Most people consider herbs to be plants with medicinal, culinary or cosmetic uses. However, a herb is also any annual, bi-ennial or perennial plant which has a soft stem that dies down in the winter; as in herbaceous. So which is the correct definition?
There are many woody plants that we use as ‘herbs’ – sage, rosemary and thyme for example. The potentially conflicting definitions needn’t worry us in so far as we’re not here to discuss the naming of plants (taxonomy) but the uses of them. So herbs are plants with medicinal, culinary or cosmetic uses. This still gives us a huge range of plants to consider. Some are useful in mainly one category, willow (Salix) for medicine, for example; but many have both culinary and medicinal uses, such as nettle (urtica dioica); whilst some fall into all three categories: Lavender is one of the most useful of herbs.
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