Weed Walking!

My good friend and bellydance teacher Michele Donner Ramsey wrote this blog post after a visit. Check out her blog Learning to Live – Living to Learn. My notes are in purple.

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  I visited my most gorgeous friend Melanie the other day. We share many loves and the one I plan to explore in great detail is herbalism. I have signed up for TWO herbalism courses recently and right now I am focusing on identifying common local herbs, especially the so-called weeds! Melanie is a fabulous resource for this! She identified a few weeds in my own yard (Yellow Dock and Lambs Quarters) to my delight. I just had to go on a weed walk in Melanie’s yard while there!
We identified so many things that my poor brain did not retain it all. I should have taken my notebook with me on the walk so that I could write the names down as I took pictures… lesson learned. But I do now remember a few of them (borrowing a few books for identification helped!)

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Mugwort – This one made it into one of my very first jars to make a tincture. I was supposed to make a dream pillow with it, but I forgot and tinctured it instead. Ha! I also tinctured some wormwood.
Wild Rose – this one I could identify but I snapped the picture because of those odd globes attached to the leaves, I wanted to know what those were. (galls from a gall wasp)
Foxglove! the picture does not do it justice.
Prairie Milkweed!
We tentatively ID’d this as trefoil. It seemed smaller than it was described as the book, but all other attributes matched up.
Burdock – now we’re trying to decide if it’s first year growth or second year.

And here are some that I forgot their names, so Melanie will have to fill in the blanks for me!
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Melanie said the flowers were lovely but they close in the evening.
Echinacea – getting ready to flower 
 I found this new one right outside the front door. I tasted the leaves. Nothing. I tasted the seed pods. Yum! Wild mustard! 

We saw a lot more, but I did not take pictures of everything especially since I knew most of them.  We saw yellow dock, lambs quarters, red clover, thistle, nettles, shepherds purse and yellow wood sorrell. (Don’t forget the plantain! She’s an abundant treasure!) I knew fleabane, which I think was one that Melanie hadn’t been familiar with. And she had a mint she did not know, which I was sure was catnip (an easy verification with my cats took care of that ID).
I had the best time! I can’t wait to do it again, this time perhaps more prepared (I’m thinking of pressing samples!)

   OK all you Green Witches, here’s a reader challenge. What the cuss is this? It grows near the artemesia on the south side of the house. It has small white flowers. 

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What’s growing in your yard? I look forward to your responses. Thanks again Michele!

Herb Walk: Yellow Wood Sorrell

  I know you all already know this herb, but I was so surprised and delighted by her appearance today that I needed to mention her. I was weeding the garden, contemplating a blog post on plantain (soon…..) and there she was, conveniently next to the chive patch.
  Here is what to do with wood sorrell: Take your lover by the hand. Fill your own hand with wood sorrell leaves and flowers – the unopened buds are the tastiest – and some chive tips. Sit in the garden together eating nature’s salad and rejoice that it is no longer winter.

Need more info? http://www.squidoo.com/oxalis

Herb Walk: Shepherd’s Purse

  Time for another weed walk! Let’s meet Shepherd’s Purse Capsella bursa-pastoris (a.k.a. Witches’ pouch or Mother heart):

Shepherd’s Purse grows wild all around my house. I bet it grows all around yours too. Sneaking up between sidewalk cracks. In the swampy wet places.

  Some folks eat its peppery seeds in salad, but I regard Shepherd’s Purse as MEDICINE. Please do not take this herb if you are pregnant!!!!! If I want a peppery salad, I prefer Shepherd’s Purse’s brother plant, Poor Man’s Pepper, which usually grows nearby.
  Shepherd’s Purse is used to control bleeding. It is a vasoconstrictor. The fresh tea is used for heavy periods, the tincture for helping post miscarriage and childbirth. The tea can be used as a poultice on a bleeding wound. Soak cotton balls in it and place them in your nostrils for a bloody nose.

SHEPHERD’S PURSE / YARROW TEA for heavy periods
  • 2 parts nettle,
  • 1 part shepherd’s purse leaf/flower,
  • 1/4 yarrow leaf/flower.

Use four to six tablespoons of herbs per quart of water. Place herbs in quart jar and cover with boiling water. Cover tightly and allow to infuse for at least twenty minutes (though the longer the better). Strain.

  • 2 parts shepherd’s purse leaf,
  • 1 part nettle leaf,
  • 1 part yarrow flowers/leaf,
  • 2 parts white oak bark.

Use four to six tablespoons of herb mixture per quart of water. Place herbs in cold water and slowly heat to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for twenty minutes. Strain.


  In my midwifery practice, I use a tincture of Shepherd’s Purse for post partum bleeding after the delivery of the placenta. I had been purchasing the tincture for quite a few years, paying near $12.00 for a 1 ounce bottle. Little did I know, making it is easy and cheap! the herb is free and local, and I get a big bottle of vodka out of the deal!

 To make a tincture, (these instructions will work for ANY herbal tincture, not just Shepherd’s Purse) gather up a lot of fresh Shepherd’s Purse. (Add equal parts yarrow for a menstruation tincture) The entire plant. Cut it up into little pieces:

Then pack it into a glass jar:

Then fill the jar a second time with vodka. Poke out the air with a chopstick and top off:

   The next day you’ll need to top off again with a little more alcohol. Susun Weed says it’s because the herb fairies like to take a nip. Then seal and date your tincture, and leave in a dark place for six weeks. 
When the six weeks are up you can strain your tincture and pour it into tincture bottles.
Do you use Shepherd’s Purse? What’s your recipe?