Yesterday we took a 4-wheeler ride around the back roads nearby. This little adventure ended up taking about 4 hours, which was far longer than I’d expected but produced a lot of nice photos, at least. All in all, we only circumnavigated one mountain, but that turned out to be quite a long distance from start to finish, ha.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
On the route we saw some blooming witch hazel. The deep blue skies contrasted nicely with the bright yellow spidery flowers.
blooms on the hazel
The rest of the photos are uploaded to the 2014 Fall Color Watch page, if you’d like to see them. Here’s another of the witch hazel that shows more of the shrub with leaves and flowers:
witch hazel bush
I’ve never made remedies with this herb, but I do plan to do so in the future. Here’s the plan: to make an astringent tonic (for external use) I’ll gather the budding twigs and leaves in early spring and add them to a jar with 40% alcohol (I use diluted Everclear, but moonshine also works nicely). I’ll also add gel from the aloe vera we keep on the porch and if I have any growing at the time, I’ll add comfrey root. The witch hazel provides astringency which is great for tightening pores, relieving hemorrhoids and easing bruising while the aloe and comfrey promote speedy skin reparations. There’s some controversy over using the comfrey root, so do some research if you decide to make a remedy at home. Definitely do not use comfrey when there is puncture or deep wounds involved because it’ll cause the wound to heal over on the surface before the deeper parts are done draining, and that’ll lead to abscesses and infection.
Commercial witch hazel tonic is made by distilling the plant parts and collecting the water that condensates during the process. What I’ve described making is an extract, or tincture. The properties will be similar, but a tincture is generally stronger and contains both fat and water-soluble properties of the plants used. Sometimes this is not desirable, so keep that in mind.
You can go here to read more about Hamamelis virginiana at the USDA plant profile site.