Wildflower and Herb Identification Tips
by Karen Bergeron
Learning to identify and use herbal medicinal plants can be a rewarding hobby as will as a way to offset the high price of herbal extracts from the health food store. There are several things you can do now to get ready to use the wild herbal plants you will be able to find this spring and summer.
First of all, to visit your local library. This is a good time to check out medicinal plant field guides and get familiar with which herbs grow in your area. Wildflower guidebooks are good to help because many wildflowers have uses in herbal medicine. I also recommend that you thoroughly read a guide to poisonous plants so you know what to avoid. At first all this information can be a bit overwhelming; however you will be surprised how much of what you read will come back to you as you began to notice the variety of plants around you. I also have links to many plant photos on my links page to help you get started. Visit local botanical gardens and native plant nurseries, and check too see if any of the state parks in your area have spring wildflower walks; which are usually led by an experienced botanist.
Some of our most common weeds have medicinal uses. Dandelion, for example, has a long-standing reputation in folk medicine as a liver and digestive tonic as well as many other uses. Chickweed is a common yard weed commonly used in herbal weight loss products. St. Johnswort is abundantly found in abandoned fields all over North America, and is one of the most popular herbs on the market now. There are many others.
I have been able to prepare many herbal remedies for my own use from several very common plants, thereby eliminating the need to buy a lot of things I like to keep on hand. The very act of finding and harvesting these medicinal plants is good exercise in itself, therefore providing additional health benefits. Above all is the spiritual aspect of enjoying Nature, which is what makes this something I am drawn to do year after year. No matter how much I think I know, every time I get out with Nature I find something new to discover and marvel over.
Before you harvest any plants, develop a great appreciation for Nature to the point where you see that all life is connected and that you are part of the plants that you harvest. And they are part of you. A willingness to let Nature guide your consciousness and instinct, and a desire to learn from her will lead you to make the right decisions when you harvest.
Never harvest anything that even resembles a poisonous plant until you have studied plants for several years, some plants can kill you! Especially the ones that closely resemble Angelica, these are Water Hemlock and Poison Hemlock and they are deadly poison!
Be sure to search your states endangered list for plants that you should never
pick or dig. To find plants that can be harvested, check local noxious weed lists and exotic plant pests lists.
"your state" +rare +plant
"your state" +endangered +species
"your state" +noxious +weed
More articles in our Library