As I was going through my pictures from the herb walk weekend, I realized I had so many that this will be a mini series of posts. Now, let’s start at the beginning…
Last Friday, I made my way down to the Mount Madonna Center in Watsonville, California. Mount Madonna Center is a conference and retreat center set amid the beautiful redwood rainforest about 2 hours south of San Francisco. It seems that their primary focus is yoga, but there is a school for children from kindergarten to high school, and there are continuing education classes (of all kinds) happening at the center all the time. Kathryn and my class was only one of the many held there this past weekend.
Two hours on the road and I’m here!
After checking in with my herb teacher, I went to find my sleeping accommodations in the Oaks Campground area. I had signed up for a private room, but Mount Madonna had many choices for how you could stay on the property. Some people chose to camp, others chose to share a dormitory type space, and some, like myself, chose private accommodations. I don’t really mind sharing a room, but I really wanted my own bathroom. Plus, I had been camping the weekend before, so I wanted to live a little more comfortably for my stay in the redwoods.
So, off I went to look for my cabin. I had a sneaking suspicion I would not have a bathroom, but I kept an open mind. When I saw the first cabin, I was completely charmed! The next building I saw was the toilets and shower rooms, confirming my suspicions that I wouldn’t have a bathroom en suite. Ah well, c’est la vie. I spotted Kathryn’s car in the lot and of course, started walking around yelling out her name. She popped her head out of Cabin #3 and we had our girly hug greeting. Finally, I found my cabin, #6.
Super cute cabin #6
After thinking my cabin was super cute, I noticed it was set back the furthest from all the other cabins. Then I noticed the little statue in front of it.
Suddenly Blair Witch Project came to mind. Remember that scene where the kids come out of their tent to find little rock piles/statues in front of it? Yeah, that scene. Even though it was broad daylight, I already started to get a little spooky. Then I checked my cell phone and there was no signal. What if Blair Witch tried to get me? What if Freddy Kruger showed up? How would I make it out alive? Who could I call? When I got inside my cabin, I was relieved to find out the door bolted on the inside and I could see Kathryn’s front door from mine. I promptly told her that I would be screaming for help and that she would have to rescue me.
Yes, I am that kind of girl.
But, in spite of my spookiness, I still liked the little cabin and I was glad that our teacher put Kathryn and me so close together.
The rest of the evening was pretty calm. We had dinner at the center and then had an evening class where we set our intentions for the weekend. My intention was to learn as much as possible from the plants to be able to cultivate them in my own garden.
Saturday started with a mini herb walk with Kathryn as the guide. Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera on this walk so I don’t have pictures of the herbs and plants she identified. Some of the plants we came across were rosemary, rose geranium, Mexican sage, mullein and pennyroyal. Rose geranium is one of my favorite essential oils to use and I was thrilled to see one up close. After our mini hike, we met up with the rest of our class and began our foray into the wild herbal world.
1. Yerba Buena
We found this yerba buena growing right next to the road. It tasted minty and smelled like oregano. This plant is native to California and loves the moisture from being on the coast. It’s been used in teas for taste and medicinally when someone has a cold or a cough. This plant can be dried also, and will last for about a year.
2. Horseweed (also known as Fleabane)
A second shot of horseweed where you can see the top and leaves more clearly.
This plant is considered a weed but has so many uses. It had a very refreshing taste and reminded me a bit of cilantro. My teacher told us that this plant was used for bleeding, cuts and sprains. It can be used as a tea to help with internal bleeding and as a poultice/compress for external bleeding, due to its astringent properties. It was also used in the past on animals in poultices. This plant generally grows near animals/barns and can be found all over the United States.
3. Pearly Everlasting
Unfortunately, the flowers had already died, so this picture is just dead flowers. Sorry! I did get to taste the flower and it wasn’t to my liking. I don’t remember quite why, but it’s not something I’d make in a tea unless I needed it for medicinal reasons. Most people dry this flower and use it for decorations. (When dried, it lasts for a couple of years) Medicinally, this flower is used in teas for wet, boggy lung type colds. It is anti-microbial and a very good expectorant.
4. Magenta Lambsquarters
Here is a shot of the full plant.
I absolutely love the coloring of this plant. It almost looks as if the magenta color was spray painted onto the plant. It has a very strong green taste and is extremely nutritious. It is anti-inflammatory and full of amino acids, in addition to being full of vitamins A and C. You can eat it raw or steamed, but you only use the leaves and the top of the stem. It can be an invasive plant and some consider it a weed.
This is one tasty plant being both tart and sweet at the same time. It is a late summer plant, and while some consider it a weed, you can actually buy it in Mexican grocery stores. This plant has anti inflammatory properties and is good for your digestion system. It has also been shown to heal ulcers. It can be eaten every day but only the leaves and tops of the plant should be used. This plant is also high in omega 3 & 6’s. My teacher mentioned that chickens love it.
I’m going to take a quick break but should have Part 2 up shortly.