by Michael Pilarski
Here is a list of Some wildcrafting resources I just put together for my March 5, 2017 Wildcrafting Workshop in Sequim, Washington. It gives you some idea of what we cover in my wildcrafting classes.
Thank you for participating. We can only scratch the surface in this 5-hour workshop. This 10-page handout will give you additional ideas to research and experiment with.
8 pages are from my 2003 publication Growing & Wildcrafting Medicinal Plants in the Pacific Northwest.
Northwest Native Plants with Medicinal Properties. Pages 6-7
Considerations for Sustainable Wildcrafting. Page 9.
Harvest Periods for Wildcrafted Herbs – West Side of the Cascades. Page 23.
A Checklist of Native Plants used by Northwest First Peoples. Pages 30-31
Plant Use Categories (used by North American indigenous People) page 32-33.
For wildcrafting I recommend these two harvesting tools. I will have them at the workshop to look at.
A Wells & Wade fruit-picking bag.
You can order Long Cordura Picking Bag $44.67.
You will never be sorry you bought it (unless you are a couch potato).
A tree-planting bag.
$64. Pacforest PRO 15" Deep Tree Planting Bag.
Big pouches that you can pick into without having to carry a container in your hand.
Foraging and Ethnobotany Links & Books Page
A huge amount of information. A lot of book reviews. I own about 2/3 of the books he reviews. It includes a list of plant species databases. He has done a lot of legwork for us. A lot of his info has hot link urls. Recommended.
Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Pojar and MacKinnon. Lone Pine Press. 1994. 528 pages. The single most useful plant guide for our region. Notably it gives ethnobotanical information for many species.
Edible Wild Plants. John Kallas. Gibbs Smith. 2010. 416 pages. One of the premier books on this topic for the Pacific Northwest. John lives in Portland, Oregon.
The Foragers Handbook. Samuel Thayer. 2006
Nature’s Garden, Samuel Thayer. 2010. A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and preparing Edible Wild Plants. These two books are for North America. Some of the best info on the topic.
Discovering Wild Plants. Janice Schofield. 1989. Alaska, Western Canada the Northwest. This elegant, hard-bound book is a treasure. Lots of information, beautiful presentation. Includes information on cosmetic uses as well as edible and medicinal.
Special Forest Products: Species Information Guide for the Pacific Northwest. Nan C. Vance, Melissa Borsting, David Pilz and Jim Freed. . USDA, Forest Services, PNW Research Station. General Technical Report
PNW-GTR-513, September 2001. 169 pages.
Covers 60 plants and fungi and their wild harvest methods. Excellent publication. Good ecology aspect. Information for each species includes: Ecology, Range and Distribution, Associations, Habitats, Successional Stage, Ecological Relations, Flowering and Fruiting, Seed, Vegetative reproduction, Cultivation, Transplant viability, Part harvested, Harvest techniques, Harvest season, Regeneration after harvest, Uses and Proucts, Common uses, Indigenous uses (Nice bit of info here), Common products, Types of markets, Comments and Areas of Concern (ie. sustainability). References.
From Earth to Herbalist: An Earth-Conscious Guide to Medicinal Plants. Gregory L. Tilford. 1998. Mountain Press Pub. Missoula. 250 pages. One of the few wildcrafting books that talk about sustainability (for the Pacific Northwest). Almost all the 52 species covered are in the Northwest. Some of his sustainability talk is over the top. Here is the info you get for the 50 herbs he covers: Description, Other names, Parts used, Actions, Habitat & Range, Applications, Alternatives and adjuncts. (Valuable info when you can’t find an herb, or it is rare, or the sustainability is questionable.) Propagation & Growth Characteristics, Gathering Season and General Guidelines (Very good info for new, wildcrafters), Care after gathering., Tincture recipe and comments., Plant/Animal Interdependence, Tread lightly, References.
Wild Harvest. Leonard Wiley. 1965. Published by the author. 219 pages. A delightful peek at Northwest wildcrafting in the mid-1900s. Wiley covers 17 kinds of products. Mostly the “brush” business for ornamental foliage, but some medicinals such as cascara, Oregon grape and foxglove. This was industrial scale production with very low prices paid to collectors. Consider this quote “Average price (for Oregon Grape) root seven to eight cents a pound dry weight, although it has been as low as four cents and as much as thirty.” Today I sell dry Oregon Grape root for $10 a pound.
Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources. CA: Anderson, Kat, M. University of California Press, 2005. Wow! The ethnobotany of California and how the tribes managed the ecosystems for its delectable qualities.
Wild Roots: A Forager’s Guide to the Edible and Medicinal Roots, Tubers, Corms, and Rhizomes of North America. Doug Elliot, Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1995.
Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West. Tilford, Gregory, L. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1997.
Food Plants Of Interior First Peoples. Nancy J. Turner. Vancouver, B.C.: UBC Press, 1997.
Keeping It Living. Nancy J. Turner. One of the most important books published on how PNW peoples managed the environment.
Non-native, Weeds for Medicine.
Here are some weeds which I wildcraft and sell. Some of the most useful non-native medicinals in western Washington.
Hawthorn, European, (Crataegus monogyna)
Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)
St. Johns’ Wort
Violet (Viola odorata)
Some great edible weeds.
Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album)
Redroot (Amaranthus sp.)
Wildcrafting as the hope for the world.
So many humans are abandoning nature at this time, or greatly reducing their time spent in nature. Screens, stores, gadgets, cars, human friends, indoors. Life cut off from nature, more and more. Obviously this isn’t good for the individuals involved nor for society. Civiliation is large and complex but it is frail. Subject to internconected disruption as one disaster can spread to the whole. Knowing the food, medicine and natural resources that are found in nature makes you resilient in the face of scarcity.
Perhaps more importantly is the joy and peace that comes from connecting to nature. This is a joy t hat accrues from day to day. Hear the wind and the birds, feel the rain, smell the fragrances, observe the plants and life. It is hard not to feel the presence of the Creator Source while observing nature. This offers treasures greater than money or fame. Of course it is possible to be in nature and not have any connection, but a wildcrafter has to be very observant.
To be a wildcrafter is a boon to yourself and to those whose lives your gathering enhances. A large part of the world’s population still wildcrafts. Wildcrafting is available to all, rich and poor. Wherever you live, you are surrounded by food and medicine. Wild foods are almost always way more nutritious than what you can buy.