I like to keep a journal of where I find my herbs, how much I got and what other plants I saw in the location I have been harvesting in. I figured other than disclosing the location (to prevent over harvesting) I could put it up here to share.
There really is a marked lack of information on how to wildcraft on the internet which makes information really hard to obtain. I suggest everyone take a class or three with a local herbalist to learn what plants grow near you, how to identify and use them, what to avoid, what is endangered, and all that fun stuff. I took a few in Spokane but have not had the opportunity to take one here yet. I know the Denver Botanical Gardens has a one day herb walk that I am hoping to participate in this a year. The Center for Integrative Botanical Studies in Boulder, CO also has great nature walks and pant identifying classes in the region.
- Always ask permission if you are harvesting on private land. If you do not ask permission you are trespassing! The owner of the land might have plans for those herbs. Be respectful and ask. If you are on public land it is fair game. Colorado has a lot of open spaces that are great for wildcrafting.
- Know your herbs! Always know your herbs and be able to properly identify them. Have a herbal guide book for your area to help identify the plant. when in doubt do not harvest it! This is one of the benefits of technology, I have checked my smart phone many times when wild crafting to be sure I properly identified a species.
- Have the right tools! Bring gloves, scissors or a pruning tool, a trowel, a root weeder, a multi-tool, a basket to put your herbs in, a plastic bag or container to put plant samples in for plants you would like to try to properly identify, a first aid kit, and maybe a hat to protect you from the sun.
- Be sure your herbs are free of pollutants. Do not harvest within 10 feet of a road or free way. Do not harvest near farm land (unless you know it is pesticide free and has been for a long time). City parks and municipal areas are usually sprayed with herbicide a few times a year at least. Plants may not show signs of being sprayed until days after the application so be wary.
- Be sure the herbs are not endangered in your area. You can check United Plant Savers and the US Forest and Wildlife service for endangered plants in your area.
- Do not over harvest. Take only what you need. Be sure there are plenty of plants around to propagate the species. If there are only one or two plants in the area, leave them be, they need to spread their seed to grow more plants and maintain the biodiversity of the area. You will find, after building a relationship with the plants, that they almost speak to you, letting you know if they can be harvested, or would like to be left alone.
- Give thanks to the plant and be grateful for its sacrifice. If you are taking the whole plant or the root, thus killing the plant, consider bringing seeds to replant in the area to maintain the life and biodiversity of the area.
Here is a wonderful and more detailed wildcrafting ethics checklist.
So following these rules we went out to harvest some herbs. I had seen the pretty large yarrow stand at a previous visit to the park and open space so we decided to go out this weekend and do some wildcrafting. I got a decent amount of yarrow to make oil infusion and tinctures with and some plantain for oil infusion since I am making some eczema salve (nut free and regular) to sell this week.
I am also pretty sure I found some St. Johns Wort but I have to go back with a better herb guide. Mine did not have it on the sheet I take out with me.
I would like to note that three years ago when I started wildcrafting my husband wanted me to do it in secret by night because he thought it was weird. This morning he kept saying “Come on E we have to get ready and go so mommy can wildcraft! Lets go wildcrafting! It has to be done in the morning so get your shoes!” He was very excited. I am very lucky.
Large plants about this big were everywhere. I think it was landscaping gone to seed and spread in this open space.
Beautiful yarrow from a nice big yarrow plant.
N helping mommy pick flowers. My chiropractor would kill me if he knew I was bending over wearing a baby.
Well that is the end of my weekly wildcrafting adventure. Have you picked anything lately?
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
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