12 Edible Plants that also Repel Ticks

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Photo by Rexness via flickr

Tick season is here. Experts are discovering that ticks are spreading towards newer climates and populations of ticks are growing as a result of climate change.

Maria Diuk-Wasser, professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology at Columbia University said Lone Star Ticks (Amblyomma americanum) are “becoming more prominent than the Black-Legged Tick (Ixodes scapularis) in Long Island, New York”.

Dan Salkeld, a research scientist in the Department of Biology at Colorado State University said “they found Lyme disease-carrying western-legged ticks in coastal scrub in northwest California almost accidentally”.

Salkeld noted there wasn’t an obvious Lyme disease-carrying animal in the area that the ticks would feed on. “We tested them anyway. We found that the infection levels were pretty much exactly the same as for adult ticks in nearby oak woodlands.”

If we are seeing ticks travel to newer regions due to possible climate change, how can we begin to think about natural methods within the landscape to repel them?

Although repellents can be safe for humans, chemicals within the container can be lethal to other organisms and could ultimately damage the soil – one of the key resources for plants to grow.

The following are natural plant alternatives for repelling ticks within a landscape. The upside, these plants are edible, making your landscape performative and multi-functional.

12. Catnip / Nepeta cataria

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Photo by Eden, Janine and Jim

Nepeta cataria, more commonly known as catmint or catnip, is a perennial flowering plant that can be found in many parts of the world. Catmint has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, and its therapeutic properties are still being studied today. In addition to its medicinal benefits, catmint also has a number of uses in the landscape.

This plant is easy to care for, and thrives in both sunny and shady locations. It’s also resistant to pests and diseases, making it a great choice for novice gardeners. Catmint blooms throughout the summer months, with spikes of blue flowers that are sure to attract bees and butterflies. The leaves have a refreshing minty aroma that will keep you smelling sweet all season long.

Type: Herbaceous Perennial

Zone: 3 to 7

Culinary purposes: chop and add to soups, stews, sauces, vegetables or pasta.

Medicinal purposes: reduces anxiety, induces sleep, soothes sore throats and comforts upset stomachs.

11. Lavender / Lavandula angustifolia

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Photo by Thijs via flickr

If you’re looking for a flowering shrub to add color and interest to your garden, lavender is a great option. There are many different varieties of lavender, so you can find one that’s perfect for your climate and gardening style. Lavender is easy to care for, and it will keep blooming throughout the summer.

Lavandula angustifolia is also drought-tolerant, so it is a good choice for gardens in areas with limited water resources. This plant is hardy and easy to care for, and it produces beautiful purple flowers that will add color to your landscape. 

Type: Herbaceous Perennial

Zone: 5 to 8

Culinary purposes: add for a sweet floral flavor to desserts, beverages and savory dishes.

Medicinal purposes: suggested for antidepressants, anxiolytic, sedative and calming properties.

10. Sage / Salvia officinalis

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Photo by Alan Levine via flickr

Salvia officinalis, more commonly known as sage, is an herb that has been used for centuries in both culinary and medicinal applications. The leaves of the sage plant are fragrant and flavorful, making them a popular addition to dishes such as chicken or pork stuffing.

In addition to its culinary uses, sage has also been traditionally used to help improve memory function and support cardiovascular health. Recent studies have even shown that sage can be helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. If you’re looking for a versatile herb that can be used in both the kitchen and the medicine cabinet, sage is a good choice!

Type: Herbaceous Perennial

Zone: 4 to 8

Culinary purposes: add for a slightly peppery flavor.

Medicinal purposes: suggested treatment includes seizures, ulcers, inflammation, dizziness, tremor and diarrhea.

9. Beautyberry / Callicarpa americana

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Photo by Vicki DeLoach via flickr

Callicarpa americana, also known as beautyberry, is a deciduous shrub that grows in the United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 10. Beautyberry can be grown as a specimen plant or used in mass plantings to provide color and interest throughout the year. The plants produce clusters of small, pink berries that are edible and have a sweet flavor. Beautyberry is easy to grow and care for, making it a great choice for landscapers and homeowners alike.

If you’re looking for an evergreen shrub that will add interest to your landscape all year round, consider planting callicarpa americana. 

Type: Deciduous Shrub

Zone: 6 to 10

Culinary purposes: vibrant berries can make great jellies with a very distinct grape-like taste.

Medicinal purposes: suggested treatment includes antispasmodic, hypotensive, antiseptic and treatment for gastrointestinal disorders.

8. Lemongrass / Cymbopogon citratus

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Photo by Philip Kindleysides via flicr

If you’re looking for a versatile, drought-tolerant grass that can be used in a variety of landscapes, Cymbopogon citratus, or lemon grass, may be the perfect choice for you. This perennial grass is hardy in zones 10 through 11 and grows well in both full sun and partial shade. Lemon grass has a distinctive citrus scent that can be enjoyed when the leaves are crushed. It’s also been known to deter insects.

Type: Ornamental Grass

Zone: 10 to 11

Culinary purposes: distinct lemony and sweetly floral flavor and is commonly used to make herbal tea.

