Wildcrafting is using plants from the wild just as they grow in nature. There is a rule of thumb to this.
            You never take everything there is, only what you really need so that plants can reseed themselves.
             The rule is that you walk so gently, you don't even leave footprints to show you were there.

AMARANTH (photos) (Amarathus hypochondriacs)  Grows from the N.E. United States all the way to the West Coast, including Mexico.
Grows in poor soil, exception - desert and alpine areas.  The green leaves can be used like spinach in salads or cooked. It tastes similar to broccoli. Save the water from boiled amaranth for medicinal purposes for internal maladies. The seeds of this plant can be used for cereal or mixed in with flour for bread. Ground seeds can be used for a flour substitute.

ANGELICA - (Angelica archangelica) A member of the parsley family. The flowers are white on purple stems, found along streams and in swamplands. This plant is found in the eastern parts of Canada, as far south as Delaware in the United States - as far west as Illinois. It is the root that is peeled and boiled like a potato, though seeds can be crushed and boiled for tea as well. It relieves stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. It also soothes ulcer pain. The water from boiling the root can be used like tea. Boiled root can be mashed and used for hand lotion in winter hen hands get dry and cracked. One must be careful not to mistake Poison Hemlock for Angelica.

BIRCH TREE - (Betula lenta ad B. papyrifera) found in eastern Canada and United States. Found in forests as far south as Georgia, and east to Illinois. Birch is seen a lot in Wisconsin as well. Little twigs and shaved bark can be boiled for tea. In spring, birch tree sap can be used to boil down for syrup - similar to maple trees. The inner bark can be dried and ground into flour or added to stews. A strong tea can be used on the skin against itchy poison ivy rash, or bee stings similar to calamine lotion jewelweed, or tannic acid. Leaves can be dried and used in winter for tea, but much of the food value is lost by drying or boiling too much. The tea has a calming effect prior to sleep. Tea made from the leaves has a diuretic effect.

BLACK ALDER TREE - (Alnus-glutinosa)  found in damp soils and meadow edges. Grows about 50 feet tall. Its early spring leaves get a sticky substance on tem. It flowers in spring and then develops catkins like small pinecones -long and thin. This tree is found in the northeastern United States, as far south as Delaware and west to Illinois. If you need to clear your stomach of bad food or other substance, a tea made from the bark of the Black Alder Tree will make you vomit. Powdered Black Alder will stop bleeding when sprinkled on a wound. An ointment made from Black Alder can also be used for poison ivy or bee stings.  Mild tea can be used to brush the teeth and cure gum disease and heal abscessing and decaying teeth.


BLACK COHOSH - (Cimicifuga racemosa)  Family of Ranunculaceae - also called Black snakeroot, the Rattle Weed or Rattle root, Bugbane, Bugwort and Squaw root.  It is the rhizome and roots that are used from this plant. A North American forest plant - it should not be confused with the blue cohosh. As a genus, Cimicifuga includes twenty three temperate climate plant species, six of these are found in North America, one species is common in Europe, and the remaining species are found in the temperate regions of eastern Asia and the Far East.  Black cohosh can be found in shady woodlands of the United States and Canada, particularly in the southeast, northern Oregon, Washington, and Ontario.  The plant is hardy and tall with feathery racemes of white blossoms measuring 1 to 3 feet long.  The flowers bloom in June and July and thrive in moist, shady areas.  The stout, black rhizome along with the root are used for medicinal effects.

The use of the black cohosh as an herbal medicine was initially practiced by Native Americans, who place great value on this particular herbal remedy to this day. Native American preparation of the herbal remedy typically involved initially boiling the root in some water, the beverage produced was drunk directly as a treatment for numerous disorders and conditions, including problems such as rheumatism, all kinds of diseases affecting women, and all debilitation such as sore throat and related respiratory tract infections,. uterine region and especially, to stimulate menstrual flow in women affected by menstruation related disorders. Herbalists also suggest its use as an astringent, it has been used as a diuretic, as an alterative, in the anti-diarrhea role, as a cough suppressant, as a diaphoretic, among other known uses.

Native Americans named this plant Squaw root because it works on women's issues so well. Following experiments began to show that a compound or a methanol like extract found in the black cohosh bears substances which can bind to the estrogen receptors in the uterine tissues of rats. Rats given this extract were observed to have a selective reduction in levels of the luteinizing hormone - these experiments were conducted on ovariectomized rats. What is inferred from these results is that the black cohosh definitely displays some degree of estrogenic activity and there is some validity to the traditional use of this herbal remedy in the treatment of gynecological disorders.  This herb lowered the blood pressure in rabbits and cats, but not in dogs, so one cannot state that it works on all animals or in humans. Black cohosh, tested in  more than 1,500 patients was published in German by 1962. The successful use of black cohosh was reported by the study groups in the treatment of pre-menopausal and menopausal symptoms - some of the claims were a reduction in the appearance of hot flashes and significant improvement of the depressive moods, which often affects menopause women.

Some disorders such as inflammatory arthritis are treatable using the black cohosh and this have been confirmed again and again, the positive treatment and cure from such problems is true particularly when the disorder is associated with menopause and its related conditions. The black cohosh is also a proven and very effective remedy against all rheumatic problems, including such severe disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis - especially when it is used for long periods of time and on a regular basis.

The value of the black cohosh is also apparent in its sleep inducing and sedative action, indeed the treatment of a variety of conditions, including high blood pressure and tinnitus - persistent ringing in the ears - is possible using the black cohosh. The herbal remedies of the black cohosh and its peculiar properties are also effective against whooping cough and asthma and their associated physical symptoms.

BONESET (Eupatorium perfoliatum) - This plant looks similar to Angelica except the leaves are hairy and wrinkled and jointed. It grows near water, has white clustered flowers from mid-summer to mid-fall. It grows in wet lands from eastern coastal states from Canada south to Florida and west to Texas. After the bone is set, drink a cup of tea made from the large leaves of the Boneset plant twice a day to help knit the bones. The bone will heal in 1/2 to 1/4 the normal time. Boneset also helps with swollen joints from arthritis and rheumatism.  1/2 cup of Boneset tea mixed with 1/2 cup of Catnip tea will relax sore muscles. Cold tea will help with stomach digestion and a mild laxative effect. A warm tea of the same strength will help with colds, flu, fever and night sweats. A strong tea produces vomiting and strong laxative effects. Boneset tea mixed with mint tea is good for the common cold. Cold steeping of the tea retains much of the Vitamin C of the plant. Use the upper leaves of the plant for the cold remedies, use the lower older leaves for the vomiting and laxative remedies. Gather the leaves before it flowers so all the strength doesn't go into the flowering process.  The dried leaves can be kept in cloth bags hanging from the rafters until needed.

BULRUSH (Scirpus validus) - grows in shallow water and mud in either fresh or brackish water.  One must be careful when collecting this plant that you don't get it from areas where garbage or oil or other toxins can get in it because the bulrushes will pick up the toxins and hold them.  The stems are very smooth and round and don't have leaves on them.  The stems are pithy. The blooms of flowers appear at the top of the stems from mid-spring to early fall. They are found throughout the tropical States, but may extend north to Delaware and southern New Jersey.   (Note: They grow in Wisconsin, Illinois, and low lands in other Midwest states, and I've seen them in a marsh in California as well.)  You can make bulrush candles by soaking the whole stem in hot rendered fat. The fat soaks up into the pithy center of the stem. The bulrush candle will burn for two or more hours.  The roots of the bulrush can be eaten raw. The stems can be bundled up and used for shelter as well.  The roots can also be cooked or steamed and taste similar to bamboo shoots. The pollen and seeds can be ground into flour, to thicken soup. The flour made from the pollen and seeds can be mixed with flour made from roasted and dried roots as well and made into bread.  Little cakes can be made from 1/2 bulrush flour and 1/2 acorn flour. For medicinal purposes, the rootstock can be poulticed using tannic acid  from acorn boilings and used on open wounds, poison ivy, bee stings, and other skin irritations.

BUNCHBERRY (Cornus canadensis)  Grows on mountain slopes and cold woods, mostly in Canada and northern United States, south to northern West Virginia - through mountain slopes.)  The plants looks like a small umbrella wit a whirl of six leaves. It looks like it has huge flowers, but the flowers are actually made up of tiny flowers surrounded by four-petalled bracts. Berries are bright red and tightly clustered, appearing from late summer to mid-fall.  One can eat the berries right off the bush.  They don't have a strong flavor - be sure not to eat green ones. The berries can be cooked, baked in pies, cakes, etc. Mix with honey and water for more sweetness.   Berries can be partially chewed in the mouth and used as a poultice for burns. Mixed with tannic water, it can be used for relief for itching of poison ivy, bee stings or other skin irritations.

BURDOCK (Arctium lappa) The burdock thrives on waste ground and disturbed soils. They bloom only every other year. The flowers are dark purple and get nasty thistles that hurt to the touch in the fall. It is found all over the northeastern U.S. and Canada. The root is edible and the dried stalks can be used to start a quick fire out in the rough. The roots have to be boiled twice - dumping out the bitter water in between boilings. Young leaves of this planet can be added to a salad. Cooking the leaves,  you have to dump the boiled water out 4 times to get rid of the bitterness. Leftover cooked roots can be dried and crushed and added to stew to thicken it.  You can also use the fresh leaves for medicine - rubbing it on itchy skin will relieve the itch and pain. A second year planet is best used for medicinal purposes. Cooking the leaves slowly in boiling water and soaked can be used as a poultice for skin problems.

