Forager’s Forecast – Spring 2016

Happy Spring!  Spring is a wonderful time to harvest leaves and buds as plants place their energy into new growth.  Here are a few of the wonderful plants we have been gathering with our Ancestral Living Skills and Ethnobotany students.



 Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Now is the perfect time to harvest the young, tender leaves of stinging nettle!  Nettle is rich in vitamins and minerals and packed with protein.  Nettle leaves can be used like spinach in recipes ranging from omelets to soup to lasagna.  (Cooking or crushing the leaves destroys the stingers.)  If you don’t like being stung, wear gloves while harvesting!


Cottonwood buds

Cottonwood (Populus balsamifera)

Cottonwood buds are harvested at the end of winter/beginning of spring.  Cottonwood buds make an all-around useful salve for cuts, abrasions, blisters, chapped skin, athlete’s foot and nearly any compromised skin condition. Cottonwood bud resin (propolis) is a wonderful antimicrobial, reducing infection and creating a protective coating for compromised skin. Cottonwood also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities applicable for the above conditions.

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Chickweed – which even has “weed” in its name – is abundant this time of year.  We use it in grilled cheese sandwiches and make it into pesto.  It also makes a great anti-itch salve.  Don’t have it growing in your yard?  Check out your local organic farm and offer to do some free weeding!

For more detailed information on identification, harvesting techniques, and ethics as well as additional suggestions for preparations, here are some of our favorite foraging books.  We carry these books in our school store.  Please call our office (425.746.7267) or email ( to order.  We appreciate your support!

  1. Discovering Wild Plants, Janice Schofield Eaton
  2. The Forager’s Harvest, Samuel Thayer
  3. Nature’s Garden,Samuel Thayer
  4. The Boreal Herbal, Beverley Gray

Happy Foraging!

Forager’s Forecast – Spring 2016

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