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I am giving myself permission to write a quick how-to post. With the quarantine going on I haven’t spent as much time at home because I work in a co-op grocery store. (necessary to stay open) So, I am working there 4 days a week. The extra day off is welcome.
Sending love out to all who are suffering or have suffered during this time. And, all the brave, hard working people serving their families, loved ones, friends, strangers and communities.
A lot of traditional peoples are recommending spicy remedies right now. This is not a substitute for medical care if needed but, as a way to keep our bodies strong. Keeping the terroir or terrain of our bodies strong.
Minimizing cooling dampening foods and emphasizing the spicy foods. And, fruits and vegetables too!
There is honey in this recipe. Not recommended for children younger than two years of age due to naturally occurring micro-organisms that could harm an infant/young child. But, safe once their bodies are old enough to have a strong immune system.
This is a post on making Electuaries. A traditional method of preserving, enjoying and preparing herbal powders.
I use raw honey in this recipe. It contains enzymes and trace amounts of minerals such as: Calcium, Magnesium, Chromium and Manganese. And, trace amounts of vitamins such as: B, C & K. It also contains amino acids and antioxidants. Here is more info about Raw Honey Nutrition.
It is a form of sugar so you can opt for stirring the powders into nut/seed butters or Coconut Manna. (I haven’t tried that last one but, it sounds like an idea that could work.) Also, ghee, maple syrup or agave syrup. Rice syrup… You get the picture.
I prefer nut butter or raw honey for the many nutrients they offer.
I always just eyeball this recipe. 👁️ I stirred it in the jar I wanted to store it in but, you can start with a larger bowl to make the stirring easier.
The ratio is 1/2 honey or other spreadable ingredient to 1/2 powders. More or less. Just add enough of each to make a thick honey paste. Not a dry paste.
I put the honey, in this case, in the bottom of the jar. Then add powders. Alternating layers until you have enough to fill your container. Then just stir or stir and blend in as you go.
Measure by volume… Teaspoon by teaspoon for powders and honey, for example. You can change your measuring amounts. Just keep it consistent throughout. Tablespoons, cups, etc.
I made just a 4 ounce size.
The great thing is you probably have spice powders in containers or bags in your kitchen. Spicy herbs that come to mind are cinnamon, ginger, curry, turmeric, masala, red chilé, chili powder, clove, turmeric, cumin, garlic, Chinese five spice powder, etc. What spices do you use in your region, culture or country? Any food spices will work. 🌿
All these herbs above are aromatic and diffusive. They promote diaphoresis (sweating.) And, bloodflow throughout your system.
Have fun making your Electuary. I found the best way to mix the powders is to twirl the mixture with a fork until no dried powder remains. Scrape the sides and bottom of your bowl or jar to really mix it all together.
It may combine just fine in a mixer or food processor but, will be sticky. I just use a fork to mix.
Over a few days or weeks the powder may expand in the honey and it may look a bit dry. Just add more honey and stir in. Store in a cool cabinet or your refrigerator. Enjoy within 6 months. Use daily if you like. It also promotes digestion and spices are very health giving. This gives you another reason to add spices to your food.
I am still feeling warmed and tingly after my spoonful. Take a spoonful 2 or 3 times a day. For a warming aromatic that can disperse the inklings of damp colds and infections. Along with all the guidelines. Quarantining and making Electuaries. Keeping slim chances for that Novel virus to linger. That is my hope and with much soap.
My electuary contained~. hawthorn, red chilé, nettle, Angelica, tulsi, clove and mace (from nutmeg). red chilé honey, raw honey and a love of kitchen remedies and foodways.
Besides making Electuaries… Nothing beats the blues for me better than gardening. Whether you have an indoor pot, a sprouting jar, window box, container, community plot, field or orchard….or, if you forage and glean. I wish you many happy days of foraging, planting, tending and harvests. May You All Be Well!
Huang qi Plant Family: Fabaceae (Pea family) Commonly called: Astragalus
So yes, I have had this pouch of herbs for a while. I had about a cup of Astragalus powder left in it, for quite some time, but it is a root powder and was in good enough shape to use. Waste not want not. This will be a spontaneous post. So, going with that inspiration. Impromptu like most of life. We live our lives midst the errands, the care, the work, the occasional pleasant surprise and the sad times.
This is why I like sharing simple preparations with you and in a fun kind of way this is similar to my incense making blog in December of 2019. Except, this herbal dough is entirely edible instead of a tiny piece being merely edible lol!
Astragalus membranaceous has a long history of use. It is related to many other plants such as the infamous loco weed here in New Mexico. Loco weed is poisonous and also to livestock and can cause bizarre behaviors in the poor creatures before poisoning them to death. In other words don’t use the wild Astragalus growing in your area. And, keep your livestock from eating it.
