Midwest Medicinal Plants: Identity, Harvest, and Use 109 Wild Herbs for Health and Wellness
“This comprehensive, accessible, full-color guide includes plant profiles, step-by-step instructions for essential herbal remedies and seasonal foraging tips.” —Natural Awakenings Chicago Midwest Medicinal Plants, Lisa Rose is your trusted guide to finding, identifying, harvesting, and using 120 of the region’s most powerful wild plants. You’ll learn how to safely and ethically forage and how to use wild plants in herbal medicines including teas, tinctures, and salves. Plant profiles include clear, color photographs, identification tips, medicinal uses and herbal preparations, and harvesting suggestions. Lists of what to forage for each season make the guide useful year-round. Thorough, comprehensive, and safe, this is a must-have for foragers, naturalists, and herbalists in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
With its wealth of botanical diversity, the Midwest provides an abundance of healing herbs accessible to all. Whether you are just starting or are looking to deepen your herbal knowledge, this book is your essential companion for finding, identifying, harvesting, and safely using the most important wild medicinal plants.
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PREFACE GROWING AN HERBALIST
I first turned to the plants for guidance at the age of 30. Although I’d always been a plant person, I’d been working against nature’s cycles and against my own. I was worn out, tired from the cultural stress that I was carrying from running an NGO, being a mom to two small kids, and being a good wife.
A gardener, I was even too tired to plant seeds in the springtime or clear away the winter’s debris. “Maybe you shouldn’t clear away the debris or plant anything this year,” a wise farmer friend told me. “Maybe you should just listen to the plants and see what they have to say.” This was the beginning of my practice as an herbalist. I sat down and began to listen to the plants. I let my garden go fallow and watched the land take over in the way that it
knows how to do.
My interests in gardening slowly transformed into working nearly entirely with wild plants. I noticed the weeds growing between the cultivated plants and between the cracks in the sidewalk. I wondered about their resilience and their potential healing powers. I learned their names and how they tasted, smelled, and felt in my fingers.
Burdock called to me from the ditches of my friend’s farm. Burdock would become the first plant I’d work with asan herbal medicine. And my apothecary grew, as did a need for my teachings in my community.
I was called to be a teacher in 2010 by my own teacher, Jim McDonald. “Lisa Rose, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck,” said Jim. “You work with wild plants. You make plant medicines. You share them with others. You, in fact, are an herbalist.”
From that point forward, I opened my gardens and apothecary to my community. Jim and others sent clients my way for my practice. I was scared that I didn’t know enough. But instead of being stuck in that rut, I stepped forward toteach what I knew. Since that time, I’ve never really looked back. And with an insatiable curiosity, I’ve never stopped being a student of the plants.
You will find that this book is filled with nuggets of learning that I’ve acquired across a delicious and healing journey with the plants. It’s what I know. Ten years from now, I hope to know more, layered upon this foundation.
In your herbal journey, I encourage you to start with what you know. Go outside and listen to the plants. Touch, taste, smell, and repeat. Get to know the plants on an intimate level. And share this love with everyone you know. You are an herbalist, and the earth needs you.
Table of Contents
Preface: Growing an Herbalist
WILDCRAFTING FOR WELLNESS: A SEASON-BYSEASON HARVEST GUIDE
WILD MEDICINAL PLANTS OF THE MIDWEST
eastern white cedar
Joe Pye weed
New England aster
spotted bee balm
St. John’s wort
Suggested Further Reading
Imagine this at the end of your harvest season: your own herbal apothecary, filled with local plants and herbs that you can turn to as you feel a cold coming on or notice a stomach upset after an indulgent meal. There is nothing more gratifying than to know that you can keep yourself and your family healthy throughout the year with the plant-based medicines you’ve created from the wild plants you’ve gathered, or wildcrafted, from the fields, hedgerows, and woodlands around you.
For many, an herbal apothecary evokes images of shelves full of bottles and jars filled with mysterious herbs and herbal formulas from exotic plants. But to create an herbal apothecary that your family can turn to for basic ills and chills, you don’t need to include exotic or mysterious plants.
In fact, as you realize that you can incorporate local plants and herbs into your natural wellness routines, you can begin to create a personal apothecary using plants that grow just outside your front stoop.
All you need to do is pay attention to the plants growing around you. This will help you connect to the land and nature itself—even as you’re engulfed by our manic, developed world. Eating wild foods and using plant medicines created from the fruits of the earth will bind you to a place—its rivers, animals, smells, sights, and sounds. Ingesting these fruits makes a place literally a part of you, so that the land and its story become your story—a story of the earth, people, politics, and infrastructure all bound together by an invisible red thread. It is healing, this wild medicine.
