We look to plants for many different medicinal reasons and, when we need a little Valentine's day pick-me-up, we once again fall back on our floral friends.
An aphrodisiac is a food, drink or another thing that stimulates sexual desire. The use of plants for aphrodisiac purposes dates back centuries all across the globe, from the Roman Empire, ancient Egyptians to traditional Chinese medicine.
Although, in many cases, including some of those listed here, effects are unproven.
Many exotics, including ginseng, guarana and vanilla, have been recognised for their aphrodisiac properties, and you might be surprised by the number you can grow in your own green space.
Although a symbol of love, Roses aren't the best aphrodishiac out there.
1) Horny goat weed
With a name like horny goat weed, it's hardly surprising that extracts of this plant are used to aid with erectile dysfunction and instances of low libido.
As with all herbal medicines, it is often used as a complementary therapy, rather than a standalone remedy.
The plant got its name after a Chinese goatherd noticed his flock got rather more randy after chomping down on the plant.
Epimedium is actually a popular herbaceous perennial, often planted in woodland and semi-shade settings, where its bright spring flowers and attractive foliage make for excellent ground cover.
With a redolent fragrance, lavender is intoxicating at the best of times.
Supposedly able to assist with relaxation and sleeping, this Mediterranean jewel has conversely been linked to sensual arousal in men – perhaps it's no surprise that the scent has historically found its way into women's perfumes.
If you're not bothered about the aphrodisiac properties of lavender, then you should still consider growing it. The only thing that likes it more than men are the bees!
Passiflora incarnata is used in teas as an aphrodisiac.
There doesn't seem to be anything Echinacea can't do, from reducing inflammation to lowering blood sugar and fighting off flu. Also, it would appear, producing hormones to increase sexual appetite.
As is so often the case, there is little evidence to confirm these claims. However, there is one thing any gardener with a herbaceous border will confirm – the coneflower makes a stunning late summer bloomer that bees adore.
Perhaps you could assume that sunflowers were seen as a plant with aphrodisiac qualities due to their massive size. However, it's their seeds that hold the key.
The seeds contain dopamine, which increases motivation and concentration. They also can assist with lowering stress levels, which leaves the mind and body able to focus on more pressing matters.
Saffron is a well-known, though relatively unproven, aphrodisiac. A very expensive way to add some zest!
Another plant well known for its calming and stress-relieving qualities, chamomile is also seen as an aphrodisiac, though more through its ability to free the mind of worries.
This cleansing of the mind prevents what is known as 'performance anxiety'.
Named after testicles (from Greek, orchis), then it comes as not great revelation that orchids are seen as one of the original plant aphrodisiacs.
Edited February 2021