Elderberry Flowers Oil Infusion

Elderberry at Wild Ozark
American elderberry, Sambucus canadensis

Elderberry flowers have a light, sweet fragrance and all manners of pollinators love them.

Which Elderberry Flowers?

The variety I’m using for this is Sambucus canadensis, which is the native elderberry in our area.  Black elderberry (S. nigra) is the european comparative variety. Don’t use red elderberry if it grows in your area because that one is toxic.

Step by Step

  • Pick the elderberry flowers. But don’t pick ALL of the flowers. Save some for the pollinators and some to make berries for you and the birds.
Fresh elderberry flowers.
Fresh elderberry flowers.

Choose only the fresh flowers, just opened and not turning brown yet. You’ll have to pull the branches down where you can reach them if the flowers are too high.

  • Cut them and let them drop into your bowl.

Don’t cut all of the flowers so there will be some left for the pollinators and for berries.

Be forewarned. You’ll get showered with bugs and old petals while you’re doing this.

  • Separate the petals from the stems.
  • Spread them out on a pan and let them sit for a few minutes outside so the bugs can vacate the premises. I put them on a sheet of kraft or parchment paper, on the pan.

When you’re ready to transfer them into the jar, you can use the paper like a funnel.

Spread them outside on a pan to let the bugs escape.
Spread them outside on a pan to let the bugs escape.

 

  • Add the flowers to a jar.
  • Cover with the oil of your choice and put a cap on the jar. I used macadamia nut because I had it on hand, and coconut oil because I didn’t have enough of the macadamia alone.
Elderflowers infusing in the sun.
Elderberry flowers infusing in the sun.
  • Let it sit in the sun to infuse all day. Every once in a while turn the jar to move the oil around.
  • Strain the next day into a fresh jar. Use a wooden spoon to press the flowers to get every last drop. I had more than would fit in the pint, so grabbed another smaller jar to capture the rest.
Straining the infusion.
Straining the infusion.
  • Label your treasure! This is something I am trying to do better at.

It’s one thing for me to know what’s in a jar or bag by smell, it’s another when I have to ask someone else to retrieve something for me, based upon my description of that smell or taste. If I’m not able to physically retrieve it myself because of injury or any other reason, I need to have them labeled so someone else can do it.

Case in point is when I wanted to slather on some healing balms after my ACL/meniscus tear and couldn’t walk down the stairs to get it myself. With nothing labeled, it would have been hard to ask Rob to bring what I needed.

Labeled infusion.
Labeled infusion.
  • Strain it again the next day. Use a fresh jar and transfer the label to it. After the tiny bit of moisture from the flowers has had time to gather itself together and form little bubbles or globs beneath the oil, you need to strain it again.

This time use a piece of paper towel and pull it through the funnel until you have most of it out of the bottom. Then cut off the paper towel so only an inch or so hangs beneath the funnel.

  • Then put two coffee filters opened in the funnel and pour the oil through the coffee filters first. it’ll be slow to go through so you might have to wait a bit before pouring again. Between the coffee filter and the paper towel, the little bit of moisture should get captured.

Your resulting oil should be crystal clear with a yellow tint and the scent should be lovely and light.

  • Let me know if you make this and how you used it. I’ll be using it in lip balms this time. When the tubes arrive next week, I’ll document the process and share that here in a blog post too, so stay tuned.

Happy Harvesting!

Email me if you’d like this post in PDF format. [email protected]



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

2017 Farmers Market Schedule

I decided to just update the schedule on my “appearances page“. Please check there for the latest dates. The link to get there is https://www.wildozark.com/appearances-workshops-herb-walks-presentations/ 

Schedule of farmers markets & events

5/26/17 – Friday

I’ll be in Jasper, for a change of venue.  I’ll have a couple of older ginseng plants (2 yr and 3 yr plants), ginseng seedlings, ginseng jams, books, and nature art and cards. If it’s very windy, I’ll keep the ginseng inside the high-walled tote, so ask if you don’t see them if you come by. Also, if you want fresh-roasted coffee beans, I’ll have that with me too. Oh – and an item I keep forgetting to bring but is wonderful: Amazing Sting Oil! This stuff works to keep poison ivy from itching so badly, will bring down the pain and sting and swelling of wasps and hornets, too. I made some up by dissolving frankincense tears in fractionated coconut oil after my daughter told me how good it worked for her when a hornet stung her on the lip.

