Gathering herbs and wild remedies – Getting started

Gathering herbs and wild remedies cover Heilende Wildkräuter Rosalee de la Foret Emily Han

Advertising | The copy of this book was provided by the publisher – my thoughts and opinions you read here remain my own.

Are you a tea drinker? If so what is your favorite kind? I love my earl grey in the morning followed by a cup of green tea. Later in the afternoon and the evening I switch to herb teas. And of course I always battle a cold with herbal tea. November 2019 I received a package from my godmother with her bags of homemade herbal tea. When I visited her a few weeks earlier we had been talking about gathering herbs and plants to make tea. While of course I knew about using mint leaves for tea and even had gathered thyme in the mountains during hikes inn my childhood, I never really thought about making my own blend. Spoiler: I have found new hobby in gathering herbs and wild remedies.

Getting into gathering herbs and wild remedies

During the spring time 2020 when everything started to blossom and flowers started to pop up I was reminded of gathering herbs for tea. I started to wonder what kind of herbs I could use for my own tea blends.

I startet to check my store-bought tea for ingredients. I checked the self-made blend of my godmother for her choices. And I started to look for information online. I came across a very good site (in German) with vast knowledge of healing and medical herbs to use. There is so so much knowledge there that I was gone for hours reading up. Learning what herb can be used to ease what kind of illness or pain.

With Corona on the rise in early spring 2020 we weren’t allowed for much roaming around but I was especially seeking the woods and outdoors and so I came across lots of greenery. I was and still am a novice when it comes to identifying all the plants.

I am in my second year of trying to learn about wild remedies and medicinal herbs. I wanted to get a good book to look into a bit more closely, to maybe take a few notes in. But with Corona around, lockdowns in place I am not really able to browse book stores. When publisher Narayana Verlag provided me with a copy of “Heilende Wildkräuter” I was really happy. Just what I needed. And since I enjoyed the book and learnt a lot I want to give you a bit of closer look. Maybe it will hook you on getting a new hobby in gathering herbs and wild remedies.

Wild Remedies by Rosalee de la Forêt & Emily Han – What this book is about

Goodreads summery: Millions of people are interested in natural or alternative health – but many of them are missing out on the most important ingredient: Nature itself!
Wild Remedies inspires readers to rekindle their connection with nature by identifying, tending, and harvesting the plant medicine they find growing around them. Experts Rosalee de la Forêt and Emily Han explain the benefits of 25 commonly found wild plants, many of which are also easy to grow. Readers will also find a wealth of recipes, remedies, crafts, and activities to bring the healing and transformative powers of these herbs to life.

The book is structure into six sections with various chapters.

  1. Creating your Foundation
  2. Spring
  3. Early Summer
  4. Late Summer
  5. Autumn
  6. Winter
Gathering herbs and wild remedies season Wilde Heilkräuter Narayana Verlag

Getting started – gathering herbs and wild remedies

The first section gives you vast knowledge on herbs and nature in general. It has little journals prompts that make you think about your motivation to go out and look for herbs. It guides you to a better understanding of the connection between nature and humans and helps you find places inn nature to ground yourself. To observer nature throughout its seasons. It also challenges you to think about a balanced relationship to nature. Not only forage herbs and wild remedies but also give something back to nature.

I have to admit the “giving back to nature part” is one I struggled with in the book. I understand the intention and can get behind the sentiment to see nature as providing for us but I am not sure about the giving back part. I don’t mind picking up trash and maybe watering plants in the summer – I have done so. But other suggestions were a bit too close to esotericism for me. But honestly that is the only “complain” I have about the book. And maybe I am not getting it (yet).

Gathering herbs and wild remedies botany characteristics

I personally enjoyed the information about botany basics. I knew almost nothing about it and learning about the different leave shapes and categorization of plants was very educational. Since I can not remember it all I actually thought about making myself a little memory game to learn.

There is also a chapter in the first section talking about what kind of equipment you may need to go out foraging. And how to actually store, use, dry and process your harvest. All very helpful tipps.

25 wild remedies to discover

The following five sections are divided into the seasons aligning with the harvest seasons. Each section portraits a selection of plants growing at that time of year. I personally really liked that the plants are all wildly known in the northern hemisphere of the globe. You are probably familiar with a few of them already. I remember that when I lived in Idaho I was not familiar with the mushrooms growing there because it was so much different from what I knew from home.

