The Ramps are Coming!

The Ramps (Allium tricoccum) are coming!! The young Ramp shoots began appearing a couple weeks ago in the Northeast and with all the rain we’ve been having, they are growing in leaps and bounds! If you’re not familiar with Ramps, they are one of the most interesting and popular wild green. A relative of the Wild Onion Grass (Allium vineale) and our cultivated Garlic (Allium sativum), Ramps possess a similar taste profile although often even more pungent.

Young Ramps (Allium tricoccum)

Ramps can be used in every place you would use a Leek, raw in salads, sauteed as a side dish, and in traditional Potato/Leek soups. Ramps appear in early spring with 2 or 3 waxy feeling, leaves that smell strongly of Onion or Garlic when bruised or crushed. They have a white, underground Leek-like bulb. I love the unique and fresh taste of wild foods and this one is a favorite for sure! But before you get to harvesting, there are a number of things to keep in mind. Continue reading for important information you won’t want to miss!

The most important thing to know above all, is the correct identification. This is true for any wild harvesting but even more so for Ramps as it has been mistaken for one of the deadliest plants in North America, American Hellebore (Veratrum viride). I personally think the two plants look vastly different, but I have encountered people who have mistaken the young American Hellebore (and even older plants) for Ramps. Below is a photo of American Hellebore. You can see the leaves are ovate with entire leaf margins. The leaves are deeply pleated and arranged spirally on stiff stems. Ramps on the other hand, have only 2 (and occasionally 3) leaves per plant, the leaves are rubbery in texture and smell strongly of Onions. Getting to know the 2 plants very well is of crucial importance before harvesting.

Young American Hellebore Shoots (Veratrum viride)
Maturing American Hellebore (Veratrum viride)
Ramps (Allium tricoccum)

Ramps were once an important Pioneer food in Spring. After having lived off food stores all winter, these lively greens would be a welcome fresh and choice edible and large festivals held over days of harvesting and preparing various Ramp dishes. Even today in the South, Ramp festivals are often held throughout the Spring months.

Ramps also possess medicinal properties related to the cardiovascular system and can be naturally lowering to blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Like many herbs in the Allium genus, they aid in increasing circulation to the heart and are beneficial to overall cardiovascular health. They have antibacterial, antifungal, and antibiotic properties killing certain pathogens directly, as well as increasing the activity of the immune system. They help to balance the intestinal flora aiding in improved digestive function. Native tribes would use the juice from the bulb for earaches.

The sustainable harvesting of Ramps are of vital importance. Given this wild green’s popularity, whole stands are often wiped out in a single season which is a travesty and completely unnecessary. Never harvest an entire stand or even 50% which is way too much. If you harvest 50% and then the next person that comes along does the same thing, soon they will all be gone. First off, you should always harvest only what you actually need spreading your harvesting around so that it’s not concentrated in any one area. One way to harvest Ramps sustainably is to never harvest the bulbs. Given that Ramps are a very slow growing perennial, often taking up to 7 years to reach maturity, harvesting the bulbs puts a tremendous strain on wild populations making it difficult for them to rebound. Given that the leaves are quite pungent, harvesting only the leaves, and only 1 leaf per plant will help to ensure the survival of this native species. Spreading your harvesting around amongst patches is another way to not put too much strain on one group of plants. Make sure to follow the life cycle of this plant to be sure to plant the seeds in the Fall.

Another one of the best ways to harvest Ramps sustainably is to grow your own patch! You’ll have the joy of watching these lovely plants growing nearby and the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping to protect a native species. A win win all the way around!


Herbs for the Solar Eclipse

©Karine Gordineer 2024

One of the most beautiful aspects of Herbalism is how the plants can support us through every aspect of our human experience, not just when we are physically ill. I’ve created this “Herbs for the Solar Eclipse” graphic to list some of our herbal allies that can assist with the upcoming Solar Eclipse. There are many plants that we can work with in times of change and stress, these are just some of those plants.