CATNIP (Nepeta cataria)  This plants grows along roadsides in waste ground or disturbed soils. It blooms from late spring to early falls, flowering with white to light violet with little purple spots. The leaves are arrow-shaped, gray-green with white downy covering. It smells slightly minty.  It is found all over the U.S.  For medicinal purposes, it is best to use non-blooming plants for the strongest medication. The leaves from the top of the plant should be dried in the sun, crushed, and then added to a cup of tea, steeping for 1/2 and hour. This will put you right to sleep. By collecting the new leaves during the year, drying them in bunches upside-down in a dry place, you can store the leaves in a glass jar for future use.  It makes a very soothing tea. This tea also makes the person sweat profusely which is sometimes a good thing as it opens the pores of the body. Be sure to drink a lot of water before and after this treatment so you don't get dehydrated. The dosage of tea can be lessened by drinking less tea or by using leaves from a blooming plant. A lesser dose will relieve pain and anxiety - a greater dose will put you to sleep and make you sweat.

CATTAIL (Typha spp.)  (Similar to Bulrush above) This plant is tall and straight with sword like leaves. It is topped with a sausage-shaped head on top - which starts out with tiny flowers and golden pollen spikes.  It turns from green to brown. It flowers in late spring and is found in shallow water and fresh or brackish marches. It is found everywhere in the U.S. and Canada. The stalk with its head can be dipped in tallow (grease) and used for a torch at night. Soft cattail down can be collected and stuffed into fabric to make a pillow. Many cattails collected together can be used for mats, shelter, food, warmth, making fires, making rafts, medication, and lots of other things.  Young plants with pollen can be collected to use for stews and bread.  Cattail roots have little corms on them which you can pick off for food and replant the root back into the ground to grow some more. The corms can be eaten raw. Young stems can be eaten raw also. The green flower stalks can be cooked and peeled and eaten like corn. The early pollen can be collected, dried, and mixed half and half with flour for bread. Cooking the pollen, it gets like oatmeal cereal. You can also add the pollen to scrambled eggs and pancakes. You can make pemmican by using dried pollen and mix with dried berries, jerky, tallow, nuts, and whatever is in the area.  As a medicine, by using the rootstock cooked will cure diarrhea. About 2 cups a day will take care of that problem. If you have skin problems, by picking the leaves, there is a sticky ooze which you can put on cuts and it also numbs pain on the skin. The numbing effect can be used for toothaches too. It also works on poison ivy, boils, bee stings, and other infections. Burning the cattail can be used to keep away mosquitoes and fumigating the tent.  A raw cattail stalk can be used as a toothbrush and the cattail flour used for toothpaste.

CHICORY - (Cichorium intybus)  (The picture is also labeled 'curly endive'.

This is an elegant plant with beautiful blue flowers. The flower petals have square-tipped and fringed, sometimes pink or even white color. They close by late afternoon or when a storm is coming across the sky.  The sap is milky, and the basal leaves look much like a dandelion's. The flowers are stalk less with hardly any leaves and the whole plant seems to be composed only of flowers floating along its stem. The root is white, fleshy, and thick. Chicory is found throughout the United States, growing on roadsides, waste places and disturbed soils.  Medicinally, chicory can be placed in a cloth, simmered in hot water for about 15 minutes, cooled slightly and then placed on an abscess, boil, or open wound on both human and animals. After that cools, fresh chicory can be placed on the wound. It can also be used for poison ivy, insect stings and athletes foot.  Chicory tea can be made by roasting the roots in fall until brown and brittle, then grinding with stone until granulated. Then tea is made by putting an amount of chicory in the bottom of a cup and adding boiling water. Honey and mint can be added for flavor as the chicory will be slightly bitter. Small, fresh chicory leaves can be eaten fresh like a snack, or steamed like spinach. A mild tea can be used as a mouthwash and its good to aid digestion also. Mild tea is made from small new leaves, stronger tea is made from older larger leaves which are more bitter. Its also good for an upset stomach - steeped for 20 minutes.

CHICKWEED (Stellaria spp.)

This plant may grow upright or in tangled masses on the ground. It has tiny leaves and can easily be missed. The leaves are paired and smooth and flowers for most of the season. It gets a long stalk with tiny white flowers.  The flowers are deeply notched at the tip and longer than the sepals. The plants are found all over the United States. It can be found in clearings of damp forests. Deer, rabbits, and groundhogs forage on this plant. If you eat a lot of this plant with no other food, you will get diarrhea and a lot of bloating.  So, medicinally, it can be used for constipation. It is best to drink it in a tea form and then stay close to the bathroom. If you are hiking, you will want to find a private spot quickly. Chickweed can be used raw and in salads. Mouse chickweed is hairy and it needs to be cooked to eat it. Besides constipation, the tea can also be used to clear up the sinuses and sinus headaches.  It does not dry out the sinuses like strong medicines do. Boiled in a cloth, poultices can be put on skin abrasions, bois, blisters and bruises. Added to tallow, it can be used for chapped lips and weather ravaged skin.

COLTSFOOT (Tussilago farfara) - This plant grows on waste grounds. The flowers are yellow and bristly looking. They grow on stems with reddish scales. The flowers bloom in spring on stalks that seeming come right out of the ground. The leaves don't appear until after the flowers fade and are heart shape, they are wavy and reach 18 inches in length. It grows mostly in the northeast - ranging to Ohio and New Jersey.  For food, crushed leaves brunt to ash tastes similar to salt. Tea can be made by simmering fresh leaves for 1/2 an hour. Strain out leaves and add 2 cups of sugar  to 1 cup of coltsfoot extract. Boil the mixture down to a syrup. Hard balls of candy will form when dropped into cold water. If not boiled enough, you can spread the syrup on baked meat or drizzle over ice cream. Also good in tea or coffee or pancakes.   For medicinal purposes, boil fresh leaves in water for at least 1 hour. Wipe directly on bee stings, poison ivy rash, mild cuts or abrasion. This water can be used for a cough syrup which will make you cough, or use it for hoarseness. The syrup boiled down to candy thickness can be used for a cough drop as well. Coltsfoot leaves smoked in a pipe can cause the release of congestion and relieve the lungs during a cold.

COMFREY (Symphytum officinale)  Comfrey loves waste places and is found along roadsides, ditches, and in old fields. It is a hairy plant, coarse in appearance with alternate spear-shaped leaves that taper to a winged stem. The flowers may be purple, yellow, pink, or white.  They are five-lobed and bell shaped. The flowers appear as a curling cluster on a curved stem. Just before the flowers, there is a pair of wing like leaves.  It flowers all summer.  It grows on the east coast all the way from Canada to Georgia.

Powdered comfrey will stop a small bleeding wound.  As food, the early spring leaves can be cooked like spinach. The hairiness on the leaves disappears with the cooking. Later on in the season, the leaves can still be cooked but the water has to be changed several times as it will be bitter. The dried leaves make a wonderful tea.  The root is where the medicinal properties are located.  Early spring or late fall is the best time to dig the roots. After digging, let the root partially dry in the sun. Scrape away the dark outer layer and make long strips of what is left. Let the pieces completely dry right where they are. Once dry, they can be powdered easily.  When the powder is placed on an open wound, the wound will heal with no infection and no scarring. As a medicinal tea, seeped in a cup of hot water, it can be used for diarrhea, ulcers, and as a cough medicine. It can also be used as a mouthwash for a sore throat, bleeding gums, and abscesses. Crushed and simmered roots can be used as a poultice on bruises, boils, bee stings, and poison ivy. It has also been used on arthritis and rheumatism.  Also try it on sprains and pulled tendons. In cold water, seeped for 6 hours, a milder tea is made for general purposes like coughs. Use 1/2 cup 3 times a day. By adding crush dried out rose hips, it makes a great cold remedy for the winter months.

DANDELION:  Taraxacum officinale
Other names: Blowball, Cankerwort, Clock Flower, Irish Daisy, Lion's Tooth, Milk Witch, Monk's Head, Piss-a-bed, Priest's Crown : Family: Asteraceae

A perennial, the Dandelion is a member of the sunflower family, the name comes from the French, 'dents de lion' ("teeth of the lion") due to the shape of the leaves. A native to Europe, it is now widespread as it was taken around the world for its medicinal and culinary, uses. Dandelions are popular with beekeepers as they are an early source of nectar. The dark green leaves form a rosette close to the ground and are not killed by close mowing. The fleshy tap root goes down vertically and a small portion can regenerate if left in the soil.  If it is cut off below soil level it comes back as a multi-crowned plant. The flower buds form at the centre of the rosette in early spring and are lifted up by a hollow stem which can reach 45 cm if in long grass, the yellow composite flowers open to be pollinated by insects or the wind. The bracts at the back of the flower close up again and the seeds ripen. The stem which had lowered during the ripening, rises again to a higher level and the bracts open to reveal a sphere of fluffy parachutes each carrying a seed.

