Jen Daiker and is actually a few questions rolled into one:
Q: In my novel there are fairies that have the power of healing. I was wondering if there were any plants that helped with that. Also I'd love to know some of the brightest colored flowers around. And lastly, what plants make wonderful soothing ingredients in teas?
A: First, if you haven’t already, you should choose an Earth biome in particular to model your imaginary world after. That way, you will be focused on your world building, with plants, animals, landscape, and weather. Websites like Blue Planet Biomes and World Biomes will help you choose. They also have general plants and animals listed by specific area. The beauty of fantasy is once you’ve established certain characteristics of your world you can add bits of both your imaginary plant/animal creations as well as real plants and animals.
As to bright flowers, again it is specific to location and biome (then there’s the option of creating imaginary ones too). The Flower Expert has a great encyclopedia of wildflowers with pictures right there. Gardening Launch Pad has a list of site-specific wildflower encyclopedias. If your world is more a North American, wooded landscape, my favorites are lady’s slipper (pictured here), bleeding hearts, wild roses, columbines, penstemons, buttercups, marsh marigold, bistort, rock jasmine, potentillas, crocus, iris, bluebell, California poppy, and star of Bethlehem.
To answer your last question, I DO know of some plants that can be turned into calming (also called nervine) teas! In fact, the lady’s slipper (Cypridedium spp.) pictured is one, and a strong one at that. Here’s a great article on it. The majority of nervine herbs are good tranquilizers, with a neural vasodilator effect, but their strength depends on the dosage of course. Some of the stronger ones besides lady's slipper include St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum), lavender flowers (Lavandula angustifolia & L. officinalis), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), catnip (Nepeta cataria), valerian root (Valeriana officinalis), motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Roman chamomile flowers (Chamaemelum nobile) and ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare). Any number of these plants can be dried and used in teas.
Some nervines are less tranquilizing and give only a slight calming effect. These include rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), maidenhair tree leaves (Ginkgo biloba), white pine needles (Pinus strobus), northern prickly ash berries (Zanthoxylum americanum) and clove buds (Syzygium aromaticum).
Mild tranquilizers (more in the middle of the nervines) are spearmint (Mentha spicata), wild mint (Mentha arvensis), peppermint (Mentha piperita), hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), wild oat (Avena sativa), kava roots or rhizomes (Piper methysticum), thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa). Some mushrooms can have a calming effect too. The only two I know of are Reishi (Ganoderma spp.) and Maitake (Grifola frondosa), both from China, but there might be more out there.
An interesting thing about all of these herbs is that they can have an opposite effect on some people (or fairies, in your case). Kind of like how with some people Benadryl can make them hyper? The same is true for nervines—they can have a stimulating effect instead! Besides calming plants, you might want to look for ones that make you soporific, or sleepy, since they sometimes are used for both calming and sleep. Annie’s Remedies has a great list of these (though the list is very similar to the one I just gave). Again, you can always make up your own plants here as well! The sky’s the limit.
I hope that helps, Jen, and good luck with your wonderful story!
If you, my lovely readers, have any other nature-related questions you’d like me to answer, feel free to email them to jackee(dot)alston(at)gmail(dot)com. I’ll post them on Wednesdays as I get them.
Have a wild Wednesday!