Harvesting medicinal plants

When and how to harvest plants

For centuries, our ancestors have relied on nature to provide them with food and herbal medicine, developing ways to harvest plants when they are most potent and with respect to Mother Nature.

Best time for gathering plants

Harvest plants when the medicinal potency and energy are most concentrated:

- Buds and flowers are best to pick when they start opening because fully opened flowers will lose much of their medicinal potency. Pick them during full moon phase before 10 am and after the morning dew evaporates.

- Leaves provide energy to nourish roots and flower, so best time to pick them is before flowers have formed. Pick them during full moon phase before 10 am and after the morning dew evaporates.

- Roots store energy in forms of sugar, starch and medicinal alkaloids, so the best time to harvest roots is cold or dormant season when aboveground part of a plant dried or died back. Pick them during new moon phase early in the morning.

Avoiding contamination

Avoid picking herbs along roads as plants growing along busy roads accumulate lead. The closer a plant is to a road, the more lead concertation it has. Be wary of vacant lots, which can be contaminated with lead paint.  Avoid harvesting medicinal plants under power lines and roads where weeds are controlled by spraying instead of cutting.

Be respectful to mother nature

When you find a place where you want to harvest medicinal plants, pay respect to the mother nature for her gifts. Before start picking plants, sit in silence next to the plant, take several deep breaths and try to connect to the plant spirit and Mother Earth. Talk to the plant spirit explaining why you want to harvest the plants and ask for a permission to do it. Listen to the answer. It could come with a light wind blow or bird signing, or just light feeling in your heart. Native American people also suggest to offer a gift from you to honor the spirit. It could be corn meal, a couple strands of your hair, a nice ribbon or stone.  

Take care to preserve the plant community.  Take no more than half of annual or biannual plants, and no more than one third of perennial plants.

Be gentle and caring. Use a knife or scissors to cut parts of plant you intend to use. Do not pull whole plant out or break the plant. Walk gently with a balance through a flower field.

Those are simple rules that will help you to harvest healthy and potent medicinal plants.

Open your heart to the green abundance that Mother Earth gives to us!