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Podcasting (and sweating) at the Bunker, Marc & Mindy sacrifice air conditioning to get the latest awesome episode of The Walking Herbalist Podcast up for you!
Marc’s “Herb Nugget” gives a list of (dumb) ways to keep cool in this sweltering heat.
The “Herb of the Podcast” is Staghorn Sumac, or Rhus typhina. Marc enlightens us on its many uses, including his love of sumac-ade. The photos with red berry clusters are our Staghorn friends…
Mindy’s “Backed by Science” article is: Parveen A, et al. Challenges and guidelines for clinical trials of herbal drugs. 2015; 7(4): 329-333. A full-length version is available here.
“Wildcrafting and Homesteading Updates” talks about Sumac-ade (otherwise known as Rhus juice), including when to harvest the berries. Marc made a gallon of ginger beer which will be ready to bottle tonight. Mindy foraged (and ruined) a handful of hazelnuts (see picture) by removing their husks too soon. The duo harvested another 4 pounds of basil from their home garden, and are dehydrating it both in an electric dehydrator as well as using the trunk of their hatchback car as a solar dehydrator.
The Worldwide Herbal and Foraging News articles for this episode are this one, this one, and this one. A high tech farming 15 year old entrepreneur, an apartment jungle in Brooklyn, and Canadian weed pulling vs. herbicide fight represent!
Have a terrific weekend, and stay cool!
Mindy can’t help but talk about her poor little car, which is sitting dead on the side of the road. Turns out the starter went. But thankfully she made it home before it died, reminding herself to count her blessings.
Marc’s “Herb Nugget” reminds us that garden weeds are not entirely the nuisance that they may seem to be. Make friends and learn from them! And eat some as well!
The “Herb of the Podcast” is Purslane, or Portulaca oleracea. This garden weed is actually a delicious addition to your salad, plus a great source of omega-3 fatty acids amongst other compounds with a heart healthy reputation. Purslane, shown in the first large
picture should not be confused with spurge, shown in the photos on the left. As always! Do your homework! If you break open spurge, you can see a white milky sap (shown), which is not present in the succulent stems of purslane.
“Wildcrafting and Homesteading Updates” (yup, we have renamed this section, because we want to focus on all aspects of utilizing your land) talks about what berries are ripe (blueberries, black raspberries, some blackberries), the abundance of peppergrass (poor man’s pepper) which is a great culinary spice, and milkweed flowers nibbles. Marc has been running the dehydrator non-stop, including crumbling thyme, oregano, lemon balm, and basil spices. Delicious! And we made beef jerky from flank steak (Marc ate it all!)
Mindy’s “Backed by Science” article is: Sabzghabaee AM, et al. Clinical effects of Portulaca oleracea seeds on dyslipidemia in obese adolescents: a triple-blinded randomized controlled trial. Med Arh 2014; 68(3):195-199. A .pdf file is available here.
Have a great weekend, and get to know your plants!
Marc and Mindy tell the unfortunate story of our newest family member Josee, a 10-or-so week old german shepherd puppy who swallowed a nail. Fortunately, just as she was about to be whisked off to surgery, she passed the nail! Intestines of Steel we say!
The “Herb of the Podcast” is Yarrow, or Achillea millefolium. This lowly seeming waste area weed is medicinal magic! Named after fabled Greek half-god Achilles, its battlefield
use as a bleeding stopper (styptic) is legendary. Yarrow, an aster (so take heed if you have allergies), is abundantly blooming this time of year. Teas, salves, oils are all products we make with it at home. Also known as “Carpenter’s weed”, Mindy has been using it a lot with the many pains and pokes she has experienced with her new woodcarving hobby. The yarrow photographs are from our Western Massachusetts stands.
“Wildcrafting with Marc & Mindy” talks about Marc’s St. John’s Wort flower harvest (for oil), the emergence of staghorn sumac berries (which will ripen by late July for Sumac-ade – a delicious beverage!), our disastrous attempt at solidifying flowers in resin, amongst other topics.
Mindy’s “Backed by Science” article is: Konieczynski P, Wesolowski M. Water-extractable magnesium, manganese and copper in leaves and herbs of medicinal plants. Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica – Drug Research. 2012; 69(1): 33-39. A full .pdf of the article is available here. This research discusses how well plant trace minerals extract into tea.
