On June 25, 2022 we had a plant walk led by Tyler Kruszewski, local herbalist, at Glen Providence Park in Media. Here are notes on some of the guidance Tyler shared after the walk. Please enjoy our pictures from the walk, which had a wide range of local nature enthusiasts and was organized by Transition Town Media’s Foraging Group.
NOTE: The plant insights offered below are for educational purposes only and are not a recommendation for consumption. This post does not represent a full overview of how to safely use/consume these plants or any potential side effects. Common names of plants can cause confusion so please be sure you have identified the correct plant when foraging. Please research these plants and applications on your own, and consult with an herbalist and health professional before starting use.
Humans take way more from nature than we give back, so it’s important to work to restore balance through reciprocity and being a good partner with the land. Some great ways to give back to the land, thank it for all we receive, and help restore balance by encouraging healthy biodiversity:
- Make wildlife stacks—construct piles of stones and sticks in an area near foliage that is relatively undisturbed. This creates a great habitat for all types of wildlife
- Plant native plants, especially sources from local genetics—that have not been genetically modified or imported from other regions—to preserve biodiversity and support their adaptation to a changing climate. Find a native plant nursery and local land steward to help you curate what is best for your specific site.
- Remove and focus on harvesting non-native species over native species
- Only harvest 10 percent or less and only harvest what is available in abundance
- Offer organic cornmeal or tobacco as a thank you to the land. Bonus points for growing the corn and tobacco yourself!
Plants we saw that you can research on your own: pictures, recipes, properties, and more
Key on Plant Types
- Nourishing herbs build health and are safe for most people in high amounts: to prepare them, steep 1 oz/cup in boiled water with lid on for 4–12 hours
- Medicinal herbs confront illness but can have a taxing effect as well. Restrict use to shorter periods of time (e.g. 6 weeks or less) and consult an herbalist for guidance on how to prepare and consume.
- For teas, steep about 5–10 minutes.
Some of the plants we met during our walk
* Nourishing herbs (see Key on plant types above)
- Wide leaf plantain Leaf—also nature’s band-aid
- Red or White Clover Leaf and Flower—great source of calcium, anti-cancer ally, lymphatic and hormone health
- Burdock Root—root as infusion or food, blood purifying, liver, gall-bladder, skin support, young leaves as cooking green
* Medicinal herbs (see Key on plant types)
- Ground Ivy—medicinal as salve or tea
- Mugwort—medicinal herb (tea, smudge sticks, smoke)
* Other Food Plants
- Wineberries—freeze, dry, or jam to preserve
- Hosta—cook leaf shoots in early spring
- Curly dock, yellow dock—seeds are like buckwheat and can be a grain source for food. Young leaves cooked as greens, root more medicinal as tea or tincture
- Asian chestnut tree—nut source
* Aggressive non-natives to remove
- Ailanthus Tree of Heaven—spotted lantern flies reproduce on them
- Multiflora rose—out-competes many native species
- Non-native honeysuckles—have a hollow pith and shade-out many native species
- Poison Ivy—great food for birds; avoid touching or consuming
- Fiddle-head ferns—early spring food
- Jewelweed—salve for bug bites, stings, poison ivy rashes
- Snakeroot—medicinal herb
- Sassafras—medicinal herb; early leaves as food; dried bark as tincture or tea
- Spruce—medicinal plant; young green new growth tips in spring as food
- Wild ginger—controversial medicinal; consult herbalist
- Spicebush—medicinal plant; early leaves as food; dried bark as tea or tincture; berries as culinary spice
- Sedges—great food and habitat for bugs and food web
- Pokeweed—controversial medicine; never use for first time without herbalist supervision; great food for birds
If you’d like to stay in touch with Tyler, you can subscribe to his events newsletter where you can also inquire about any of the herbalism, healing, and land stewardship services he offers.