The flowers can be used to make wine, the young leaves boiled like spinach or added uncooked to salads, and the large roots used as a vegetable or roasted and brewed for a coffee-like beverage, which is slightly bitter. Dandelions used to be grown in unheated greenhouses to provide salad leaves in winter.  Flower heads not yet in bloom, can be boiled like brussell sprouts. Cover with melted cheese for dinner. They contain potassium, sodium, phosphorus and iron. The leaves are a richer source of vitamin A than carrots and also have some vitamins B, C and D. It is a mild laxative and diuretic, has been used as a tonic and blood purifier, for skin conditions, joint pain, eczema and liver conditions such as hepatitis and jaundice.

To make coffee, washing the roots carefully, removing all blemishes and old cuts. Let them dry slightly for six hours in the fall sun. Roast the roots in an oven slowly until dark brown and brittle. Grind the roots in a mortar and pestle. Do this in the sun to make sure that all the particles are dry. To keep the root particles over the winter, place in a jar and seal with a layer of paraffin or beeswax. You can mix the dandelion root particles with half chicory, or adding 1/3 mint leaves, or 1/3 green pine needles or 1/3 dried yarrow.

ELDERBERRY -(Sanbucus canadensis) Grows in rich damp soils, streambanks, ditches, and wet thickets. It flowers in early summer, and the berries appear in early fall. It can be found in the northern U.S. and Canada, but also as far south as Georgia and Louisiana.

The flowers of this plant can be placed into a cup of hot water to ease stomach problems, and ease headaches at the same time. (Do not use unripe berries, stems or leaves - which can cause diarrhea and general stomach upset)  The ripe berries can be made into pies, juice,  and jelly by adding pectin.  The flowers can be dipped in batter and deep fried.  You can make pemmican by combining 1/2 tallow, one-third jerky and one-third reconstituted dried elderberries. Burns, including sunburn have been healed by mixing berry syrup and tallow into a paste and placed right on the burn.  It can also be used on bee stings, acne, and scrapes. A mild tea mixed with tallow, placed on a boil or splinter will aid healing.

EVENING-PRIMROSE - (Oenothera biennis)  A robust annual, which has naturalized throughout the United States. Flowers are light yellow borne on tall, sturdy spikes. Blooms are up to 2 inches across, opening in late afternoon. Prefers well-drained soils in full sun.  The plant is very leafy, rough, and hairy. It blooms from June to October. It grows on roadsides and waste ground in the eastern and central U.S., though it can be found in North Dakota and Idaho as well.

In spring the roots of the young first year primrose look like little pink carrots with a scent of their own. Cook them just like carrots by slicing them across in penny fashion for 1/2 an hour changing the water 3 times. You can sprinkle them with coltsfoot salt and little pieces of their own leaves like pepper. 

Crushed leaves added to 1/2 cup of hot water and steeping 15 minutes make a good cough medicine. Dried leaves made into tea makes a good digestive medicine. Older people can take a cup or primrose tea twice a week to keep their digestive system working smoothly.

Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora)  Goldenrod produces a showy, bloom-like cluster of small yellow blossoms which bloom between July and October.  (Many people are allergic to Goldenrod in the fields - so beware if you are and skip this one)  It is found in dry open woods, on the fringes of old fields and roadways. The crushed leaves have a sweet anise-like odor. The leaves are parallel veined, slender, toothless and smooth with tiny transparent dots when held up to the sky. It is found almost everywhere in the United States.

Dried goldenrod make great tinder for starting fires in the dead of winter. A strong tea can be made from the dried leaves as well. It tastes anise flavored. Shredded leaves can also be added to salads for the flavor or garnish. Mixed with rose hip or mint tea is very beneficial and tasty.

A poultice made of steeped goldenrod leaves, strained and mixed with tallow, takes the pain and swelling of bee stings down quickly. A tea made with young flowers makes a good mouthwash, or general skin wash. The tea is good to aid digestion and minimize gas.

Greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia)  Greenbrier is a climbing vine. It has spiny sharp thorns that are needlelike. Large patches of this plant is difficult to penetrate except by crawling along the ground that animals use. The animals who hide under these plants are raccoons, rabbits, grouse, pheasant and many others. Sometimes even deer hide under these plants.  Being inside a large brier patch, one can feel protected and secure.

Brier vines can be used to make rope or baskets or even mats. By soaking in tallow, the vines can stay supple for many years.  Dried vines makes great kindling for fires and the green spurs of the vine can be used for fishing hooks.

New green leaves of this plant can be cooked like asparagus, or even eaten raw. The roots of the plant can be processed so that the fibers are removed and the remaining powder saved for later use. Mixed with flour can be used for gravy thickening. It can also be mixed in cold water and sweetened with honey or mixed with mint to make a refreshing drink in summer.

The medicinal uses are many as well. The powder from the root, mixed with tallow, can be used as a salve for insect bites. Adding tannic acid made from acorn husks, an ointment can be made to treat wounds. Fresh leaves, partially chewed and soaked in tannic acid can be used as a poultice to relieve the itch of chigger or red-ant bites.

Hemlock Tree (Tsuga canadensis) The Eastern Hemlock is a large, long-lived tree.  The trees have small, evergreen needles (less than 1 inch long) that are narrow, flat, and soft.  The needles have a dark-green appearance on their topside, and are light-green with two distinguishable white lines on their underside.  These lines consist of four rows of stomata that are used by the tree for gas exchange.  The twigs of the Eastern Hemlock are slender, yellowish to grayish brown, and rough when their needles fall.  The bark of the Eastern Hemlock appears reddish brown and is flaky on young trees. It becomes thicker and darker as it ages and eventually becomes roughly grooved.  The cones of the Eastern Hemlock are very small (from Ĺ to ĺ of an inch long), and appear pale green in the early autumn and turn a darker brown in the late autumn.  The cones hang singly from the tips of twigs and have 2 small seeds underneath their rounded scales.  This tree grows from Canada southward, both east and west. 

To a medicine man, parts of the hemlock tree grown near water are soothing, and from a hemlock tree growing on a high ridge are powerful.  Parts taken from these trees should not hamper its growth in any way.  Leaves steeped or small new twigs in hot water makes a wonderful tea and can be mixed with pine-needle or mint.  The inner bark of this tree can be dried and made into flour which can be used for soup thickener or ash cakes. It has an acquired taste. Not everyone likes it.

The tea can be used as a mouthwash, or a toothpaste for swollen gums. It also settles upset stomachs or clears up diarrhea. A stronger tea makes a good skin wash or antiseptic for sores, abrasions and insect stings. It can be used for sunburn or poison ivy as well. Powdered bark can be put into shoes if the feet are uncomfortable or sweaty.  It cuts down on foot odor as well on underarms and groin areas.

IRIS - BLUE FLAG (Iris versicolor)  Native to Eastern Canada and upper eastern United States.  It can also be found growing wild in the Western foothills, montane, subalpine.  Wetlands, meadows, openings.  Late spring/early summer. A hardy lakeshore perennial herb of shallow water, 2'-3' tall.  Leaves narrow, sword-shaped bears two ranks of sword-shaped, long, narrow leaves sword-like leaves emerge from thick horizontal root stock (corm) which are covered with fibrous roots. This emergent will grow to heights of four feet in spreading clumps. The individual leaves are somewhat shorter than the entire plant. Leaves are folded on the midribs so that they form an overlapping flat fan.   Stems unwinged, erect, generally have basal leaves that are more than 1 cm. wide. stout stem grows from a thick, cylindrical, creeping rootstock nearly straight flowering stems   Rhizome tends to form large clumps from thick, creeping rhizomes.annual joints, 2" or more long, about ĺ" in diameter, cylindrical in the lower half, becoming compressed towards the crown, where the cup-shaped stem-scar is seen, when dry, and numerous rings, formed of leaf scars are apparent above and scars of rootlets below. It is dark brown externally and longitudinally wrinkled. The fracture is short, purplish, the vascular bundles scattered through the central column.  Root rootlets are long, slender and simple.  Flower large, showy, light to deep blue with yellow and whitish markings at the base of the sepals. Borne 2-3 to a stem. The well developed flower petals and sepals spread out nearly flat and have two forms. The duration of Iris missouriensis flowering is determined by the amount of late spring snow and early summer rain.

The blue flag rhizome has a very slight but peculiar odor, and a pungent, unpleasant taste. When used internally, fresh blue flag produces nausea, vomiting, purging, and gastrointestinal cramping. The dried root is less acrid and is traditionally employed as an emetic, diuretic, and cathartic. It has also been used for syphilis, some scrofula (tuberculosis infection of the neck lymph glands), skin disorders, and dropsy (edema).

Roots widely used by Aboriginal peoples in poultices for sores, inflammation and burns. The root or rhizome is the part most often used and is the source of the iridin, also known as irisin. Iridin is usually used as a powdered extract that is bitter and nauseating and has diuretic and laxative properties.

Leaves can be used to weave baskets and mats.


Jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) Also, sometimes called "spotted touch-me-not" The flowers with ripe seed will jump right off the plant if touched. The jewelweed stems are succulent, transparent and very watery. The flowers are pale yellow and the leaves appears transparent under water. They bloom from July to October. It loves wet, shady places. It grows throughout the Appalachian range south to Georgia and into Kansas and Montana.  (This flower seed is also sold and grown all over the country as an annual) As an annual, it comes in other colors as well.

