The Honeysuckle Harvest

Went harvesting honeysuckle (lonicera maacki) yesterday in Buttercup Valley Preserve (that’s what it’s really called).   After reading about all the wonderful health benefits of consuming the flowers and a friend’s addition of them to his yerba mate, I figured I’d better get out there and wildcraft some while I still could.  And it’s a good thing I did, because many of the flowers had already died.  However, there was still a bounty to be had.  I felt the zen of the task, the repetitive motion of picking over and over again, the meditation of it.  I gained a new appreciation for gatherers of old and new.  It helped me realize one more time how important it is to wildcraft our own herbs.  I hiked for a couple of hours and probably harvested about a third of that time.  However, when I laid the flowers out in a basket to dry, the haul seemed so small.  I probably came home with a couple of hundred flowers, but they are so small and the picking so labor intensive.  Once again, I wondered how herb companies can sell pounds of herbs for $10-$20 each.  How is that possible with all the work it takes to grow them, harvest them, dry them, and then the shipping costs????  It seems there’s a disconnect somewhere.  So, here’s my plea: if you can, harvest your own herbs or get them from someone you know.  At the very least, get them from somewhere that is using sustainable growing processes, paying their workers a fair wage, and not using fossil fuels to ship them from somewhere across the world (which are then often not very fresh and can even be irradiated).  I wouldn’t want any of that on my consciousness!  Plus, all I could think yesterday was, “What could be better than hanging out in the woods in the sun on a glorious Sunday afternoon?  It would be even better to have a group of friends here.  It’s true, many hands do make light work!”  So, anyone want to have a Wildcrafting Party?

I took this one.  Really aren't they beautiful?!

I took this one. Really aren't they beautiful?!

I can’t believe people go out and destroy these plants, pulling them just to get them out of the way and leaving them to die.  At least use the wood for fire or heat and the flowers for medicine.  The flowers have been used by Herbalists and others as an expectorant, diuretic, and detoxifier; it can be helpful therapy for asthma, coughs, fevers, infections, skin irritations and more.  Honeysuckle is even being studied for its possible use in therapy for HIV!  Plus, it tastes great!  Just try it!

As I was walking the several blocks to the preserve, I got some attention from some neighbors for the Hori Hori on my belt.  The hori hori is my new favorite Herbalist’s tool!  (Here’s where I got mine if you want to check it out.) It’s basically a trowel that’s not quite  as wide, with a serrated blade on one side and a straight blade on the other.  Sometime they’re called digging or gardening knives because you can use them for digging, transplanting, cutting, etc.  I use it to dig roots, scrape bark or root bark, cut stems, and more.  I almost wondered if I should have left the knife with the 5″ blade at home for all of the attention it drew; I soon remembered why I’d brought it.

A sea of Wild Ginger (asarum canadense)

A sea of Wild Ginger (asarum canadense)

wild ginger leaves

wild ginger leaves

the beautiful wild ginger flower (it's that tiny thing with the red center)

the beautiful wild ginger flower (it's that tiny thing with the red center)

I really was amazed at the sheer quantity of the Wild Ginger in the preserve!  It tastes like store bought ginger, though they are unrelated.  However, wild ginger has a stronger taste.  The one I ate was so pungent, I was surprised!  Soon after that, I ran into my midwife hiking the same trail (Cincinnati is a small town sometimes).  It was nice to show someone else the joys of wild ginger and talk about the state of women’s health.  She gave me a lot of hope and an idea for a nonprofit teaching women about alternative therapies and nutrition.  Hmm…..

Beech Bridge

Beech Bridge

I had forgotten how much I love Buttercup Valley!  Lots of old growth, including plenty of huge Beech trees, and cool wooden bridges.

The Elven Trail

The Elven Trail

I love this cute little trail with the little wooden steps.  I like to imagine a long time ago elves took old fruit crates, turned them upside town, and labored over burying them in the soil.

At some point in the future I’ll write about Plant Spirit Therapy and how the Forest is my therapy.  I definitely felt both of these strongly yesterday!  Oftentimes when I feel in a funk, it will quickly be relieved by a quick jaunt in the woods.  Well, . . . maybe not quick.  Usually my ‘quick’ trips end up being about an hour.  But it’s all worth it for a little free, yet priceless soul therapy!

One of the best parts of the day didn’t come until I was almost out of the woods.  I looked over at a tree with beautiful green shining, odd-shaped leaves.  And all the sudden, I saw tiny pinkish berries.  I was overtaken with joy.  And how amazing that something so small as tiny, unripe berries could bring such a smile to my face and spirit!  MULBERRIES!!! They got me thinking about the abundance of summer and the all the other luscious wild berries to pick.  I can’t wait!

Baby Mulberries!

Baby Mulberries!

Until the next adventure….

Happy Trails!!!


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    James Gold said,

    Wow…What an adventure! I am really Loving your field reports : ) Its great to see how supported we are by that which nature provides in abundance. Great pics too! I’ll have to go check for wild ginger in my are tomorrow. Bet it would be great in a stir fry. I appreciate being able to share in your joy and learning…a wonderful gift : )

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