Tag Archives: medicinal plants

Wintergreen tea pick

18 Jan

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We are having a January thaw right now, much of the  accumulated snow has melted this week, though in most of the surrounding forest there is still plenty of snow except for areas like this one where some jack pine trees have been recently cut and the forest floor close to the stumps are snow free and Wintergreen leaves are now visibly available to those who may choose to partake in gathering some fresh leaves for tea.

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Here is a closer look at the Teaberry plant aka wintergreen, (Gaultheria procumbens) its small round red leaves are noticeable on the south-side of the stump. Now the majority of the wintergreen leaves in these woods where the trees are still standing has (green) leaves beneath the snow, though in open areas like this the leaves are often red which makes for a pink colored tea of good flavour.

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Marguerit is also here today to join in the gathering of these small leaves with a big taste. I mentioned earlier on in a post in November the flavour of wintergreen doesn’t reveal itself right away, you need a little patience as it takes a couple days of fermentation for the flavour to fully appear. I use a few handfuls of cleaned leaves placed in a jar add a litre of boiling spring water and close the lid for 2 days. After I may drink the strained tea cold or reheated, the leaves from the ferment can be used a second time by just steeping them again with newly boiled water or they can be dried and packaged for later use. cheers

Evening Primrose

11 Nov

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Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) still remains a common plant here in eastern Canada and I suspect the folks who lived here thousands of years ago were very fond of this health plant.

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This is usually the time of year I gather this plant though I do enjoy the yellow flowers in salads during the summer. The whole plant is edible and my favorite part for eating are the boiled roots which become very soft textured with a pleasant flavour and a peppery aftertaste.

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Evening Primrose oil which is a well known herbal product is made from Evening Primrose seeds either grown commercially or gathered from the wild, so here we are looking at a stem with the 4 chambered seedpods.

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Here I’ve opened a couple of chambers to show you the brown seeds which can be used as a peppery condiment.

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These still green basal leaves are what you’re looking for if you’re interested  in the large roots which can be harvested from these first year plants as long as the ground isn’t frozen and the 2nd year stems haven’t begun to grow. All the above photos were taken around my shed, this plant grows in a variety of areas including roadsides, railway banks, gravelly soils along brooks, drier areas near salt marshes and disturbed soils.

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I usually freeze the leaves for winter use but this year I’ll dry some to use as a pepper replacement. This plant was taken to Europe in the 1700s and was given the name the King’s cure-all, so it must of proven to be a beneficial plant in its new homelands.

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Above are a couple photos of Evening Primrose in flower taken this summer. ciao

riding the winds

6 Jun

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Timothy grass and wild horseradish together on the ridge above the marsh, click on the photo to take notice of the plants and also you can see the windmills at the Nova Scotia border a few miles away. Wild Horseradish competes well in the wind and tall grass. The photo below is a 45 degree turn to the right which takes you to more wild Horseradish and out into the head of the Bay of Fundy.

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Cool to be green

9 Dec

DSC05299Shepherd’s Purse seems to produce the year’s best tasting and largest leaves in December in our yard. The life cycle from germination to producing mature seeds ready to start it all over again can be within a 3 week span. It would be hard to find a place on earth where Sheperd’s purse couldn’t grow as it can even stand up to the intense heat of the tropics as well.

DSC05301Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata) is a European plant I noticed growing quite wild here in Canada as it has spread its way around our yard. The folks who lived in our home in the 1960s planted some rather hardy edible, medicinal plants which were usually planted as ornamentals during those years though these plants are re-emerging as plants of interests due to their useful and self-sufficient nature, which makes them idle northern permaculture plants.

DSC05306Here are a couple sweet cicely roots ready to be eaten raw, the roots at this time of the year have a hardy anise flavour which I find make a tasty nibble and breath freshener. The leaves are less intensely flavoured and can be used in teas or as a sweetening agent.

DSC05303Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) is a very common native wild plant, here we see the first year basal rosette leaves.

DSC05304Another first year evening primrose with  the pink root several inches out of the soil which is a common sight in the Maritime provinces of Canada. Evening Primrose is a rather interesting edible and medicinal plant which is found in most disturbed soils and at the edges of salt marshes as well, the leaves are very peppery and I have used them medicinally in teas, the flowers are good in salads and roots have a taste I’m fond of though the slimy texture prevents them from becoming a popular vegetable. Evening Primrose seeds are a well known source of GLA.

DSC05310Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) seems to be as green as ever during these days when temperatures are dipping below the freezing mark much off the time. Still exploring new ways to enjoy this very aggressive lawn plant other than the usual medicinal tea mixes.

DSC05309Another chilly night  approaches with Jerusalem Artichokes  in the slow cooker with some onion and dried King Bolete (boletus edulis), this recipe will continue to be a favorite on our supper table, as long as you can dig where I’m coming from. ciao

A ramblin bramblin man

11 Aug

I was up looking at a forest property that was for sale 50 miles north of my place and was stunned to find some nicely ripe blackberries. In my area I am use to seeing blackberry canes between 4 and 10 feet though usually the canes bear numerous large thorns so a sweater or protective coat is worn while picking wild blackberries, but today I’m a pickin and a grinnin in my tee-shirt as these blackberry canes are practically thornless and my usually blackberry companions the yellow jacket hornet are strangely absent from this area. Click on to see these blackberry photos up close.

These blackberries are not only easy to pick but are the sweetest I’ve found in many decades of gathering this wild fruit, so I will be definitely placing some of these berries in the ground closer to home. I gathered up approximately 5 gallons of berries in 2 hours though I didn’t have my berry picking gear. I did have a 2 litre ice cream container and my mushroom collecting basket which worked out fine. A couple other plants of interest in the photo are fireweed and pin cherry trees.

