Wildcrafting in Upstate NY

Alina_Jette(USDA 5)April 19, 2005

Now that spring is here...and everything green around me, I have been thinking about when I will be going out to wildcraft some of the plants I use. Since I live in an apartment, I can't grow anything outside, and that limits what I can grow myself inside. So I was wondering what suggestions everyone had for my area of what grows wild here. What I usually find in my area to wildcraft is, Plaintain, Marshmellow, All kinds of Mint, Catnip, and Nettles. I was wondering what else I can expect to find and easily identify? And what time of year can I expect to collect? Also, any tips on staying responsible on what I collect and how I help reseed would be helpful too. Any plants I should avoid? A recommendation for a good book for indenifying plants? Am I asking too many questions? Thanks in advance :)

-Alina

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Heathen1(10a)

Try Amazon, there is a couple of books on plant identifying for the east... I think there is a Native American one too... I don't usually look for the eastern US, but there didn't use to be much for the West.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 11:49AM
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franc(z5IND)

Alina, I think about anything that grows here should grow wild there too.Just don't over harvest,spread or plant the seeds.Just planting the seeds of say a plant like ginseng gives the plants a huge advantage over letting nature follow its course.Alot of wildcrafting involves plants which are basicly weeds and are all over the place usually in places they don't belong anyways.Good luck

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/HerbHunters/hhunters.html

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 1:05AM
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herbalbetty

Alina, where in upstate NY are you?? One thing to remember is, get permission from the landowner before you wildcraft. Also, if the herb is growing on the side of a busy road, don't harvest it (pollution). Check to make sure the plant is not on the endangered or protected species list. A couple books that are useful: Peterson Field Guide to Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants by Steven Foster/James A. Duke and Weeds of the Northern U.S. and Canada by France Royer and Richard Dickinson. Have fun!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 7:07AM
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Alina_Jette(USDA 5)

Well I am in Central NY, around the Utica area. There is alot of stateland and abandoned acres where I go. Paths and streams that a friend and I have been hiking and gathering and exploring since we were kids. I was into herbalism when I was alot younger (my mother's best friend was a very experienced herbalist who got me into it in the first place) but I used to only really know the very basic stuff, and I never really went outside of the few plants that I knew I could indentify. But now I am getting interesting in expanding my knowledge and getting more involved with it.
Thanks so far for advice. I will look into those books as well:)
-Alina

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 11:25AM
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herbalbetty

We used to live in Rome, NY (DH was stationed at Griffiss AFB) and I know along route 49 there was tons of skunk cabbage and marsh marigold. Also, there is lots of coltsfoot in that area. But, then again, we moved in 1989, so I imagine some things have changed! Also, up Buck's Hill was a lot of wild herbs.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 1:14PM
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rouan

herbalbetty,

I moved to the Utica region a couple of years ago and am still trying to find my way around. Where's Bucks Hill? Is that closer to Rome or Utica? Is it accessible to anyone? Is it a place where one can hike?

rouan

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 4:01PM
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herbalbetty

rouan, if I remember correctly (HA!), Buck Hill is off of Route 46, north of Rome, up by Westernville?? As long as you are driving up that way, keep going to Pixley Falls. You can't pick any plants there, but there is an abundance to capture on film. Saw my first Jack-in-the-pulpit there!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 4:37PM
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Alina_Jette(USDA 5)

Thanks Herbalbetty, will look into those herbs around in my area, and I will check out Buck Hill :)

-Alina

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 12:34AM
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rouan

Alina,

Thanks, I'm ready to do some exploring! Pixley Falls sounds like it will be interesting to see.

I saw my first Jack-in-the-Pulpit at Conklin Gully (near Naples, NY) in the Hi Tor Wildlife Management area. They are so cool looking!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 10:09AM
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DigginDanny(z5 NY Catskills)

herbalbetty and I did a few wildcrafting forays last year and from what I can recall we found St. John's wort in abundance, yarrow, elecampane, burdock, red clover...and of course dandelion!:)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 12:56PM
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eibren(z6PA)

Has anyone in this Forum wildcrafted lately, and where?

I have to admit, I so far have only found herbs in nurseries and plant centers, and would be a bit nervous about collecting something without absolute proof of identity.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 11:59PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

In the non-frozen times of the year, very regularly. I harvest some for myself but mostly for a naturopath. I harvest mainly "weeds" and non-native plants, like mullein and dandelion. My lawn and gardens via weeding offer up a treasure trove of dandelion, yellow dock, ragweed, plantain, cleavers, self-heal, yarrow, ground ivy, mullein, and burdock. I also pick sang ye (white mulberry leaf), hawthorn berries, raspberry leaf, wild strawberry, red clover, teasel, dogbane, goldenrod, and more from the plants and trees about my property.

