I am always up for the challenge of finding an herb or plant I can use.
Recently I was given the task of tracking down an herb that is quite well-known in herbal circles but not one of the “popular” ones that most places stock. I was looking for heal-all or self-heal (Prunella vulgaris), an herb that came over from Europe and has the reputation of healing a whole lotta things, hence the name. (Here is what Mrs. Grieve has to say about it in A Modern Herbal.)
It’s a plant I remember seeing in lawns when I was a child and wondering what it was. I don’t think I properly identified it until a few years ago, or maybe even just last year when I found it in the lawn in front of my building.
I didn’t think it could possibly have started coming up yet, so I didn’t look for it. But I was told it was emerging in Vermont and on Cape Cod, so I went out to look in the lawn where it grew last year. It took close examination of the lawn but I found the very young leaves, in tiny patches here and there.
The leaves were very small and too small to harvest. I introduced myself to the plant and asked if she was willing to work with me, to which she replied “yes”. She told me to eat just a few leaves, that I would receive the energy of the plant for my healing that way.
The leaves were pleasantly bitter, not what I expected for some reason. I thought the plant would just taste rather green and “herby”. But no, there is clearly strong medicine in the leaves of this plant. There is a reason she’s called “heal-all”!
There are two crabapple trees in front of the building I live in. One has beautiful fuschia-pink blossoms and produces tiny apples. the other has white flowers and produces nice-sized, delicious apples that are worth collecting for food in the fall. They are both sweet-scented, though the white flowered tree has a slightly more spice tang.
I had a strong desire to make some kind of medicine from the flowers, so I asked both trees if I could use some of their flowers. The fuschia-pink tree was very happy to share her blossoms, but the white-flowered tree said “no”. The answers I get from the plants are so interesting, and the reasoning is not always comprehensible to a human like me.
I harvested the fuschia blooms this morning, reveling in their scent, letting the tree direct me to which flowers to pick and how many. I had enough to make 1 1/2 cups of blossom-only tincture, and 1/2 cup of blossom-and-leaf tincture.
The blossom-only tincture has become a beautiful purple, and I look forward to using it later this summer.
If you are interested in getting some crabapple-blossom tincture, an herbal P”medicine” for healing the emotional and spiritual heart, please let me know. It is well worth having and working with!
(Photo credit for the picture of Self heal: Lachlan Cranswick http://lachlan.bluehaze.com.au/usa2001/ny_wildflowers_2001.html)