5/23/17 – Tuesday

Cancelled due to rain, even though now it seems as if it might not rain very much after all. I can’t pack the night before if rain chances are high because too many of my items will be ruined if it gets damp. This morning, it was raining a little, so I cancelled out.

5/16/17 – Tuesday

I’ll be in Huntsville at the Farmer’s market from 7-12. This week I’ll have a couple of older ginseng plants (2 yr and 3 yr plants), ginseng seedlings, and possibly some Heritage red raspberries if they’re ready after transplanting to the pots. Also will have ginseng jams, books, and nature art and cards. If it’s very windy, I’ll keep the ginseng inside the high-walled tote, so ask if you don’t see them if you come by.

5/2/17 – Tuesday

I won’t be there this week. The recent weather made crossing the creek to get to the nursery too difficult and it’s been far too windy to pot up more tender seedlings. As of right now, I do plan to be there next week on the 9th, but check back in case more weather or unexpected circumstances happen!

5/6/17- Pot 5 Get 1

The recent flooding has made our driveway nearly impassable except for trucks. If you plan to come to the Pot 5 Get 1 event this weekend, be sure to let me know! If no one RSVP’s, then I may not be out there if someone unexpected shows up. The nursery isn’t near the house, so unless I know someone is coming, I won’t be down there the whole time.

General Info

The Farmers Market in Huntsville (AR) will open on Tuesday, April 11. It’s early this year! Many of the vendors must already have crops ready to sell. I am going to be fairly bare-boothed for a few more weeks.

I won’t have ginseng so early, though. It’ll be May before I start bringing the plants to market. We’ll be there every Tuesday. Once the ginseng is ready, we’ll be there some Saturday’s also.

However, I will have other items. When I see what sells best, I’ll adjust what I bring more of accordingly. Art generally does not seem to sell so much at farmers market venues, but I’m experimenting with a couple of different forms of it to see if that makes a difference.

Nature Art Cards

I’ve searched high and low to source the materials for my cards from companies in the US. These are 100% Made in the USA cards. The paper, ink, and art was all created right here in the United States. The cards are fine art paper and are blank inside with a drawing assemblage on the front made from one of my original works of art mounted on kraft paper.

Nature Art Note Cards by Madison Woods
Available directly from me, and coming soon to the Westwood Garden Nursery stores in northwest Arkansas.

Nature Art Prints

Tree Priestess will make her debut at the Huntsville Farmers Market this year.
Tree Priestess

I’ll have a few of the 5 x 7 or 4 x 6 prints of the Tree Priestess, and Slug on Poison Ivy. I’ll have others when my printing supplies come in. The paper I usually order is out of stock and other than that one favorite brand and type, I’m not sure what else to use. It’s too expensive to try and have it fail in the printer to just pick another. So more research is in order for that if my trusted supplier doesn’t restock.

Jams

While supplies last, which I suspect won’t be long, I’ll have some of the ginseng jams left. I will have other jams and jellies as I get them made, including red onion marmalade, wild plum jelly, and blackberry if it’s good seasons for the wild fruits this year.

Fairy Gardens

Our latest product creation is these adorable homestead fairy habitats. Going through shipping trials now! Sign up for the newsletter or watch the blog to know when they're listed in our Boutique.

I’ll have a couple of the fairy gardens, but again, I’m out of the globes for them and need to order more. Basically, I need to make some money before I can order all the things I’m short on, so hopefully the opening day will bring cash flow, too.

Books

I’ll have some of the ginseng look-alikes guide, at least, on opening day. The book order with the rest of my books won’t be here until the following week, though.

What Else?

That’s about it for my lineup. I’m not sure what everyone else is bringing, but it should be a good variety of things this year. The Huntsville Farmers Market has grown to more than 10 vendors, from what I hear, so it will be fun! Come out to see what else is there, and say hello to me while you’re  at it.



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Ginseng Seedlings for Sale! At the Huntsville Farmer’s Market on Tuesday

Market Day April 18, 2017

I’m just going to update and repost this same market page each Monday night before market.

Tomorrow I’ll have ginseng seedlings, a couple of older ginseng plants, and various companion plants including blue cohosh, doll’s eyes, bloodroot,  and maidenhair fern.