The Worldwide Herbal and Foraging News articles for this episode are this one, this one, this one, and this one. Plants squeaking, Martian veggies, small herbalism business owners highlighted, and overcoming adversity are discussed.
Happy plant hunting! Enjoy your weekend!
Marc and Mindy follow up with listener Nicole’s suggestion about powdering foraged mushrooms, and her answer to our questions, namely 1) cook your foraged mushroom, and 2) dried mushrooms have a stronger taste, so use sparingly!
Marc’s “Herb Nugget” talks about the trickery of time: slow when you want it to be fast, and fast when you want it to be slow. Make the most of it this Independence Day weekend!
The “Herb of the Podcast” is Elder, or Sambucus spp. (in particular S. nigra and S. canadensis). Elder is one of Marc’s famous Shrub-er-trees (you know, either a shrub or a tree!), and has been medicinally used since at least biblical times, and is also steeped in superstition. It has been used traditionally and commercially for reducing the symptoms of colds. The featured photograph is a flowering elder tree taken from the grounds of our bunker in Western Massachusetts.
Mindy’s “Backed by Science” article is: Tiralongo E. Elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travelers: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. A full .pdf of the article is available here. The researchers show that commercially available elderberry extract is useful in shortening a respiratory cold and decreasing the severity of symptoms.
“Wildcrafting with Marc & Mindy” discusses their latest endeavors of woodcarving (Mindy), and embedding flowers for preservation in clear resin (Marc). They discuss plants that are ripe for foraging in the Massachusetts area, including: yarrow (aerial parts), elder flower, purslane, St. John’s wort (flowers), and chicory (mark the plants so you know which roots to harvest come fall/winter!). Always be a hyper-responsible forager! Do your homework and make sure you know what you are doing!
The Worldwide Herbal and Foraging News articles for this episode are this one, this one, and this one. One drills home the fact that you can compost your scraps no matter where you live. Another talks about a huge urban vertical farmiing initiative in Newark, New Jersey. And the last one talks about playing music with vegetables. No I did not mistype that. Check out the youtube video of the Vegetable Orchestra here.
Happy Birthday America! Enjoy your weekend!
Marc and MIndy open the podcast by discussing hugelkultur and wonder if listeners practice the technique in their gardens. There is a nice discussion on it here. If you would like to chime in, give our voicemail a call at 617-622-3916 and we may play your recording on the podcast.
Marc’s “Herb Nugget” talks about seasonality, and that even though we are in the midst of summer, it is actually already time to start thinking about the preparations we need for the winter months.
The “Herb of the Podcast” is Lemon Balm, or Melissa Officinalis. Marc tells us all about how lemon balm and bees are intertwined chemically. He discusses Melissa’s many traditional uses as a relaxant, antidepressant, antispasmodic, and yes, even an insect repellent. We use lemon balm tincture, and have grown a bunch of it (nearly 100 plants!) for this year’s garden. The featured photograph is of lemon balm in a container in our garden.
Mindy’s “Backed by Science” article is: Alijaniha F, et al. Heart palpitation relief with Melissa officinalis leaf extract: double blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial of efficacy and safety. J Ethnopharmacol 2015; 164: 378-384. The researchers show that lemon balm is useful in decreasing the number of heart palpitations and anxiety levels in adults who suffer with benign palpitations.
We give up the book review this week, and try out a new segment instead: “Wildcrafting with Marc & Mindy”. This was inspired by Michigan listener, Nicole, who left us a voicemail regarding our use (or lack thereof) of mushrooms. She suggested powdering the mushrooms and adding the powder to our cooking. So we did it! See the photos for proof! We talk about foraging for yarrow, cultivating a wild raspberry plant that showed up in our yard, and snagging some urban deadfall (from basswood / linden trees) for woodcarving.
The Worldwide Herbal and Foraging News articles for this episode are this one, and this one, and this one. Front yard food gardening is attacked in Florida, whereas Fort Worth TX is trying to pass city regulations supporting urban agriculture. Bees help a young man afflicted with fetal alcohol syndrome.
