Monday, July 21, 2008

Time to harvest ....

I've decided I'm going to try and do regular posts about some of my favorite local, native medicinal herbs that should be ready to harvest in my area, which is the southeastern United States (northeast Alabama, to be exact) during specific months. Of course the months I've listed here will vary from place to place, but they are pretty much dead-on for my area.

Remember to never, ever take all of any plant species from one area. "Ethical wildcrafting" is the practice of harvesting plants from the wild in a sustainable manner. An alarming amount of wild medicinal herb populations are declining due to overharvesting and loss of habitat. I don't want to be one of the reasons why a plant becomes endangered or extinct, and I know you don't, either. Educate yourself so that you know exactly what you're harvesting, when to harvest, how much you need, and why. And always leave some for Mother Nature.

Photos are above their related information.

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) blooms in July and the root is ready for harvest July through September. Please do remember, though, that Black Cohosh is in limited supply and is endangered, so tread lightly around her and never harvest unless absolutely, positively necessary.

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) leaves are ready for harvest May through July, before the fruits mature; harvest the green hulls as soon as they begin to fall, sometime between August and October.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) blooms in the spring and the root should be ready to harvest now.

Elder (Sambucus nigra) blooms are ready to harvest May to July. It's a little bit late for the leaves around here now but the yummy-delicious and oh-so-useful berries should be ready next month.

The above-ground, or aerial parts of Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) are ready to harvest through August before the flowers begin to fade.

Mountain Mint/Horsemint's (Pycnanthemum muticum) aerial parts should be harvested asap (around here it starts looking pretty ragged by late summer) and early in the morning before the hot summer sun has a chance to affect the essential oils.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) leaves and flowers (the above fantabulous passion flower was grown and pic was taken by Mel), ready to harvest June through August.

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila maculata) leaves may be harvested all year long!

Pleurisy Root/Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) roots should be harvested July through October.

Rabbit Tobacco/Everlasting (Gnaphalium obtusifolium); aerial parts from July through October. Pic was borrowed from Alternative Nature Online Herbal.

Harvest green Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) leaves from June through September.

Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum biflorum) blooms in the summer and the root is ready to harvest July through September, after the berries ripen.

Harvest the entire flowering plant, including the root, of Stoneroot (Collinsonia canadensis) July through September.

Sumac (Rhus glabra) is blooming and the leaves are ready now! Wait until September or sometime before the first frost before harvesting berries for maximum vitamin C content and peak red color.

Wild Cherry (Prunus serotina) blooms spring/summer and her fruit should be ready now through August. Harvest bark later on in the fall, after the first frost.

Photos courtesy of, unless otherwise noted. Hopefully I'll be acquiring a new camera very soon.

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Anonymous said...

Those are some beautiful blooms. The photos came out amazing! I'm currently planting some liriope...heres hoping it comes out as nice as these.

Unknown said...

Thank you, but I can't take credit for the photos this time. While I *do* have access to every single plant in the post (and normally take all of my own pics!), I'm afraid most of the photos were borrowed from or from friends for this post. My camera has been broken for almost a month now and I'm trying to patiently save for a "nice" one .. we'll see how that goes. It's driving me insane! I've been harvesting elder flowers all week and feel like pulling my own hair out without my camera.

I love liriope! It's very easy to grow and spreads like wildfire. I've been dividing and transplanting it here all summer! It's so hardy and versatile and lovely anywhere you put it. Have fun! :)