Here is a photo of the locally occurring astragalus or loco weed. As I said this is called Loco for a reason! It is pretty as I love all the local plants. It would seem a good pollinator plant. And, an early bloomer in the high desert. A welcome sight that way.
Astragalus membranaceous grows wild in Northwest China, Mongolia and other areas of the world in that proximity.
Astragalus is largely cultivated and, it takes at least 5 years for the matured root to be ready for harvest. Guido Masé, Vermont, USA herbalist, describes the 10 year roots to be excellent if you can wait that long! Astragalus, the medicinal herb also is known by the Chinese name Huang qi. This is Pinyin spelling. Where the Latin, Romanized letters are used to spell the Chinese word, such as using English lettering here instead of Chinese characters.
黄芪 Huang qi
Masé describes “…Huang qi… stands out as a premier tonic. It is said to enliven the earth energy of human beings, while also helping to fortify the protective shield, which, like a sword, repels invaders (pathogens) attempting to assail our bodies.”. p. 235 The Wild Medicine Solution., 2013. by Guido Masé (Great book!)
Astragalus root is traditionally used to tonify, build and nourish. In this way it fortifies us, gives us food and well being. It helps shield our organs and immune system and, has a special affinity for the lungs. It can also shield our periphery in making us less likely to perspire. Therefore, it is not recommended in acute phases of illness such as a flu or cold.
(consider its use as a shield spiritually for protection)
But, before any thought of flu or cold it is a good preparatory herb. As we always want to build and tonify ourselves to build our fortress: body, heart and mind to make it stronger. We need our bodies defenses to perspire with colds and flus as this helps us extinguish pathogens. So Astragalus is not usually recommended when we need to perspire through fevers.
It is more intricate than I can explain …. But in laywoman’s terms…. Astragalus membranaceous is used to build, tonify, fortify during peaceful times not war… So to speak… In our bodies. And, may Astragalus lead the way…
So, what comes to mind…. The every day tasks of making food, soups and teas.
Add the dried strips of Astragalus to your soup pot or put coarse shaved pieces in a muslin bag during soup cooking and remove when done.
I am sure many recipes abound as the energetics of Astragalus are sweet. Sweet in the bland, nourishing, polysaccharide way of this herb. This also means astragalus can be versatile to prepare. Especially the powder.
I have used Astragalus membranaceous powder in these herbal ball treats I am going to describe for you. In the 5 or so years since I first made the herbal balls they have become widely popular. Many variations exist. So, chances are you have made a version of these. This is a great way to use Astragalus in a recipe! And, a recipe that you can turn to time and again.
Rosemary Gladstar first wrote about making these decades ago. She has always been so accessible, real and revolutionary in her kindness, knowledge and sharing of herbal remedies, plant activism and awareness. Masé also has a good Astragalus recipe in his book similar to the one I share here.
Here is a YouTube video on Rosemary Gladstar having fun describing how to make these herbal treats she originally named Zoom Balls
One of my all time favorite books is Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. by Rosemary Gladstar, 2008. (Fabulous Book!)
Here are my Herbal Powerballs!
The following recipe uses herbal powders. I buy most of mine and am lucky to do so.
I also use a small ceramic suribachi with ridged surfaces and a wooden pestle to grind coarse dried herbs.
I also added this powder to my recipe
Use a half cup to a full cup of Herbal powders and spices or just go solo with one kind of herbal powder.
Add a half cup or so of a liquid form of sweetener if desired: honey, molasses, maple syrup, birch syrup, etc. or agave. (I would refrigerate maple syrup treats right away because of higher water content. But, they would be delicious!) The liquid sweetener also adds to the bulk of the recipe softening the herbal dough rather than a sweetener concentrate such as stevia liquid. (Which would only require a few drops)
Add a Cup or so of nut or seed butter then mix everything into an herbal dough. I added the soaked partially crystallized pieces of ginger, diced to my herbal dough.
I also used some of this ginger honey in the recipe.
*Did you know fresh ginger (not dried) is one of the most potent anti-virals available. This goes for fresh gingered honey as well. Fresh slices of ginger simmered in water for tea are a great go-to for colds and flus.
Ginger Honey recipe I tried from Katja Swift and Ryn Midura’s awesome, generous herbal (not just for beginners:) Herbal Medicine for Beginners. 2019
1 Cup Astragalus Powder
1/2-1 Cup Nut or Seed Butter or Coconut Manna.
1/2 Cup Honey or your choice liquid sweetener. Add in chopped nuts, dried fruit or honeyed ginger like I did.
