The plan for this blog was to write about plants and their uses. (Though I don't like talking about "using" plants. I'd...

Plant Walk: Witch Hazel

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The plan for this blog was to write about plants and their uses. (Though I don't like talking about "using" plants. I'd rather talking about "working with" them, since we are all life, they no less than us.) But...I wasn't feeling very motivated to write. Then, I decided what I really needed was to make myself vulnerable: to write about the plants along with the everyday journey, lessons, successes, and failures. I've been loving this quote from Brene Brown:

"Courage is the ability to tell your story and like who you are in the process of doing that."

I began this crazy journey, that even I sometimes wonder, "What the heck what I was thinking???" I often feel alone on this path, wishing the old timers were still around, Euell Gibbons, Tommie Bass, the medicine women, and the rest, to learn from in the old ways. Now we're learning all this old knowledge from books, the Internet, and the few still practicing these ways, like my fabulous friend, Ed, one of the best men in the world. He's a 70ish man with a mischievous smile and a sawmill who just gave me a "go-devil," or what others would call a maul. He's got a thick accent that you can't always understand and called me up the other day asking if he could bring me a truckload of wood just because. There are so many good people around here, though, if you just get to know them.


From here on out, I'll be writing about these everyday adventures in life and learning, along with pictures of rural mountain life and the plants I work with for food and medicine. There will be some education about the how and why of those beloved plants. My plan, though I'm trying to accept constant evolution, is to offer a post per week. Two will be completely free and accessible to everyone. The other two will be sent to you for a small monthly donation. They'll be more specifically about working with plants and go more in-depth. Your donation will help support the work I'm doing and those entries will be later combined into a book or books that will be partly super detailed plant identification, along with many many identifying pictures, stories, directions, and recipes. More on that later, stay tuned...

Sound good? Okay, let's hit the trail! 

Witch Hazel - Hamamelis virginiana

Our first plant is one of my favorite native shrubs. If you stick around, you'll learn I have lots of favorites :) Witch hazel is blooming near me right now. There's one other species that is native to the south central region that blooms in the spring (Hamamelis vernalis), but you'll see it planted around sometimes. Their family, Hamamelidaceae, doesn't have many other local plants in it, besides Sweet Gum. 

There's just something about seeing this beautiful, eye-catching flower. It blooms either when the sun is just coming back or is about to leave for the season. For me, it's like my own internal sunshine. This plant's bark is the stuff that the witch hazel liquid you find in the store is made from. It's great for skin! Whether it be for acne or a postnatal sitz bath, witch hazel is awesome.

One fabulous fact I learned from my mentor was that you don't have to use the bark, if you're like me and you vicariously feel the pain of the plant when you cut the bark. You can actually "work with" the twigs. Just prune them and add them to the formula in the same way. However, if you are going to harvest bark, never ever harvest it in a ring around the tree/shrub! That will kill it because all the plant's nutrient delivery systems are right under the skin. So, shave the bark in a narrow vertical strip.

I'm about to make my own bottle of witch hazel goodness. When it comes out, I'll share the recipe. 

Until then, please share what you've got going on in the wild world of plants around you. What are you eating and crafting? And please tell me what you want to see here. Until next time, here's wishing you a wild journey!


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3 comments:

  1. Love this idea. Best wishes on this fork on your trail thru the forest.

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  2. Great quote from Brene! Thank you for being brave and having the courage to build a bridge back to nature. The world is one, and we are a small part of it! Our health, and the health of the world, depends on us reconnecting and "working with nature." I agree, you cannot talk about nature without talking about your relationship with it. That connection alone is medicinal and healing :) I'm so excited that you are working on a book including identification, information, and recipes. Thank you! Whenever you are in the Cincinnati area, if I am able, you do not have to be alone on your walks in the woods :) I wish that I could join you more frequently!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great quote from Brene! Thank you for being brave and having the courage to build a bridge back to nature. The world is one, and we are a small part of it! Our health, and the health of the world, depends on us reconnecting and "working with nature." I agree, you cannot talk about nature without talking about your relationship with it. That connection alone is medicinal and healing :) I'm so excited that you are working on a book including identification, information, and recipes. Thank you! Whenever you are in the Cincinnati area, if I am able, you do not have to be alone on your walks in the woods :) I wish that I could join you more frequently!

    ReplyDelete