I never used to like autumn. I’ve always been more of a spring girl. Watching the world come alive, and singing with the energy of the earth… I’m in my glory! Lately though, I’m learning how beneficial reaping the harvest can be, both physically and spiritually. Whether I’m watching the October rains turn our August-faded lawns green again, walking a mountain path, or sitting on the beach in my hoodie, debating a swim, there’s so much life waiting for us to share in the bounty and I’m learning to sit quietly and reflect in the cooling days and appreciate all I’ve done in the warmer seasons so that I can reap their benefit all winter long.
What grows is often what we need, so I’d like to share some of my favorite fall plants to harvest for body, mind and soul.
Plants whose roots are used in medicine and healing are best harvested in autumn when they have had all summer long to pull up nutrients from the soil. The ones listed below are good for preventing and healing fall colds, and can be chopped and infused into tinctures or oils for use throughout the winter, or sliced and sautéed or roasted to make your favorite meal a little wild!
Burdock has been an ally of mine for a long time. Her fuzzy leaves grow in a rosette from the ground and are beneficial for soothing rashes. It’s the root, however, that is a powerhouse of nutrients and medicine. I often use her to stimulate a sluggish digestive system but she’s also an antiviral. That’s pretty amazing because there’s not much in the realm of traditional medicine that acts quite the same way. No matter what illness is knocking at your door, a tincture of burdock is a great way to meet it. Don’t forget to combine it with echinacea, elderberries, or another immune-boosting herb as well.
Spiritually, burdock great for grounding and helping us connect with the earth and the world around us.
|Dandelions in the Spring
Photo courtesy of Identify That Plant
Yes, dandelion. I can’t get enough of this awesome plant. You can eat all parts of her, from flower, to seed, stem, leaf and root. You may even find dandelion is starting to bloom again now that the weather is turning cooler. Dig up the entire plant and dry, or chop and tincture her whole. You can even roast the roots, and dry the leaves in a 250 degree oven with some salt and oil to make crispy dandelion chips. The roots are perfect now–large and full of nutrients. Dandelion moves lymph, stimulates digestion, and the liver. I almost always include her in a cold or flu battling regimen.
|Mullein photo courtesy of Squat the planet|
I’m always battling dry congestion.. Stuffy noses, head colds… sticky, stuck and dry, dry, dry… that’s how I feel when I’m sick.This is why mullein is my friend.
Traditionally known to alleviate allergies and support the lungs, I use a tincture of mullein leaves when I am congested–regardless of the cause (and sometimes it is hard to tell if the cause is a cold virus or allergies and with mullein, it doesn’t matter). She brings so much moisture into the body that I’m almost instantly soothed. Post nasal gunk begins moving, and cools the heat of the uncomfortableness.
Now is a good time to harvest first year plants. Mullein is a biennial, so second year plants have already gone to seed. First year plants, however, have a nice rosette of large, fluffy leaves. If you’re going to harvest the entire plant, may as well dig her up from the root and include the root in your tincture or oil as well.
|Goldenrod photo courtesy of Garden Compass|