Plants in autumn provide windows of wildcrafting opportunity for the fervent forager. Pickings are getting slim, but depending on where you live, there are still ample opportunities to collect autumn weeds before the frost hits.
Where I live, September brought some amazing temperatures and with it plenty of new growth to take advantage of. Although I may be on borrowed time, my backyard still allows me to collect broadleaf plantain, dandelion, knotgrass, ground ivy (creeping charlie), toadflax and red clover. It was a great feeling to be outside on the first day of October collecting wild edibles to prepare for last night’s meal – and our dinner guests enjoyed every dish!
For the first time ever I have embarked on collecting roots and from what I’ve learned, autumn is the perfect time to wildcraft roots. Many First Nations people believe that autumn root collecting is best because plant energy has returned to the roots.
In addition to all the greens I collected yesterday, I dug up some chicory root. Chicory root contains vitamin C and is known to be a power antioxidant. Some health benefits include:
- Promotes optimal blood sugar levels;
- Provides soluble fibre which helps improve digestion;
- Builds resistance in the body to fight off gallstones and liver stones;
- Helps to create extra bile that aids in breaking down undesirable fats;
- Removes toxins from the urinary tract (and kidneys).
A few people have told me that mixing some ground chicory root with fresh-grated ginger and a dash of cinnamon makes a tasty tea that’s great to serve over the Christmas holidays – or anytime!
This week I’ll be wildcrafting burdock root. When digging these up I’ll be wearing a raincoat because the last thing I want to do is spend time picking burrs off my clothing.
Burdock root contains calcium, potassium, iron, copper, selenium, silicon, chromium, inulin, flavonoids, resin, mucilage and much more. It contains vitamins A, B complex, C, and E. These roots are most frequently used as a natural remedy to many ailments. Notably, burdock root contains a special type of essential oil which facilitates toxin elimination from the body. Traditionally, it was used to treat various viral diseases, like measles, tonsillitis and other respiratory problems. Nowadays the benefits of burdock root are also used for:
- Promoting healthy digestion;
- Stimulate appetite;
- Liver cleansing;
- Urinary infections;
- Skin ulcers;
Using burdock root is generally safe but one should avoid excessive use of it because it may have some unwanted side effects that include dry mouth. It is recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women to refrain from using burdock root or any product that contains burdock root because of its highly active diuretic action.
(As always though, regardless of what you collect to eat, drink or use in any other form to help with a health issue, check with a qualified health professional who has knowledge with herbs before taking anything.)
So depending on where you live there’s still time to get outdoors and enjoy wildcrafting!