Mix it all together until it forms a nice ball. Adjust if too dry or moist by adding more liquid sweetener or herbal powder. *Using raw honey adds probiotics, minerals and vitamins. (Sweetener is optional)
Roll it in extra herbal powder or unsweetened cocoa powder, dried coconut, more Astragalus powder… Customize it to make your own unique treat or use herbs from your country, region or culture.
*The herbal balls soak up the powder. You can re-roll if desired but mine usually are easy to handle and not too sticky. You can place in individual papers such as candy wrappers or mini muffin wrappers. I have folded cut pieces of parchment around each one too. Or you can just put all of your Powerballs in one container. *You can also just pinch of a piece as needed. Store it in a container in the fridge and people can enjoy a pinch as desired.
You can enjoy as is or spread a Powerball on toast or on a quick bread like I did here. Almond flour bread using flaxmeal and water substitute for eggs.
Eat and enjoy up to 3 or more Powerballs a day!
Powerballs are a great way to use up your extra herbal powders. They are the plant part ground (in this case the roots.) So, you get all the benefits there. Of course, you can encapsulate if need be. And, that can be very useful or necessary at times. But, popping pills of any kind will not necessarily make you healthy. Unless they are necessary and lifesaving of course! This post is more about building health rather than installing emergency scaffolding.
But, we need food to survive. It is both a necessity and a pleasure of life. The natural world sustains us and gives us the building blocks not only to survive but, to thrive.
That is why I like engaging my tastebuds. Not with the cactus spines above! Haha! And, did a picture of spiney cactus wake up your senses? I hadn’t planned it that way but, in someways it fits so well!
In a similar way, when we taste our food our body is getting information through taste and wakes up our digestive process, our life force. This in turn, wakes up and directs our bodily functions. Digestive enzymes such as salivary amylase starts in the mouth. We don’t necessarily have to swallow pills and miss this first step of experiencing taste. Especially with nourishing, food and spice herbs. In this case Astragalus can build by being incorporated into our food. Because, it already has food qualities, best used in smaller amounts… (the Powerballs being described here, soup broths, etc.) By nourishing, building and sustaining ourselves we build stamina. Like a well built house.
The pea family is a vast family of plants and trees that has helped people stave off hunger and fortify wellness for many ages like the edible Astragalus mentioned here. Build your body strong, for breath, life, body and mind. Heart. Strong lungs fortify.
Astragalus is a master builder.
This post is dedicated to Rosemary Gladstar. Upholding love as an element that pervades all being and uplifts as it strengthens us all. Thankyou Rosemary Gladstar! 💛
Thankyou for joining me here. People from all over the world have visited my blog and it is an honor.
Blessings to you!
Yellow dock/Curly dock
with green leaves, new green seeds and rust/red colored mature seeds.
Common names: Curly Dock, Yellow Dock, Yaller Dock, Sour Dock, Narrowleaf Dock, Curled Dock
Many species of Rumex exist.
Grows throughout U.S.
Originally from Europe and North Africa and West Asia. Has naturalized in many places of the world.
* * * * * * * * * * *…………………………………………………………………………………..
Caution: The word dock is a nickname for two Very Different Plants.
Here is my post about Burdock
The roots have much different effects.
Both have medicinal effects. Whereas burdock can be used as a vegetable and yellow dock/curly dock cannot be eaten in large quantities due to undesired/dangerous gastronomical effects!
*I am not an expert. A happy enthusiast for sure! Please seek expert advice when foraging foods!*
Back to Rumex crispus … Curly dock/Yellow dock
See USDA database:
And throughout the world:
Geographical range Native range: Africa; temperate and tropical Asia, India and Europe (USDA-ARS, 2010). Known introduced range: Continental Asia, Japan, North and South America, North and South Africa,Australia and New Zealand (USDA-ARS, 2010).
rumex leaves early fall/late summer
field of red/rust seed heads:
Grows to 2 to 5 feet tall
Seeds are viable in soil for 80+/- years
Can produce 29,000 seeds per plant
Habitat: Sides of Roads, Ditches, Fields, Meadows, Gardens, Woodlands, Grassy areas, Agricultural areas, Pastures
Can grow in sandy, loamy or heavy clay soils
Edible Parts: Leaves, Seeds
***Toxic to horses, cattle, sheep and poultry***
*caution needed for animals
Medicinal parts: Roots and to varying degrees leaves and seeds
Red Sorrel in the Buckwheat family.
I definitely want to look for and forage this lovely plant in the same family as Curly Dock!
Common Name: Sheeps Sorrel
Has characteristic arrow head shaped leaves
See links below for more information:
Image from above site.
Red Sorrel Leaf:
Leaves are important identifiers. In this case, Rumex crispus leaves have a curly wavy edge.
