Since I’ve moved up to Massachusetts I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot from my neighbors about the arts of foraging and wildcrafting. Foraging typically refers to finding wild edible plants and collecting them – it’s like grocery shopping in the forest. Wildcrafting is the same thing but the plants found are used for making “home remedies” or herbal medicines. In both categories the plants collected are weeds or plants that otherwise have little or no commercial value. But these plants have a great deal of nutritional value. Actually, many of these weeds make spinach and kale look like colored tissue paper in terms of their nutrient density. Below is a gallery of photos and short descriptions of some of my favorites.
Note: Most of these weeds can be found in much of central and northern US. Dandelions can be found just about anywhere.
Dandelion: cleans the liver, aids digestion, nourished blood. Deep toothed lions teeth. Cottonwood tree fuzz below.
Nettles: most nutrient dense plant, purifies and strengthens blood, rebuilds adrenals, mineralizes tissues. Dry bunches of stinging dark blood food. Make tea.
Yarrow: stops bleeding, relieves stagnant liver Qi. Flower heads, bunch, fist, pretty.
St. John’s Wort: antidepressant/antianxiety, helps rebuild after nervous system damage, strengthens the spirit, good for burns and bruises. Yellow fistful of delicate plant sex parts – bleeds red when steeped in alcohol.
Cattail: tastes like a mustardy cucumber. Eat the shoots, or the pollen. Only harvest from clean waters.
Horsetail: rich source of silica for building bones and connective tissue. Bottle brush glassy.
Japanese knotweed: essential remedy for Lyme Disease, high in resveratrol (antioxidant), antiviral. Sprouts like witches fingers. Tastes like rhubarb.
Purslane: Edible, delicious in salad. Grows in cracks in the sidewalk and in your garden from Florida to Maine. High in Omega 3’s. Succulent green.
Tropical almonds in Florida and the Caribbean. Not actually related to conventional almond but tastes similar. Creamy buttery.