Ginseng Companion Plants ready for market day.
Ginseng Companion Plants ready for market day. Pic may be sideways because it’s from my phone and I can’t figure out how to make it stay upright in WordPress, lol.

I’ll also have the books, art, and ginseng jams.

Hope to see you there!

April 11, 2017

The Huntsville (Arkansas) Farmers Market 2017 season is set to begin. Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 11) is the first market day this year.

Wild Ozark will be there, but it’s too early for plants. Tomorrow we’ll have ginseng jam, winter crud/cough syrup (jam), books, and nature art cards and drawings. If I can find a way to pack it in the car, I might bring my herb hanger.

Next week I should have some plants ready to go, including ginseng seedlings.

If you’re in the area stop in and say hello!

It's market day tomorrow! Wild Ozark's Market booth
I might not have the banner hanging until I get more grommets, but look for the tan top and green curtains 🙂


About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Sunrise Sounds at Wild Ozark

In the mornings, we don’t hear highway noise of people rushing to get to work on time. Our sunrise sounds belong to nature.

Sunrise Sounds

Remodeling

We’ve been particularly busy lately here. Rob’s remodeling the bathroom. We thought it might be a weekend project, just a new coat of paint and put up some trim.

Ha. Well, it’s almost three weeks later now and we have had a bit of stress over the bathroom. Ended up needing a new shower door, too.  It looks great, even if the cost was the vanity top we left behind busted up in the parking lot at Home Depot.

Image to accompany the Sunrise Sounds post.
shower doors

Garden

We finally got our garden started yesterday.

Yesterday Rob said “We need to get those onions planted before the rains come.”

Translated:  “You should go out there and plant those onions while I’m in here working on the shower door.”

It was already on my list of things to do anyway. Grandgirl Chloe was over and I thought she’d like to help. She loves to plant things. So we gathered our tools and seeds and head down there.

Then when I started to make the first row, the hoe just “plinked” when it hit the ground. It was hard as a rock. I knew right then we had a problem.

And so I scratched a line in the dirt and gave the rake to Chloe and said “here, why don’t you rake that way (waves hand toward other end of garden) while I go get the shovel?”

Poor thing, she’s so eager. When I came back from getting the shovel I could barely see where she’d been raking, lol, and she was huffing and puffing. I didn’t think she’d keep going once I’d gotten out of sight.

So I started digging with the shovel, to turn over the row since the hoe wasn’t working. Plink! The shovel wouldn’t even go in.

The dirt was like baked clay and all I managed to get done was a pathetic scratch on the surface.

By the time Rob got out there to see what I’d gotten done I was so mad that if he would have commented on how little progress I’d made I would have given him the shovel and hoe and dared him to make the rows.

But he didn’t say that! He asked if I wanted him to get the tractor out to break it up, hahahahahahaha, and so that’s what he did and then he helped me get them planted.

I was hurting so bad by the time we got to bed last night but it felt good to get started.

Getting started on the garden.

We’d like to grow all the things we normally like to eat, but that’s going to take some time.

After yesterday’s efforts we only have onions planted.

At least when we’re toiling, we’re getting to hear sunrise sounds and other noises mostly originating in nature while we’re doing it.



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Compost Sifter

Rocks are everywhere here at Wild Ozark. Even when I rake leaves or clean out the chicken house I get rocks mixed in. A compost sifter would help when I’m trying to separate rocks and weeds out of the pile.

Compost Sifter Concept to Reality

I had an idea in mind of what I wanted and so I made a little sketch to show my husband.

Later that day he came into the house carrying a real-life version of exactly what I’d sketched, except his was perfect. Not like my drawing, which is NOT a good example of my artistic skill …

Compost Sifter my husband built from my sketch.

Perfection

If I had built this myself, I know it wouldn’t have been properly squared. There wouldn’t have been the attention to the details Rob gives to everything he builds or creates. He even angled the feet. On both ends.

Garden Work

If Spring ever returns, I’ll get to work with my new compost sifter on the manure pile for the garden.

Our new garden is raked (thanks to the rake he just rebuilt for the tractor) and looking very nice, but it too is peppered with small rocks on the surface. I know larger ones are hiding just beneath the top. So I might sift a little spot for each plant as I set them out so they can get a good start. We’ll see. That might be too much work.