(Although Red Sorrel and Curly Dock are both edible…leaves are good distinguishers. Seeds are both shiny and brown. Getting sure with identification is essential and can save you from harm!)
With other Rumex species it may be better to distinguish between the fruit/seeds pattern of clumps of seeds too.
*Here is an informative site with leaf patterns of other docks:
Try learning one plant at a time really well. This may mean you will be learning about a lot of other plants that way…by comparing and distinguishing.
This is how I got acquainted with Red Sorrel!
Here is a picture of the Rumex crispus/Curly Dock leaves with newly mature rust brown seeds in mid July Wyoming.
See Plant Photos
Confirm with Field Guide/expert
-Grows from a basal set of leaves
-Leaves are smooth with a distinctive wavy and curly edge
-Lanceolate leaves are long and taper off
-It flowers June through October
southern hemisphere: (summer through mid fall)
-***Seeds ripen July through October.
Southern hemisphere: (Mid summer through mid fall)
-Seeds are rust colored, large long clusters of seeds.Triangulate and small. Become crimson rust colored when drying/dried out.
-Reproduces most by seed.
Foraging Tips:And Some Good Basics about Rumex crispus.
-Avoid areas near agricultural areas because of fertilizer and/or herbicide run-off.
-Avoid areas that look brown or dead compared to other green areas. This can indicate use of toxic herbicide
-Avoid areas with too much exhaust or pollutants
-*Mullein (see my post on Mullein) is a good soil indicator. When its long stalk is crooked or bent it often indicates soil pollution.
-Check on what Mullein looks like if it is nearby where you are foraging. Straight stalk is a good sign.
Still check for other signs of pollutants.
-When composting/discarding remnants consider volunteers that may grow
Toxic to horses, cattle, sheep, poultry and perhaps other animals.
-do not completely strip stalk it propagates mainly by seed unless you need to rid it of your land,
(might as well harvest.)
-*Also flowers and seeds/plant is habitat to many butterfly species and other wildlife.
-harvest spring leaves
-learn to identify leaves and fruit/seeds of plant you wish to harvest
-new leaves in spring often emerge at base of previous year’s stalks
-Be sure to harvest that year’s seeds.
Older stalks and seeds can stand for a year or more. May be moldy, too weathered, ridden with insects, etc.
-It is an oxalate food so consume in moderation
-New leaves have mucilaginous and slimy surface underneath leaf in spring. This can help with identification.
-The root is a yellow, large taproot which can fork off.
-Seeds are surrounded by calyx of flower and green when new and reddish brown when mature.
-Has many medicinal uses. Seek professional assistance with use.
-Please see medicinal use and cautionary notes at end of post:
Getting to Know You
After a number of months researching and asking questions to myself and others…I finally wild harvested some Curly Dock!
Here is a fun art query I made about curly dock. Reaching out to any friends on facebook who might know what this plant was that had me so intrigued. A friend of mine thought it might be sorghum. It is unclear to tell from the picture. But, Rumex crispus it is! 🙂
STORY OF PLACE.
EACH PLACE HAS A STORY. AND THE STORIES ARE INNUMERABLE DEPENDING ON THE TELLER AND THE TOLD. HERE IS ONE STORY OF CURLY DOCK
AND WHERE IT FOUND ITS PLACE.
Finally, after a lot of researching I discovered the mystery plant was Curly Dock or Yellow Dock as it is also known. I had heard of Yellow Dock’s medicinal uses. Funny how powerful it can be to recognize a plant and then realize you knew of healing uses of the plant all along. But, what good would that use be when foraging wild foods/medicinal herbs if one could not properly identify it?
Well, my time finally came.
Rumex crispus…where to begin?
I have been fascinated with the rust-red seeds on dried stalks as we dash down the highway for quite a few months now, if not years!
Often by ditches, sides of roads or fields. Growing together wild. Often as if sown in a row.
The color of Rumex crispus changes. When the seed first emerges it is green.
Then it matures to a red-rust color.
***The following picture was taken in early spring and from a plant that already matured previously. Not suitable for foraging at this stage.
From previous year’s growth.
They are beautiful and easy to identify at this stage.
Greener seeds earlier in the season
The idea of foraging a grain felt so satisfying. Like a precursor to the advent of domestic agriculture.
Foraging in favorite spots or telling areas that often yield curly dock.
Save some for sowing along trails you frequent year to year. Make flour from the seeds. Grow some in your garden! Even eat raw when hiking along.
Rumex crispus a.k.a. Curly dock or Yellow dock is a perennial. A welcome friend to see. It is a rich food source and healing herb.