As herbalists, we are land stewards. Working with wild plants requires that we understand not just their botany, but their abundance and impact in our bioregion. We should know whether a plant is endangered (and should not be wildcrafted) or invasive (which can be the best to wildcraft from a sustainability standpoint). We should know how to wildcraft a plant in the most careful way so that it can continue to reproduce for future harvests and enjoyment.
Know and pay attention to the bounty (or lack thereof) that’s around you. This information should guide you first and foremost in your wildcrafting. Get to know the varioushabitats that surround you. Plant populations vary in each habitat, from hardwood deciduous forests, to wetlands, to urban lots. Over time, you will know intimately the microclimates and plant life in your area, including which plants might be threatened or limited in amount.
HOW TO USE THIS eBOOK ON YOUR JOURNEY
Use this book to hone your skills as both a wildcrafter and medicine-maker. Both new and experienced herbalists will find this guide to be a useful addition to their medicinemaking toolkits. Those who are simply interested in greening up their kitchens and medicine kits will also find plenty of
information about exploring a hyperlocal source for plantbased remedies for everyday wellness needs.
Within each plant profile in the book, I discuss how to harvest the plants safely to avoid negatively impacting the plant population. Remember to do no harm, and leave the places in which you harvest better than when you found them.
About the author:
Lisa M. Rose is an herbalist, forager, urban farmer, and writer. With a background in anthropology and a professional focus on community health, she has gathered her food, farming, and wild plant knowledge from many people and places along a very delicious journey.
Beyond the Great Lakes, Lisa’s interest in ethnobotany and herbal medicine has taken her across the United States and into the Yucatan, mainland Mexico, Nicaragua, and Brazil to study plants, people, health, and their connection to place. When she is not in her own gardens or kitchen, Lisa can be found in the fields and forests, leading foraging plant walks and teaching classes on edible and medicinal wild plants. She forages for her own family, herbal apothecary, and community herbalism practice with her favorite harvesting companion—her dog, Rosie.
Reviews of the customers about the ebook:
- Anni Welborne:
I began my natural products journey when I started being sensitive to perfumes, so I sought out essential oils. But they were expensive and difficult to come by, plus there is controversy on the use of oils internally. Then I began researching herbs, and I learned so much! But what bothered me about all the herbs I read about was that I didn’t live in India, I live in Indiana. An herb that thrives in India is not likely to thrive in Indiana. My husband is involved with emergency management, and disaster planning is often a topic in our house. I realized how UN-sustainable essential oils and exotic herbs are. I don’t have the tools to distill my own oils or proper conditions to grow some of those herbs. But when I looked at the lush Indiana woodlands and prairies around me, I knew that beneficial herbs had to exist here. I knew a little about plantain, dandelion, and clover, but not much else. (How I regretted not talking to my grandfather about all his herbal wisdom before he died almost two decades ago!)
When I was given the opportunity to review this book on NetGalley, I had high hopes! And I am happy to say this book does not disappoint. As I flipped through the book, I recognized almost all the “weeds” that I saw, most of which I had never known the names of or uses for before. I found the author’s advice prudent, cautious, and respectful. I took my iPad out and spent an afternoon wandering along the fence row surrounding a cow pasture near our house, then wandered down by the creek, up the hill to the stand of trees, and along the road back home. I felt like I was being introduced to old friends for the first time. I found it comforting that the author actually lives and works here in the Midwest (Michigan), so she does actually know what she’s talking about and appreciates the beauty of the Midwest.
This book is exactly what I was looking for to move my herbal knowledge along. Should disaster ever strike, I now have a ready tool in my arsenal to keep my family healthy. In fact, I loved the book so much, I bought my own copy to keep. Just the E-book for now, but later, the printed version – just in case disaster strikes and I can’t recharge my iPad.
I gratefully received an e-ARC from the author, publisher, and NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased review. But like I said, I bought the book. It’s that good.
