Herbal Trees and Shrubs of the Plains and Prairies

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Katherine Schlosser

From place to place, season to season, and year to year,

the colorful mixtures and combinations of flowering herbs

are influenced by permutations of weather, grazing,

competition with grasses, and seed abundance.

~David S. Costello

Since childhood the words “For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties, Above the fruited plain” colored my impression of the landscape of the western part of our country. Visits to grandparents, aunts and uncles, and masses of cousins didn’t disappoint my vision. It wasn’t until adulthood that I fully understood that those words were essentially a drone fly-over.

For some of us, it takes paying attention not only to the larger landscape, but to the details as well to appreciate the enormous botanical diversity of our country. From the tallest coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) to the tiny littleleaf pyxie moss (Pyxidanthera brevifolia)and its 1/4-inch flowers peering…

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The Practice of Deep Gratitude

The Druid's Garden

At the heart of the challenges, we face in transitioning from a life-destroying culture to a life-honoring one is to disentangle the many underlying myths and narratives that subconsciously or consciously drive our behaviors.  These myths include the myth of progress, the myth of infinite growth, the lure of materialism, and the assumption that nature is there only to serve our needs. These myths have, in part, been the underlying forces that have driven us to the present challenges of our age. I believe many of these myths are rooted in colonialism, and if we are ever to end this awful practice and its centuries-old impacts, we must address them. They drive both larger systems at play as well as each of us. And while we can look to broader

A nature mandala offered in thanks for our land that provides so much to us.

systems of power and privilege…

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Wildcrafting Your Druidry: A Local Materia Medica and Herbalism Practice

The Druid's Garden

As we continue to explore the concept of wildcrafting druidry and sacred action that is, developing a spiritual practice and daily life that is fully localized and aligned with nature right outside your door, it is a useful time to consider the role of herbalism and developing a local materia medica.  In herbalism terms, a materia medica is a body of herbal and plant knowledge for the curing of diseases and the promotion of good health.  For example, any book on herbalism that includes entries on herbs and their healing properties is a materia medica.  By starting to develop a local materia medica for your area, you can learn more about the incredible healing properties of plants in your area and develop a sacred connection with them.  You can start entering into a mutually beneficial, reciprocal relationship with the land and support your own health–this is because not only are…

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Poison Hemlock — The Plant We Love To Hate

Poison hemlock gets an incredibly bad rap these days. 

It’s weedy.  It’s aggressive.  And it’s lethally toxic.

Here in the United States, poison hemlock grows in almost every single state.  Because many of us will inevitably encounter a naturalized population of poison hemlock, it’s important that we learn its key features and its effects on the human body.

The trend these days is to write scathing articles about poison hemlock where personal feelings eclipse objective information.  Today, however, I’ll offer something different.

In a new video, I don’t get too angry talking about poison hemlock, but I instead try to remain fairly neutral when discussing its attributes. 

If you’re interested in learning more about one of the most toxic plants in the world, check out the brand new video!

Last year, I stumbled upon a pileated woodpecker nest for the first time.  Exactly one year later, I encountered a second site in a different location.  To read about my recent experience, and to view more photographs of the nest, check out the latest Instagram post!Click to view post

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

Sacred Trees in the Americas: Juneberry Tree (Amelanchier spp., Serviceberry, Shadbush, Sasakatoon) Medicine, Magic, and Divination — The Druid’s Garden

Juneberry Tree in Abundance We are now at the time when it is at peak throughout the Eastern US and thus,it is a great time to learn about this wonderful tree. Juneberry, also known as Amelanchier, Serviceberry, Saskatoon, or Shadbush is a grouping of 20 deciduous small trees or large shrubs. Juneberry is a delightful understory […]

Sacred Trees in the Americas: Juneberry Tree (Amelanchier spp., Serviceberry, Shadbush, Sasakatoon) Medicine, Magic, and Divination — The Druid’s Garden

Harvest Medicinal Trees in Your Backyard

Text and photos by Juliet Blankespoor

This article was originally written for Mother Earth Living magazine and is published here with permission from the publisher. Mother Earth Living is an American bimonthly magazine about sustainable homes and lifestyle.

As a child, I spent many afternoons scaling the white pines my father had planted in our backyard. Decades later, when I bought my first home, my dad set to planting trees right away, including a weeping willow by the creek in our front yard. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree: My daughter spent her youngest years learning to climb in the low branches of that willow. Those white pines and that willow are now towering giants. Watching a tiny sapling grow into a massive being is deeply satisfying.

