Saturday, February 28, 2009

February Herb Walk !

Today was the first herb and plant walk of the year! The morning was fresh and cool, with a promise of sunny warmth, typical of the late February spring in southern Arizona. 5 lovely ladies, herbalists, body care queens, and nature enthusiasts joined me for a walk in the Tanque Verde Wash. The washes around the Tucson area are a strange mixture of desert plants, riparian trees, weeds that travel on horseback and in the water which periodically runs in the sandy wash.
Today, the wash was dry as a bone, but the Cottonwoods (populus fremontii) were covered in both male and female catkins, and the round pods which burst open in a few short weeks and shed mountains of white, fluffy cottony seed. Some of the trees were even far enough along to be bearing small, resinous and delicate tender leaves. We tasted the leaves and buds to experience the stimulating, spicy, resin medicine that the tree gives, and discussed the pros and cons of using the various parts of the plant for medicine ( bud, leaf, bark). Along with the newly leafing out cottonwoods, the Mexican Elders are covered in green, rank leaves. A few more weeeks yet before the Elders put on the flowers so treasured for fevers and flus, but we all enjoyed seeing the new growth.
Spring is mustard time in the southwest and we saw at least 3 varieties of mustard, (London Rocket, Black Mustard, Bladderpod). The oats are green and growing and we enjoyed chewing on the spring green, sweet oat stems in the shade of a cottonwood. In a few more weeks the oats will put out their milky seeds which are so remarkable for the nervous system and adrenals.
We were even lucky enough to see a real dandelion, complete with flowers, which in the desert is a rare treat, dandelions really aren't that common in these parts, mostly due to the lack of watered lawns.
We discussed the finer details of making pain relieving linaments with plants such as cottonwood, tobacco, using both oils and tinctures of various combinations of plants, and the making of delectable treats like clover pesto, and london rocket salad.

We were ecstatically suprised to find the native Chia sage (salvia columbularie) starting to flower as well! By the end of the morning the sun was shining down in full desert force, and forced us into the shade and back to the cars. It was a beautiful day of sharing the medicine and joy of the plants in the desert, and so worth braving the heat for! I hope to see you on the next walk in March, when the flowers will REALLY be out in full glory!

Register for the herb walk in March by e mail ( 25$ per person.

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"The mother of us all, the oldest of us all, Hard, splendid as rock, Let the beauty you love, be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth"~ Rumi ~