As a medicine, the acid in the plant fluid can neutralize poison ivy - but it must be done immediately. It also deadens the pain of the nettle sting or other itchy rashes, working well on bee stings, sunburn and blisters. It has also been used on acne blemishes. The juice from the cooked greens makes a good skin wash when bathing water isn't available. It makes a good insecticide mixed with tannic acid from boiled cedar bark, keeping off ticks. Once poison ivy is established, mixing jewelweed juice with tallow makes a good ointment to stave off the itchiness of the rash.

As a food, the stems have to be picked before reaching 6 inches tall and then the water dumped out at least twice, otherwise it is a mild poison. It has been used, mixed with cattail corms.  (Not recommended as a food)



LADY SLIPPER (Cypripedium calceolus var. pubescens or parviflorum)  Perennial herbs, growing in moist woods and meadows in the Northern States and Canada. This  eastern wildflower produces incredible crystalline-white flowers with bright pink lips. This flower comes in other beautiful colors by similar latin names. The leaves are broad and strongly plaited. Basically, this is a bog orchid and requires moist, fertile, leafy, humus-rich, neutral to acidic soil, in a sheltered site. 30 inches tall; 12-inch spread. Root of many tufted fibers. C. PUBESCENS: Stem a foot or more high, usually several from the same root-stalk. Leaves broad-oval, acute, many-veined, clasping at base, three to six inches long by two to three inches broad. Flowers mostly solitary, rarely two to three on a plant; sepals long-lanceolate, two, the lower composed of two united either their entire length or at their tips; petals long, linear, twisted-wavy, spreading, and greenish like the sepals, marked with peculiar purple spots; lip gamboge-yellow, shorter than the greenish petals, one and a half to two inches long, with a narrow aperture, spotted inside, scentless. Whole plant covered with a soft pubescence. May and June.

The roots are about a line in diameter, tufted, brownish yellow, forming a gray powder. They have a peculiar and somewhat unpleasant relaxing odor; and a slightly bitter and rather nauseous taste. Age and heat greatly. impair their qualities, which are distinctly volatile. They contain an oleo-resinous substance, and a very small quantity of oil is obtainable by treatment with ether; but neither of these fairly represents the plant. Water acts on them imperfectly; alcohol, and diluted alcohol, extract their virtues fully.

Properties and Uses: The roots of these plants are the medicinal part,  They are nearly pure relaxants, with not enough stimulation to be available. Their influence is manifested slowly, and is expended wholly upon the nervous system; and it is only through the nervous tissues that they impress other parts. Thus they belong to the pure nervines or parodynes, and are antispasmodic, and mildly tonic to these structures.

They are used in all the multiplied forms of nervous irritability and excitement, except when arising from advancing putrescence. They. soothe and calm the entire system, easing all forms of pain growing out of local or general irritation,  and inducing quiet and usually securing sleep. They have been accused of possessing narcotic properties, but I could never detect any such impression from them; as the sleep is not accompanied by stupor, is no more profound than would naturally follow the most sanative relief from protracted pain or nervous agitation, is associated with a warm and gentle perspiration, and is not followed by ,any suppression of the secretions or feelings of languor. Such facts are not indicative of narcotism,  or else all forms of relief from suffering and excitement must be of narcotism. Further, the cypripedium can not be given in quantities to stupefy acute suffering in the presence of offending substances, as opium will do; but the relief obtained from it must always be connected with such a relaxation and opening of the emunctories as will make a way of escape for injurious materials; and it is always peculiar of it that ease will not be obtained by its use, unless at the same or a previous time the system has been depurated of morbific accumulations. Hence it is a nervine only when the frame has been, or is being, rid of such offending elements as would provoke the restlessness; and that fact alone shows how wide is the difference between this agent and any narcotic. The cypripedium itself aids somewhat in this depurative work, as is made known by a mild increase of perspiration, diuresis, and even alvine action, in connection with its use; but its influence on the secernents is too indirect and feeble to accomplish much elimination, and hence this remedy is then combined, or used coetaneous with such agents as influence those secreting organs that need assistance in each particular case.


Lily (Lilium candidum)  Also called: White lily, Meadow lily.  The flowers appear in June and July

These lilies are found in the wild in Pennsylvania mostly, having been brought into this country from Eastern European countries, Syria and Asia. Lilies are usually cultivated in other states:  http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/l/lilies21.html

Lillium longiforum - the Easter Lily everyone loves - also called the Madonna Lily originally came from China.

White lily is a perennial plant growing up to 60-150 cm in height. Itís a bulb species with large scaly white bulbs, about 1 m tall stalks, and linear leaves; some leaves attached to the base of the stalk, spreading around it, other leaves erect, lanceolate, with slightly dentate margins. Flowers are rather large and strikingly white. Each flower has six slightly curved petals and six stamens with white filaments and long yellow anthers.  The flowers are wonderfully aromatic.  Bulbs are odorless, with a bitter and mucilaginous taste. Bulbs are harvested in August and can be used fresh or dried. Bulbs and flowers are the parts of the white lily plant that are used for therapeutic purposes.

The essential oil, extracted from flowers (0,3%), is rich in vanillin (up to 2,5%), p- hydroxy-m-methoxytoluene (up to 50%), p-cresol, linalol, terpineol, phenylethyl alcohol and its esters, with acetic, palmitic, benzoic, propionic and cinnamic acids. Flowers also contain flavonoids (kaempherol and its derivatives), lilaline, jatrophine and carotenoids.

Bulbs contain starch (about 14%), soluble polysaccharides (glucomannan)4, phytosterols, pyrrolic alkaloids, amino acids, such as g-methylene glutamic acid, and tannins. 2. d- methylene glutamic acid can be found in the bulb scales. By blooming time, bulbs and roots contain abundant amounts of the later acid, together with its lactone derivative - a-methylene-butyrolactone - and mineral salts, noticeably boron. Novel saponins of the spirostanol and furostanol types have been identified in Lilium candidum bulbs.

Properties of white lily - It is an astringent mucilaginous herb that heals damaged and irritated skin and tissue.  Useful in leucorrhoea and prolapsus uteri, the decoction taken internally and employed in injection; it is more decided in its effects when combined with senecio. Boiled in milk, it forms an excellent poultice for ulcers, external inflammations, tumors, etc. The recent root is stated to have been useful in dropsy.

Therapeutic use -

Internal use Has been used internally for female complaints and dropsy, but its greatest value is in external application.

External use
     It is used as an emollient cataplasm for tumors, ulcers and external inflammation, as well as for tumors, corns, burns and scalds.
     It is especially helpful in healing burns and wounds, as it helps to effect a cure, but without leaving any scar.
     Bulbs have traditionally been applied as a poultice for its properties as a demulcent and abscess or boil reliever.
    It has also been used to treat ulcers, wounds and burnt skin. White lily vinegar is popularly used against warts.
     Some recent studies show that the saponins present in the bulbs of Lilium candidum L. can inhibit epidermal carcinogenesis promoters.
     Lily flowers extract is used in cosmetics to treat cuperosis.
     The chemical composition of bulbs (saponins and polysaccharides) give the extract soothing, anti-inflammatory and protective properties.
     The extract also has hydrating and emollient properties (polysaccharides). Therefore, it can be added to all types of formulations aimed at dry, irritated or sensitive skin. Soluble polysaccharides have a filmogenic action on skin, which promotes skin hydration. They act by holding water, consequently maintaining the right moisture level in the horny layer, which in turn improves skin flexibility. Polysaccharides are included   in the group of hydrocolloids. These substances act by increasing viscosity, stabilizing emulsions and maintaining optimal moisture levels. 
     Use of essential oil Essential oil is used in the perfume industry.

Lily - Lillium lancifolium   See Tiger Lily below



Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) Milkweed grows in abandoned fields and roadsides and likes dry soil. It has hairy stems that are grey-green. The flowers bloom in pastel colors, white, buff, and dull purple. It can be found from Canada, all the way south to Georgia and Tennessee, all the way west to Kansas and Iowa.

Kids love to pick milkweed and play with the seeds that fly like parachutes. Traditional usage by Native Americans are: Chest discomfort , Increases milk flow , Warts , Stomach trouble , An appetite increaser , Making cordage .Consume young green seedpods, sprouts, and buds .It has a very milky juice, which is used as a domestic application to warts. It also clears up athletes foot. The juice has a faint smell and sub-acid taste. The root can be eaten raw as a remedy for stomach trouble. Other remedies are for treating snakebites and the bites of venomous insects. A skin wash can be made by making a tea of the juice. The Menominee ate the buds or made a decoction of the root for chest discomfort. They also used this plant as a fiber in making cordage. The Ojibwa made a decoction of the root for women in order to increase milk flow after childbirth. It also served as an appetizer before feasts to increase the appetite. Young green seedpods, sprouts, and tops were cooked as greens.

NOTE:  It is said that milkweed sap can cause erratic heartbeat.

Mint: (Mentha spp.)  Mint has a square stem and paired, toothed leaves. The flowers which may be violet, blue, red, or pink, bloom from mid-summer to early fall and have small lips that are clustered in terminal spikes. They grow in damp ground, wet meadows, and along stream banks. It is found throughout the United States.