When we think of healing plants, our minds gravitate toward the plants growing at our feet – the garden herbs, weeds, and woodland plants of the forest floor – but there’s a veritable treasure trove of healing remedies towering above. Humans have been harvesting and using medicine from trees for millennia, and medicinal trees and shrubs probably already grow near where you live. Perhaps you’re already able to identify the trees in your midst, and you merely need to learn their medicinal qualities and how to harvest them.

Read complete article at: Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine ~ Harvest Medicinal Trees In Your Backyard

Never Be Fooled By Poison Ivy Again

Before I share a brand new video with you, I want to provide a reminder that today — Monday, May 24th—  is the last day to register for Foraging Wild Mushrooms

After today, registration will be closed for the season.  If you want to learn the skills involved in safely and successfully harvesting wild mushrooms with confidence, Foraging Wild Mushrooms can help you achieve that goal. 

Click here to register before midnight.

And now on to this week’s brand new video.

There is no shortage of phrases that we can use to assist with the identification of poison ivy.

Most are lyrical and memorable, but few ever describe the less familiar parts of poison ivy (e.g., winter buds, twigs, flowers, autumn foliage).

Even then, the phrases that do describe the most familiar parts aren’t entirely foolproof:

“Leaflets of three, let it be.” (Many other plants have compound leaves with three leaflets, and I’ve seen poison ivy leaves with only two leaflets.)

“Side leaflets like mittens, will itch like the dickens.” (Side leaflets will oftentimes have no teeth or lobes.)

Needless to say, catchy phrases aren’t always accurate, and field guides that offer one photograph per plant only add to the confusion.

To address the situation, I created a very detailed video that covers key identifying features of poison ivy in every season.

If you’re looking to improve your poison ivy identification skills while reducing the chances of physically contacting the plant, check out the brand new video!

Thanks for reading and watching, and thanks for your continued support!

-Adam Haritan

Sacred Trees in the Americas: Tamarak / Larch – Larix laricina – Magic, Medicine, and Mythology

The Druid's Garden

I remember when I first saw a Tamarack tree.  It was growing in a bog where I was hiking in late fall.  I looked at the Tamarack tree in its golden splendor and wondered if the tree was sick or had gotten too wet–was this confier dying?  It had knobby cones and branches, sitting there looking like it was in its death throes.  When I commented on it to my friend, she responded, No, that’s just the tamarack tree, a friend of mine said, and we examined the tree growing on the edge of a beautiful wetland.  Sure enough, a few weeks later, the tree was bare for the winter and only grew back in the spring. The Tamarack tree has a special place in the ecology in North America, especially as a mid-succession tree in very wet and swampy areas.

The Tamarack tree is known by many names: the…

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Sacred Trees in the Americas – The Magic, Medicine, and Uses of the Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

The Druid's Garden

One of the most majestic experiences you can have with trees is being surrounded by old-growth Tulip Poplar trees.  Tulips grow extraordinarily tall and straight, with thick gray trunks and spreading roots. You feel like you are in a cathedral, standing under these magnificent trees. The tulip trees get their name both from the leaves–which are shaped like a tulip and from their flowers–beautiful, large, showy orange and yellow flowers that look just like a tulip. You can find these trees easily in June as the showy tulip leaves begin to drop to the forest floor. They are also easy to spot in the winter–you can look up and see the remains of the tulip flowers, gone to seed, throughout the winter months–they look like little cups reaching up to the heavens, a beautiful sight.

We have one such grove of tulip trees in a local park near here–a local…

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Free Webinar: Equity and Wild-Harvested Plants Co-Hosted by the FairWild Foundation – American Botanical Council

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

We are happy to announce the next webinar in the Sustainable Herbs Program (SHP) Toolkit Webinar Series: Equity and Wild-Harvested Plants: Building Mutually Beneficial Relationships.

This webinar will discuss what it takes to create and maintain mutually beneficial long term trade relations among those wild-harvesting plants for the global supply network, including equitable sharing of the costs of sustainable production. The speakers will talk about what these trade relationships entail, the responsibilities of buyers, and the role of standards and certifications like FairWild.

Speakers include: Marin Anastasov, Sourcing Manager at Pukka Herbs; Peter Rangus, Business Development Manager of Arxfarm, Slovenia; and Bryony Morgan, Executive Officer of the FairWild Foundation. Guest discussants include: Krystyna Swiderska, Principal Researcher in IIED’s Natural Resources Group, and Elizabeth Bennett, Associate Professor of International Affairs, Lewis & Clark College.

Equity and Wild-Harvested Plants: Building Mutually Beneficial Relationships
Thursday, May 20…

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