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Local Plants

16 August 2017

Hawthorn Recipes & Remedies - Part 1

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

EagleSong Evans Gardner, community herbalist, taught Hawthorn Remedies and Recipes at the 2016 Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference. Here is some of her wisdom about the plant and it's uses.

hawthorn branchHawthorn, Crataegus spp. is the epitome of a common plant, proliferating around planet Earth in the temperate northern latitudes. A member of the congenial Rosaceae family, this small to medium tree takes her place in rough environments with grace and even charm. Growing 16’-­50’ with small pome fruits, haws, and often sharp, thorny branches, Crataegus are used as specimen trees in gardens, as a foundation tree in countryside hedges and as a gnarly free agent in neglected landscapes providing shelter and food for innumerable insects, birds, amphibians, small mammals and, occasionally, humans! Just for fun, check out www.theplantlist.org where you’ll find 2718 plant names for Crataegus sp. found around the world!

The name hawthorn is an old English term for hedgethorn. Crataegus oxycantha or monogyna predominate as a shrubby tree used in European hedges along with its counter part the black thorn, sloe or trnka plum! An exceptionally vigorous and adaptive tree, Crataegus occasionally resort to apomixis, a form of asexual reproduction not requiring cross fertilization to create entirely new species. Two other commonly used herbs with this capacity are Taraxacum and Alchemilla, our friends and allies, dandelion and Lady's mantle. Somehow, this just tickles my fancy!

Generally recognized as a food with special properties wherever it grows, hawthorn preparations include haw candies, juice, wine, herbal medicines, and is used fresh and dried in soups, teas, punches, jams, butters, chutneys and relishes. Although, not universally accepted as beneficial, at least one county in WA state has listed the Hawthorn as an invasive species...since this is the county where I harvest all the haw used in my practice and heart health is a major concern in our communities, the mark is being missed in engaging an ally by some!

07 August 2017

Evergreen Medicine in Summer

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

hemlock 450x600At the height of summer, it seems the whole world is lush and verdant. This is a good time to think about evergreens. Yes, evergreens. We tend to pay attention to them only during the winter, as we decorate our homes for the holidays. But evergreens are year-round allies; they are edible and can be used for medicine.

It may sound odd that you can eat your Christmas tree, but you actually can. The idea of eating evergreens may also sound odd because the hemlock tree is an evergreen, and most of us have heard of “poison hemlock”. This is one of those instances where the common name is misleading; the two are completely unrelated botanically.

27 July 2017

Abundant Tulsi

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

2016.7 tulsi 600x450Are you feeling the overwhelming abundance of midsummer?

Sometimes it can feel a little too much to take in, and, we'll be so grateful for everything we harvested when we get to the darker leaner times in winter! One of our staff favorites is holy basil, also known as tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), now in peak flower!

How do we love tulsi? Let us count the ways!

  • Brewing overnight infusions
  • Pesto!
  • Rubbing her fragrance on the skin
  • Adding a few leaves to a warm bath
  • Falling asleep with some of her leaves and flowers under your pillow 

Have you too been smitten by this lovely lady? Oh, let's not forget to dry or tincture some to have for the rest of the year!

19 June 2017

Plant Spirit Meditation

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

The "Language" of Plants

Suki Roth taught a Plant Spirit Communication class at the 2016 Herbal Conference. She has created these easy to follow guidelines for getting in touch with our green growing friends, and as she says "if you listen, they will ​teach y​ou​".

imm out 2014 5 woman writing plants

Feeling Vibrational Fields

Plant communication strengthens our connection to the plants on a spirit-to-spirit level… We are literally in their energetic field, open to their vibrations, messages and effects. Each one of us has a fingerprint uniquely our own. Each plant species has a specific frequency or vibration unique to that species. Sensitive people can feel and sometimes see these vibrations. Ancient peoples used this skill of observation and receptivity to develop a greater understanding of an individual plant’s attributes.

Exercise To Enhance Sensitivity to Plant’s Energy Fields

  • Rub your hands together briskly till palms feel warm.
  • Now blow on them and feel the effect of your breath.
  • Repeat .. your hands are now more sensitized.
  • When ready slowly pass them over the tops of your plant.
  • Do this several times and observe the feelings on your hands.
  • Next try a different species nearby; a tree, a rock, a person, or a body of water.
  • What do you notice? What physical sensations do you feel?
  • If you practice this exercise frequently you will become much more sensitive to vibrational frequencies.

Use the following ​suggestions to make your experience more successful and intimate.

10 May 2017

Making Motherwort Tincture

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Women's Wellness

Motherwort goddess 450x600Open up a Wise Woman medicine chest and chances are, you will find motherwort tincture.

Easy to grow in a garden, motherwort often finds her way into the paths and new beds. She is is in the mint family—relax, though, she’s not like peppermint. Motherwort spreads by seed, and not by creeping roots.

Like all plants in the mint family, motherwort has square stems, opposite leaves and double lipped flowers. Motherwort's leaves, though, are maple shaped. And unlike most other mints, Motherwort is not aromatic and is quite bitter to the taste—some say it tastes like chocolate!

Botanically Motherwort is known as Leonurus Cardiaca which translates to lion-hearted! She is well known as an ally for the heart and circulatory system.

28 April 2017

Rich Russian Nettle Tonic

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

nettle tonic on squash 500xI first fell in love with nettles after discovering a lush patch near my house when I was in college studying plants and eating wild greens.

During that time, I cooked nettles in as many ways as I could imagine. One year before apprenticing with Susun Weed, I read her book, Healing Wise, and found my all-time favorite nettle recipe, Rich Russian Nettle Tonic. These days I have a constant supply since it is the peak time of year to harvest nettles.

Is nettles one of your favorites too? Have you felt her sting when reaching for her? If you have nettles near you, it takes just a few minutes (feel free to get your gloves!) to snip a basket of nettle tops. Bring them into the kitchen and then cook down—which removes the sting—for this delicious, nutritious dish . . .

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.

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