nutrient-poor grasslands and pastures; it also grows on slopes, in gravel pits, and on rocks. You can find it in dry and warm places from valleys up to high mountains.

Identification: Wild thyme has small, narrow-lanceolate leaves and violet to pink flowers. The plant exudes an intense aromatic scent.

Usage: The herb is used as a spice in the kitchen and is an important ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. It is also suitable for teas and inhalations.

Medical use: Thyme has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and expectorant properties. It is often used for colds, coughs, and bronchitis.

Application guidelines: The herb can be ideally used as tea or for inhalation. For thyme tea, pour hot water over the dried leaves and let it steep for 5-10 minutes.

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Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

Chamomile is one of the most well-known medicinal plants and grows in the meadows and fields of the Austrian Alps, especially from late summer.

Identification: Chamomile is recognized by its white petals and yellow, conical flower head. The flowers emit a characteristic, pleasant scent. The leaves are finely feathered and light green.

Usage: Chamomile is often used as a tea, in ointments, or as a bath additive. In the kitchen, it can be used as a mild spice for soups and stews. Chamomile oil is used in aromatherapy and cosmetic products.

Medical use: Chamomile has anti-inflammatory, calming, and antispasmodic properties. It is used to treat gastrointestinal complaints, skin irritations, colds, and to promote wound healing. Chamomile tea can also help with sleep disorders.

Application guidelines: Chamomile tea is prepared by pouring hot water over the dried flowers and letting it steep for 5-10 minutes. For external applications, chamomile infusions can be used as compresses or in baths. When using chamomile oil, be sure not to apply it directly to the skin but dilute it with a carrier oil to avoid skin irritation. People with allergies to Asteraceae should be cautious when using chamomile.

September: The late herb treasures

In September, nature at Forsthofalm in Leogang once again shows its best side. The warm days and cool nights provide ideal conditions for a variety of herbs that are now reaching their full maturity. This month is perfect for gathering the last herbal treasures of the year and making use of their healing and culinary properties. From aromatic sage to wild mallow and chicory, the alpine meadows offer an impressive variety even in late summer. Join us on an exploration of September's herbs and discover which plants can be found now and how you can use them for yourself.

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Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage is a widespread medicinal plant found in sunny, dry meadows and along roadsides in the Leogang region from late summer into autumn.

Identification: Sage is recognized by its gray-green, elongated, and slightly hairy leaves, which emit an intense aromatic scent. The flowers are usually violet but can also be white or pink and grow in spike-like inflorescences.

Usage: Sage is often used in the kitchen as a spice for meat dishes, soups, and sauces. The leaves can be used fresh or dried. Sage is also used in tea preparation and as an ingredient in herbal liqueurs.

Medical use: Sage has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and astringent properties. It is traditionally used for sore throats, inflammations in the mouth and throat, digestive issues, and excessive sweating. Sage tea is also known for its calming effect and can help with nervousness and insomnia.

Application guidelines: Sage tea is prepared by pouring hot water over the dried leaves and letting it steep for 5-10 minutes. For inflammations in the mouth and throat, the tea can also be used as a gargle. Externally, sage is used in the form of ointments and compresses for skin problems. Since sage can be toxic in high doses, intake should be moderate, especially for internal use.

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Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Chicory is commonly found along paths and in dry meadows in the Leogang region, particularly blooming from September onwards. It is a robust plant that often grows along roadsides and on fallow land.

Identification: Chicory has light blue, tongue-shaped flowers and stiff, hairy stems. The leaves resemble those of dandelions.

Usage: The roots of chicory are used to make a coffee substitute. The leaves can be used as salad or vegetables. The flowers are also edible and decorative in salads.

Medical use: Chicory has digestive, anti-inflammatory, and appetite-stimulating properties. It is often used for digestive complaints and loss of appetite.

Application guidelines: The leaves can be used fresh in salads or cooked as vegetables. The roots are dried and roasted to make a coffee substitute, which was a popular coffee alternative, especially during times of scarcity.

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Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)

Rowan, also known as mountain ash, grows in sunny clearings and forest edges, bearing its characteristic berries from early autumn. These trees are easily recognized by their bright red berries and pinnate leaves.

Identification: Rowan bears bright orange-red berries that grow in dense clusters. The leaves are pinnate with a serrated edge.

Usage: The berries of the rowan can be processed into jam, jelly, or juice. In dried form, they are also used in teas. Also known as bird berries, they are an important food source for birds in winter.

Medical use: Rowan berries are rich in vitamin C and have mild laxative effects. They are traditionally used to strengthen the immune system and alleviate cold symptoms.

Application guidelines: The berries should be heated before consumption to convert the parasorbic acid they contain into non-toxic sorbic acid. Raw berries can cause stomach discomfort.

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Common mallow (Malva sylvestris)

Common mallow is widespread on sunny meadows and roadsides in Leogang from September onwards. This plant is known for its beautiful flowers and diverse applications in both cuisine and medicine.

Identification: Common mallow has pink to violet flowers with dark stripes. The leaves are rounded and slightly hairy.

Usage: The leaves and flowers of mallow can be used fresh in salads or cooked as vegetables. They are also suitable for making teas. The flowers serve as an attractive garnish for various dishes.

Medical use: Mallow has expectorant, anti-inflammatory, and soothing properties. It is often used for coughs, sore throats, and gastrointestinal complaints.

Application guidelines: The leaves and flowers can be infused as tea or used as compresses for skin irritations. To make tea, pour hot water over the dried plant parts and let steep for 5-10 minutes.

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Tormentil (Potentilla erecta)

Tormentil prefers moist meadows and light forests and can be found in Leogang from late summer onwards. This robust plant is known for its strong healing properties and characteristic yellow flowers.

Identification: Tormentil has small yellow flowers with four petals. The leaves are trifoliate and have a serrated edge.

Usage: The root of tormentil is dried and used to make tinctures and teas. It is also a traditional ingredient in some spirits.

Medical use: Tormentil has strong astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. It is traditionally used to treat diarrhea, inflammations in the mouth and throat, and skin problems.

Application guidelines: The dried root can be used as a tea or tincture. When used internally, the dosage should be carefully observed to avoid stomach irritation.

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