Mulberry - Red (Morus rubra)  Red Mulberry grows in rich soils and open woods, particularly old farm areas. The leaves are finely toothed, hairy on the underside and sandy on the top.  They may have either two or three lobes. The twigs are smooth and have a milky sap.  The bark is reddish brown and has smooth ridges.  The fruit hangs in pendant fashion, red in the beginning and then turning deep purple as it ripens. It can be harvested in early summer.  Red Mulberry grows from Florida to Texas - all the way north to New York, and Minnesota to South Dakota.

New roots of this plant, when powdered can be used for a laxative. It has been used as a treatment for tapeworms.  A small palmful of dried, powdered young roots in 1 cup of warm water should be used.  The new roots, boiled in water for twenty minutes to one half hour are a great feast.

NOTE: Don't eat these berries unripe, the bark or raw shoots, because you will start to hallucinate, see things turn weird, laugh at the strangeness, then start to tremble, get nervous and then vomit.  Mullein tea is rather an antidote, but you will still be very sick for several days.  Don't think hallucinating is fun doing it this way - you'll regret it.


Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)  This plant grows in dry waste places, old fields, and roadsides. It doesn't flower until the second year. The leaves are soft like velvet.  It is found all over the United States.

This plant, dried, is smoked in sacred pipes by the natives. It was always well prepared and prayed over. Only the medium sized leaves were used and only the unblemished ones. They should be dried in the afternoon sun and then hung upside-down to dry more thoroughly. When they are completely air dried, they should be broken up in a bowl and stirred for several more days of drying. Once completely dried, it can be mixed with other tobacco or herbs to be smoked.  A dried, stalk, soaked in tallow makes a great torch at night.  For those who know how to make a hand-drill fires in the wild, the dried stalk of the mullein works faster than a dried stick.

The dried leaves, used as tobacco and smoked and inhaled will stop a congestive cold in its tracks. The vapors of young leaves being boiled will open the air passages in the lungs of congestion. This should be done twice a day to cure the cold.  Do not overdo this as it will create an allergy to the plant over time.

In summer, before the plant breaks into flowering, the uppermost leaves can be gathered, dried in bunches and after breaking up can be used for a great tasting tea. This should not be overdone as the tea is also medicinal. 

The flowers, steeped in a cup of boiling water. will cure stomach cramps. You will then get very tired and sleep many hours.  It is a great sedative. It is also a pain reliever. The leaves are stronger than the flowers, but should be used sparingly.  Powdered mullein leaves can be used as a wound treatment to cure infections. It is a powerful medicine. 

Black Mustard (Brassica nigra)  This plant grows in waste ground and old fields and along roadsides. It flowers from spring to mid-fall.  This plant is found all over the United States.

The young leaves in mid-spring can be picked and prepared like spinach or added to salads. Unopened flower heads can be boiled like broccoli.  Once the flowers have bloomed and the seedpods are dry, the seed should be collected, dried thoroughly, finely ground, dried again and stored in a dry place. A mustard seed footbath in winter will warm the worst frozen toes.  Don't forget to rinse the feet afterward as the mustard treatment will actually burn the skin if left on.  This powder can also be used as an appetite stimulant or to reduce fever.

Ripe seeds can be powdered and mixed with tallow (grease) will make a wonderful coating on fish you are cooking to enhance the flavor. You can also add ripe mustard seeds to a jar of pickles you are making.  tiny green leaves can be cooked like spinach, but you will probably want to cook them twice, dumping out the first water. You can also chop the leaves and add them to a wild salad. Water from cooking mustard leaves can be saved and used as a tea to aid digestion.


Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) The leaves of this plant have tiny hairs which sting to the skin and cause a bad rash along with severe pain. The leaves are paired and toothed. It usually grows on waste land as a weed in most of the United States.

Nettles have been used by many dreads as a hair rinse. Simply, preboil water; add chamomile, nettles, licorice root, yarrow, and fennel. Add henna for color, if desired. Strain and rinse hair. Nettles grow in forests and marsh areas. Use gloves when wildcrafting, by pressing the fine hairs downward against the stem and pinching. Hang to dry out of sunlight. The stalk of nettles are stripped and dried to make a fiber. The stalk of Nettles are stripped, dried, and weaved to make the fiber Raime, which is a type of cord.

Nettles  make an excellent cooked green, which provides Vitamins A and C and is high in protein. Nettles have medicinal properties also: anti-asthmatic (arresting asthmatic bronchial infection), astringent (causes contraction and arrests discharge), depurative (purifying blood) when a tea is made of the leaves. Nettle tea can be used for an external skin wash for minor infections as well. Mixed with tallow (grease) it can be used as a hand lotion for dried, chapped hands. It also alleviates the bites of chiggers and mosquitoes.


New Jersey Tea - (Ceanothusu americanus)  New Jersey Tea grows all up and down the eastern coastal states. It is a low, bushy shrub, growing only about 4 inches tall. This plant blooms from late spring through the summer.

The leaves of this plant need to be dried in order to be used for tea, so preparation is necessary. The small upper leaves make a mild tea, the lower larger roots make a stronger tea. The roots of this plant make a good sinus remedy.  The roots are washed and laid to dry on the rafters of your garage or woodshed.  The bark must then be scraped off the roots and stored in a small cotton bag. Take a small palmful of bark and steep it in hot water for at least 1/2 hour. Take the tea twice a day during the sinus problem.  (It does not work immediately on all people for some reason, but don't let that stop you from trying it.)  Tea steeped for 45 minutes to an hour can be used for skin treatment for sores, abrasion, and skin maladies of all kinds. It can also be used on the hair before the final rinse. Mixing the tea with tallow can also be used as an ointment. Try that on pimples to clear up a young teen age face.  The tea works as a sedative and an antihistamine. Works great on the common cold, mouthwash, gargle, sore throats and for tooth and gum pain. It also works on sore throats and for congestion.


OAK (Quercus spp.)  All types of Oak trees having various leaf shapes have acorns.  The acorns are thinly shelled and are found nestled in a tiny basal cap.  These trees grow in many states across the northern U.S. but also in Oklahoma, Texas, and Georgia. California also has some types of oak trees.

Raw acorns are bitter from tannin, but after soaking or boiling in water for some time, they become quite delicious. You'll have to change the water several times. At that point, the acorns can be dried and ground into flour, which is highly nutritious, high in protein and fats. It makes a great survival food. They can also be roasted like almonds, roll them in brown sugar to make delicious nut candy.  The inner bark of an oak tree can also be dried and made into flour, but it is not as good as the acorn itself.

Ground acorn husks steeped into a strong tea can be used as a wash for poison ivy. Washing the itching part of the skin every hour will take the itch and swelling away the same day. The first boiling water from cooking acorns should be saved for a skin wash for all kinds of ailments, including fungal infections. It can also be used as a gargle for sore throats, gum problems, or cold sores.

A milder form of this tea such as the third boiling water of the acorns or from ground oak bark can be used as an enema for hemorrhoids, to reduce fever or stop internal bleeding. No more than 2 cups a day should be used and not for more than 2 days. You can add honey to the tea to make it more palatable. The tea can be used to aid digestion or as a tonic during the cold season.

The red oaks will make a stronger than the tea from the white oaks. 

Oak wood, being one of the strongest types of wood can be made into many useful tools and furniture. Examples are: spears, fish arrows, tool handles, baskets, backrests, and many other things.



PINE - (Pinus spp.)  Pine is an evergreen in many sizes and shapes.  It is a cone bearing tree with slender needles - not leaves. Female cones are woody, male cones are soft, fleshy, and produce pollen. It is found all over the United States.

New needles can be diced and boiled in little pieces into a tea.  It contains vitamin A and C. The inner bark of a tree can be dried and made into flour. This flour can be made into ash cakes. Even live trees can have long narrow strips to use the inner bark, but the wound will have to be dressed with pine pitch to heal the tree bark again.  Pollen from male cones can be added to flour, used as stew thickener, or sprinkled atop any grain cereal. The firm male cones can be boiled and used as emergency food. Ripe pine cones can be opened by placing them next to a fire. The seeds can be roasted and eaten or ground into a high-grade flour. The fine little rootlets of the tree can also be boiled for 25 minutes and eaten.

The inner bark of the tree which is supple can be used as a bandage and tied to a wound. It will as a drawing salve for insect bites or boils.  It is best used wet - and not dry. Sphagnum moss can also be used on a bad wound to staunch the bleeding.

The pine pitch that oozes from a wound in the tree can be heated and cleansed through grass filter and used as glue for wood projects. The resin from pine pitch can be used to fill cracks in wood furniture, to join wood, as waterproof wrappings, to attach fish hooks and many other things glue is needed outdoors.

PLAINTAIN (Plantago major)

Botanical: Plantago major  Family: Plantaginaceae (plantain) Other common names: Greater Plantain, Common Plantain, Ripple Grass, Cuckoo's Head, Rat-tail Plantain, Englishman's Foot, White Man's Foot, Ribwort, Waybread, Waybroad, Snake Weed, Broad-leaved Plantain, Dooryard Plantain. This plant has a basal rosette of leaves and grows low to the ground. The greenish-white and tiny flowers are found along leafless stems that stick upright from the leaves on the ground. It flowers from summer to mid-fall.