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Starting Seeds and Straightening Tines

Yesterday I decided it was time to get busy starting seeds for our garden. Hauled the seed vault out and began the painful process of picking which of the very many seeds I have saved that I want to start first.

Starting Seeds Means Choosing WHICH Seeds

The pile quickly grew too large.

And so I went through it again.

And again, until the pile was narrowed down to a manageable stack.

Starting seeds means choosing WHICH seeds to start.
Starting seeds means choosing WHICH seeds to start.

The Seed List for the First Round

Here’s what I ended up with:

  • Broccoli (might be a little late for this one)
  • Paris Island lettuce
  • Black seeded Simpson lettuce
  • Oakleaf lettuce
  • Bibb lettuce
  • Bloomsdale spinach
  • Colorado blue spruce (we just love these trees)
  • Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa)
  • Beebalm (Monarda didyma)
  • Hopi tobacco
Waiting to sprout.
Waiting to sprout.

In the Meantime…

Rob was working in his shop straightening the tines and bar for his rock rake. A couple of years ago during the landslide aftermath, the rake was collateral damage in the effort to cut a new driveway.

Our friend who had been working on the bulldozer making the road better had to exit the site quickly because lightning started striking far too close for comfort. Since being encased in a metal vehicle didn’t seem like such a good idea at the time, he accidentally hit the rake backing the dozer out of the creek.

But Rob’s a masterful welder and craftsman and he made it even better than before.

Refabricated bar on the rock rake.
Refabricated bar on the rock rake.
The spindle looks pretty strong!
The spindle looks pretty strong!
Look at those uniform and perfect tines!
Look at those uniform and perfect tines!


About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

An Herbal Remedy for Winter Crud featuring Mullein, Ginseng, Beebalm, and Echinacea

Here’s my recipe for an herbal remedy I use every year to combat what we’ve come to call “Winter Crud”. We also take it at the first sign of anything that feels like trouble coming on. This year’s formula uses mullein, echinacea, ginseng, and beebalm. I’ll update and repost this every year to tell you which herb’s I’m using and whether I’ve changed anything about how I’m making it.

My recipe for this year's Winter Crud syrup.
click to enlarge or print

Ugh. Winter Crud

I’m sure there’s a real name for it, but I don’t know what it is. We just call it the “winter crud” or “creeping crud” or “that *bleeping* cough that lingers forever”. I don’t usually go to the doctor because I’m worried that there might be even more serious ailments lurking inside the office waiting room than the one currently plaguing me. So I generally rely on my trusty herbal allies unless it’s acute or serious.

The symptoms are always the same: deep congestion that’s hard to cough up, sometimes a low fever for a day or two at the beginning, and a few weeks of long-lingering congested cough.

Inevitably someone in the family gets it. Usually the whole household gets it. And so I like to have it ready to go. Most years I make extra for Christmas gifts, but this year I procrastinated too long.

My reservations

Generally I don’t blog much about my herbal remedies because it feels like slippery ground when it comes to sharing that information outside my own little network of like-minded family and friends. But I’ve really had great results with this one and thought I’d share.

Please make sure you research these herbs to find out if they’re suitable for you and your conditions. Just the sugar alone is enough to send a diabetic into crisis.

I am not a doctor and am not prescribing or advising you to try this remedy. I’m just sharing how I make it and what I use it for. If you want me to make some for you, though, I will do that. See the link at the bottom of this post.

Dried mullein and echinacea root getting ready to decoct.
Took the photo before adding the ginseng. Dried mullein and echinacea root getting ready to decoct.

The Ingredients

The precise list of ingredients I use for anything at all changes according to what I managed to gather the summer and fall before.

Today’s ingredient list for this year’s Winter Crud syrup features wild American ginseng root (Panax quinquefolius), mullein leaves (Verbascum thapsus), beebalm flower, stem, and leaf (Monarda fistulosa), and echinacea root, leaf stem, and flower (Echinacea purpurea).

Wildcrafting

All of the herbs except the cinnamon were responsibly foraged from right here at Wild Ozark. I never take more than a small percentage of ginseng (or any other roots) from a colony. When taking flowers, I always leave half behind for the pollinators. There is no shortage of mullein anywhere so I am less concerned with conservation of that herb.