- T. Hayes:
Very informative and handy ebook. I discovered many of these plants are growing in my own backyard. I prefer natural remedies over drugs and many times they work better without the side effects. I first discovered this book at Costco and while I was browsing through I discovered a very valuable herb called mullein that my 19 yr old son uses for pleurisy. Pleurisy is a condition where the lining of the lungs becomes inflamed and breathing is very difficult and painful. My son began using mullein after we had read online from another sufferer of his condition recommended mullein over any other pain med or herb. I bought a small bottle of Mullein at the Vitamin shop for $8.00, 100-capsules. My son was in horrible pain, he took 3 mullein capsules and then took a nap. After sleeping a couple of hours he woke up with extremely reduced pain and became a believer. He now takes mullein whenever he feels his pleurisy coming on. Well while I was browsing through this book at Costco I discovered the Mullein plant that my son just started taking for his pleurisy. I recognized the mullein plant immediately! It grows wild in my backyard! It is tall about the 3-foot high beautiful green plant with large extremely soft lambs ears leaves and a large yellow stalk of gorgeous yellow flowers. The pictures of this extremely valuable plant inside this book are fabulous!! I recognized this plant and began collecting its leaves immediately to make a very tasty and healthy tea with honey which my son and daughter love! Mullein works wonders for any lung conditions, coughs, colds, flu, asthma, and allergies. I suffer from allergies that congest my lungs, especially from mold in the fall. I usually have to take Mucinex throughout the allergy season to keep my lungs clear, not anymore! Mullein capsules work just as well! I take two capsules in the morning or one tablespoon for tea and it works for about 12 hours! I found this herb growing in a friend’s garden a month ago and asked if I could harvest the leaves. I had a large bag full and took them home and dehydrated them to use for tea. The amount I collected paid for this book which sold out at Costco so I ordered it here on Amazon. Use this book to save money on home remedies that may be growing in your own backyard. Natural, wild herbs are always better than cultivated ones. Mullein plant’s leaves, flowers, and roots can all be used for medicinal purposes. Find out what treasures are growing in your backyard!
This ebook is a niche book and a good one at that. It is at its core a wildcrafting book not an overall herbal. It contains a great deal of information useful for wildcrafting (nice up close pictures, description of how/when to wildcraft, etc.).
The book’s descriptions of herbs are accurate as far as I can tell. However, I personally like my herbals to break up their herbal information into small concise sections like “actions” and “constituents”. This makes it easy to quickly decipher what an herb does, which may not be as necessary from a wildcrafting perspective. On the other hand, there is an excellent cautions section for each herb unlike many other herbals. Its selection is also a bit small, but that is to be expected from a book of such limited scope (wild midwest).
In summary, I highly recommend this for foragers, but not as a main herbal.
This is the favorite of my Herbal eBook collection. It covers a lot of plants I can find on my land. My favorite part is the extremely helpful and practical (but excluded in many of my other books) information on “Where, When and How to Wildcraft” The paper and picture quality is great. I love the look of the cover. I do wish it included information on the Constituents Definitions in the beginning.
Midwest Medicinal Plants is a Season-by-Season guide on how to harvest plants with medicinal properties safely without causing harm to the plant or yourself. The text includes 109 medicinal plants found in the Midwestern region of the US.
The author discusses the proper cleaning, storage and preservation techniques that are unique for each plant. Depending on the plant and its intended use, a plant may be made into infusions, decoctions, tinctures, infused honey, and salves to reap the natural benefits.
The photography is excellent and each plant is listed separately and is accompanied by a picture for easy identification. The text provided for each plant explains how to identify, including when, where and how, the medicinal uses and herbal preparations.
Pretty concise as far as I can tell. I have all but given up on most medical doctors for treatment of minor ailments and have been trying various natural remedies with varying results. Thought I’d take a look through this book and see what I can use. Lots of info and the photos are really helpful! I look forward to searching for some of these this summer and fall.
I love this book. It is a great handbook for looking for medicinal herbs in the Midwestern states. I live in Missouri and this book is perfect for me and my family. We are learning as much as we can about plants around us that we can use in bad times. This ebook is great to identify plants in our area and their uses.
I really liked finding a book that covers my region. It is something I longed for when I began my herbal journey over 20 years ago. There is plenty of basic info to help those along that are new to herbal preparations and more than enough plants to learn. A good addition to any herbal library
Great book. Has lots of plants found in the northeast also. I would detail a bit more the quantities of material needed and ratios for the different uses suggested.
- April Newman:
Clearly organized with ways to identify the plants and multiple ways to use them (teas, tinctures, poultices). The photos were great– some of these kinds of texts have crappy images, but this one was of substance. I like how each passage starts with the parts of the plant that can be used, when to source it, how to use it, and any warnings or concerns (everything from protecting the plants and environment to potential indigestion). If I would venture to share something missing it would be hostas- we can eat ’em in spring and if you are reading this for “end-of-days” training (as I was) hostas are abundant in the midwest. Which is good to know.
But again, one of the better choices on this topic as composed.
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