Nature always amazes me, I recently checked the unripe blackberries in my area which has a growing season 30 plus day more than the area I visited today and I was going to start gathering in my area in 2 weeks, todays gathered berries were actually at the end of their growth as bear have been in feeding for many days so these blackberry plants may produce ripen fruit the last week in July if grown in my yard.

At this time I own no forest property but would like to protect at least one of these recently cut areas even the wood harvesters aren’t interested in at this point and just let the natural development of plants and trees play out on their own. I didn’t get much of a chance to check out the full 100 acre property which has a swamp fen and possibly many plants I’m very interested in, though I would probably intervene with a few of my favorites if they naturally fit in and can compete on their own and let nature do the rest, if I do decide to be involved in this spot. This place was harvested for its wood 10 years ago and wasn’t replanted, so no chemical spraying on the land which is right up my alley. ciao

Wild thyme time

19 Jul

I noticed some flowering wild thyme made up a good portion of a lawn at a property in an industrial park and happened to know of an area a few minutes away where I  could gather some clean ones along the edge of a field of bedstraw.

It appears to be wild blueberry time as well, so I enjoyed a nice taste of them while collecting the wild thyme. I may try some wild thyme honey this year. ciao

Not all they’re cracked up to be

30 Jun

The folks on my street should back me up on this one, I do not mow the lawn very often, but today I gave it a whirl. What my neighbors don’t know and I hope you’ll keep my secret is, I avoided cutting the so-called weeds in the sidewalk cracks.

This is a bit of an eye test so you may choose to click on to enlarge the photos, but in this one shot we have from left to right (1) yellow wood sorrel, (2) dandelion greens, (3)  plantain, (4) pineapple weed and (5) sheperd’s purse, so a nice group of edible and medicinal plants which I won’t recommend you using from a site this close to a street, but these are potential collecting locations for seeds to be grown inside or in gardens or wild gardens.

Here are the same plants from a different angle. Sidewalks and gravelly train tracks have been generous providers of plant seeds from plants that are rare this far north such as milkweed and purslane. So I think I’ll collect some yellow sorrel and pineapple weed from a patch I have at the edge of my garden, which I didn’t mow today as well and try them combined in an ice tea as it’s 90 plus here. Wishing you a very weedy weekend. ciao

Blooming Aronia

23 Jun

Here we are viewing an area where at least 10 different edible wild fruits are available.

Let us focus on Aronia berry today as it is now in full bloom, to notice the blooms click on the above photo, Aronia is the dominant plant in this area and some of the local folks do gather blueberries and cranberries but leave the rest of the various fruits including tons of Aronia for me and the birds and other critters to enjoy. Aronia is in the same family as apples and roses and is considered by many to be a very healthy fruit to eat indeed. There are some interesting stories on how it became a very useful food to folks in some areas of Poland during the war years and is still quite popular there today.  If you have an interest in medicinals plants Aronia may somewhat surprise you as it is native to North America, but became acknowledged for it healthyness to at least part of its potential once it was introduced to Europe. Aronia berries are being grown commerically in Iowa in the last few years, check Aronia out.

Here is a photo from a post I did in March which shows the berries which resemble blueberries when used in muffins. ciao

Lost brook cave

10 Jun

This was my first trip to the Lost brook valley which features some gypsum and limestone caves where many thousands of bats hibernate for the winter, unfortunately some campers a few miles from the caves mentioned possibly all the bats died inside the different caves this year due to the white-nose fungus. So I followed a path as the campers directed and took a few photos near one of the caves. When I returned home I checked for info on the white-nose fungus and the campers were quite accurate in their figures as researchers did say 100% death rate in the caves was their estimate, normally around 6,000 bats enter the caves and the fungus was initially detected in this area 2 years ago.

This area has some plants species which are rare south of the arctic though today I will just show a few common ones to most rivers of the maritime provinces in Canada.

The second year stage of evening primrose, (Oenothera biennis), a fine medicinal and edible plant. This healthy one in the photo could easily reach 7 feet high near the end of summer.

I have not gathered or used this plant before, Purple avens (Geum rivale) though I may try it this year as its roots when boiled are supposed to have a flavor similar to hot chocolate once sugar and milk are added.

The light green leaves in the center of the picture are Orpine (Sedum telephium) which soon I will do a whole post on, as this plant I suspect will be of interest to some of you.

Good old Yellow goatsbeard, has these petals hauled in like a rain hat, I must admit I could have made good use of one today as well. rain for now

greens and things

2 Jun

A few things created a pause and a photo shot.

Here is a medicinal plant I don’t forage for, though I always enjoy seeing it in the woods, it was common in an area of large tooth poplar today, the plant is a ginseng relative known around my neck of the woods as wild sarsaparilla, Aralia nudicaulis The visible plant consist of the light green umbrella of leaves in the center of the photo and the 3 small ball-shaped flower heads below.

I reached down and touched the underside of this group of red-belt polypore and was surprised to notice they were holding a good supply of water drops and it hadn’t rained for a day or so?

I have shown a young Clintonia plant at a good harvestable stage for salads around a month ago, today the flowers are open and the leaves look very lively though long past the stage of tastyness.

A dizzy little slug was hanging by a thread around 5 feet from the ground, I extended my hand to help him down but my offer was not accepted, so I took a few photos, most turned out blurry as he was spinning at a slow but steady pace. ciao

I’ll be back around soon.