I had blackberry syrup on hand from a failed batch of jelly this past summer, so I’m using it for the sugar content and for flavor. You can skip that ingredient and add back a cup of sugar to the recipe.

The Most Important Ingredient

The syrup must have mullein for it to be useful for this remedy at all, and thankfully mullein is easily found almost all year long here. I think the beebalm and ginseng also add a lot to the effectiveness. But if all I had was mullein, I’d go with it. And if sugar is an issue for you, it works just as well as a decoction alone. You’ll have to use it within a few days because the sugar is a preservative. It just won’t taste as good, but it’s a tolerable flavor.

I give instructions on how to make a decoction in my book 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing, but that one is for witch hazel tonic.  Here’s a procedure for the mullein decoction recipe  you can download. It’s in PDF format. Just save it to your hard-drive or print it out.

I’d love it if you’d “pin” it to Pinterest for me:

Wild Ozark's Mullein/Beebalm decoction procedure

Mullein needs to be strained more thoroughly than most other herbs because of the hairs on the leaves. Make the decoction with the mullein, ginseng, and echinacea roots. Then add the leafy parts of herbs in the last phase of making the decoction, just before the final reduction.

DIY?

You could make it yourself and it’s a great project to do so. If you try it and need to ask questions just email me. If you don’t have the ingredients or don’t want to spend a day stirring the cauldron, you can buy a pint from me.



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

How to Identify Plants in the Wild, How to Search and Find Clues

Earlier this year I surveyed my newsletter members for their top questions. Here’s one about how to identify plants found in the outdoors.

Top Questions

It’s more of a comment than a question, but I’m creating this post in response to it. Although I’ve paraphrased some, I believe the underlying question would be “how to identify plants found in the wild”:

“My problem is being able to identify the plant, tree, bush and vine when I find them in the open outdoors. Would appreciate seeing pictures and descriptions when reading about them.”

I’ve never really paid attention to the steps I take when I’m trying to identify a new plant, but I’ll try to organize my process for you.

If any of you out there reading this have other methods you use, please comment. The more input from others, the more information this reader will have to draw on.

Learning to identify plants in the wild. What is this plant?
Our example plant to identify. It looks tender, it’s green, and likes moist ground.

The First Thing

First thing for me is to look for flowers. If there are flowers, I usually go to the web and search through wildflower databases for my area. I start with USWildflowers.com. The link is to the Arkansas database. On the right hand side they’re organized by color of the flower.

This is just a starting point if I know nothing other than the color of the flower. If I had an idea of which family the plant belonged to, that would give some extra clues to start the search. For example, if the stems were square, I’d start searching plants of the mint family.

Looking for Clues

However, in the photo I posted, there are no flowers. And I can’t see the stem shape well enough to say if it’s square or round. It is green. It looks tender. And it must like moist ground. It’s been pretty cold outside and yet it’s still green, too. So these are all good clues to use.

Know some Botany

It will help to have some basic botany so you’ll know if the leaves are opposite or alternate, are they attached to the stem by petioles or not, are they “clasping”? Clasping leaves wrap around the stem where they join. Petioles are little stems at the leaf base where it attaches to the larger stem. It is the “leafstalk”. Sometimes the stem seems to go *through* the leaf.

Understanding the Latin

The botanical names of plants offer a lot of clues and can help you when you’re trying to figure out if the photo of the plant you’re looking at is the same as the one you are trying to identify.

For example, let’s go back to the leaves that have the stems going through them. The plants with leaves that do this most often have the word “perfoliate” or some derivative of that word as part of the Latin binomial. It means to perforate, or go through.

If you’ve found a photo that looks a lot like your plant, and if the latin last name of that plant doesn’t match what you think you’ve found, then it’s a good clue that your identification is wrong. It is just as important to know when you’re wrong as it is to know when you’re right.

Using the Internet

If you have access to the internet, it makes identification a lot easier. If I had to start the search knowing nothing except what I can see in the photo above, I’d search using this:

tender green wild plant

It looks tender in the photo. I imagine if I pulled on it, it would come up easily. It just looks like it has shallow roots because it looks so tender.

So this is the results page for my search of the term listed above. You’ll have to click on this link and I hope it displays the same way I’m seeing it or the rest of this section might not make a lot of sense. (Note: it does not display the same on all screens. On my laptop it is the first, seventh and eleventh photos.)