Finally, Marc and Mindy talk about the first harvest of their basal plants this season. They are dehydrating as we speak…
Enjoy the show!
The “Herb Nugget” focuses on getting into your Plant Walking Groove, especially now that summer is around the corner! Marc & Mindy talk about Herbstalk, and give garden updates. Does anyone know why we are getting chlorosis of our basil leaves?
Marc’s “Herb of the Podcast” is Catnip, or Nepeta cataria. Amongst other things, Marc tells us how to use catnip to keep small rodents out of the garden…by attracting cats! We use catnip in teas and tinctures, and grow some for our kitty. Nepetalactone is the chemical compound that drives cats bananas!
Mindy’s “Backed by Science” article is: Gilani AH, et al. Chemical composition and mechanisms underlying the spasmolytic and bronchodilatory properties of the essential oil of Nepeta cataria L. J Ethnopharmacol 2009; 121: 405-411. Or download a copy of the full article here. The researchers show that that catnip essential oil is effective in decreasing intestinal motility, as well as relaxing the airway, and thus its folk uses (namely for diarrhea and bronchial symptoms) are supported by science.
The “Book Review” is on Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places by “Wildman” Steve Brill and Evelyn Dean. The full review can be found here. This is a forager’s must-have text!
Finally, we give a shout out to Josee, the newest family member, an 8 week old german shepherd mix!
Classic foraging text that belongs in the libraries of each and every herbalist and wildcrafter.
“Wildman” Steve Brill is legendary. An urban forager, Steve Brill was arrested in the mid 1980s for eating flora in Central Park. Soon after, he was hired by the NYC Parks Department to give plant walks. Read all about it here. He joined Evelyn Dean to write “Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places” (published by Harper in 1994).
Approximating the size of a sheet of paper (8 1/2″ x 11″) and almost an inch thick, these 336 pages along with over 260 black & white line illustrations are a meaty foraging home reference. While not a field guide per se, the botanical information for each plant can be really helpful on a hunt (provided there is enough room in your pack to take it along!). This book will not withstand water, however, so leave it home on rainy days.
The first 22 pages provide a background on foraging, including overviews on safety, conservation, equipment, botany, ecology, and seasonality of plants. A small portion of the introduction is also dedicated to medicinal uses of plants.
Chapters 2 through 6 are composed of plant monographs divided up by the season which they should be harvested. For instance, Chapter 2 talks about plants of mid-spring. The chapters are further subdivided by the ecological region of the plant, such as lawns & meadows, disturbed areas, and seashore. This arrangement means that you can search the book easily by time of year. Want to forage in July by the beach? A quick look at the table of contents will point you toward useful plants you can expect to find (particularly in the Northeastern United States).
Each individual plant monograph consists of a few paragraphs up to a few pages, and are written from Steve Brill’s point of view (exclusively as best as I can tell). The authors clearly do not worry as much about uniformity as you sometimes see in other books; they freely take up as much (or as little) space as needed to adequately describe the target plant.
A scientific description of each plant is accompanied by a very helpful annotated botanical illustration. A description of the plant’s preferred habitat, uses, and useful parts, along with anecdotal experiences with the flora follow. Medical research and chemical constituents are also discussed when relevant. A folksy, approachable, occasional tongue-in-cheek banter make it possible to read this otherwise reference book cover-to-cover.
Finally, the last two chapters of the book describe how exactly to cook with wild plants, and list dozens of recipes (such as “Autumn Olive Jam”, “Coconut-Curly Dock Curry”, and “Common Evening Primrose Leaf Burgers”). A reading list and indices follow.
“Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places” stands above many–and maybe almost all–of the foraging books on the market today. Steve Brill’s authentic voice and obvious experience is generously sprinkled throughout the pages of this wonderful tome. I highly recommend a copy for any serious wildcrafter.
Note: The Walking Herbalist is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means that Marc will receive a small commission for each purchase on Amazon that you make after linking to it from this website.
The Walking Herbalist has no affiliation of the authors or the publishers of this book at the time of the writing of this review. We purchased our own copy of this book for our own private use. This review is simply here to help our readers put together their own herbalism library, and other than possible commissions as an Amazon.com affiliate, we receive no compensation for this.