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.
I would call myself a relatively new forager. My passion began in the summer of 2017. After noticing all the beautiful wild flowers on the ground, in the forest, and in the fields, I began to wonder if these flowers, plants, or herbs had any useful traits. It was the beginning of the end for me on this topic. Knowledge is a beautiful thing. Turns out, yes, most plants you see in nature all serve a purpose, and that purpose is mostly beneficial to our health.
This year, the Spring kicked off just as planned in late March, and our lovely 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. Give this book a go…personally, it’s been the best investment on this topic for a self learner.
This herb has a long and strong standing reputation in aiding and improving in pulmonary health. Native to Europe, herbs in general are sensitive to environmental toxins. But they say a healthy forest is a forest where lungwort grows. 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 though since the flowers aren’t all open. However, as I read further, it’s not the flowers we use, but the leaves.
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. Also, as you identify your herbs, note the location. It seems, herbs return year after year to the same spots unless their habitat is destroyed or becomes sick. Who knows how long they have appeared in their original spots, but I’m guessing it’s hundreds of years.
Tussilago Farfara or Coltsfoot
As I continued my foraging mission, I began to glance around. When you focus on finding herbs, they suddenly appear with little to no effort. Under the pile of last season’s foliage was buried our bright yellow and brown herb known as Coltsfoot. It’s very usual that once you identify for example, lungwort, you will more than likely find coltsfoot near by. Both herbs are excellent in treating lung conditions. They bloom at the same time, and they treat the same conditions. There are no mistakes in nature.
Can herbs remove tar from the lungs of a smoker? I’ve read that these two herbs can. That’s a huge feat. I personally notice that if I smoke it or use it in tea form, I tend to have more mucus the morning after. The mucus is in a state where I can easily extract it from my throat and get it out of my body. Used traditionally in tea form, but note that this herb also makes a great smoking herb. Smoking herbs can be extremely beneficial, but you must learn the best combinations of herbs to smoke for the most benefits.
I will return to my herbal spot 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.
Last but not least I also ran upon Horsetail. This is a herb high in silica and is great in treating blood flow, easing menstrual cramps and helping an ailing bladder. This is a plant that grows as a straight up green sick, and stands around 3-4′ high. It transitions from it’s green stick winter state, to the full bloom of a horse tail. Similar to a needle tree, or pine tree, the leaves are spike-like and have delicate joints on every strand. This herb is easy to identify. There is no mistake when you see this herb in full bloom, growing together in the cluster formations that it’s evident where the name came from. As it really does resemble the hair of the horses tail.
Our forests are rich in resources. They provide ancient healing and remedies for our most common ailments of today and yesterday. With out our forests we have no future, so let’s pay attention to keep the forests alive and well.