It is buckwheat! Wild buckwheat, in fact!
After a lot of research and hunches and taking photos of the curly dock I came across…it was when I was in Wyoming at Elk Mountain in the Medicine Bow Range where I first foraged the Curly dock.
Unfortunately, or maybe appropriately, my camera was acting up that day so I do not have pictures of the stone circle/tipi ring that was nearby the stand of Curly dock.
*Scratch that! Several weeks later, I got a second time through. The sun was bright and I had trouble seeing but I got some images of the stone circle tipi ring!
And, here is the stone circle tipi ring.
(More info on stone circles North America)
It felt like a special place. Wyoming has spectacular views and a stone circle reminds me of people who lived thousands of years before. Waking up and living next to and admiring the same view of mountains that I was enjoying that one beautiful July day.
With Curly dock nearby…I wondered. I am not a botanist but, still… my imagination can be far reaching and without knowing for sure, my curiosity and imagination still wandered.
Curly dock is a perennial. It comes back year after year. Could I be harvesting from the same stands/offsprings of curly dock that grew all those thousands of years ago. I know this sounds hokey.
But, the simplest most plain of things can be the most profound. A perennial returns from the same source. Year after year. Perennial plants fascinate me and provide that link through time. Just as we are all connected to our ancestors from times past.
And stone circles and perennial plants reflect to us a continuance!
Annual plants are connected to predecessors over time as are perennials. It just seems more hit or miss. Or is it? Some annual plants have a quarter million seeds or more per plant like purslane does. So the purslane carries on just fine. Nevermind that the seeds can last decades! Time traveler! 🙂 Like plants we are all connected to our ancestors from times past.
At this stone circle site, did the people here also forage curly dock? It is likely because it has a longstanding history of use by original peoples of North America.
Also, I had a hunch that stone circles remain from dwellings not just in North America. Stone circles have also been found all over the world. Some being connected to portable dwellings, while others are significant as religious or ceremonial sites. Signifying respect. A stone left unturned could be the next story to come along.
(Here is some interesting information on the history of architecture and stone rings worldwide plus other use of stone:)
Here is info on annuals, perennials, biennials and frost tender perennials.
NUTRITION of Rumex crispus
a.k.a. Curly Dock/Yellow Dock
*Minerals: calcium, phosphorus, iron
*Vitamins: A, C, Thiamine, Riboflavin,
Additionally from this source:
Among its nutritional components, John Kallas (2010) explains, “Curly dock leaves are high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, and zinc” and the seeds are “rich in calcium and fiber while low in protein and fat.”
FOOD USES of CURLY DOCK and HULLING SEEDS:
When to Harvest Curly Dock:
*Something I have observed is that Curly Dock is a perennial so its beautiful crimson/rust seed heads can last well into the next growing seasons.
They are usually missing leaves (identifiers) at this stage. In some regions this stalk could be a few years old. The stalk will look brown and dried out and hollow. The seeds can still be attached…but will not be as fresh and more prone to mold, insects, etc.
So look for stalks/seeds that have just matured in the summer to early fall.
The basal leaves are usually gone but you will notice leaves will still remain on stalk and if early enough in the mature season for harvesting seeds…leaves will still remain near the base.
The pictures I have posted of the rust colored seeds also still have live leaves visible. See pictures below:
The leaves are best young in the spring time.
They can be used in salads or boiled/prepared as a green.
Eat in moderation. The leaves and perhaps other parts of the plant are high in oxalic acid.
Boiling leaves in multiple changes of water may help to reduce oxalic acid.
*Oxalic acid is common in many foods such as: beets, swiss chard, broccoli, etc.
But,anyone with kidney problems/stones or urinary tract problems should be careful with eating oxalate foods.
Some sources such as livestrong.com mention that adding citrus to oxalate foods may decrease oxalic acid effects but it is not conclusive.
Eat in moderation or avoid oxalate foods if a health condition indicates so.
Seek medical advice if concern exists.
The seeds can be eaten raw, roasted, ground into a flour, hulled and ground into a flour, boiled and also prepared/eaten with outer husks. Just consider there will be extra fiber in your meal!
The seeds are small and may be difficult to hull.
Some people suggest dry roasting mature seeds in a pan and rubbing away the heat dried husk. Between your hands or with a rolling pin…and then blow or use a light fan or breeze to whisk the husk chaff away from the seed.
I found this post on a comment thread that looked like a helpful way to remove the husk from the seed.
