Of Shedding & Nourishment: Some Wild Herbs & Foods of Late Autumn

In the cycle of the seasons, autumn represents a period of death.  Foliage and flowers abandon us, offering themselves back to the earth..

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leaving only the tougher parts of plants and trees to endure the winter–the fruits, seeds, bark and roots.

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Everything contracts, conserving nutrients and warmth.  Energy previously expressed outwardly now hides beneath thicker skins, or in roots and rhizomes under the earth’s surface.

…And we contract as well, staying close to the warm places, and interacting a little less with the world outside.

008Where, in this barren season can we best find our nourishment and vitality when we need it most? …

….Where all the energy and nourishment have gathered.  In wild roots…and seeds…and fruits. And so those are the herbs and foods that I gather in the late fall.  Here are a few of my favourites…

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Burdock roots (Arctium lappa)

Taproots, such as those found on burdock, dandelion, wild carrot and thistle, reach deep into the soil, gathering up nutrients for storage.  Rich in prebiotic starches like inulin, they nourish our gut flora, strengthening our digestion and our immunity.

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Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) fresh out of the ground

Cooked into soups and stews, these roots make nutritious vegetables, providing potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium among other trace minerals.  Infused in apple cider vinegar, they yield a wild “Root Tonic” that can be taken daily, or can be added to salad dressings for a wild-infused nutty flavour.  While offering nourishment, also help detoxify the system, shedding what we no longer need.

Nettle Seeds (Urtica spp)

Nettle Seeds (Urtica spp)

Nettle seeds are another gift of autumn.  I sprinkle them onto cereal or other dishes for a boost of protein, silica, potassium and vitamins A & C.  Gently restorative to kidneys and adrenal glands, they can be particularly helpful during or after periods of increased stress or illness.  

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Hawthorn Berries (Crataegus spp)

Hawthorn berries make a safe and gentle tonic for the heart and circulatory system.  They help to calm and centre the mind, and reduce the effects of stress on the body.  They make a lovely addition to herbal tea, combining particularly well with vitamin C-rich spruce needles–which are available for winter harvest.

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A simple, well-infused pot of tea will carry many of the benefits of our late autumn herbs, and may just be the perfect thing to nourish us through the winter months…

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…Helping us to keep a strong earth connection, even under the snow & ice. 

Here’s to winter warmth and wellness!

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