Monthly Archives: August 2015

Yellow Evening Primrose: Walking with Bear Tracks.

Oenothera spp.
Family: Onagraceae

this species: Oenothera hookeri

I like the name.

Yellow Evening Primrose

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Habitat: Sea Level to 9,000 feet. It is common in mountainous areas of the U.S.
It also grows along streams, fallow fields, watersheds, roadsides, wet areas.

Evening Primrose in New Mexico.

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Medicinal Use:

According to Michael Moore, Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.,

The Root can be chopped fresh or dried, covered with twice its volume in honey. Boil this slowly. It makes a soothing and somewhat antispasmodic cough syrup.

The top of the plant can also be used similarly.

Diuretic effect
Some laxative effect
Can suppress skeletal and smooth muscle pain, in particular: the reproductive organs.

Evening Primrose is variable in its effects due to particular affinities a person may have with the plant. Effects differ also according to species and habitat.

It is recommended to try it, since some people respond particularly well. And it is a fairly common plant and does well in gardens. It may even pop up as a volunteer as it has at my workplace’s herbal garden.

Recommended Dose:

One to Three teaspoons of the root or leaf in tea.

The seeds are highly nutritious and contain amidst other things: linoleic acid and varying amounts if gamma-linoleic acid. (GLA)

When the seed capsules open at the top you can tip the branch and the capsules will release seeds into your container.

Michael Moore, herbalist, suggests to grind the seeds and add to flaxseed oil. Keep cold/refrigerated or just grind what is needed at a time.

Evening Primrose Oil contained in the seeds has many touted health benefits for autoimmune disorders such as: eczema, psoriasis, scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis.

For some people, the plant’s overall positive effect on organs such as liver, spleen, and musculo-skeletal systems helps people feel better, thus is mood/state of being enhancing.

Foraging Tips:

The whole plant is edible. The roots are peppery and like a turnip/parsnip when raw. Often boiled.

Young leaves best, do have hairs. Good as a potherb.

Seeds are edible, see above.

The flowers have a mild cucumber taste. We found them delicious and very pleasant tasting.

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Fun to read about, exciting to find!

Evening primrose… A plant I have been hoping to find. I found it this year. My friend, in Massachusetts, has some in her garden and I spotted some on a favorite mental health and nature enjoyment walk.

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My father died recently and I flew home, by wings of an airplane, to visit him, help with his hospice care and be with family. From the base of the Ortiz mountains to a suburban town, southwest of Boston, Massachusetts.

10 miles from the ocean.

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This area, charming by means of cranberry bogs and small New England ponds. Grass lawns, woods, occasional spots of enclosed meadow flowers. And a fire access lane filled with wildflowers, milkweeds, wild blueberries, huckleberries and Evening Primrose!

Along a humble path- access lane (divine to me) that was a 5 minute walk from my parents home.

While my father was in the hospital, before or after visiting him there, I would often walk here or to the nearby pond for a few minutes.

lifesaving

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And John’s Pond, with cranberry bogs across the way.

a diary style picture of myself, at the pond, in the lifesaving chair…early in the day before families arrived to play and swim.

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My dad was clean, re-positioned, comfortable and loved. Final days of hospice care at home. These short walks, the equivalent time of a brief bath or shower, really saved me. And was not understood by everyone.

Before my dad came home for hospice care, and in the between times of waiting to visit him at the hospital… in New England,
I wildcrafted herbs.
And did I ever!

I even found an Elderberry tree in a recess and dip in the woods, a few yards away from my parents house. The irony did not escape me. Elder.

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I got a lot of satisfaction, too, harvesting plantain from my parents’ lawn.

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New England, where I turned the experience of loss into healing.
On so many levels. As we all do.

I did it in a way that brought me relief, joy and sanity. Making Herbal tinctures, salves, herbal oils and herbal tea jellies and wild berry jellies.

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jelly

I shared the jellies (made jellies for the first time) and showed family how to make medicated herbal salves… which we also used on my father for the arthritis in his neck and back.

The nature spirits guided me and helped me cope.

I was so happy to find Evening Primrose in New England which brought my search full circle to my original home.

I feel that plants choose their times of alliance in the wild and gardens. And, I am grateful.

Thankyou to this New England Evening Primrose!

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Imagine my happiness and joy when returning to New Mexico, shortly after my father’s funeral, I found Evening Primrose growing in wild stretches near the lake dam I was camping at. Nature spirits truly divined a magical experience!

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And I was welcomed back to New Mexico with flying colors. Literally.image

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Near the fields of Evening Primroses, I also saw bear tracks. A mother bear with her cubs. Truly awe inspiring!

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evening primrose herbal uses

FES flower essence qualities: yellow evening primrose

Thankyou for taking this plant and animal track journey with me. Plants as allies through all of our experiences. And, Evening Primrose led me to the Majestic Mama bear and her cubs.

Grateful!

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And, my bountiful tincture!

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tincture where you are
:)❤

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Sources: Posted Website links
and this book source specifically:

Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. by Michael Moore, Nuseum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe. 2003.

And, the beautiful desert primrose I found this year alongside desert roads…

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Herbal Tea Jelly. Queen Anne’s Lace.

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image and information on Queen Anne’s Lace!

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QAL above

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QAL above

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Daucus carotus
Family: Apiaceae also known as: Umbelliferae
Common Names: Queen Anne’s Lace, Bird’s Nest, Wild Carrot

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Queen Anne’s Lace… see the tiny, purple floret? The floret is an identification factor.
(The leaves you see are from nearby plants, not from the Queen Anne’s Lace.)

I will label each Queen Anne’s lace picture as: QAL

Queen Anne’s Lace in its first season has a delicious root. It is a wild carrot and, is believed to be the precursor to the modern carrot. Its flowers are edible: can be fried, made into an herbal tea and an herbal tea jelly.

But, it is important to note that it is in the plant family: Apiaceae.

A wonderfully interesting group of plants. Many of which, resemble Queen Anne’s Lace.

The Apiaceae family has made a huge contribution to culinary and herbal endeavors. A boon to our wellbeing!

*Foods and Food Herbs: Parsley, Carrot, Anise, Chervil, Coriander, Caraway, Cumin, Dill, and Fennel.

Medicinal Herbs: Angelica, Osha and Queen Anne’s Lace are popular healing herbs in the Apiaceae family.

Queen Anne’s Lace, Herbal Medicine

I will also talk about using Queen Anne’s Lace as food in this post.

*Not to mention that many, if not all, of the food herbs listed above have healing properties and can be used as herbal medicine.

As well as being delicious additions to our food.

This always gives me a sense of lineage to herbalism and I am grateful to all of our foraging and gardening ancestors.

I think of herbs and their use as a continuation of food as medicine. A common legacy we all have which includes food herbs.

Everyday herbal medicine.

Herbs as Food. Herbs as medicine.

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QAL above

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But, Some plants in this family of plants, Apiaceae, are Deadly Poisonous.

Luckily, we know this and have traditions of knowledge to draw on.

For ex., Osha is known as a healing plant, in the Apiaceae family.
I would need to go with someone who knows where to identify it accurately. I have knowledge to look for purple spots, parts and splotches, etc re: water hemlock. But, foraging and herbal wildcrafting has a tried and true tradition of learning from those people who know from hands on experience. Never mind the fact that Osha, in this case, is illegal to pick in certain areas or on the edge of its ecozone or habitat, so should be respected and left alone.

I’ve heard it is difficult to cultivate. Has anyone out there had success cultivating Osha?
Just a curious sidenote…

Luckily, Queen Anne’s Lace is common, although poisonous look a likes can grow nearby and vastly outnumber the Queen Anne’s Lace.

So foraging areas can differ! And, it is considered a noxious weed by some… so be aware of poisonous herbicides or pesticides in foraging areas.

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QAL above

I love the tenacity!

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I grew up with Queen Anne’s Lace and have been studying its poisonous look a likes for more than 2 years. It is essential to be able to IDENTIFY Queen Anne’s Lace accurately, everytime!

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QAL above

Do not pick a plant you think is Queen Anne’s Lace until absolutely sure.

So, I suggest to stay clear from foraging this plant until you ABSOLUTELY can positively I.D. it.

An essential strategy, anyway. to wild harvesting a.k.a gleaning… foraging…picking…harvesting…
herbal preparing, touching a wild plant, (for ex., consider: poison ivy)

or touching a garden plant…

As it turns out…Poison Hemlock is an escapee from being landscaped into flower gardens. It has now become naturalized.

So, be like me 🏃avoid the foraging risk until you know for sure!

Here’s a quick note on purple spots, splotches or streaks for some of the poisonous related species, which aids in distinguishing Queen Anne’s Lace.

These poisonous members of the family have purple splotches on their stems: Giant Hogweed (also hairy stems), Poison Hemlock smooth stem), Water Hemlock (smooth stem)

Some Queen Anne’s Lace identifying characteristics:

hairy stem
*compound umbel
often white or cream colored flowers
often has small purple floret in center
root smells like carrot
carrot like leaves, (careful here…for ex, Fools Parsley has similar looking leaves.)

*here you can see the grouping of secondary umbels, forming an umbrella shape, which comprises the whole compound umbel.

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QAL above

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QAL above

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QAL above

Here are Queen Anne’s Lace Leaves:
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QAL leaves

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QAL hairy stem

Once you know the differences you can differentiate between both edible, medicinal and poisonous members of the Apiaceae family.

Here is a picture of Poison Hemlock:

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Poison Hemlock above 🙋💀
image of Poison Hemlock & more info

Another similar plant that is DEADLY POISONOUS…Violently Toxic, as it is described… is the Water Hemlock.

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Water Hemlock above 🙋💀

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Water Hemlock

Sometimes Water Hemlock is confused for other plants such as: Queen Anne’s Lace, *Wild Parsnip, or Elderberry, etc.

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🙋⚠

The sap of Wild Parsnip above-
can cause skin burns and scars.

Wild Parsnip…Poison Parsnip image and info

Also, Fools Parsley’s leaves and flowers look a lot like Queen Anne’s Lace:

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🙋💀

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images source of Fools Parsley and Info.

This is not an extensive list of poisonous look alikes. I will label and include positive I.D. pictures of Queen Anne’s Lace.

I grew up with Queen Anne’s Lace. I always loved the meadows and fields that contained it. Through a slippery slope of information, we children were told that it contained arsenic. Not true according to what I know… but in an inadvertant way…it may have kept us safe from accidentally poisoning us from a deadly, poisonous look a like!

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QAL and its classic bird’s nest shape

Here is Green Deane’s excellent post about differentiating between elderberry and water hemlock.
Plus, some great I.D. tips on Water Hemlock… a deadly poison.

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Queen Anne’s Lace seeds have been used as food, a spice, a facial oil and a contraceptive. I have, thus far used it as a facial oil.

For more info on use as a natural contraceptive start here:

contraceptive

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QAL above and Goldenrod and other wildflowers

Queen Anne’s Lace has a native species also referred to as Wild Carrot. Its Latin name is:
Daucus pusillus

Here is a picture:

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image source & more info on Daucus pusillus

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QAL above

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JELLY TIME!

I think I am going to make my Herbal jelly like this next time:

recipe for herbal tea jelly by the Ball jar company

Acid, such as in squeezed lemon juice, helps jelly to gel. Check it out.

lemon juice helps jelly gel!

I had the happy pleasure of making my first ever canned jelly. I made it with Queen Anne’s Lace flowers.

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Hence, all my cautionary notes about poisonous look-a-likes!

I made a strong herbal infusion. I used 3 cups Flower heads chopped up. They all smelled carrot-y and I was absolutely sure each and everyone had hairy stems and were all Queen Anne’s Lace. A few were even a pale pink which is unusual but part of the norm.

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I felt inspired to make an Herbal Tea Jelly out of Queen Anne’s lace when I found many recipes online. And, many jelly making enthusiasts out there!
Like You! 🍥

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(The Pectin I used… and introducing Goldenrod for later posts. As some of you know, and I have recently learned, Goldenrod is not a high allergen like its reputation indicates… and when solar infused in oil or made into salves or liniments, it is great for relieving sore muscles!)

and more jelly making…

Here is the gorgeous rose pink colored tea I made from the Queen Anne’s Lace herbal infusion.

