Our #herbalwisdomwednesday has turned to #herbalwisdomthursday it seems....que sera! This week we have some great info on local foraging from our new Moonrise goddess Alex. She is hoping to make this a series on all the wonderful herbs and plants in the area and how to responsibly harvest them. Enjoy!
Rosemarinus officinalis (now Salvia rosmarinus) is one of the most common herbs used in landscaping and gardening here in beautiful Arcata. Native to the rocky, coastal Mediterranean, her name translates from Latin to “dew of the sea.” This very attractive evergreen shrub and leathery needle-like leaves sprout dainty clusters of pale blue to white flowers. While she attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds she is virtually pest free. For companion planting, consider Thyme, Echinacea, Chives, and Nasturtiums some of her good friends. As her influence spread her presence was one held in high regard. Rosemary would be used in Egyptian funerals, Greek scholars would wear garlands to improve their memory, meanwhile Romans would burn Rosemary for religious ceremonies. She was considered a protector from evil spirits and symbolizes strength and remembrance. This hardy beauty often would be planted outside of homes to represent a matriarchal dominance. Medicinally, she has been used to stimulate the immune system, increase circulation, and improve digestion. She also increases blood flow to the brain. Her scent actually crosses the blood brain barrier and may improve mood! To harvest, ask the plant permission and break off a lighter green stem. If you are wanting a larger branch, use some clippers. This is a good plant to wash before using. She can be made into yummy tea, tincture, a hydrosol, essential oil, or infuse into your cooking oil!
Rubus parviflorus, also known as Thimbleberries abound! You can find these beauties lining the trails of Redwood Park and dispersed along Highway 299. Their five-lobed, fuzzy light green leaves catch our eyes. As they mature lovely crinkled, five-petaled white flowers begin to bloom. Similar to a strawberry, the center of the flower looks rather like a flattened, yellow form of the fruit to be produced. As the berry grows, its turns closer to raspberry color and texture. Wait until they are so ripe and delicate that they fall right off the tree…if the birds and critters don’t get to them first! Find these babies in shaded, moist and cool areas in the mountains. Thimbleberries are delicious straight off the plant or can be made into yummy jams, jellies, and pies! High in Vitamin C and A, Thimbleberry has been used to help with scurvy, while the leaves, dried for a poultice, can help wounds and burns. The fresh leaf poultice has been traditionally used to treat acne and left whole they make excellent, naturally-soft toilet paper while out about in the woods. Sidenote: make sure to either dig a hole or go off the path for that kind of business! Thimbleberry roots also can be used for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dysentery. The flower essence cultivates engaging daily life with joy and gratitude without being attached to the circumstances or a specific outcome. Remember, if you are 100% about identification in the wild, please pick with discretion & sustainability in mind! Happy foraging!