It’s not often, that I am lucky enough to encounter herbs on a walk, but today was special. My day began like any other day with a beautiful walk with my dog in the forest. Today was a lucky day for me though…as I was not only fully immersed in nature and her loveliness, but I was keen in spotting the first herbs of the spring season. This story begins with Lungwort, the first sign of color after a long dark winter.
This is my first year in identifying Lungwort. As, my curiosity about herbs in nature began in summer of 2017, and most of the early spring herbs were already gone. I was determined to get a head start this herbal season. Late mid March seems to be the kick off to the herbal season. As much on time, Lungwort was already in bloom. A side note here: I began learning and reading about nature’s herbs when I picked up the best book on the topic possible, “The Earthwise Herbal” by Matthew Wood. If you are interested in the topic, buy the book-it’s amazing!
Back to the topic of lungwort, also known as Pulmonaria officinalis, this herb was said to be an original in the pulmonary health. Found originally throughout Europe, lungwort is said to be sensitive to environmental toxins, and that if you could still find it in the forest surviving, it’s a pretty healthy forest. When I found this little plant a few days ago, I was ecstatic! I think I might be a few days too early for picking since the flowers aren’t all open. However, as I read further, it’s not the flowers we use, but the leaves. I found the pink/purple beauty growing in family clusters, and there wasn’t an abundance of it either.
A note to self when you begin your herbal foraging. Pick kindly and fairly, leaving the plant rooted and in tact, while only picking what is truly useful. I plan on going back to my spot to check for more, however, it’s the middle of March and we just had a typical snow storm last night, and I’m not sure how it will fare.
Coltsfoot was the next pop-up surprise of the day. Buried under fall’s past leaves, and a blanket of winter cold was the re-immersion of coltsfoot. You’ll begin to notice that your herbs live in the same spot forever. Unless the habitat has been destroyed, they will return year after year, after year. This is the case of coltsfoot. Ironically enough, coltsfoot and lungwort are said to be best used together. They both have the mucilage benefits for the lung. It’s said that using lungwort and coltsfoot together can actually remove tar from the lungs of a smoker. Additionally, the dried leaves, flowers and even buds of the plant are great when smoked. So many uses, so many benefits.
I will return to my coltsfoot in a week or so, as it’s said that the flowers develop first, then come the leaves…so I’ll return to gather the leaves, which are the essential part of this herbal based plant when treating respiratory and cough ailments.
The last herb I spotted on my walk today is Horsetail. It seems to have survived winter in it’s upright state, and I hope to return to find it’s bloomed with it’s hair-like leaves. This is another plant rich with healing properties and high in silica. It’s great for regulating blood flow, easing menstrual cramps, and helping an ailing bladder. I’m quite amazed that these 3 herbs are growing round-about in the same place…the forest. Our forest’s are important, and I hope we’re all paying attention to their future, because if the forests have no future, nor do we.