The first, seventh, and thirteenth pictures are the ones that look a lot like the plant I’m trying to identify. The first one has flowers on it, but the leaves look the same. The thirteenth looks most similar. I’m going to click on the thirteenth one first and see what it says. I get “Page Not Found”. So I’ll click on the seventh image.

A Name to Go On

Aha – that one gives me a common name without having to go all the way through to a website. “Chickweed”. When I do click through to the website, it gives a very detailed write-up about chickweed, or Stellaria media. I’ll take that information and compare the details to my plant, and then look up chickweed in a few other places to compare all the data.

In this case, finding the Latin name didn’t offer me a lot of clues. Mainly that’s because there are no flowers on it right now, but “stellaria” refers to little stars, and the flowers are like tiny stars. “media” refers to middle or in the midst of. I’ve seen explanations that say it’s named so because the mound of greenery covered with flowers does indeed look as if you’re in the midst of stars.

However, I believe it’s named so because in the middle of the end of each stalk is where you’ll find the “little stars”.

Extra Measures

Verify the species

There are often other species of plants that have slightly different features. Smooth or hairy are common ones. Often the differences don’t matter in whether the two can be used in the same way. But in the case of chickweed, it matters to me.

There are some types that are hairy and won’t be very good in a salad. Not only is this one pictured below hairy, it’s not even the same genus/species even though it is still called “chickweed” and looks similar:

2. mouse-eared chickweed
Mouse-eared chickweed (Cerastium vulgatum). This one won’t have the same tender palatability the first one, the photo I started this search with, will.

Other times, the different species will have entirely different properties. If you’re using plants medicinally, this will matter a lot. Even when it comes to flavor and taste for edible domestic plants, like apples, you can easily tell a difference between one variety and the next by flavor and texture, let alone between species.

Stellaria media a.k.a. Chickweed- Good food and medicine from nature.
Stellaria media a.k.a. Chickweed- Good food and medicine from nature.

Wait for Flowers

Watch plants you’re not certain about for a full year. See if it flowers. If it does, will it set fruit? How do the seed pods look, and how are the seeds dispersed? Observing a whole season of growth and change offers lots of clues and helps greatly to identify plants.

These things all give important clues. You may also want to dig up a plant to see what kinds of roots it has. Is it a taproot or shallow rooted? Maybe it’s a rhizome or a bulb. These are very important clues.

Not Using the Internet

Real books are an old standby when it comes to needing to identify plants.

Without the internet, you’d need to use identification books like Peterson Field Guides. One of the ones I use often is by Steven Foster & James A. Duke, the Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants & Herbs.

Another good book to have on hand, if you’re in Arkansas, is Carl G. Hunter’s Wildflowers of Arkansas. It’s out of print now, but you can find it still through Amazon or on eBay or from a used book store.

And yet another favorite is Wildman Steve Brill’s Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants.

It’s a good idea to have real books stashed away somewhere to help you identify plants in the event there is no internet available to use.

When I’m using books, I usually flip through all of the pages to familiarize myself with how it’s organized. Then unless the book is “keyed” I start from the beginning and look for clues.

If the book is keyed, which means it gives you starting points for things like leaf structure and leads you on yes-no answers to the most likely categories. For example, it’ll ask if the leaves are opposite. If yes, follow through to the next question. Depending on the answers it directs you to the next question, and so on. This is where understanding some of the botanical terms will help a lot.

Other Internet Resources

Although not an Ozark site, here’s a one that uses keys to help with identification: https://gobotany.newenglandwild.org/simple/. Many of our plants here are present there as well, so it could still be useful. But the main reason I am referring it is to show how a keyed book or search works.

I’ve been a member of a FB group about the native plants of Arkansas and the members of this group are always willing and ready to help with identification. If you’re on Facebook, a group for the plants of your area is another resource you might like to try.


Have fun in your quest to identify plants!

If you have questions or information to add about this topic, please comment. If there is a lot of interest in this introductory post, I will do another more detailed post on the types of terms that I use need to know most often, especially leaf arrangement and structure, and a little more on how understanding the Latin can help you identify plants more easily.

 

 



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Keeping up the Juggling Act

It’s the holiday season, so it stands to reason that lots of folks are juggling lots of things in their lives these days.