Occasionally I go elsewhere to pick, with permission, but usually I stay busy enough with harvesting about my place that I don't need to go elsewhere. I also grow herbs to harvest so not all my work is with wild plants.

If you are looking to harvest "weeds" like dandelion, visit anyone you know that doesn't use pesticides, herbicides, or chemical/synthetic fertilizers and offer to do some weeding for them! You with both come away happy!

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 12:32AM
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simplemary

Appalachian zone 6 or eastern PA zone 6? In SWPA I have found elecampane, st johnswort, mullein, wild garlic, burdock, cleavers, clovers, yarrow, chicory, ginger (Canadian), nettles, any number of herbal ephemerals, cattails, abandoned lilies, abandoned roses, heal-all, ground ivy, plantains (narrow & broad leaf), goldenseal (no I won't tell you where & no I don't pick it), joe pye, wild fruits & berries all over, including spice bush, blueberries, cherries, plums, mulberries, elderberries... witch hazel (in abundance), cone flowers, mountain mint & lots more.

The main trick to wildcrafting is to know what you're looking for. The Audubon society frequently sponsors walks that aren't just about birding--check your local chapter. Our state parks in this end of the state often have a print out of what plants can be seen in flower in the park at what time of year-- very helpful way to learn identification (& you can't--shouldn't-- pick them anyway, so you can go back & take a second look next year, too) Take a guide book (or two) & a camera & take pix of what you can't figure out to show someone later.

Rules of polite wildcrafting were discussed above but I add that for every five plants you find in an area, take only one. If you can't find at least five, don't take any. If they don't look healthy, don't take any. DON'T STORE THEM IN PLASTIC for the ride home. Take a cotton pillow case or small muslin bags, rubber band them together & label them on site. (A lot of wilted plants look the same). If you're looking for flowers, harvest the flowers (leaving plenty to go to seed), otherwise, leave flowering plants alone. Roots should be harvested when the tops have died back in autumn, so you have to do a little planning to remember where you saw them.

Wear boots (snakes) & take gloves (nettles, spiders, etc).

And finally, take only what you need for the moment. You can always go back. As a matter of fact, you want to be able to go back. These places become your private reserves, as it were. And likewise, you become one of their stewards.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 12:58AM
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eibren(z6PA)

Mary, I'm in Eastern PA--Harrisburg area--within 10 miles of TMI.

I will have to look around out in the area where my DH gardens.

I have planted some things in my garden, including ground ivy, and a few things have appeared from soil I have purchased. I have several kinds of Elderberry here and there, and, I think, some wild plums out back, seedlings from an old "Japanese" plum taken down by the electric company.

I'm mostly looking for young plants or seeds. I don't use too much herb mass, or do winter storage--I just like having herbs around me, like friends, for occasional use as spring tonics or summer teas...or occasionally for bronchitis. I like planting things that are adapted to the area and can survive, though.

Fata, I will have to look up Sang Ye now. I know the squirrels occasionally tear off the bark....

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 1:45AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Take a browse out to www.richters.com or www.horizonherbs.com for a wide range of herb plants and seeds available. The nice part about Richters is that they are in Canada near Toronto. I've never lost any plants I got from Richters to winter die off. Some plants, even though they are supposed to be hardy here, when coming from much warmer states seem to have more difficulty with the winter. I like to favor getting plants from places that are my zone or colder.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 6:41PM
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eibren(z6PA)

Thanks; I added both of those links to my Favorites. I love going to herbal websites.

Today I planted a Gingko! Now, when it gets a bit bigger, I will be able to make my own gingko tea....

:o)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 2:48AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I started some gingkos from seed last year. I had about 25% germination and have 5 seedlings to figure out where to plant this year - that is if they survived the winter. They've yet to leaf out. I got the seed from Horizon Herbs. I tried gingko seeds from Johnny's the previous year and didn't have any germinate.

This year I got a gingko that I've been wanting for a couple of seasons now. It is a gingko 'Pendula'. It has a more "weeping" or horizontal habit than the upright and rather stiff habit that most gingkos have. Check out www.forestfarm.com for this variety and lots of others. A very cool place for trees and other plants. I got my american spikenard from there. It is quite a bold plant in my woodland, native herb garden.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 9:03AM
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simplemary

I hope you got a male ginko, or you will learn why they call it the stinko ginko.... However, it's the seed in the pukey fruit of the female that is considered the Chinese tonic.An oh, oh, law does it stink! Good luck

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 9:25PM
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