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Befriending a plant ally in your stomping grounds

Connecting with a plant ally for edible and medicinal herbal uses
by Corinna Wood

Let me guess.

You want to get to know the plants that grow where you live. Yet mostly they just look like a sea of green as you pass by.

You know some are edible—and even medicinal. Where would I even start...

Hang on, it's easier than you think. Shall I explain? 

A local and abundant ally

In wise woman herbal medicine, we love to befriend one common herb that grows where we live to work with for a year. 

Yup. One herb. One year.

Whether you're new to working with herbs, or you're a seasoned wildcrafter.

Because when you work intensively with one plant throughout the seasons, a powerful thing happens...

Your knowledge of herbal medicine as a whole grows through your hands-on experience.

So when you want to build a personal relationship with a plant ally, start by looking around.

Which plants do you see?

Perhaps a plant you've noticed—and maybe even resisted—over time.

Some of my students laugh that they'd been fighting with a "weed" like violet or dandelion in their yard for years—only to come to realize the potent medicine and food that plant has to offer.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

I always prefer to align with these backyard herbs—often considered "weeds"—over the more exotic, foreign, rare or declining plants.

These common allies make themselves at home right at your doorstep. Local, abundant and free food and medicine.

Exploring edible and medicinal uses of your plant ally

If your plant ally is edible, harvest and eat it in the spring. And summer. And fall.

Try the root. The flowers. The leaves (as long as all parts are edible).

Pay attention to how your body responds to your herbal ally.

Research and experiment with medicinal preparations that are appropriate for the plant you are working with.

It's like discovering aspects of a new friend.

(Want to dive deeper into the nitty gritty of making herbal infusions and tinctures? See my blog article on making infusions and tinctures with simple and fun folk methods of our foremothers.)

An intimate circle of friends

Over the years, I've seen countless students develop friendships with various plants. 

Some plants, like stinging nettle, are easy to get to know.

Building a relationship others, however, can be a more gradual process.

Take burdock, for example.

Over the course of a year, you'll learn the differences in her root, leaves and stem. You'll learn which parts are edible and which are too bitter. In which season the root tastes the best—and when it's past its prime.

Over time, you'll emerge with an intimate circle of friends. (My personal beloveds include nettles, comfrey, dandelion, burdock, violet, chickweed...)

Think of a having a dozen or so edible and medicinal plants to draw from for various situations.

This is your circle of friends that will be there for you when you need them most. 


As you know, it's essential to positively identify any plants you're harvesting for food or medicine. First things first: Grab my free guide on 3 Poisonous Plants to Watch Out For (pdf) so you can stay safe on your herbal adventures.



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