May 2, 2012
A walk alongside the river each day helps me center and allows me to chart the progress of the seasons. I've watched leaves and blossoms bursting open these last two weeks and it's been quite the show. Yesterday, aided by my trusty blue bucket, I set out to find some Oregon grape flowers.
Oregon grape is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. The active ingredient in the plant is berberine, which gives Oregon grape its yellow blossoms and the bright yellow found beneath the bark of the entire shrub. The root is most favoured for extracting berbarine (a suitable substitute for the increasingly rare goldenseal,) but root harvesting is preferable in the Autumn or early Spring before the shrub blossoms. Because berberine is found throughout the entire plant and because I wanted a gentle tonic, I chose to harvest some flowers for a tincture.
I also started an oil infusion with the flowers. The oil can then be used on the skin to aid in relief from any inflamed cuts, rashes or other skin conditions. A great article with more information about Oregon grape can be found here.
My other great find was a few spots where wild raspberry canes were leafing. Raspberry leaf (wild or domestic) is wonderful dried for tea. Although it's touted as a pregnancy drink, anyone can benefit from the vitamins and minerals it contains. I've been low on my calcium intake lately, which is probably why this plant called to me. Other great minerals contained in raspberry leaf are potassium and phosphorous.
Raspberry leaf can also be used a tummy tea to ease tummy ache/digestive issues and it was also talked about by Dr. Oz a while back in regards to its ability to lower blood sugar levels, which would be great for people who are at risk for becoming diabetic.
I also found this little gem, winking up at me from the road.
Head out into your local hills and fields with a good plant guidebook and see what you can find. You never know what the local flora has to offer you this time of year.
May is coming along rather nicely, I'd say!