Medicinal purposes: suggested treatment includes fevers, antiseptic and treatment for nervous and gastrointestinal disorders.

7. Chamomile / Chamaemelum nobile

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Photo by Paul Downey via flickr

This perennial flower also known as Roman chamomile, is easy to care for and produces beautiful blooms year round.

It can be grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9 and does best in well-drained soil with full sun to part shade. Chamomile features small white flowers that are reminiscent of daisies and has a sweet apple fragrance. The herb is often used in tea, aromatherapy, and homeopathy.

Type: Herbaceous Perennial

Zone: 4 to 9

Culinary purposes: leaves may be chopped up and added into sour cream or butter.

Medicinal purposes: can be used to relieve allergies, hay fever and asthma.

6. Garlic / Allium sativum

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Photo by James Mann via flickr

Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species of onion native to central Asia. Garlic has been used for centuries for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It’s believed to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties. Garlic is also a rich source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. In addition to its culinary uses, garlic can be used in landscape design to create pollinator habitats.

Type: Bulb

Zone: 4 to 9

Culinary purposes: pungent flavor as a seasoning or condiment.

Medicinal purposes: suggested treatment includes diabetes, fevers, intestinal worms and high blood pressure.

5. Sweet Basil / Ocimum basilicum

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Photo by Artizone via flickr

Ocimum basilicum, more commonly known as sweet basil, is a versatile herb that has many uses in the landscape. Its fragrant leaves can be used in teas and cooking, and it also makes a beautiful addition to flower gardens. Sweet basil is easy to grow and care for, making it a great choice for beginners.

This herb has a strong aroma and flavor that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is also a great herb to use in landscaping because it can attract pollinators to your garden. Plus, it’s easy to grow! If you’re looking for an easy-to-grow herb that has a ton of uses, sweet basil is a great choice!

Type: Annual

Zone: 2 to 11

Culinary purposes: commonly used in soups, meat pies, fish dishes, certain cheeses and salads.

Medicinal purposes: suggested treatment includes headaches, coughs, diarrhea, constipation, and worts.

4. Holy Basil / Ocimum tenuiflorum

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Photo by Thangaraj Kumaravel via flickr

Ocimum tenuiflorum, more commonly known as Tulsi or Sacred Basil, is a plant native to India that has been used for thousands of years in Hinduism and Ayurveda for its medicinal properties. Tulsi is known for its ability to improve respiratory function, reduce stress levels, and boost the immune system. It can be grown in any climate and is easy to care for, making it a great choice for gardeners looking to add some medicinal plants to their landscape.

This herb is drought tolerant and can be used to create ornamental gardens that are both beautiful and functional. It can also be used in combination with other herbs to create fragrant gardens that repel pests, such as ticks.

Type: Herbaceous Perennial

Zone: 10 to 12

Culinary purposes: eaten raw or cooked and is great to add to salads, used as flavoring or made into tea.

Medicinal purposes: suggested treatment includes spasms, bacterial infections, inflammation, high blood sugar levels and headaches.

3. Lemon Balm / Melissa officinalis

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Photo by Forest and Kim Starr via flickr

Melissa officinalis, also known as lemon balm, is a herbaceous perennial plant that can reach up to three feet in height and features fragrant leaves that are often used in teas and other herbal remedies. Melissa officinalis is a great choice for gardeners who are new to growing plants, as it’s low maintenance and relatively forgiving if you make a mistake or two.

Additionally, the bright green foliage provides an attractive contrast against other plants in your garden. 

Type: Herbaceous Perennial

Zone: 3 to 7

Culinary purposes: to make teas, marinate chicken or fish, or flavor baked foods and jams.

Medicinal purposes: primarily used in traditional medicine as both a sleep aid and digestive tonic.

 

2. Thyme / Thymus vulgaris

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Photo by Andrey Zharkikh via flickr

Thymus vulgaris, or commonly “thyme”, is a perennial evergreen herb that is a popular choice for landscaping designs and gardens. It has fragrant leaves that are grayish-green in color, and small purple flowers. Thyme is easy to grow and can be used to add flavor to food, or as an herbal remedy. It is also drought tolerant, making it a good choice for xeriscaping.

Type: Herbaceous Perennial

Zone: 5 to 9

Culinary purposes: the plant has an agreeable aromatic smell and warm pungent taste.

Medicinal purposes: suggested treatment includes chest congestion, sore throats, bronchitis and whooping cough.

1. Sunflower / Helianthus annuus

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Photo by Forest and Kim Starr via flickr

If you’re looking for a versatile and hardy flowering plant to add to your landscape design, Helianthus annuus, or the common sunflower, is a great option. These plants can grow in a variety of soils and climates, and they bloom throughout the summer months. They also make a great addition to any garden as they attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Type: Annual

Zone: 2 to 11

Culinary purposes: cultivated primarily for the seeds, these plants also produce sunflower oil for cooking.

Medicinal purposes: tea made from leaves to treat high fevers, swellings, sores, snakebites, and spider bites.

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