Withania somnifera

One of the most respected and researched herbs to come out of the Ayurvedic tradition, ashwagandha is considered to be an ‘adaptogen’ and is commonly used to help manage stress and fatigue when life asks just a bit too much from us.

In India, the Sanskrit name for ‘ashwagandha’, literally means ’smell of a horse, but more accurately refers to its ability to manifest the ‘essence of a horse’, bringing strength, endurance – and perhaps even some equine elegance. Ashwagandha’s botanical name, Withania somnifera, indicates some of what it does; ‘somnifera’ means ‘sleep-inducing’, reflecting its relaxing and restful effects that bring us energy through supporting deeper sleep.

Native to warm climates, ashwagandha is best grown in the warmth and protection of a greenhouse or polytunnel in our British climate. Botanically speaking it is a perennial, but it is unlikely to survive a British winter so is best treated as an annual; in one year you will still be able to grow them to their full size of about 18 inches and harvest its milky white tap roots before winter arrives.

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