Barking Up the Right Tree: Medicinal Barks of Autumn
By Maria Noël Groves, R.H. (AHG) Registered Clinical Herbalist, Wintergreen Botanicals, LLC
Please Note: The information in this article has not been approved by the FDA and does not in any way intend to diagnose or prescribe. Always consult with your health practitioner before taking any remedy. These plants are generally pretty darn safe – you’ve probably already consumed them in the form of food – but they can still have strong (generally positive, rarely not so positive) actions when consumed in large amounts or on a regular basis.
To be knowledgeable, safe, and connected with your medicine, I recommend that you…
1. Research an herb in at least three good sources before ingesting it (see www.wintergreenbotanicals.com for for recommended reading, articles, and informative links),
2. Listen to your body/intuition to determine if an herb resonates or doesn’t resonate with you.
3. Take proper steps to ensure that any wildcrafted or cultivated plant is what you think it is, AND
4. Check with your pharmacist for herb-drug interactions if you take prescriptions.
Ok, now to the fun stuff!
Barks are an accommodating form of herbal medicine. You can indeed harvest them at any time of year, as long as you know how to identify the plant during all its seasons. Fall is the prime time, though. The sap and energy move freely through the trunks in autumn as the leaves fall away and the trees and shrubs prepare for dormancy. A few lingering leaves aid the budding herbalist in identification, and autumn colors like the vivid yellow black birch leaves act like spotlights as we scan the horizon for our coveted medicines. Working with tree and shrub medicines also invites you to explore the subtleties of botanical identification because the flowers are so rarely present or within reach.
Yowza, I haven’t written since the end of August! In no particular order here’s an update, upcoming info, and some photos to catch up with everyone.
In my unplanned hiatus from the Withywindle Nature Blog, I’ve decided to put Windows on Wildlife on hold for a while. I’m dealing with enough stress on my end, I don’t need to add guilt over not keeping up with my blog carnival on top of it. I’m thinking about bringing it back on a monthly basis instead of weekly, but haven’t decided fully one way or the other. Won’t be until the start of next calendar year, regardless.
Although we’ve skipped an issue, the Quarterly Botanical is still happening, and I’ll have a fall issue published by the end of this week or the beginning of next.
And the update… my health is still a bit up and down, and I’m finding that I’m easily waylaid by what would normally be minor issues. In addition, I was working on a great website for a couple of documentary filmmakers which is now published but the project took much longer than anticipated due to the aforementioned health issues. And I wanted to give it my full attention which is why the blog slipped while I was working. If you’re interested, you can view the site I developed at: www.womenof69unboxed.org.
I’ve been taking my Youngest Son out on my walk in the woods with Thorin lately, and have been trying to find ways to make it fun for him (as he complains every time I tell him its time to go for our walk). We had a great walk yesterday (finally got him to say walks in the woods are fun!), and here are some photos I took along the way:
And this is from a walk I took with a friend in September (as is the Jack-in-the-Pulpit berries above) – I really like the way the light is illuminating the Indian Pipe:
Welcome to the 36th edition of the Windows on Wildlife Blog Carnival! If you have a recent post or photo about wildlife you’d like to share (it can be anything: birds, insects, mammals…) scroll down to the end of the post and add your site. I will compile and post a summary of all additions the following week. Please don’t forget to link back here and visit other blogs in the carnival. Thanks for stopping by!
Michelle at Rambling Woods helped me with this one – I mentioned a particular caterpillar that I’ve been seeing in my pollinator garden, and she suggested that it might be a Milkweed Tussock Moth. And she was right! (thanks, Michelle!) Reminiscent of a Monarch butterfly’s coloration, this hairy caterpillar will overwinter in its cocoon and emerge as a small, mousy-grey moth with yellow and black abdomen:
In order to confirm Michelle’s guess, I turned to my field guide collection which was sadly lacking in caterpillar and moth identification. I used this excuse to get two new guides: Peterson’s First Guide to Caterpillars, and the newest addition to the Peterson’s Field Guide library – Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America (note: book links take you to Powell’s Books, of which I’m an affiliate seller).
Unfortunately, the Field Guide to Moths doesn’t deal with identification of caterpillars which is why I ended up with two. Despite its hefty size and price (relatively speaking) I opted to get the moth guide in aspirations of eventually mothing. Hasn’t happened yet, though. But I will say that I already love this comprehensive guide. One of the tricks I use in getting a leg up on identification (regardless of topic) is to go through a field guide in advance. This one is quite large and will take time to assimilate, but it’s a good strategy to employ before first using any field guide in the field. I can’t say that I follow this strategy religiously, but I do try and scan my new guides as much as possible before using them, when I can (or remember to).
Linking up this week with Nature Notes:
Gary and Boom of Vermilon River Wildlife shared a post last week with stunning photos (as usual!), among which were some of a Northern Harrier and a Black-billed Cuckoo. Share your wildlife posts and photos from the week in the link-up below!
I know what they’re trying to say, but it sounds instead like someone’s messing up dogs….
Linking up with Wordless Wednesday