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Local Plants

22 March 2017

Spring equinox greens

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Dandelion & nettles are popping up

Are you feeling the stirring of springtime? Sensing the plants calling you? We are now at equinox!

nettle dandy low resIt’s been a challenging winter--recently we've seen nature’s elements freezing back tender plant shoots (or burying them in snow, depending on where you live). The herbs and flowers are looking a bit ruffled, with dead leaves around their shoulders as they are emerging from the underground time of year.

And we may feel the same way, gazing around in wonder at the world beginning to blossom around us. We may also be surprised by our own strength and resilience--like the plants, finding the stamina to survive through challenging times.

Dandelion and nettles are two favorite early spring greens for wise woman herbalists to bring into the kitchen.

02 February 2017

The uncertainty of Imbolc

Written by Flora, Posted in Local Plants, Self Love, Sisterhood

Winter Dance of Many MoonsAs the cycle of the year turns we are now at the half-way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox at the point known as Imbolc, traditionally celebrated in the early days of February.

You’ve heard of groundhogs day? The legend about the groundhog looking for her shadow on February 2, is a vestige of an ancient divination technique to determine how long the winter would last. If she sees her shadow, she will retreat to her den as winter will continue for six more weeks, until spring equinox.

In the 2017 We’moon, our very own Herbal Conference teacher Kim Duckett describes the Imbolc season:

“Imbolc in dark, cold winter can signify endurance in the face of adversity and scarcity: we may encounter fragility, tenuousness, uncertainty, darkness and despair beyond what we think we can endure. Women know these experiences. We have held both new life and death in our hands. We have wondered: will this child make it, will the addict live or die, will my lover come home, will I survive this loss? Will I be ok? Will there be enough resources to see us into spring?”

25 October 2016

Honoring the "root season"

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Local Plants

land 2014 10 gravel road lo res 400 x 600We are six weeks from fall equinox. Over the next six weeks we’ll be moving toward the dark, deep winter solstice. This weekend, we are also at the dark of the moon. Here at Earthaven Ecovillage we will be celebrating Halloween, also known as “Samhain,” and the Day of the Dead. What a potent time of year!

Throughout the world, cultures honor the annual waning of the sun as a powerful marker that the veil between the worlds is thinning… and we have the opportunity to connect with the unseen, our ancestors, and our beloved dead. It is a time we can remember those on whose shoulders we stand by sharing a photograph, poem, story or meaningful objects in their memory.

22 September 2016

Queen of the Meadow

Written by Flora, Posted in Local Plants

2016.8 queen of the meadow lo resIt's late summer and Queen of the Meadow is blooming, often 10 feet high or more!

Her botanical name is Eupatorium purpureum, in the Sunflower family.

Yes, another common name is Joe Pye Weed . . . we prefer "Queen of the Meadow," as she towers over everyone else ♥

02 August 2016

Savoring the beauty of Lammas

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Local Plants, Self Love

2016.6 c stones bio head shoulders lo resAs the shadows lengthen at on these Lammas days—the mid-point between the Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox—the Earth invites us to savor the beauty, the sweetness, and the richness of our lives.

Where do we find the connection and belonging that our hearts so deeply yearn for? In our society, we are often told that one romantic relationship should meet all our needs—rather than relying on a wide-ranging circle of sources. Lammas season invites us to remember that making a connection with a greater spectrum of resources gives us more access to love! That spectrum includes our friends and loved ones, of course, and also plants, water, wild things . . . the Earth herself.

30 June 2016

Snacking on Summer Sorrel

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

wood sorrel 2Walking in the woods on a hot afternoon or working in the garden, I often find myself nibbling on wood sorrel for thirst-quenching refreshment. This widespread, wild edible is familiar to many—some call it “sour grass” or refer to the tiny fruits as “sorrel pickles”. Children seem particularly fond of foraging and eating those little “pickles”.

Wood sorrel, or Oxalis spp., is particularly abundant in Appalachia and the lemony flavor of the leaves and fruits make it a wonderful trail-side snack or a tasty addition to your wild salads. Although it resembles clover, the cluster of three, heart-shaped “sweetheart” leaves, five-petal, yellow flowers and tiny, cucumber-like seedpods readily identify wood sorrel.

20 June 2016

St. Johnswort Preparations

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Make your own bottled sunshine

st johnswort oilThere is no other medicinal herb that bespeaks more of sunshine than St. Johnswort, or St. J’s, as we fondly call it. It loves sunny open places, blooms at the height of summer solstice, soothes the skin after sunburn, and even brings sunshine into our lives through its mood elevating properties. Establish some of this sunny plant in your garden this spring!

The most well known, most widely used species of St. Johnswort is Hypericum perforatum, studied for its uses against depression—especially helpful for the kind of dark moods that come from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In fact, it is often said that plants grow where they are needed—and St J’s is a prolific “weed” in the Pacific Northwest, where dark and rainy winters contribute to a high number of SAD cases.

13 May 2016

Glycerine & Vinegar Extracts

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Foundations in Medicine Making - Part 3

dropper bottle pinkHerbal constituents can be released into and stored in various solutions such as water, oil, vinegar and alcohol. Some liquids (called menstruums in herbal medicine making) facilitate the release of different compounds and can be more or less effective depending on the plant and it's properties. Below are several different techniques for extracting herbs with water from Ceara Foley's class at the 2016 Herbal Conference.

