Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

So um, in case you haven't noticed I've been seriously geeking out on all things wild, edible, medicinal and herbal.

Last summer I was just discovering "my new favourite obsession". It mostly lay dormant all winter, although I drank tea from the mullein I collected and dried and it helped me through a couple of bouts of chest congestion.

I still have a jar of unused plantain seeds that I harvested and stored. I may never have a use for them, but it was good practice and they would have ended up at the mercy of the blades of the reel mower anyway.

Last year I picked wild flowers like violets and chicory to use for decoration in my home. This year I will pick them knowing they are so much more than just window or table dressing.

I used deliciously aromatic dried purple basil flowers in my vinegar hair rinse, and relished the smell of summer in the depths of February. And I dreamed of spring when things would turn green and the first wild and weedy edibles of the season would make their appearance long before conventionally grown food.

I am very grateful for all that I have been learning through my wild edibles course and our teacher Martha Webber is wonderfully spry, wise and generous with her vast storehouse of knowledge.

I am reading books like Reap Without Sowing (one of the only two new purchases I made last year) and Peterson's Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants (a new gift from the ADGMD). I long to get my hands on more.

The Internet is a fantastic resource for information as well, and I thought I'd share with you some sites that are fast becoming favourites and others where I have found useful information.

Here are some herbal/plant sites that I regularly visit for help with identification and uses:

The online edition of the classic text A Modern Herbal gives very good descriptions of plants and is fascinating for the accounts of historical uses of plants. Some of the information still stands the test of time, but much of it is now outdated and no longer in accordance with modern medical science. I always cross reference the information here with contemporary sources.

The Plants for a Future database is one such contemporary source for up to date information. This is a fantastic site.

I also frequent the Alternative Nature Online Herbal site.

I just found Kingdom Planet last week, so I haven't spent much time here yet, but I think their pictures are useful.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has an Ontario Weeds Gallery. You won't find any information here on edible and medicinal uses of the plants, but this site is excellent for identification purposes. It includes lots of pictures and thorough descriptions as well as habitat information.

Similarly, Wild Flowers of Ontario is great for pictures to help with identification, but short on edible and medicinal information.

Ontario Wildflowers, however, has a whole page dedicated to some edible plants.

In my searching I've discovered some wonderful blogs, quite a few of which I now visit regularly.

I've long been a fan of The Herbwife's Kitchen. This was the first of the herbal blogs I began reading. My reading has expanded to now include, The Medicine Woman's Roots, Henriette's Herbal, Jim McDonald, Susan Weed, and Prodigal Gardens.

After an hour or few of reading through these sites I'm ready to bust out the gypsy skirts, let the wind blow through my untied hair and frolic barefoot through the meadows and woods playing a wooden flute and talking to the plants! ;) (Or at least look into signing up for a botany course this fall...)

I hope that some of you find the links to these resources as informative, fascinating and enjoyable as I do, and remember whenever harvesting or purchasing wild edibles, please do so with good stewardship, conservatively and sustainably!

Oh and if anyone has links to sites that they like, please share in the comments.


Liz said...

Hi Amber - I discovered this one a few weeks ago...


Don't think you mentioned that one. Thanks for including all the links!

Ron St. Louis said...

Wow! Great blog Amber.

I've subscribed via RSS and will have to go back and explore some past posts and your list of links.
See you next month.

Amber said...

Thanks Liz. I hadn't included that link and it too has good pictures and descriptions.

I just found another excellent link today. This herbwife's forum is chock full of good information direct from the herbalists. I read about syrups and learned that I should probably add some alcohol to my violet syrup to keep it from going bad. I'm going to do that tonight when I get home!

Hi Ron. Thanks! I'm glad you like the blog. There are a lot of great links so happy exploring!
See you at the next PO meeting.