Spring: Wildcrafting Herbs

“Can we teach children to look at a flower and see all the things it represents: beauty, the health of an ecosystem, and the potential for healing? ”  – Last Child in the Woods

Now that Margot is well past babyhood, I’m really enjoying sharing one of my greatest passions with her: herbalism. I love studying herbs and their benefits to our health and wellbeing, and how best to use and prepare them, but most of all I love being out in the wild and getting to know the plants, and taking a few home with me. Wildcrafting or foraging is the practice of identifying and collecting edible and medicinal plants from the wild. It takes very careful plant identification skills, and a conscious, ethical attitude so as not to over-harvest.

Little Margot beside the Elder bush in full bloom.
Yarrow

These are such wonderful experiences to have with Margot, my tiny herbalist. She loves going out, baskets in hand, seeing what we can find and picking things together. She’s not even three years old yet, but she’s a wonderful finder and full of questions that I am happy to try and answer. We are learning together.

Lemon Balm
Red Clover

We came back home here to Hungary at the very beginning of April, and there was a good amount of greening and blossoming around us, but none of the typical herbs I was expecting had yet poked out their heads from their long, wintery sleep. I remember on one of our nature walks several weeks ago looking down and spotting our first Red Clover blossoms of the year. Such joy! Red Clover is a common enough herb with a long history of use, but it is one I am happening to get to know and use in depth for the first time this year.

A lovely, simply  g l o w i n g  patch of Red Clover we found.

I was also so excited to discover some Elder bushes growing nearby! This is our first Spring really settled in here, so I had no idea they were even here before. It was such a pleasant surprise, as Elder (Sambucus nigra) is an ancient European herb with much to offer both in supporting our health, but also in making delicious treats!

Elderflower has such a delightful aroma, and its blossoms closely resemble hundreds of tiny stars clustered together. Truly a magical plant. Margot was mesmerized by its flowers as we collected them together on several occasions. Just look at the joy and enchantment on her face!

Little Cassian was also quite the helper as we wildcrafted the Elderflowers together. While in the baby carrier, he would reach his feet around from behind and stick them into the basket on my arm, stirring the blossoms with his toes. These morning were some of those precious, beautiful moments of deep joy and happiness with my two children that I will hold close to my heart forever.

We gathered up several basketfuls of Elderflower, and hung most of it to dry to, saving it for wintertime for its many medicinal benefits, being antiviral, anti-inflammatory, an immune system stimulant, as well as being rich in various minerals and antioxidants. The rest we prepared as a lovely Elderflower-Basil Lemonade! Such a delicious late Springtime drink.

Elderflower: tiny stars aglow
Margot amid the blossoming Yarrow.

This is the first year that I’ve really been able to focus on my plant identification skills and I’m enjoying learning and exploring out in the wild a good deal more than ever before. I’m excited to see what we have yet to find this year, and in the years to come as our skills grow. There’s so much goodness and beauty just waiting to be found in our Lord’s Creation. I am learning much about Him, His character, and all that He has made and provided for us. Herbalism in general has drown me closer to God in these recent years, as I get to know Him in a different way than I have ever experienced before. The strength, steadfastness, intricacies, beauty, wildness, and deep peace, all found in His created world reflect His own character and depth and the wonder of coming to know Him.

“Nature was God-breathed and uttered into existence. It speaks all languages. Therefore if one listens, he or she can grasp the truths it reveals about its Creator.” – Unknown

This is part of a Little Woodlanders series! Also check out…

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Author: helen.wildrose

Christian • Herbalist • Writer • INFJ

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