Common Plantain, like all members of the plantago family, contains a high amount of mucilage, which soothes and cools mucous membranes, while at the same time its astringency helps to relieve diarrhea, excess menstrual flow, hemorrhoids and incontinence in children and adults. It is also used to soothe the lungs while effectively loosening and expelling phlegm and congestion. Plantain also helps to control vaginal and other types of infection, remove obstructions from the liver, kidney and bladder, and possibly help in managing weight control. A poultice of leaves on an open wound will relieve pain and reduce the swelling. After that, steep some leaves in hot water for 30 minutes, then let cool to a warm tea made from the leaves can be wiped onto the wound every few hours for several days and the skin will heal good as new. A strong tea makes a good mouthwash for cold sores and gum problems. It will slow down blood flow from a mild cut.  The tea also makes a good cough remedy.  It can be used as a vitamin substitute by eating a few green seeds every day. It seems to act an internal insecticide, possibly making the skin tasteless to insects.


The new tender leaves, picked fresh and simmered for 15 minutes make a meal better than cooked spinach with much more vitamins and minerals. The new tender leaves also are great in salads eaten raw. The dried seeds can also be eaten on salads, ground and made into flour and mixed with other flours to make a fine bread.  The make a good snack too after roasting.  Crushed dried seeds, mixed with regular butter make a good peanut butter substitute for sandwiches. It can also replace peanut butter for cookies.



POISON IVY - DO NOT TOUCH UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES - This is a vine that grows on the ground and up tree trunks.  Touching this plant can cause weeks of agonizing itching rash - including inside your mouth and throat.  You do not want to risk this agony if at all possible.

REED (Phragmites communis)  This plant grows in marshes and brackish water and along damp roadsides. It is found all the way down the east coast, across the south and into Texas and Mexico.

Despite their flimsy appearance, when dried, they make fast and tough arrows that will go through even a fast running deer and other quick and smaller animals for food. Gathering together a great mound of reeds, they even make a good shelter that will keep you warm.  By gathering the reeds together into fat bundles and tying them, they can be made into rather an outrigger canoe. This kind of boat is light, buoyant and easy to maneuver.  Another usage is for mats, baskets, fish traps and spears. They are a great survival tool.

The seeds of this plant can be dried and ground into flour. Mixed with blueberries, it makes a nice little ash cake. The seeds can also be put into porridge or cereal like oatmeal. The reed flour can be used to thicken stew or soup or even used as breading for fish.  The reeds themselves can be pounded into flour and mixed with water into a paste, can be roasted next to a fire until it looks like roasted marshmallows, which tastes just as good if not better.

The flour from the root of the reed can be made into a paste and used as a poultice for insect bites, especially mosquitoes. The flower heads can be added to tobacco but it is a little bitter, and the old flower heads can be used as a scrub pad when cleaning irritated skin, especially poison ivy rash. It stops the itching.


SAGEBRUSH - (Artemisia - wormwood) (There are over 200 types of plants in the Artemesia category, belonging to the Daisy family)  Artemisia, or California sagebrush, has a pleasant scent. Its fragrance deters herbivores, though, and washes into the soil, and discouraging competing plants. This method of defense is called alleopathy.  Coastal scrub communities occur in cismontane California - west of the Sierra Nevada - and northwestern Baja California on relatively shallow, dry soils (compared to chaparral) in areas where a Mediterranean climate prevails. They are found at elevations ranging from near sea level to 1800 feet. A stand located in a moister climate, such as under the influence of coastal fogs, may reach six and a half, or more, feet tall. However, one located in a drier climate, such as on the interior slope of a hillside located in a rain shadow, may reach only nine inches tall. Factors such as latitude, proximity to the ocean, and substrate all exercise their influence on the distribution, species composition, and physiognomy of coastal scrub communities.  Various names have been used to refer to the coastal scrub. "Coastal sage scrub" has been used because of the predominance of California sagebrush (Artemisia californica) and black sage (Salvia mellifera) in many associations of this community. In southern California, coastal scrub is often called "soft chaparral" (vs. "hard chaparral" or chaparral)

It is commonly known as cowboy cologne, since itís said that the cowboys used to rub it all over their bodies before a night out on the town.  Used by the Montana Indians as a general tonic, to restore hair, and as a dermatological aid.

Artemesia tridenta:  This smudging herb is great for ritual cleansing and protection. The Navajo smudged themselves with grey sage before long hikes or other acts of endurance to rid the body of undesirable or lingering things. The Paiute patted themselves with it during religious dances to ensure spiritual cleanliness, and they decorated themselves with its blossoms and leaves for a spring dance. Washo shamans decorated themselves with grey sage. The Kawaiisu threw its seeds into the fire during celebrations because of the firecracker sounds they made. Some people associate this plant with the Coyote spirit and the direction South (showing more than a bit of Mercury influence here). It helps in acquiring sacred wisdom, aids longevity through its ability to purify, protects, and drives away negative forces. You can pour a decoction of sagebrush into your bath to wash away past wrongs, for instance. Its leaves and flowers combine well with juniper and rosemary in smudges. While its imposing size amongst artemisias and its scent allies it with Jupiter, you can also use it for work involving Artemis or other deities representing virginal female wisdom. Its general usefulness in purification makes it a great addition to Pagan gardens. Because of this female association and because the other herb most frequently made into smudgesticks, white sage, is called Grandfather Sage, perhaps a good name for this plant is Grandmother Sage



ROSE (Rosa spp)  The particular rose we are focusing on are the wild roses, found in dry open woods, field edges, sandy areas, and other areas all over the United States.  These roses are particularly thorny and many animals use the thicket of rose bushes to hide in. These roses bloom in late spring and the rose hips in late summer and hang onto the bushes for a long time.

These rose hips can be collected to make winter tonic to prevent colds. They contain a lot of vitamin C and strengthens the immune system. Remove the seeds, and dry the flesh of the rose hips, which is then ground into powder. To this, add equal parts of rose petals collected earlier in the year.  A half cup of rose hip tea makes a great tonic to prevent flu and colds in the winter time.

Fresh rose petals can be eaten raw, added to salads, or made into tea. The fleshy part of the rose hip can be eaten raw or dried and made into tea just like the petals.

Strong rose tea makes a good skin wash for infections and inflammations, can be used for mouthwash or other oral maladies.  It also has a sedative effect for headaches or upset stomach.  It can also be used as ear drops for an infected ear.  Adding rose petals to hot wine used internally or as an astringent for the skin.  At the onset of a cold, you can mix yarrow and rose hips to offset the length of the cold. This will induce sweating to break fevers.


 SASSAFRAS - (Sassafras albidum) Sassafras is a medium sized tree. The leaves come in a variety of shapes as shown in the graphic. The bloom is yellow, the twigs are reddish, and the fruit is blue. It can be found all over the eastern coast and into Tennessee and Arkansas.

The wood from this tree is very aromatic and delightful to smell. It burns very quickly and is easily used for a campfire and especially a bow drill to start the fire. The root of this tree can be used fresh or dry. Boiling chopped root in water makes a reddish tea. The roots themselves can be used several times before they lose their flavor. Sweeten the tea to taste.  

The leaves of the tree can be dried and made into powder to thicken stew or soup, used for flavoring for bread, breading for fish, or for tea. They should be dried slowly in the sun for best usage.

Note: sassafras has been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals, but it is said that it would take 12 cups of strong tea per day for the rest of a human life to cause cancer in people.  I remember many old cowboy movies mentioning sassafras being used.

Sassafras bark tea makes an excellent poultice for take down infections from scrapes and abrasions on the skin.  The tea can be used as a mouthwash, to help kill pain, to induce sweating, and relieving rheumatism. It also has the ability to reduce fever. 


SHEPHERDS PURSE (Capsella bursa-pastoris)  This plant grows in old waste fields, and its basal leaves are more like dandelion leaves.  The plant blooms in mid summer and can be found all over the United States. The seeds should be gathered in fall.

The leaves of this plant can be used like spinach leaves and the seeds have a peppery flavor.  It is one of the recommended plants in the Boy Scout manuals.  Use the young leaves for salad or to cook. The heart-shaped seeds should be gathered, dried and coarsely ground and used for pepper in salads or other foods.  Once the plants starts to form seeds, the leaves become coarse and bitter.  The leaves can still be cooked, by dumping off the first couple of boilings. It is an acquired taste to eat the older leaves.

Shepherd's purse tea can be used to wash a fresh wound and even to stop bleeding if the wound is small enough as it coagulates the fresh blood and constricts the blood vessels.  Shepherd's purse can be used in the wild to control blood pressure and alleviate headaches.  1/2 cup every other day is sufficient. The tea can also stimulate bowel movements and eliminate excess water retention.  It is also a good antiseptic and blood coagulator.

NOTE: The herb loses its potency after a year or so in storage, and can sometimes increase blood pressure rather than lowering it, so it is not recommended for long time usage.

SPICEBUSH (Lindera benzoin) This plant is found all over the eastern United States, and a few states west of the Mississippi.  It has a mild spicy scent and is found in areas that are wet, like along streams and other damp areas. The leaves are smooth and toothless.  The flowers appear before the leaves do in spring. The fruits contain a single seed.