Glycerine Extracts:

Glycerites can be beneficial for those with alcohol concerns or for children’s remedies. The disadvantage is in not dissolving resinous or oily materials as well as alcohol. There is also a shorter shelf life.

The ratio of glycerin to water varies greatly from 50% to 100%. The only hard and fast rule I know is you always need more glycerin than water to preserve the herbs well. Make the extract as you would with alcohol, chopping, macerating, and straining the herb with the final results being a thick, sweet tasting product.

04 May 2016

Herbal Tinctures

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Foundations of Medicine Making - Part 2

 

echinacea tincture 438 x 600Herbal constituents can be released into and stored in various solutions such as water, oil, vinegar and alcohol. Some liquids (called menstruums in herbal medicine making) facilitate the release of different compounds and can be more or less effective depending on the plant and it's properties. Below are several different techniques for extracting herbs with alcohol from Ceara Foley's class at the 2016 Herbal Conference.

Tincture Preparations:

Generally, alcohol is a better menstruum than water for the complete extraction of plant constituents. Various ratios of water to alcohol will dissolve most all relevant ingredients of an herb while acting as a preservative. Tinctures can also be made with glycerin or vinegar although not with the best medicinal results for most herbs. I would use the menstruums for nutritional herbs or very mild tonics.

04 May 2016

Nettle Pesto

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

Now's the time to eat those nourishing nettles!

Nettle-Pesto-600 x 400Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds
10-15 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon mineral salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
4 cups young nettle leaves
3 cups loosely packed arugula leaves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or to preferred consistency
*optional 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
(I prefer it without the parmesan, and serve over goat cheese on toast instead)

23 February 2016

Peppercress: An early spring edible

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Have you seen peppercress yet?

2015.3 darrodils 600 x 450The appearance of daffodils and crocus is certainly one of the lovely heralds of spring. Right around this time, my heart also flutters at my first glimpse of peppercress, poking between the cracks in the pavement or peeking out at the edge of my gardens. In the liminal time between the burrowed, reclusive months of winter and the resurgence of the green, peppercress’ tiny white flowers seem so appropriate: fragile, yet determined. I feel hopeful.

Peppercress is one of the first of the wild edibles to reveal herself to us after the dormant season. She’s a member of a very large and distinguished family—brassicacae, formerly known as cruciferae—that includes distant relatives such as kale, cabbage, broccoli, collards and cauliflower, as well as closer kin, like mustard greens.

03 December 2015

Harvest Dandelion Root

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

And Make a Tincture

2015.10 moonmilk sun lower wide 2When we start to see frosty nights, perennial herbs send their medicine below the ground to store in their roots over the winter—so this time of year, the roots are at peak potency. Time to dig for medicines!~

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is an herb that has been used medicinally for many generations, but has become detested as a weed today. Dandelion is highly nourishing for the liver and, in today’s world, everyone’s liver is challenged by environmental toxins. It’s ironic: we have dandelion offering herself in great abundance in yards and lawns and gardens—where she is largely disposed of or ignored—at a time when we all could use some liver support!

21 November 2015

Grandmother's Wisdom about Poke

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

2015.10 moonmilk sun lower wide 2pokeberriesGrowing up in the Northeast, I loved playing with the purple pokeberries, painting designs on my skin. My parents allowed this, though they made it clear that I shouldn’t eat the berries of this “poisonous, invasive weed.” The huge poke plants were such a bane in their garden that they would actually tie a rope around the roots and use a Jeep to pull them out!

15 November 2015

Winter Plant Allies: A Root, a Berry and a Lichen

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Echinacea, Elderberry and Usnea

Each drop of a tincture contains the life story of the plant - from seed, to bud, to flower. The essence or "medicine" is found in that story. Red Moon Herbs' Immune Blend contains three stories - that of a root, a berry and a lichen. 

ech flower from above 600 x 399Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) - the root - is a common perennial in eastern and central North America, used by Native Americans for centuries.The flower is a large, showy composite with a spiny central disk or "cone" that looks a lot like a hedgehog and blooms from early to late summer. While humans covet the plant for its immune boosting properties and visual interest in winter gardens, the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are drawn to it as a plentiful pollinator and perching structure. The roots are the most concentrated part of the plant medicinally and are one of the most popular herbal tinctures today.

03 November 2015

Immunomodulating Herbs

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

As the cold weather sets in, getting a refresher in immune enhancing and supporting herbs can help us all prepare for winter colds and flus. Here are some resources from Juliet Blankespoor's immunity class from the 2014 Herbal Conference. This is part 2 of 3, see also Part 1: Immunostimulating Herbs and Part 3: Immune Tonic Tea

Tonic Herbs

These herbs have been used traditionally as tonic support for the immune system, and are slower acting with a more prolonged effect, as compared to immunostimulants. Also called deep immune tonics, they are used for longer periods of time when necessary and have a more balancing, rather than stimulating effect on the body. As tonics, they are not typically overtly heating or stimulating and match a wide variety of constitutions. We can examine each herb for its traditional usage and constitutional picture to find the remedy with the greatest affinity for each situation.

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