When I see young people moodily pulling leaves off a tree as they walk by, or tearing a flower to bits, what I see is an instinctual – though unconcious – act of herbal self-healing. Just as we clench our fists when angry (this is a hand-mudra, used in yoga to deal with anger) or bang our fists to our heads with frustration over a problem (in yoga, pressure on the forehead activates the frontal lobe, dealing with short-term memory and problem-solving), so tearing up leaves or flowers releases chemical components of the plant and surround the person with its healing energy. These are simply my thoughts and intuitions… how do YOU feel about this?
I recently posted an article about picking roots – in this case, Burdock Root – and the option of buying the same root from Japanese or Korean shops (where Burdock is known as Gobo) instead of going to the hassle of digging them up.
Truth be told, I enjoy the ease of buying Burdock, but I also really LIKE to dig them up!!
Here’s what I foraged for last autumn. That’s the best time to harvest, as the goodness gathers there in preparation for over-wintering.
I use Burdock as a grounding food and tincture, along with all it’s other supportive functions – cleansing the liver and therefore, the blood. Which keeps the skin clear and helps skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Here’s a tricky fellow. We saw some folks out in their garden today, in their volkstuinhuis (garden lot/house) while we were looking around. They were busy tidying up and pruning some bushes. I was caught by the cedar-scent, and came over to investigate. The photo shows what we found. But I can’t seem to identify it – I thought it was a cedar, but looking it up, I can only think it must be some kind of cypress. If you have any ideas, please help me out. The photo shows both the front and back sides of the flat branches. It is too early for any cones, though had I been thinking, I’d have asked the owners to describe them. Anyway, I kept a bag of it to use – perhaps in tea, perhaps a smudge stick, maybe to flavour our rice tonight… we’ll see. It has a delicious, pungent scent that reminds me of the anti-bacterial properties held in cedars, pines, and cypresses.
I’ve been out taking heaps of photos the past few weeks, aiming to capture the first signs of Spring, and I decided to follow them through all four seasons as well. So, this year I’ll be following as many plants as I can manage, so we can practice identifying them in all stages of development. It can be really helpful – and immensely rewarding – when you discover you can identify plants even before they flower, or from the dried stalk.
As I go, I’ll be adding more information about special properties of the plant, recipes, habitat and so on. Sometimes I might just post a photograph. At the moment, teaching small groups or one-to-one is my preferred way of sharing… If you can make it to a weed walk, workshop, or event, that’s the best way – get down on your knees to really look at the plant; smell it, smell the soil in which it grows, feel the leaves and stem, perhaps draw it, meditate by it, and, if safe to do so, taste it. This is how one becomes friends with our plant allies.
Remember, if you do plan to forage for food, herbal medicine, or any other wild plant product, please follow the rules of safety, respect, responsibility and ethical harvesting and use of these plants. See here for some guidelines.
Just had to show you what a joyful face this little flower has.
The leaves will appear when the flower fades… meaning, at the moment, there is just an asparagus-like stalk under the flower head – so any other leaf you see in this photo is NOT part of the Coltsfoot flower!
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Today was a warm and sunny day and everywhere the little Coltfoot faces looked up to shine back.
The herbalist Maria Treben has suggested making a cold-infusion with Coltsfoot flowers for use against coughs and sore throats. Only pick a few flower-heads at a time, from unsullied locations, and not all from one spot… I take just one flower from each bunch I see, and usually not more than 5-7 flowers in a day.
Coltsfoot Infusion/Tea: Let the fresh-or-dried flowers soak overnight in a pot of cold water. A small handful (7 flowers or so) should be enough. Next morning, heat the water until it is just past lukewarm, never to boiling. Pour into a thermos to sip throughout the day… honey optional.