I am not sure if this is the right section for this but I was just thinking that I need to go out and harvest poplar tree leaf bud. Now this can be harvested from fallen limbs etc as well as off the lower branches of the trees, even fallen buds at this time of year are great to use. Another thing I will be gathering is pine, and spruce pitch. In winter both pitch and buds are some what frozen...much easier to deal with.
I will process the buds out in a grape seed oil and leave a few to de-stickify a bit and store them dry-ish in a cloth topped jar. The pitch I will just clean as best as possible and store in a jar. I should also process some in oil as well it works well with willow for pain and mixed in a little hot water is good for the stuffies.
I should mention that I have taken courses and studied edible, medicinal plants, and traditional healing.
Next will be barks, and syrup tapping and making but will wait till things start to warm up just a smidge or a lot which ever gets the sap flowing. I know it is the temps and the light but this will be my first year tapping birch trees, so will keep you posted. I did tap maples when I was a kid down southeast, but birch will be a new experience. Will also gather a whack of willow bark as soon as I see the pussies cause the essential oils are at their height in spring.
I live in what is called the boreal forest or the taiga so the wild medicines that I gather are from these areas. I am trying to plant some other medicinal plants in my garden as well and now I look at my neighbor's yard and have asked if I can pick their juniper berries cause I want to make a great pain oil.... I get that look, a lot. I mean a lot.
I need to go and get my skis organized and find my back pack.
cheers from the garden at the lake
Bina zone 2b/3a
How exactly do you use the pine and spruce pitch? Do you take it orally or do you also use it for external application?
Around here it's used as incense material, but I would really be interested in it's medicinal values.
The only things I use from conifers (pine, spruce, but also fir and larch) are the fresh sprouts, from march to may. They are great as a spice for sweet dishes and I also make "honey" from these parts.
I simply cook them for 30 minutes in water with sugar or honey. After removing the sprouts I reduce the brew to a honey-like texture.
Combined with black radish and broadleaf plantain it makes a nice cough syrup.
Okay no I do not sell any medicines ....I could lose my house, and land. I will preface all the medical information with the statement according to the people of the Taiga this is what these plants do. I hope that is enough to satisfy all those in the background. As for the value of poplar bud, it would depend upon whether or not you could find some one to buy them from you. Organic dandelion root is worth 35.00 per pound if you can find some one to sell it to. If your poplars are close to a road or drive way remember they would not be organic.
So to answer what to do with the plant materials that I spoke about.
spruce is an analgesic, anti fungal, antimicrobial antiseptic and disinfectant. It can be prepared as a cream essential oil foot soak, hydrosol, infusion liniment oil poultice, salve, steam syrup tea wash, the pitch can be used in any of these but needles and tips will work better at some things than others. According to the council of the Yukon First Nations "the sap of the spruce is a tonic and is used each spring to clean the blood. The inner bark of a spruce was made into a tea and strained and was used for stomach upsets, ulcers, weak blood mouth sores and sore throats. Spruce cambian was an emergency trail food, needle tea a source of vitamin C. First nations people use the gum or pitch as a lozenge for coughs and sore throats. They mix the pitch with grease (I use oils and beeswax) to treat cuts and topical infusions. It cleanses the wound and protects it from germs, makes great stitches in a pinch and can be packed into the cavity of a tooth until you can get to treatment.
There is also spruce tip jelly, spruce beer, soaked in oil they make a great salad dressings and in the boreal gourmet you will find a recipe for spruce tip salt.
I have also have a Sami recipe for pine bark crackers which are really quite good, pine and spruce ache and pain liniment pine household cleaner. There is research being done into the primary active compound in the wood of the larch species an arabiogalactans that belong to a group of carbohydrates called polysaccharides. Studies have shown that the larch arabinogalactans help to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer and act as a prebiotic to help stimulate and promote good bacteria in the digestive tract and help to produce digestive enzymes. There are companies that are producing this in powder form generally from the western larch. The larch was and remains a major food source among northerners.
Poplar in the winter gather buds. Bark in the spring, gather that from pruned or downed branches. The medicinal properties of poplar: alterative, analgesic, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, astringent, bitter, cholagogue, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, pectoral, mild sedative and tonic. Preparation methods include bah, cream, infusion, oil, linement poultice, salve, steam tea and tincture. The buds are emollient and help soften, soothe, and protect the skin. They are also effective at helping heal wounds and cuts, and demucent, helping soothe and protect irritated or inflamed tissue. The inner bark contains salicin and is a natural remedy for feverrs, rheumatism, arthritis, and diarrhea. This is a stronger medicine and can be very stimulating in high dosages.
A salve made with the winter buds is traditionally called balm of Gilead. There is something in poplar bud that acts as a preservative so mixing some in with some of your own blends will preserve them for years longer than normal.
I hope all that answers all the questions and helps get anyone started who wants to.
cheers from the garden at the lake
Bina zone 2b/3a
To echo what Bina has said, I have made poplar bud oil and salve several times, and currently use it after shaving and for bad sun burns. Works great. I followed the directions from Michael Moore's Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West.