Many common perennials grown today for their ornamental value, such as
magenta-flowered beebalm and purple coneflower (foreground), have rich medicinal histories.
The American Gardener, AHS
For centuries, Native Americans used a wide variety of indigenous plants to treat whatever ailed them. Early European settlers followed suit, learning medicinal uses for the unfamiliar flora they encountered either by trial and error—a risky business—or from the locals. This herbal lore passed from generation to generation until the advent of modern medicine about a century ago.