Both the young fresh leaves and tender twigs can be used to brew this delicious tea, and both should be dried slowly in the sun and can be used during the winter later as well.  The berries themselves can be poisonous unless prepared properly for usage.  The seeds should only be used for replanting, and not eaten.  The dried berries can be ground up and used instead of allspice but used sparingly.

A mild tea can be used as a skin wash for insect stings or poison ivy. People with sensitive skin can use this tea where a stronger tea might not be good for them.


 St. John's Wort, Hypericum Perfortaum known worldwide as the herb of upliftment for emotions from depression to anxiety, is also excellent for physical relaxation. The recipe for this "love potion" is three parts organic extra virgin olive oil and one part fresh picked flowers. When harvesting, try to pick only flower, not stalk. The most potent time to harvest is on the day of St.John (June 24).

It may also decrease alcohol intake. The constituent hyperforin, (found in the plant), appears to be responsible for decreasing alcohol consumption.

The aerial parts of the plant can be cut and dried for later use in the form of tea with pleasant, though somewhat bitter, taste and for its medicinal properties.  Hyperforin, a major constituent, has also been found to have excellent antibacterial properties; in ultrapurified form a concentration of 0.1 mg/ml kills methicillin-resistant forms of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Adverse effects

St John's wort is generally well tolerated,  The most common adverse effects reported are gastrointestinal symptoms, dizziness, confusion, tiredness and sedation. St John's wort may rarely cause photosensitivity. This can lead to visual sensitivity to light and to sunburns in situations that would not normally cause them. Related to this, researchers at Fordham University, New York, showed in laboratory experiments that the drug reacts with light, both visible and ultraviolet, to produce free radicals, molecules that can damage the cells of the body. These can react with vital proteins in the eye which, if damaged, precipitate out causing cataracts.

NOTE:  St. John's Wort can kill foraging, grazing animals like horses and cows.

Poison sumac is not very common, although the safe sumacs are very common. Poison sumac only grows in very wet areas. Staghorn sumac - note the difference in the leaves from the poison sumac. This extremely common plant can look like trouble with its bright red berries, but it really doesn't look much like poison sumac. Note that the leaves are jagged and the stems are hairy.

Winged sumac leaves have a winged rachis connecting the leaflets. The leaves are glossy.


SUMAC - (Rhus spp.  except Rhus vernix, which is poison)  Sumac is a small tree or shrub with large compound leaves. The twigs are thick and pithy with a milky sap.  The fruit clusters are red and hairy and usually found at the end of the branches.  The clusters sometimes last well into the winter.  The leaves can be either toothed or toothless.  They grow on waste ground, old fields and fence roads.  They grow all over the United States.

NOTE:  Poison sumac make a rash worse than poison ivy and lasts for weeks.  Stay away from that plant at all costs.  This is why we have provided photos of the leaves and flowers.

The stalks of the Sumac tree can be used to make bow drills to make fires.  They also make great pipe stems or blowguns. 

The flowers soaked in cold water tastes like lemonade - it is very citrusy tasting.  A very tasty concoction is sumac, mint and store-bought tea in equal parts with honey added.  Don't forget to filter out the hair parts of the berries and seeds - they get stuck in your throat and can be very uncomfortable. 

The bark of a young sumac can be made into a mild tea used as a gargle can be used for a sore throat or cold sores in winter.  The small root of the sumac can be chewed on during the day with the same result. It soothes the pain very well.  The same treatment can stop diarrhea very quickly.  This also works for urinary problems. A poultice of pounded seed heads and leaves made into a strong tea can stop the itching of poison ivy.  This strong tea will also stop bleeding. The tea simmered until it is thick and syrupy will reduce fever and other mouth irritations.



SWEET FERN - (Comptonia peregrina) - This particular fern is a low bush, with fern-like leaves.  It has a nut-life fruit.  It grows on sandy soil that is dry.  It is found from Canada down to Virginia and to northeast Illinois and Minnesota.

Blended with Wintergreen which grows in the same type of area, it makes a fantastic tea. People tend to plant this at home so they can enjoy it all the time. It makes a beautiful house plant. Other mixtures that work well are pine, mint, catnip, yarrow and birch. It can be served hot or cold and sweetened with honey if you like.

Sweet fern as a hot tea makes a better skin wash for poison ivy than Calamine lotion. As other plants, the smaller newer leaves make a milder tea than the older, larger leaves. Mixing, wintergreen, sweet fern and rose hips soaked in cold water tea makes a delicious remedy for someone coming down a cold. A compress of soaked sweet fern leaves makes a great poultice for drawing and removing boils on the skin. The tea in the strong form soaked in warm water relieves diarrhea and stomach cramps. The strong tea also makes a great toothpaste, mouthwash and for sore gums. It has also been used effectively on children's acne. Older people can achieve normal bowel movements by drinking 1/2 cup of this tea every other day.

[NOTE:  The leaves of this plant look a great deal like marijuana, and that has caused some people problems with others whose eyes are not trained to recognize different types of plant.

TARRAGON (Artemesia Dracunculus)  Tarragon is an herbaceous perennial that grows to about 2 feet tall. It has multibranched growth with narrow, somewhat twisted, green leaves. Culture Tarragon will grow in full sun but seems to do better in semishade. It can be propagated from root cuttings or by division. It needs pr otection in winter in cold climates. Make new plantings every 3 to 4 years. Harvesting It is best to use fresh young leaves and stem tips. Flavor is lost when tarragon is dried. Tarragon leaves have a distinctive flavor similar to anise and are used in salads, marinades, and sauces. Leaves yield flavor to vinegar when steeped.

Native American groups used a Tarragon root tea for colds, dysentery, diarrhea, headaches, difficult childbirth, urinary disorders, and infant colic. It was also taken to promote appetite. Externally, it was used as a wash for arthritis, swellings, bruises, rheumatism, and for itching from chicken pox. Fresh leaves were mashed, moistened, and applied to forehead for headaches; placed in steam baths for rheumatic or arthritic pain, and also used in diapers to alleviate diaper rash or raw skin.

But did you also know that Tarragon, (Artemisia Dracunculus) is also a fantastic insect repellent? You can burn it as a smudge stick, put loose tarragon on your logs while burning a fire, or infuse into a lotion, oil or shampoo to avoid mosquitoes and other insects you may not wish to get close to.

You can use Taragon with great success for your dog for flea control during the summer. Take some regular old shampoo, throw some tarragon leaves in there, infuse for about a week, and use it on your dog, Wash the about once a week. You will not see a single flea, tick or even a house fly on him all summer!


THISTLE (Cirsium spp.) This plant loves sunny places, abandoned farm fields and roadsides. It grows the basal rosette the first year and the flower the second year.

The most fun of gathering these flowers is avoiding getting stuck by the thorns. You'll need gloves. You will be delighted to know that once you get all the thorns peeled off this plant, you can eat it like celery as it is full of water.  In the winter, the leaves from the basal rosette can be cooked and eaten like carrots. They are less bitter if you pour out the first cooking water and boil them a  second time. The roots of the first year rosettes and eaten raw or cooked. They are a great survival food.

In the fall, the dethorned stalks make good hand firedrills, and the white down from the old flower makes really good tinder to start a fire. 

Fresh roots have the best medicinal properties, but older people might be sensitive to it.  A handful of roots should be boiled in water for 40 minutes . Crush the roots while boiling so the root becomes fibrous.  Strain the liquid and save the roots for a poultice to put on boils, insect stings, poison ivy, or ulcerated skin.  The strong tea made this way can be used as a mouthwash for cold sores or gum problems, or as a skin wash for infections.  Use in the chilled form to stop the itch of poison ivy or other types of itchy skin.

TIGER LILY - Lilium tigrinum  - The tiger lily, so-called from the fact that the flowers are spotted after the manner of the skin of the tiger, is a native of Japan and China, but has been widely cultivated as a garden plant. The flowers, which appear in July and August, are large and borne in a pyramidal cluster at the top of the stem. They are of a dark-orange hue and marked with somewhat elevated black or deep crimson spots. A tincture of the plant, in flower, is used quite largely by homoeopathic physicians, to whom it was introduced by Dr. W. E. Payne.

Tincture of tiger lily has acquired considerable of a reputation as a remedy for uterine irritation and congestion, its effects being slowly produced. It has relieved the nausea of uterine irritation, and the nausea of pregnancy, and excellent results are reported of its efficacy in congestive dysmenorrhoea. It is reputed a leading remedy for chronic ovarian neuralgia, being indicated by darting, burning pains in the ovaries. When pelvic weight and prolonged lochia accompany a tardy recovery from parturition, this remedy promises relief, and much testimony points to its value in relieving the bearing-down sensations incident to uterine prolapse. The dose is from 1/8 drop to 5 drops of a strong tincture of the fresh plant. The remedy deserves a careful study. Vomiting, purging, and drowsiness were the symptoms produced in a little girl poisoned by the pollen of tiger lily (Wyman, 1863).