TIPS ON HULLING SEEDS:
Post by: Mike Fitzugh, on Jun 26, 2013 17:08:41
Get some aluminum window screen from the hardware store. (Fiberglass screen is what most modern window screens are made of and I think it’s too flimsy for this project, but maybe you can get it to work). Staple TWO LAYERS of this screen very tightly across a rectangular wooden frame. You want the screen taught enough so that the two screen layers are lying right next to each other. Note the point of doubling the screen thickness is to make the gap or holes in the screen effectively smaller (when layered) so, make sure the holes in the two layers are offset from each other when stapling.
Place this frame over a pan, cookie sheet, the ground–or wherever you want to catch the chaff. Now take 1/4 cup of VERY DRY dock seeds and put them in the middle of the screen frame. Rub the seeds back and forth across the screen with your fingers. Very quickly the chaff will fall through the gaps in the screen leaving the seeds on top. Brush the seeds off the top of the frame into a dish or bag. Voila! Separated seeds!
You might need to experiment with the dock seeds from your particular part of the world (or the screen size from your particular hardware store). In my climate (mountain, high desert) the dock seeds are quite small and fall through the gaps in the screen along with the chaff unless I double-layer the screen. …But even in that case (a single layer screen), the seeds that fall through are easily recovered by winnowing as described by Jon above. The rubbing of the seeds on the screen turns the chaff into a very fine dust which is easily blown away.
Recipe ideas and Recipes!
DO YOU LIKE GALLETE?
Personally, I want to make Curly Dock flour and make Gallete. (I am looking to find a suribachi to use for grinding the dock seeds.) Gallete is a French crepe traditionally made with buckwheat.
And Curly Dock is wild buckwheat. I look forward to this culinary adventure. And, will keep you posted!
Here is an interesting recipe for
Curly dock/Yellow dock Seed Crackers.
Use a blender/spice mill or mortar and pestle/suribachi to grind seeds too!
(Store extra dry dock seed flour in a jar, and whole seeds in a paper bag.)
Mix together :
one cup of dock seed flour
one teaspoon of salt
and one cup flour of your choice. (My favorites are whole-wheat pastry flour and rye flour.)
Mix in enough water to make pliable, but not sticky dough.
On a well-floured surface, roll dough as thin as possible. Cut into desired shapes or transfer it whole to a well-oiled cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 -12 minutes at 375 O or until crisp.
From this great site:
What about Curly Dock Pancakes? Folks from this site have a great recipe! Some of the recipe is measured out in grams. (Site for gram:ounce conversion below pancake recipe site)
Have You Ever Thought of Making Your Own Bitters for Club Soda or Alcoholic Drinks?
Check this out!
Yellow dock a.k.a. Curly dock is listed as well as other roots and herbs.
Bartenders and Enthusiasts alike are creating their own bitters.
Here is a recipe!
***(Please Consult a Health/Herbal Professional When Using Curly Dock medicinally.)
Alterative; Antiscorbutic; Astringent; Cancer; Cholagogue; Depurative; Homeopathy; Laxative; Poultice; Salve; Tonic.
Curly dock has a long history of domestic herbal use. It is a gentle and safe laxative, less powerful than rhubarb in its action so it is particularly useful in the treatment of mild constipation. The plant has valuable cleansing properties and is useful for treating a wide range of skin problems. All parts of the plant can be used, though the root is most active medicinally. The root is alterative, antiscorbutic, astringent, cholagogue, depurative, laxative and mildly tonic[4, 21, 46, 94, 165]. It used to be sold as a tonic and laxative. It can cause or relieve diarrhoea according to the dose, harvest time and relative concentrations of tannin(astringent) and anthraquinones (laxative) that are present. It is used internally in the treatment of constipation, diarrhoea, piles, bleeding of the lungs, various blood complaints and also chronic skin diseases[4, 238, 257]. Externally, the root can be mashed and used as a poultice and salve, or dried and used as a dusting powder, on sores, ulcers, wounds and various other skin problems. The root has been used with positive effect to restrain the inroads made by cancer, being used as an alterative and tonic. The root is harvested in early spring and dried for later use. Some caution is advised in its use since excess doses can cause gastric disturbance, nausea and dermatitis[222, 238]. The seed is used in the treatment of diarrhoea[4, 218]. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh root, harvested in the autumn before frost has touched the plant. It is only used in the treatment of a specific type of cough. Other Uses Compost; Dye.
Yellow, dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots. They do not need a mordant. An alternative ingredient of ‘QR’ herbal compost activator. (is it the flowers?) This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost[K].
*Here is a comprehensive site about healing uses of Curly/Yellow Dock. Also information on when to harvest the root and what year plant to harvest roots from. (Harvest in fall…)
See following site for more info on medicinal uses of root and the plant.
Thankyou for joining me on an exploration.