Juggling and Not Too Successfully

I’ve been dropping a few balls lately. Right now the ones on the ground relate to baking bread. Ha. And I had such good intentions!

My own juggling really has nothing to do with the added tasks of the holidays. I haven’t even started dealing with those issues, yet. So you can see the mess I’m about to make with the balls still in the air …

Anyway, back to baking bread.

Why am I baking bread?

Because we’re out of it since yesterday morning, that’s why.

Why not just get some from the store?

Because I have to go out to town when a package I’m waiting on arrives in Springdale. Doesn’t make sense? Well, to go to town for groceries alone is a half-a-day excursion here if I’m just going to the nearest town with a grocery store. Springdale is a good hour-and-a-half away and if I’m going to go out for that I might as well get everything else on my list while I’m at it.

So I decided I’d just bake some bread and wait until tomorrow to go out.

Part of my juggling act today. Need to grind some wheat.
Had to clean all the dust off the grinder first.

Of course the pictures loaded and turned sideways. Do they look sideways to you too? Throw that ball on the floor too, dammit.

To bake bread means I have to grind some wheat. What?! I hear you asking already, why don’t I just use the flour in the pantry?

*Sigh*

Yeah, I’m laughing too.

There isn’t enough flour in the pantry. Guess what? They sell that stuff at the grocery store I’m not going to today, too.

But I do have wheat that I can grind. And enough regular flour to cut it so the ball of dough actually rises into a loaf.

Stuff all over the counter. Balls dropped when the phone rang.

So I have all the ingredients for this project out and in progress when the phone rings.

Guess what?

The package is arriving at the DHL facility in Springdale in a couple of hours.

So I look at the mess I’ve got scattered all over the counters, consider my options … and decide I might just throw all this back into the cabinet and go out and buy that loaf of bread today.

Balls all over the floor.

I did manage to get one thing on my writerly to-do list done today, though. I created a virtual flipbook of my latest release. This morning I finally figured out how to get it loaded onto this website so I can share it with you.

It’s posted on the product pages for “Ginseng Look-Alikes” so browsers can flip through the whole book just like they could if it were in a real-life bookstore. Then if they decide they like it, they can click through and buy it.

Balls Still Airborne

At least there’s that ball still in the air. Now I’m going to clean up the kitchen and get ready to go out to town. If you get a chance to take a look at my flipbook, would you leave me a review at Amazon? I put the book out too early a few weeks ago.

And More Balls on the Floor

The one review on that dismal first go of it is a very honest, terribly unhappy buyer who left me two stars.

If you think it’s a decent product now, let me know. If you think it’s still as bad as the first reviewer thinks, let me know. I need to take it down if it’s that bad!



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Get in Shape with Nature- Starting out the Day Hot & Sweaty

This morning kicked off my first effort at returning to a daily walk/jog routine. It’s time to get in shape after 6 months of trying to take it easy.

Get in Shape

I can’t *really* jog yet. My knee is still testy after tearing the ACL and meniscus in April of this year. But I can slow-jog/fast-walk. That’s a pretty hilarious thing to see, I’m sure, but thankfully there is no one here to fall to the ground in laughter. I can make funny maneuvers to my heart’s content.

This morning I didn’t bring my camera so I wouldn’t be tempted to stop and take pictures. The point is to get sustained heart rate elevation. I didn’t almost step on any snakes or encounter any bears, so no excessive heart rate elevation occurred either.

I’m pretty sure I could manage to run fast if something was chasing me, but I’m not ready to test the theory.

Bears, Lions, & Snakes

There have been bears in the area, though not yet spotted on the driveway.  This one is trying to reach the deer feeder on the mountain.

Running from a bear would certainly help me get in shape! Wild Ozark Bear 2016
Running from a bear would certainly help me get in shape!

There is a big cat (either a large bobcat or a cougar) in the area too. I saw big cat tracks in the soft new dirt on the driveway yesterday. Snakes are always in the area, but rattlesnake mating season is upon us and so the rattlers are out and about.

The thing that would bother me the most about seeing any of this wildlife is the fact that my camera would be at home, sitting on the table. But then again, that might be a good thing because I’d be able to move with so much more focus on escape without it.

Good Luck!

Anyway, wish me luck in my continued effort to get back in shape. The next few days are always the hardest for me to push through. Are you working on new exercise programs or have had success with long-lasting ones?



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods