We are blessed to live in a abundantly biodiverse county with many different ecosystems. From the rolling hills of the oak savannahs to the coastal redwood forest, and everything in between, we have a little bit of everything. This makes for a superb plant lovers paradise and a vast array of medicinal herbs at our finger tips.
But before you go collecting, here are some important reminders to make sure we are respectful with the plant communities and that we preserve our biodiversity.
First of all, always ask for permission. Are there enough for you to take? Are they healthy looking? If so, only take 10% of whats there. Leave no trace or even better, do something to give back and make it better than it was. Spread the seeds, prune up the dead material, give it a little love. The natives would traditionally sprinkle tobacco by the plant and say a little prayer of thanks. The plants loved to be honored, respected and used. They have so much to give us.
Here is a list of some of my all time favorites.
- Yarrow: Loves the open meadows. A great wound healer and antiseptic. The leaves work incredibly to stop bleeding. The white flowers work as a diaphoretic and great for moving out fevers. Its also a great digestive and tonic for the female reproductive,
- Yerba Santa: Loves the inland heat! A fantastic lung herb. Works as an expectorant and clears out mucus in the lungs. Great for asthma and bronchitis. Also an alterative and digestive, cleaning the blood and aiding our elimation.
- St Johns Wort: A beautiful summertime flower, blooms around the solstice. Found all over the open fields. It has gotten a lot of noteriety for its superb affect on the nervous system. It works as a great antidepressant and calming for anxiety and insomnia. It is also helpful for nerve and muscular pain. Great in salves and oils for all kinds of wound healing; burns, bruises, cuts, sore muscles, sciatica, neuralgia. Very antiinflamatory!
- Elderbery: Likes to grow near water. The flowers are a great diaphoretic, excellent for moving out fever and expelling mucus. Berries have a lot of vitamin C, and a great antiviral. Both work well on strengthening the immune system. Leaves are toxic internally but externally act as a great wound healer in salves or poultice.
- Nettles: Loves the water and found by rivers and creeks. One of the most nutritious foods. High in chlorophyl, excellent for building and cleaning blood. A tonic for the whole body esp lungs, stomach, and urinary tract. Also works as an antihistamine, helpful for allergies. Known to help clear our the joints of arthritic pain.
- Mugwort: Another water lover, found near rivers and creeks. A strong bitter that aids digestion, moves the bile in the liver. Its antimicrobial properties makes it great for colds, flus, fevers. Dispels worms and parasites. It also has a strong affect on the nervous system, relaxes nerves, pain, treats tremors and nervousness. Traditionally used to enhance dreams. It’s warming and promotes circulation. Great for menstraul cramps.
These are just a few but there are so many more out there. Get to know some of these wonderful plant allies. They are there for you and happy to be respectfully used!