From stone circle tipi rings…near where I first harvested Curly Dock…a circular path like the perennial nature of Rumex crispus. Knowledge is best layered with experience and I am still learning. In this way knowledge is like a branch that reaches back and forth. Now between me and you and I am grateful!
Wild Prickly Lettuce
An annual plant
or biennial plant
-It can grow to over 6 feet in height
-found in fields, disturbed sites such as roadsides,
-Originally a plant from Europe. Originating first
Wild prickly lettuce going to seed.
***Use a good field guide to identify plants. Forage with someone who knows.***
I often refer to:
Edible Wild Plants. By Thomas S. Elias and Peter A. Dykeman. Sterlingpublishing.com
*Plus I research numerable other sources…please do the same.*
Well, our semi-trailer truck broke down. A great spill of oil from our engine. A deplorable event for the immediate environment and for our day. Wouldn’t you know it? We broke down to the closest town. Bliss, Idaho.
Once we sussed out what was going on. Put the emergency triangles out. Made calls to emergency repair trucks (who ended up ripping us off for $300,) got the pets comfortable, made calls, sipped on water in the difficult heat with no AC…made lunch to fuel our reservoir of energy for dealing and enduring what became a 9 hour or longer wait by the side of the road, made more calls, waited twice for tow trucks that didn’t come, had our hopes dashed when one of the tow trucks forgot to bring required equipment. Tried to navigate our options. Finally in the late evening we got towed to the Freightliner 50 or so miles away. Cha-ching what a day.
Amidst all this chaos and lapses in the heat. I couldn’t help but admire the wild prickly lettuce greeting me assuredly from the side of the road. The name of my blog is wildlettucegal…I knew eventually, sooner than later, I would have amassed that lovely combo of timing, information, inspiration to write and the opportunities to inspect and photograph the lettuce.
I even wrote a blog about the road breakdown but, I deleted it. It lacked the oomph. I needed to tap into the tipping point of inspiration. And, today, two days later…I have found it.
As a child I was happily feverish about reading Greek and Roman mythology. I would spend hours, especially, reading about Odysseus or Ulysses. Other myths fascinated me. Medusa fascinated/terrified me. Images of her snake filled crown devastated my ability to sleep at night. The age of nine is when I distinctly remember flipping through a book on Greek mythology…only to be transfixed by her graphic image. Beheaded no less.
Needless to say I could have benefitted from wild lettuce’s soporific, dream inducing qualities. Being nine was a bad year for insomnia. That’s when I saw clips from the exorcist. Cinema’s graphic and gorey cinematic mythology. I did not sleep much at the age of nine.
I now have a tattoo of Medusa on my arm. When I started painting 15 years ago…Medusa was my first series of paintings. Somewhere during that series I remembered an image of myself at the age of nine flipping through a Greek mythology book and spotting the image of Medusa for the first time. I’m glad I took the art route around that one.
So, as you may now understand, in my quirky sense of jubilance…and even current interest in mythology old and new, I was thrilled to learn the mythology connected to wild prickly lettuce.
According to Wikipedia:
The lovely, passionate and triumphant goddess Aphrodite had put to final rest the lovely mortal Adonis who was slain by a boar.
She was transfixed by this beautiful mortal and grieved of his loss.
Aphrodite laid Adonis to rest on a bed of wild lettuce.
Sappho is also known to write and account this myth.
(Wild lettuce has a connection to the world of the dead and I wonder if it is its soporific qualities which provides this kind of mythological link. The dreamworld perhaps being a portal to the world of the dead. Or perhaps a closer realm?)
The Egyptian god Min is also associated with wild prickly lettuce.
The ancient greeks believed the juice of the plant was good for eye ulcers.
The Navajo use it as a ceremonial emetic.
It has a reputation as being calming and sleep inducing for insomniacs. It is even said to have mild opiate qualities.
Even today wild prickly lettuce is eaten in Crete. A variety of Maroula or agrimaroulo is eaten boiled. Culinary traditions remain to this day.
I’ve never tried it for anything other than an edible wild food but wouldn’t mind its calming effect either.
Similar to purslane which contains lithium. I like when food helps me feel better. But, I’m not recommending an overuse of the plant.
The plant seems to have a built in mechanism for overuse. Eating too many leaves causes stomach upset. And the seeds contain some tannins.
*For those of you interested in the healing aspects and indications of wild lettuce…here is a helpful site.