VIOLET (Viola spp.) This plant can be found in wet meadows, damp woods, and generally moist areas. The birdfoot violet can be found in more sunny areas.  (The leaves are shaped like a birds foot)  The colors of the violet can be blue-violet, white, or yellow and blooms in the spring.  These plants can be found all the way from Maine, all the way west to North Dakota, Canada, and all the way south to the Gulf of Mexico.

This plant can be eaten raw right where it grows, or taken home and put in a salad.  They can also be cooked like spinach for 10 minutes.   For tea, dry the leaves and flowers in a cool place for several hours and then stored in an earthenware container.  This tea is good mixed with strawberry tea and used as a tonic. It is great chilled. The flowers alone can be steeped in hot water for 1/2 an hour and drunk as tea. It is full of Vitamin C.  This tea can also be mixed with alfalfa, sweet yellow clover, birch, mint, catnip, and rose hips.

NOTE: Yellow violets may cause a person to have diarrhea.

For a medicinal tea, add a little yarrow leaves and dandelion greens.


Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)  This plant grows in poor soils in the woods or in clearings. The plant has long interconnecting root systems and grows low to the ground. It is an evergreen plant and the waxy flowers dangle underneath the leaves like they are under an umbrella. It blooms all summer and the berries can be seen from late summer, even over winter until the next summer.  It grows from Canada and northern United States all the way south to Georgia, following the mountain ranges.  Even when covered by snow, it remains green.

The new leaves near the top of the plant are the best tasting and have the most intense flavor. It is a powerful medicine and not too much should be eaten. Only one or two leaves should be ingested. For tea, use only a couple of leaves - the tea can be drunk hot or cold - after filtering out the leaves.

For a medicinal tea, use a palmful of leaves and steep in hot water for at least 1/2 an hour. This will take away a headache as it contains the chemical methyl-salicylate, which is a relative of aspirin.  This strong tea also make a good mouthwash for sore throats, cold sores and gum ailments. The steam from hot boiling leaves can also be breathed in to relieve pain.   The leaves can be used as a poultice, but keep in mind that repeated use can cause skin irritation. Use crushed leaves mixed with hot tallow (grease), steep for a time, and then cool. It can be used for mild burns. 


Pink Wood Sorrel (Oxalis corymbosa)

Wood Sorrels sorrels are most commonly pink and yellow.  

Yellow Wood Sorrel (Oxalis corniculata)

These 3-leaved sorrels are commonly mistakenly called clovers.  

WOOD SORREL (Oxalis spp.) These plants grow all over the world, except northern Canada and where its cold all the time.  These plants live in cool, moist woods, along field edges and clearings.  The leaves have a sour taste.  The flowers come in yellow, pink, or red.   

Oxalidaceae: Sorrel Family.

This family has 8 genera and about 800+ species (Carr). Most individuals in this family have some sort of oxalic acid in their tissues. For instance, Sorrels, Oxalis spp., which are commonly called clovers, are a great plant to throw on salads for some extra spice. Other plants in this family are the star fruits and pickle fruits, all of which provide a tart treat to the taste buds.

The Wood Sorrel recipe, a 15th Centuryís one, from England, when they accompanied pork and game with the sauce.
One interesting aspect of the botanical booty is that this particular plant of the Oxalis family is NATIVE! (you can tell by the fact it sports yellow flowers), making the whole exercise even more appealing. Aboriginal Australian sure knew of the edibility of the plant, which can be eaten fresh, having a lemony taste.  The new leaves can be added to salads as a type of spice because of its sour taste.  You can also make a refreshing drink by steeping the leaves in hot water for ten minutes - a palmful of leaves to a pint of water. Chill and sweeten to taste - drink like iced tea. As long as the tea isn't boiled, it contains a goodly amount of Vitamin C.  Wood sorrel tea can be mixed with other teas half and half for different flavoring.

For medicinal purposes, the chilled tea made from the leaves has a great soothing effect on the digestive system. It relieves heartburn, cramps and other stomach disorders.  A stronger tea can be used for a skin wash.  Do not use it on deep wounds however. Too much of this tea can cause bleeding because of the oxalic acid in it. It can also cause diarrhea. So use sparingly. 

TOXICITY: Oxalis spp. are used as a poison in Australia, India, Spain, & Turkey. Large doses can cause oxalate poisoning. Overdose in animals results in coma and death. Oxalates can bind with calcium causing physiological problems. The oxalates in Sorrel can be minimized by properly decocting the herb.

CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS: Oxalis spp. should be avoided by those with gout, arthritis, kidney stones, or hyperacidity. Not in pregnancy.  Long term usage causes the body to inhibit the ability to absorb calcium.


YARROW - (Achillea millefolium)  Yarrow, a tall white cluster of flowers with fern like leaves, and very fragrant. It grows in old fields, old waste grounds and love sun.  It is found all over the United States.

To collect the leaves of this plant, pick just before a rain in areas that are not in full sun or full shade. Dry the leaves slowly and in a cool place and store in a glass or earthenware container. Do not keep the container tightly sealed so the air in the container can breathe in an out. Store the container in a cool and dry place out of direct sunlight.

Tea made from the leaves brewed in not water for ten minutes make a good tonic. Please note that this tea induces sweating.

It is used as medicine for sore throats and also makes a fragrant hair rinse. The stalks of Yarrow are used to throw in I Ching. The flowers and leaves are excellent for sore throats steeped in distilled water and add equal parts of honey and organic apple cider vinegar.  Drinking the tea will bring down a severe fever within 15 minutes. It is best used for this mixing with Wintergreen tea. Drink 1 cups a day for 2 days, and then discontinue.  The tea can be used as a skin wash but prolonged use can make the skin sensitive to sunlight.  It reduces skin maladies and irritations very quickly.  It can even stop nose bleeds and internal bleeding mixed with other herbs.  Use the fresh leaves applied to boils and pimples directly and keep bandaged. It helps to draw out the inflammation.


YERBA - (Yerba Santa) (Eriodictyon californicum)  Also called: Mountain Balm, Bear's Weed, Gum Plant, Consumptive Weed, Holy Herb and Sacred Herb.

Yerba Santa is an evergreen aromatic shrub with woody rhizomes, typically growing to a height of 3 to 4 feet (1 m +) The dark green, leathery leaves are oblong to lanceolate and covered with shiny resin. They grow in an alternate arrangement and are pinnately veined and usually serrate. The taste of the leaves is balsamic and the flowers and leaves smell pleasantly aromatic on a warm day. Yerba Santa is native to the western and southwestern regions of North America, and is somewhat native to northern Mexico. It grows 2-6 feet in height at elevations ranging from 2000 to 3,500 ft. It is typically found in dry areas that are sparse of other vegetation. The flowers are a delicate whitish-lavender color, found in curved tubular clusters (helicoid cymes) at the top of the plant, and are pollinated by butterflies. Yerba Santa blooms from May to July, depending on the elevation. The fruit forms a grayish-brown seed capsule, oval in shape, which contains hardened black seeds

Chumash Indians and other California Indians have used yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum) and other related species (Eriodictyon crassifolium, Eriodictyon trichocalyx) for many centuries in the treatment of pulmonary (lung) conditions, saliva production, and to stop bleeding of minor cuts and scrapes.

In the United States and Britain, Eriodictyon californicum was formally used for conditions including influenza, bacterial pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis, and tuberculosis starting in the late 1800s until the 1960s (when drug regulations became more stringent around proof of efficacy). Subsequently, the extracts remained GRAS ("generally regarded as safe") as a flavor for foods, beers, and pharmaceuticals (such as to hide the bitterness of quinine). Eriodictyon plant extracts have also been used in cosmetics.

Eriodictyon species contain flavones with free radical scavenging (antioxidant) properties, and have therefore been proposed as being beneficial for a number of health conditions.
 It is an excellent remedy combined with grindelia robusta. It acts well in all forms of cough where there is dryness of the mucous membranes, in conjunction with other directly indicated remedies. It is prepared in the form of a syrup, and like prunus virginiana, can be made a basis or vehicle for other agents. The syrup conceals the bitter taste of quinine admirably.

YUCCA (Yucca filamentosa)  This plant lives in sandy woods, old fields and sandy waste areas. It is an evergreen plant. Yucca grows in the southwestern states and California mostly, but is found in Georgia and New Jersey. Two other species of Yucca grow along the immediate coast, but Yucca filamentosa is easily distinguished from them by the twisty thread-like filaments that shred off the leaf margins (these give it the name filamentosa) and by the near lack of a trunk. This plant is cultivated and found in other states as well.

The leaves of this plant can be pounded with wood on wood and used for cordage. It is very strong and can even be used as a bowstring.  It can also be used to weave baskets and mats and other products like that.

The roots contain a substance (sophins) that become a lather when pounded in water. This soap is very effective in cleaning, yet is mild enough to use for hair and skin.  it can also be used to wash wounds and other skin maladies. Diluted, it can be used a mouthwash for cold sores. 

The roots can be used as a poultice to drain boils, remove insect stings and stop the itch of poison ivy. Do not allow to stay on the skin for more than 1/2 an hour and wash off thoroughly.

The flowers are edible fresh and the dew on the petals will furnish water to slake thirst. These flowers can be added to a salad. They have an uncommon taste and very delicious.

NOTE:  These are only some of the edible and usable plants found in the wild.  I present other links below which can be used for the purpose of growing your own herbs and for survival.