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The Remarkable Witch Hazel

Imagine a tree that blooms in winter, that has beautiful flowers ranging from red to yellow, that thrives in sun or shade and that will grow in poorly drained clay soils. Wow! And it's a beauty! Add to these wonders that it has medicinal properties, and it's really a remarkable plant.

In the Winter 2001 ResOURces newsletter, there is a feature article on the witch hazel. A recent exhibit at Green Spring Gardens Park explored "Native Cures for Modern Ills" about how the witch hazel is used today. Here are two recipes, one for witch hazel lotion and another for herbal face cleanser, that show how trees can be both beautiful and beneficial.

Witch Hazel Lotion

1/4 cup coarsely chopped witch hazel leaves
2 cups water
1/2 cup rubbing alcohol

Bring water to a boil in a porcelain or enameled saucepan and add leaves. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Let it steep until cool; then strain. Add alcohol. Apply with cotton ball. Keep refrigerated. Discard unused portion after 3 days.

Herbal Face Cleanser

1 cup distilled water
1 Tbsp. dried elder flowers
1 Tbsp. dried lavender
1 Tbsp. dried chamomile
1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
1/2 Tbsp. unscented glycerin soap
1 tsp. jojoba oil
1 tsp. witch hazel water

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan and added dried elder flowers, lavender, chamomile and rosemary. Remove pan from heat and let herbs steep for 1 hour. Strain herbs from water and return to a gentle boil. Add glycerin soap and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in jojoba oil and witch hazel. Let cool to room temperature and bottle. Makes 9 ounces.

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