*Also, here is a comprehensive page about Wild Lettuce which also distinguishes it from
Wikipedia describes Lactuca virosa as well:
Here is a picture of Lactuca virosa
This image is from the following source:
© Br. Alfred Brousseau, Saint Mary’s College. Permission to use is granted freely to not-for-profit organizations and for a per-image fee for commercial use. Contact Prof. R. P. Olowin at St. Mary’s College firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
And it is used medicinally and/or as a mild psychotropic but is not my focus here and has a wide range of historical use, but, not necessarily as wild edible. There are also a lot of side effects to its use. But, I wanted to include it here so as to distinguish it from the wild edible Lactuca serriola
Back to and in regard to Lactuca serriola
*I like the harvesting ethics outlined by Merriweather
NUTRITION AND HARVESTING TIPS:
*Lactuca serriola a.k.a. wild prickly lettuce is an annual or biennial plant so leave some plants to reproduce by seed.
*according to Elias and Dykeman: Leaf shapes can vary and can be multilobed/with points and/or oval oblong. Leaves are toothed and spiny along margin and main vein under leaf and the lower leaf surface.Proper identification is crucial.*
*I’ve read that older leaves are slightly toxic
*According to Merriweather,when the wild prickly lettuce plant flowers it is said to be inedible.
*Harvest young leaves they are the most tender
*Best to harvest from plants under 8 inches.
*older/larger leaves can be eaten when boiled
*Edible during spring and summer before the plant flowers or is in seed
*the spines on back of middle vein of leaf are usually soft enough to be eaten when the leaves are small.
*the spines on leaves do not tear clothing or injure
skin. But gloves may be useful re: sap, etc.
*leaves can be boiled as a pot green.
Herbalextractsplus.com sites these NUTRITIONAL qualities also:
When dried, the leaves produce a milky latex substance called lactucarium, which is used in herbal medicine. Some of the constituents in Wild Lettuce include the important milky latex substance (lactucarium), sesquiterpene lactones ( lactucopicrin), caoutchouc, mannitol, lactucin, fiber, coumarins and valuable minerals and vitamins.
Beneficial Uses: Wild Lettuce is considered a mild sedative herb.
Contains vitamin A, B and minerals
*I agree with Merriweather and only harvest one or two leaves per plant. I also consider how many plants are in the area I am harvesting from. Also look at the plant and harvest in such a way as not to kill the plant if you can.
It is known as the compass plant because in the sun the upper leaves twist round to hold their margins upright. 
Here are some new flowers emerging. I was happy to find these.
And here is a picture of wild prickly lettuce when it is a bit larger
And flowers sprouted out on long stems from the top
And a closeup view of flower buds
The leaves have a bit of a firm texture. Even the new leaves. The prickles on main vein of back of leaf are edible when new leaves are raw.
I thought the leaves would be good in a salad.
I tasted them raw and un-garnished and they do have a bitter aftertaste. But, I enjoyed them.
I also harvest 1 or 2 leaves per plant to avoid over-harvesting. I grasp the leaf and carefully strip it from the stalk. Another forager taught me this tip. You can see the ends on the leaves above were harvested this way rather than being sheered off.
Milky sap after pinching the top leaves off… were bitter when eaten raw…
You may want to wear gloves because the sap was milky. This may cause irritation to skin and it was sticky.
More on Mythology and Cultural Accounts of use of Wild Prickly Lettuce that inspired me to write this blog are these entries:
I found this on Mesocosm.net
a Sumerian poem about lettuce
Lettuce is My Hair
My hair is lettuce, [planted] by the water,
It is gukkal-lettuce, [planted] by the water….
My attendant arranges it,
The attendant arranges my hair which is lettuce, the most-favored of plants.
The brother brought me into his life-giving gaze,
Shu-Sin has called me to (his) refreshing …. without [end].
You are our lord, you are our lord,
Silver (and) lapis lazuli – you are our lord,
Farmer who makes the grain stand high, – you are our lord,
For him who is the honey of my eye, who is the lettuce of my heart,
May the days of life come forth…..
It is a balbale of Inanna.
Translated by S. N. Kramer, from the indispensable volume
Pritchard JB (ed.), Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Princeton University Press. 1969.
***And, finally I found this wonderful site on plants in mythology and have excerpted their info on Prickly Lettuce here:
Greek : Thridax
Species : Lactuca serriola
Description : The ancient Greeks cultivated the wild prickly lettuce. The plant has tall stalks with elongated leaves, yellow flowers and feathery seeds. The ball-shaped lettuce of today is a derivitive species (Lactuca sativa).
Sacred to : Aphrodite (the plant was associated with impotency)
Mythology : Death of Adonis. Adonis was a handsome youth loved by the goddess Aphrodite. He was slain by a wild boar in a bed of lettuce, or was laid out amongst the plants by the goddess following his death. The lettuce was therefore regarded as the plant of the death of love, and so of impotency. Others say that the baby Adonis was hidden in a lettuce bed by the goddess following his birth from the trunk of the tree Myrrha. (Source: Athenaeus)