Tree Alchemy: Hydrosols and Essential Oils from Sacred Trees

The Druid's Garden

Nature can provide tremendous wisdom and healing, especially when we work with our local ecosystems and ecologies. One of the most powerful ways of working healing with nature, I believe, is to combine the innate healing properties of plants with your own various kinds of medicinal preparations. The plants and trees offer the raw material and your hands and tools shape that material into something that heals the body, mind, and/or spirit. Working to transform tree and plant matter through alchemical processes into medicine–and then taking that medicine–can be an incredibly powerful way of establishing deep relationships not only with the living earth but with the trees themselves. Today, I want to talk about a particular kind of medicine known as a “hydrosol” and talk about how you might make your own with plant and tree material.  This is especially beneficial for today as many of us are thinking about…

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Stalking The Wild Goldenseal

Greetings!

On Thursday, May 24th, I’ll be leading an evening foraging walk in Apollo, Pennsylvania (about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh).  We’ll be exploring a beautiful area known as Roaring Run along the Kiskiminetas River in search of wild edible plants and mushrooms.  If you’re interested in attending this walk, click here for more info!

Moving forward, let’s talk about Goldenseal.

Perhaps you’re familiar with this plant in supplement form.  Several immune-boosting formulas contain Goldenseal as the primary ingredient, and it’s one of the top-selling herbs in the world today.

Goldenseal is not an exotic plant.  This understory species is native to North America and can be found in rich, deciduous woodlands… usually in association with tulip poplar, American beech, white ash, and sugar maple trees.

For centuries, various Native American cultures utilized Goldenseal as a medicinal plant.  Early European settlers also took a liking to this plant and quickly reduced wild populations to perilous numbers.

Today, Goldenseal is listed as endangered, threatened, or vulnerable in at least 10 states.  In some areas, however, it can still be quite abundant.

I recently explored the woods in search of Goldenseal and documented the experience on film.  If you’re interested in learning more about this incredibly special plant, as well as how to receive the benefits of Goldenseal without harvesting Goldenseal (there’s a great alternative!), check out the new video!

Some fungi eat plants, and some fungi eat animals.  Some fungi eat both plants and animals!  The edible Oyster mushroom is just one among the many species of omnivorous fungi that consume non-segmented roundworms called nematodes.  Check out this Instagram post to learn more!

Thanks for reading and watching, and as always, thank you for your support!

-Adam Haritan

Herb Guide: Chamomile

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

  • German Chamomile – Matricaria chamomilla
  • Roman Chamomile – Anthemis nobilis

The chamomile herb is another well-known plant, used in making effective herbal remedies for the treatment of a variety of illnesses. The herb has a great relaxant action on the nervous system and the digestive system. The herbal remedies made from this plant are considered to be a perfect remedy for the treatment of disorders affecting babies and children. The main action of the chamomile is that it brings about relaxation in all the smooth muscles throughout the body of an individual. The herb acts on the digestive tract and rapidly brings relief from any muscular tension and spasms, it alleviates disorders such as colic, and it can reduce the amount of abdominal pain, and remedy excess production of wind and abdominal distension in patients.

Chamaemelum-German_1

The other major effect of the herb lies in its ability to regulate peristalsis along the…

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Herb Guide: Echinacea

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Echinacea, pronounced ek-i-NAY-see-a, is one herb that has become a “household” name in the 1990’s. Many refer to it as “Purple Cone Flower” because of its large purple daisy petals, which contain a hard and spiny center cone. These spines probably give the plant its name, since sea animals with spines are called “echinoderms”. Echinacea is indigenous to the U.S. and can be found both growing wild in many areas as well as in cultivated gardens. There are actually nine different species of the plant; two are most popular as remedies: Echinacea Angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea.

Echinacea for Immuno-Excellence…

Adapted from The Natural Medicine Chest, by Ellen Kamhi, PhD RN and Eugene Zampieron, ND
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FACTS:

Echinacea is a North American plant, native to the prairies…

Echinacea is an important plant for treating immune dysfunction…

Echinacea juice can be placed directly on wounds to promote healing…

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Echinacea is…

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Herb Guide: Wild Thyme {Thymus serpyllum}

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Also, Known As:

  • Creeping Thyme
  • Mother-of-thyme
  • Wild Thyme

The wild thyme is native to the larger parts of Europe where the land is dry. The wild thyme is rare compared to the common thyme’s and is farmed extensively. Normally, wild thyme is found growing up to a certain altitude on the Alps, on high plateaus, in valleys, alongside trenches, roads, on rocks and also in infertile and dry soil. Wild thyme may also be found growing in moisture-laden clay soil that is improvised of chalk. Wild thyme’s can also be found in old rocky, deserted grounds, dried-up grass turfs and also on open lands. Particularly in England, wild thyme’s grow normally on moorlands and rocky terrains. Wild thyme is frequently cultivated as garden borders, in rock gardens or on the sunlit banks of rivulets and streams.

