Food as Medicine: Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica, Urticaceae)

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Urtica dioica (Urticaceae) is commonly known as nettle, common nettle, or stinging nettle. The species is an herbaceous perennial with a spreading growth habit. Growing 4-6 feet tall, stinging nettle produces numerous erect and wiry stems that hold up its opposite, roughly textured, serrated leaves.1-4 It produces small, inconspicuous greenish-brownish flowers that emerge as axillary inflorescences.The stems and undersides of leaves are covered with hairs called trichomes. When touched, these stinging trichomes inject a chemical cocktail that typically causes localized skin irritation as well as a painful, tingling sting from which the species has derived its most common name, stinging nettle.1,5

The Urticaceae family contains about 500 known species, distributed mainly in tropical areas.1 The genus Urtica, whose name comes from the Latin uro (to burn) and urere (to sting), consists of both annual and perennial herbaceous plants known for the burning properties of the…

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Locating Wild Deer Truffles ~ And Other Fascinating Fungi!

Greetings!

First, I’d like to say “thank you!” to everyone who attended a Learn Your Land event over the past few months.  It’s always a wonderful experience meeting nature enthusiasts around the country!  I still have plenty of events scheduled throughout the upcoming months.  If you’re local to any of these areas, I’d love to meet you!

September 8, Muskegon, MI: Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club — Fungus Fest
September 9, Owosso, MI: Wild Edibles Walk & Mushroom Outing
September 21-23, Prairie du Chien, WI: Midwest Wild Harvest Festival
October 8, Pittsburgh, PA: Botanical Society of Western PA evening presentation
November 5, Clemson, SC: South Carolina Upstate Mycological Society evening presentation
November 7, Atlanta, GA: Mushroom Club of Georgia evening presentation

For more information on these events, check out the Learn Your Land event calendar.

Moving forward, let’s talk about deer truffles.

These fungi exist a few inches below the surface of the earth in a mutualistic association with various trees.  What’s more, deer truffles are valued food sources for a variety of forest-dwelling animals.

Because they grow underground, deer truffles are among the most elusive fungi in the world.  However, there is a simple trick to finding them, and if you’re interested in finding your very own deer truffles this season, check out the brand new video!

Stinkhorns aren’t your typical mushrooms.  One look at them (and a quick whiff of them!) should hint at their uniqueness.  Pictured here are a few interesting stinkhorns I recently found in a local forest.  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more!

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

-Adam Haritan

Activity of Lemon Balm and Moldavian Dragonhead Essential Oils against Foodborne Microorganisms

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

It has been postulated that plant essential oils can be used as natural preservatives to delay food spoilage, inhibit pathogen growth, and improve food quality. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis, Lamiaceae) aerial parts and Moldavian dragonhead (Dracocephalum moldavica, Lamiaceae) aerial parts have antibacterial and antifungal activity. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the chemical composition, antimicrobial activity, and antioxidant capacity of lemon balm and Moldavian dragonhead essential oils with the goal of finding natural agents to protect against oxidation changes and pathogenic bacteria of food.

Lemon balm and Moldavian dragonhead aerial parts were collected at blossoming in the summer of 2013 in Urmia, Iran. The plants were confirmed by the Herbarium Department of Jahad Agriculture and Natural Resources Center of West Azerbaijan, Iran. Essential oils were extracted via hydro-distillation, and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was used to analyze the compounds in the essential oil. Antibacterial…

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Geographical Variation in Nutritional Content of Baobab

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

The baobab (Adansonia digitata, Malvaceae) tree is indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa and is an important source of food and economic generation. Leaves, fruit, and seeds are eaten, and timber, fodder, and fibers from the tree are marketed. With roles in traditional medicine, culture, and religions, it is widely considered a sacred tree and often allowed to thrive in agricultural lands. Baobab is known to be high in vitamin C and other nutrients. However, nutritional studies on baobab vary greatly by sourced material and analytical methods. In addition, data on nutrients from east and south African baobabs have not been previously reported. Therefore, the authors analyzed fruit pulp and seeds from 17 populations in east, south, and west African nations (Kenya, Tanzania, Mali, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi) to determine if the region of origin affects nutrient content.

Provenances were from 8-1114 meters above sea level with rainfall of 463-1125…

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A Druid’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, Part IV: Nature Reciprocity

The Druid's Garden

The principle of “seven generations” comes to us from the Iroquois nation, where is considered to be the “Great Law of the Iroquois.”  This principle said that each decision that was made needed to consider not just the immediate future but the 7th generation, those yet unborn. This principle has become closely tied with modern sustainability movements, where there is a growing understanding that for any society and ecosystem to endure, they must be treated in a way that nurtures and sustains, rather than pillages and depletes. This is a fairly radical idea to a Western culture, where concepts like manifest destiny and the relentless pursuit of growth that have driven westerners literally spent centuries pillaging the land, colonizing new places, driving out native peoples, stripping forests bare, and so forth. This idea of recirpocation is essentially foreign to most growing up in the shadows of that exploitative past.

Land and ocean worth protecting! Land…

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New event scheduled! Old Growth Forest Hike & Spring Water Gathering

Greetings!

I am excited to announce that I will be leading the Old Growth Forest Hike & Spring Water Gathering during the weekend of August 25th and 26th at Cook Forest State Park.  And of course, I’d love for you to join us!

If you’ve never experienced the magnificence of Cook Forest, it truly is one of the most remarkable natural areas in Pennsylvania.  This particular ecosystem encompasses one of the last remaining old growth forests in the entire eastern United States, currently hosting 11 old growth areas that total over 2,300 acres.  One of these areas within the park, the Forest Cathedral, contains arguably the finest concentration of old growth trees in the northeastern United States.  This special area is home to dozens of old growth eastern white pine and hemlock trees, many over 300 years old and towering above 140 feet in height!

