Its spring (although Minnesota is screaming winter with a fresh layer of snow on the ground… 9 inches to be exact) But regardless, it IS spring.. and the trees are budding and flowers are starting to pop out of the ground.

This is the best time to start collecting barks for tinctures. As I’ve stated before, you do barks in the spring, fresh herbs through out the spring and summer, and roots in the fall. You want to collect in the early spring before the buds really start to come out.

This blog we will talk about the 3 simple barks you can gather and how to make a bark tincture.

The process

-Collect a small branch that is flexible with green indicating a new growth

-After collecting the branch, use a small sharp knife to whittle off the bark, not cutting too deep ensuring that you’re seeing green as you do it. You’ll also want to make sure you’re getting some of the buds, (they should NOT be opened and green) these are full of stem cells.

-Place the bark into a small jar (I typically use a 4 oz jar) fill about 1/4 of the way full

-Pour alcohol over the bark. Ensuring that you have 1 part bark, to 4 parts alcohol.

-Label and date.

-Keep in a cool, dark place for 6-8 weeks shaking the bottle often.

(You’ll want to fill the jar 1/4 full, about where my finger is, lightly packed)

If you aren’t using fresh bark, and are using a bought dried version fill the jar using the same 1:4 ratio.

You can watch my teacher, Connie, perform this tutorial on YouTube here.

Willow

This is one of my favorites to collect. This tree contains salicylic acid… which is the original ingredient of ASPRIN. All kinds of this tree can be used interchangably, although, you’ll find that the weeping willow tends to be a little less potent.

Contraindications: Do not use under the age of 8, avoid during pregnancy

Properties: anti-inflammatory, astringent (tightens and tones tissues), analgesic (pain relief), bitter, digestive, diuretic (reduces body fluid), febrifuge (fever reducer), vermifuge (parasites)

Great for pain, fevers, UTI’s and headaches. Arthritis, muscle and joint inflammation, rheumatism, diarrhea, dysentery, colds, flu, gout, digestion, parasites, canker sores, corns, mouth ulcers, and gargling for sore throat.

Oak

All types of this tree can be used interchangeably because they are all rich in tannins with astringent properties.

Contraindications:

Properties: Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent

Tightens and tones relaxed tissues, shrinks hemorrhoids, dark varicose veins, helps with high blood pressure, heart palpitations, diarrhea, dysentery, swollen glands, excess sweating, gingivitis, mouth ulcers, tightens loose teeth, and has even been known to rebuild tooth enamel. Helps with bites, ringworm, and bedsores.

Sumac

Staghorn and smooth, they all can be used interchangeably. You’ll identify this tree/ shrub by the cone shaped cluster of berries it produces in the summer. Remember to stay away from white sumac, the flowers are not red, and are incredibly poisonous.

Contraindications: Tree-nut allergies should not use this, cashew allergies.

Properties:

Stops excess fluids. Helps with kidney functions, and urinary infections, post-nasal drip, bed wetting, watery menopausal bleeding, balances excess sweating, helps with gum problems, asthma, diarrhea, dysentery, fevers, sore throats, anemia and more.

Conclusion

Now there are some barks you should not be collecting in the spring, such as apples and wild cherry trees, these tend to be high in cyanide in the spring and should be avoided, if you are looking to collect these, late summer/ early fall is best.

As a reminder you can find the cards I have used while foraging and to help with remembering what plants are good for here.

If herbalism is of interest to you the lamb shoppe offers an online course! This is a portion of the same course I took, at a much smaller cost. This course covers 10 herbs, they are quite honestly the most commonly used herbs in our home. To purchase, click join, create an account and then purchase. You can find more information here.

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