Wild thyme is a perennial herb. The herb’s sulky wooded stems grow up to a…

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Herb Guide: Oregano

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Origanum vulgare

Also, Known As:

  • Common Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • True Oregano
  • Turkish Oregano
  • Wild Marjoram
  • Winter Marjoram

The famous European herb called the oregano or the pot marjoram is a very familiar spice, botanical name Origanum vulgare. It is a common herb, and the European oregano is known to be a very hardy and perennial herb characterized by the presence of an erect, and somewhat hairy and well-branched stem, the leaves of the herb are also hairy. When fully grown, the plant can cross two feet in height, and is characterized by a very acrid and pungent odor, the fragrance of the plant is very strong, and has a sage-like an aroma, it also smells somewhat like another spice, the thyme – also used in a lot of European cuisines.

The oregano also refers to the pleasant and mint smelling European herb, the marjoram, or the wild marjoram as it is…

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Herb Guide: It’s About Thyme

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Thymus vulgaris

Also, Known As:

  • Black Thyme
  • Common Thyme
  • English Thyme
  • French Thyme
  • Garden Thyme
  • German Thyme
  • Serpyllum
  • Thyme
  • Tomillo
  • Winter Thyme

Thyme is a common name given to all the herbs belonging to the plant species called Thymus. The Thymus is indigenous to Europe and Asia and all plants belong to this species are usually low-growing and perennial. Among the different plants of this species, the common or garden thyme is regarded as the main variety and is used commercially for flowering as well as decorative purposes. The garden thyme is a small shrub bearing greyish-green leaves and flowers whose hues vary from white to pink or purple. Several countries in Europe, including Spain, Portugal, France, and Greece, as well as the United States, cultivate and harvest the thyme. Basically, there are three major types of thyme – French, English, and German, and each of them bears leaves of…

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Herb Guide: Growing and Using Rosemary

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Rosmarinus officinalis

Also, Known As:

  • Compass Weed
  • Dew of the Sea
  • Garden Rosemary
  • Incensier
  • Mary’s Mantle
  • Mi-tieh-hsiang
  • Old Man
  • Polar Plant
  • Rosemary
  • Rosemary Plant

Rosmarinus officinalis L. (family Lamiaceae), is also known as rosemary. This herb is an evergreen shrub, with lovely aromatic linear leaves. Colored a dark shade of green above and white below, the leaves of the rosemary give off a beautiful fragrance, and with its small pale blue flowers, the plant is cultivated extensively in many kitchen gardens across America and elsewhere.

The evergreen shrub originated in the Mediterranean area, but it is today cultivated almost everywhere in the world, primarily for its aromatic leaves. The shrub has several ash colored branches, and the bark is rather scaly. The leaves, as described earlier, are opposite and leathery thick. They are lustrous and dark green above and downy white underneath, with a prominent vein in the middle and…

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Growing Lemongrass

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Also known as Fever grass, Bhustrina, and Takrai. From the family Poaceae.

This important culinary and medicinal herb, which can be found throughout the tropics, is indigenous to Southeast Asia where it is used extensively to produce an essential oil. It is also a snake repellent and a versatile garden plant. There are records showing that the Persians were using it as a tea in the first century B.C. I have been lucky enough to see it growing and flowering naturally in the Caribbean {Jamaica} where they primarily use it for reducing fevers.

VARIETIES:

Cymbopogon citratus: Lemon Grass

A half-hardy perennial, evergreen in warm climates. Height 4 1/2 ft. Spread 3 feet. Lax panicles of awnless spikelets appear throughout the summer. However, it rarely flowers in cold climates. Lemon-scented linear, grey/green leaves up to 3 feet in length. Robust creamy/beige cane-like stems. Zone 9.

Cymbopogon nardus: Citronella Grass

A…

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Our Herb Garden Guide for Desert Dwellers

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

HERB GARDEN

Herbs have been used for generations for many purposes from medicinal remedies to perfumes and culinary uses. Herbs also provide beauty and variety to our desert landscapes. We invite you to use this guide to learn about the variety of herbs that grow well in our Sonoran Desert and how you can create your own herb garden at home.

OVERVIEW
The Herb Garden is designed with seven themed gardens. This guide has information about each area with plant recommendations and growing tips about herbs you can grow in your low desert garden.

THEMES
Sensory Garden Wildlife Garden Tea Garden Mediterranean Garden Picante Garden Culinary Garden Medicinal Garden

DEFINITION: herb: a plant that is useful in some way

MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN

Many herbs that thrive in our harsh desert environment are of Mediterranean origin. Soil types, low rainfall and over 300 sunny days a year allow these familiar herbs…

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