Gathering herbs and wild remedies Vogelmiere plant portrait

Each section starts with a little introduction to the season with a beautiful photo and a quote. It also gives you a little list of things to do during that season.

The following portraits are structured the same way:

  • a photo with a quote about the plant
  • a list of characteristics such as botany name, parts to use, energetic, taste and ways to use it
  • medical characteristics and energetics
  • identification of the plant including possibilities of confusion or toxic plants
  • ecological coherences
  • harvest
  • botanical Illustration and a characteristic of life cycle, appearances and habitat
  • tips for gardening and cultivating
  • how to use the plant

All this is followed and rounded up with a 2-5 recipes per plant. This could be infused vinegar or oil, some salve or ointment or some muffins, cakes or dishes. It is really amazing. I am specially hooked to try the Chickweed Pesto, the Dandelion Maplesirup Cheese Cake, Nettle Frittata, Wild Herbs Shampoo, Mellow Quinoa Patties, Mint Chimmichurri, Elderberry Elixier and Purslane Cucumber Salad to name just a few

Gathering herbs and wild remedies Holundersirup

Here is a list of plants included in the book: Chickweed, Dandelion – Leaf and Flower, Wild Mustard, Nettle, Plantain, Violet, Elderflower, Mellow, Mint, Picklig Pear, St. Johns Wort, Yarrow, Apple, Blackberry and Raspberry, Elderberry, Mullein, Purslane, Burdock, Dandelion – root, Echinacea, Rose Hip, Citrus, Cottonwood, Evergreen Conifers, Willow

Beautifully designed and easy on the eye

Reading about gathering herbs and wild remedies is easier if the book actually is fun to ready and not looks like a encyclopedia. This is the case here and I loved how the book was designed. There are a lot of high quality images in the book. Also the illustrations of the plants are very detailed. I found myself studying them a few times.

The first chapter has a lot of tipps and tricks and journal prompts that are visually set apart by a different background color. Also there are a few community testimonials included on how to tend to nature. The plant portraits are broken up with little checklists in boxes and of course the recipes.

And of course I am in love with the little ribbon for bookmarking.

Gathering herbs and wild remedies botany illustration

Wildcrafting herbs and remedies

Now that I may have your motivation stirred in giving this a try yourself let me also add a bit of a lecture. But only because I am guilty of not following it when I started last year.

Going out to nature and gathering herbs is fun. It is amazing what you can find and what you can actually use. There is a lot of knowledge that is lost or not as common anymore. However if everyone starts wildcrafting in the nearest park, garden or forest it could be more than damaging to nature.

Here is a list of things you should be cautions of:

  • The first plant you will find is never the one you pick. Make sure it is common in the area before harvesting.
    I am guilty of that one. I picked coltsfoot because I was so happy to find some but I have not found any more. Feel bad ever since.
  • Can you identify the plant correctly?
    I’ve picked herbs were I wasn’t sure later on if I might have a toxic one in the mix and ended up throwing it all away. Total Waste! Not very sustainable and appreciative.
  • Are you allowed to pick herbs in that location? It is not allowed to just go to any private space and start picking. That also counts for farming fields and private parks and gardens. Also never ever pick in a natural reserve.
  • Are you able to process the harvest immediately or will it spoil because you are busy?
    It does help knowing exactly what you will do and how much you’ll need. Go out with a goal in mind.
  • Are you sure the location is not contaminated?
  • Can you identify toxic plants in your area?
  • Are you familiar with plants that are on the endangered species list?
    I wasn’t and have picked a pink yarrow just to learn that is actually almost extinct in the area I found it.
  • Will you destroy the habitat when stepping into by allowing erosion?

So what do you think? Crazy new hobby or intriguing knowledge? I’ll plan another post where I share the tea blends I have made from my harvest last year and that has been my Christmas gifts to friends and family in 2020. So stay tuned if you are interesting.

Also, if you have any other good book I should look into let me know. I am not done learning.

Happy gathering

Tobia

The book in German translation ” Heilende Wildkräuter – Nachhaltige Heilpflanzen sammeln und eigene Naturmedizin herstellen” by Rosalee de la Forêt and Emily Han as been published by Narayana Verlag.

2 thoughts on “Gathering herbs and wild remedies – Getting started

    1. I am getting better. I am not always picking but try to identify and guess before I check with the app.
      I would only take the once I know for sure – same with mushrooms. And I usually focus on one or two to learn before taking on the next. It’s a lifelong journey I guess

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