In this event, we will hike and explore the Forest Cathedral surrounded by Pennsylvania’s tallest and oldest trees while discussing:

  • Edible and medicinal plants
  • Edible and medicinal mushrooms
  • Tree identification, along with edible and medicinal uses
  • Medicine-making using wild plants and mushrooms
  • Natural history of the area

…and lots more!

For the second part of the event, we will visit a pristine spring to gather wild Pennsylvania water straight from the source.  As you may or may not know, I’ve been harvesting wild water from springs all over the country as part of my personal health strategy for several years, championing the idea that nature’s wild water can provide the perfect alternative to other conventional hydration strategies (tap water, bottled water, commercial filters, etc.).

During this second part of the event, we will discuss the benefits of drinking wild spring water, the importance of developing your own personalized water strategy, and locations of other fantastic springs.  You are encouraged to bring your own collection vessels so that you can harvest fresh, clean spring water following the event.

Interested?  Here are more details:

What: Old Growth Forest Hike & Spring Water Gathering
When: Saturday, August 25th OR Sunday, August 26th
Where: Cook Forest State Park, Western Pennsylvania
Time: 12:00 PM — 5:00 PM

The program is geared toward adults and will entail moderate hiking (about 1.5 miles).

Please note that in order to maximize your learning experience, space is limited and registration with payment in advance is required to secure your spot.

To purchase your ticket, and to learn more about the outing, please visit the following link and choose the appropriate session:

Old Growth Forest Hike & Spring Water Gathering

I’d love to see you there!
—Adam Haritan

Now’s The Time To Harvest This Great North American Superfood!

Greetings!

I’m excited to partner with Forager’s Harvest in Bruce, Wisconsin for an evening mushroom walk on Thursday, August 9th.  We’ll explore the area in search of summer mushrooms, as well as identify mushrooms that participants bring to the program.  If you’re in the Midwest this August 9th, I’d love to meet you!  More information can be found here.

Next, let’s talk about foods that are super…

When many people think of the word “superfood,” images of expensive powders, fancy juices, and exotic herbs come to mind.

When I think of the word “superfood,” images of local plants, backyard weeds, and brambly fruits come to mind.

As nature would have it, North America (and every habitable continent!) is replete with a cornucopia of superfoods manifested as wild fruits, nuts, seeds, and herbs.

The wild blueberry is one common fruit that, despite its ubiquity, is certainly a superfood in every sense of the word.  Tasty, abundant, and brimming with health-promoting compounds, its value to both humans and wildlife cannot be overstated.

I recently spent some time in the company of a few wild blueberry shrubs and decided to document the experience.  If you’re interested in learning why I recommend the wild blueberry as a regular component of the human diet (and garden!), check out the brand new video!

Have you been finding any choice edible mushrooms lately?  Here’s a list of 8 edible fungi you’re likely to encounter during the warmest weeks of the year… especially after a good rainfall!

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

Adam Haritan

Mahonia & Lavender Oat Bars: Berry Delicious! — Gather Victoria

Mahonia & Lavender Oat Bars …

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You may not have heard of Mahonia berries but I know you’d love them – and they’re likely growing near you. Mahonia japonica and Mahonia bealei are both extremely common ornamental shrubs found in a wide variety of urban spaces – and in early July both are laden with deep blue dusky berries hanging in fat grape-like clusters.…

via Mahonia & Lavender Oat Bars: Berry Delicious! — Gather Victoria

The Wild Mushroom That Tastes Like Garlic

By Adam Haritan

Greetings!

One of the best parts about being a nature enthusiast is getting to meet other nature enthusiasts around the country.  Over the next few months, I’ll be giving talks and leading walks throughout the Northeast and I’d love to meet you!  Here’s the most recent schedule of upcoming events:

July 20-21:  Shelly Conrad – Gary Lincoff 2018 Memorial Foray in Davis, WV
July 26-29:  NEMF Mushroom Foray in Geneseo, NY
August 10-12:  Mushrooms as Food & Medicine in Bruce, WI
September 7-9:  Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club — Fungus Fest in Twin Lake, MI
September 9:  Wild Edibles Walk & Mushroom Outing in Owosso, MI
September 21-23:  Midwest Wild Harvest Festival in Prairie du Chien, WI

For more information on these events, check out the Learn Your Land event calendar.

Moving forward, let’s talk about the garlic mushroom.  This edible fungus smells and tastes like garlic, and you can use it as a substitute for garlic in meals.

Strangely enough, this alliaceous mushroom hasn’t made its way into supermarkets, though fortunately it can be found growing profusely underneath coniferous and hardwood trees around the world.  Perhaps it’s even growing in your backyard.

To learn more about this marvelous little mushroom, check out the brand new video!

Speaking of marvelous species, wild orchids are at the top of the list.  This particular orchid is blooming right now, though if you’re interested in observing its flower, be prepared to get your feet wet.  Check out this recent Instagram post to learn more!

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

-Adam Haritan

The Forager’s: Foraging for Summertime Herbs

The Forager’s: Foraging For Summertime Herbs …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Go beyond the confines of the garden and into the wild to find some of nature’s most valuable medicine.

Summer is the perfect time to stock up on nature’s healing gifts. But all too often we walk right by these treasures, not recognizing them as valuable plants. Learning how to identify and then use a variety of edible and medicinal plants in your region can open up a world of botanicals, not only providing you with access to important medicine but also helping you familiarize yourself with the wilderness that abounds.

Five Rules for Sustainable Foraging

Before you head out into the fields and forests to harvest plants, you need to know a bit about foraging ethics, as well as the dangers that certain plants can pose. In an environmentally fragile world, you want to proceed without taking from nature in ways that are harmful.

  1. Properly identify the plant

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