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I made sure to sterilize all jars, lids and rings… even though they were new.

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Make your herbal tea.
Boil 4 cups water.
Let it cool for five minutes.

Then add and submerge about 20 Queen Anne’s Lace flower heads (2 Cups packed)
Steep the tea for a half an hour. Then strain it.

Use 3 Cups of the tea.

Then stir and heat up
one package of pectin along with

1/4 Cup of lemon juice to the Queen Anne’s Lace herbal tea.

Bring it to a boil….not too slowly or the pectin will dissipate. Go for medium heat.

Once boiling I added the organic sugar.
(I added 5 Cups sugar. similar to mint jelly recipes I found.)

For less sugar,
3 and 1/2 Cups plus 2 Tablespoons is recommended by other jelly makers.

Adding the sugar slowed the mixture down.
Then I brought the mixture to a boil again.

Let it boil for one more minute and it is done.

Do the jelly test if you would like it to be more certain.
Although, the above method worked well for me.

Jelly test

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poured into jelly jars… leave, at least 1/4 inch space at the top when filling the jars. Leave room for it to vacuum seal.

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Then canned in boiling water bath for 6 minutes….for time required just above sea level. Technically, 5 minutes boiling time for hot water canning at Sea Level. I am in New England, right now, not too far from the ocean.

Boil with, at least, 1 to 2 inches of water covering all the jars.

Screw the bands on all the jars… just tight enough to close. I read somewhere… not too loose…
Fingertip tight, like closing a Mayonnaisse jar. Just til you meet resistance. This was super confusing for me… “finger tip tight”

Some of my bands were loose after canning in boiling water, so not sure if that is normal. But all my lids were properly sealed and I tasted the jelly from the canned jar… yum! lemony and light! A special treat as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! Or a delightful filling for a layer cake. It is really good!

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I’ve given some jars away and eaten some but, here is the jelly I have left.

Be sure your lids have properly sealed. If they haven’t vacuum sealed on their own after 24 hours of cooling down then they can be used as refrigerator jelly. Or recanned if done right away, just after the 24 hour period of cool down, and opportunity to vacuum seal on its own.

Check by pressing the center of the lid down with your finger. It should be depressed, concave. If the indentation pops back up into a bubble then it did not seal properly.

Also, hold jar up and look horizontally across the lid to make sure it looks flat with center not popped up or bulging and slightly indented in the middle. Then you know it is sealed. Also, tip jar on its side with band off to make sure seal stays on, etc.

I did all the tests above. Here is the top of the lid properly sealed.

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The lid shows the indentation and is flat. 🙂

I am grateful for ediblewidfood.com’s recipe for Queen Anne’s Lace jelly.

see link below

I felt better using 5 cups of sugar that I found in the mint jelly recipe inside the pectin box. Because mint jelly is also an herbal tea jelly.

ediblewildfood.com

learn2grow.com or I like to say… Jelly for Days. Great Herbal Jelly recipes and fruit juice combos and jelly ideas! savory or sweet!

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Jelly is a traditional form of preserving herbs and fruits.

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I am also going to soak these Wild Carrot seed heads in oil to extract their skin benefitting qualities.

Dry wilt or completely dry the seeds when soaking in oil.
Water and oil don’t mix.

Wild Carrot essential oil, extracted via steam distillation, is a highly concentrated oil. It takes huge volumes of plant material to distill a few precious drops of essential oil. So, I harvested 15 seed heads (“bird’s nests”) of Queen Anne’s lace. Then, I am going to soak (macerate) them in a solar infusion of oil in the hot sun, for a few weeks. Then, when strained this oil is especially good for sageing skin. I read that in one of my Rosemary Gladstar books and I love the term: sageing. It feels apropos, and with a lot more luster than sagging!

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QAL above

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QAL above

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Queen Anne’s Lace Seeds above

And my solar infusing herbal oils. One is the Goldenrod and the other is the Queen Anne’s Lace seed heads!

Herbal fun!

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QAL above

Queen Anne’s Lace,
Happy Sigh Here