I know I’ve written a lot about ethical wildcrafting—the art of being a conscious herbalist. This is all about being aware of the herbal stands that you harvest from and doing so in a way that promotes their survival and ability to thrive. It involves being able to recognize when a stand has been overharvested, either by you or other wildcrafters, and knowing when to say it’s time for a break, time to let this stand regenerate, leave it alone.
And then, there are other times when it’s appropriate to take all the plants in an area with wild abandon. When are these times? When you know that a house is about to be built on a particular piece of land; definitely go in there before the bulldozers and harvest every medicinal plant you can find. Invite your herbal friends and have a harvesting party, and an herb preparation party. It’s the one time you can harvest endangered species and overharvested species. (It might be nice to replant some of them where they can thrive, too).
Become aware of these opportunities. Is there a new road being built? A new parking lot being ploughed? There is a foundation that was poured near my house. It’s been sitting there for more than 12 years. It’s surrounded by the most beautiful mullein plants. Because mullein likes disturbed soil, they have taken over. It’s off the road, so no car exhaust pollution to worry about, and no sign of the house being completed any time soon. It has become the place where I harvest clean, happy mullein.
Also, on our road, a road grader came by a while after a flash flood had washed out a lot of debris onto the road. In a crude attempt to create a ditch, a lot of yucca plants were uprooted and left. It was a perfect opportunity to take them home and use the roots. These opportunities abound. Every plant that is harvested from such a location is one less plant harvested from the wild. Usnea lichen is often found on the ground after a windstorm. Aspen trees can also be found blown over. Taking the bark from a downed tree is one less tree that is harmed. By becoming an herbal scavenger, we can have our herbs and protect them too. I hope to see you out and about after the next storm! And I hope you invite me to your next wildcrafting party at a building site!
Dorje Root, RH (AHG) is an herbalist and natural healer, also working with Plant Spirit Medicine, Intuitive Energy Healing and ‘The Journey’ cellular healing. For an appointment call 719-937-7786 or visit www.rootsofhealing.com.