If you are watching the Solar Eclipse live, please be sure to only view the Sun with the approved eye wear. We should never look directly at the Sun in any circumstances. Over time it can add to macular degeneration and even cause permanent damage to the retina. During an eclipse when the natural brightness of the Sun isn’t there to cause us to naturally squint and turn away, and most of all when the iris contracts to let in less light but yet the Sun’s damaging UV rays are still present, the possibility of more severe damage can and has occurred. Read below and the graphic for more information:

🌑Herbs for the Solar Eclipse!

🌿Throughout history, celestial occurrences have been major events that have at times been very disruptive. Solar Eclipses in particular were often thought of as terrifying signs that the Gods were displeased with them.

🌿Today, although we may feel differently about these things, the energy from these events can be chaotic especially to those that are highly sensitive or empathic. It wouldn’t be unusual to experience anxiety, stress, even fatigue and/or headaches.

🌿As always, the healing plants have our backs! And our heads and stomachs too! I’ve put together this Herbs for the “Solar Eclipse” graphic to illustrate some of the herbs we can work with to ground ourselves, alleviate stress, anxiety, headaches, and aid with sleep issues.

🌿Enjoy a calming cup of herbal tea and be sure to stay safe if viewing the Solar Eclipse as it can cause damage to the retina if viewed without the proper eyewear.

🌿If you’d like to learn how these amazing plants support all aspect of our Being, be sure to check out upcoming classes and trainings including the Sacred Heart of Herbalism training beginning live online, Saturday, April 27th!


Getting to Know Our Poisonous Plant Friends

White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda)

It may seem like a contradiction in terms, “poisonous plant friends”. For how can we be “friends” with a poisonous plant? As I tell my herbal students, it’s even more important to familiarize ourselves with and be able to accurately identify the poisonous plants, than even the medicinal and edible ones. Think about it, if we know the poisonous plants very well, and study them, we can learn to identify them in any season. Not just when they are flowering or fruiting. Making it less likely that we will make a mistake in our plant identifications or when gathering plants from our yards or gardens, as volunteers often show up even in our well-tended plots.

As humans we tend to think only in terms of what the Earth or plants can do specifically for us, but plants provide food, and often shelter for other species on the planet as well. Some plants offer healing to the environment in the form of bioremediation, taking toxins out of the soil, aerating the soil, or even re-mineralizing the soil, drawing up minerals from deep within the Earth, bringing it up to the upper layers, or pulling it from the air and fixing it in the ground.

One of my favorite poisonous plants is the White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda). White Baneberry is a perennial member of the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup Family that grows to heights of 1 to 3 feet with alternate, compound leaves and sharply toothed leaflets. The white, cylindrical, dense flowers bloom in May and June. White Baneberry favors deciduous and mixed forests along the Northeastern range, inland through the Appalachians, and as far west as Minnesota. This captivating beauty has a few other common names one of which is Doll’s Eyes. It’s obvious how she gets this very descriptive name when we see the stark white berries with single black, central dot, a leftover from the flower stigmas. These white spooky and fleshy berries burst full in Autumn and create quite a show on the landscape with their contrasting red fruit stems or pedicels. Although all parts of this plant are poisonous, White-Tailed Deer have been known to graze the leaves and small Mice and Squirrels will eat the berries as will many Bird species.  

Although this fascinating plant has been used historically for medicinal purposes by several native tribes, it is in fact very poisonous with as few as 6 berries causing major gastric inflammation, nausea, vomiting, respiratory paralysis, cardiac arrest, and even death! Those souls that did work with this plant medicinally were aware of its lethal potentialities and worked with it very carefully. For clarity purposes, I DO NOT recommend ingesting any part of White Baneberry.  

The poisonous plants are great in their Power but need to be approached with appreciation and most of all respect even and especially when we work with them energetically. I spend a considerable amount of time connecting with plants energetically and through the shamanic journey and I have worked with this plant for many years. I have tremendous respect and admiration for Her Beauty and Power and immense gratitude for the connection. Of the many lessons of White Baneberry, She aids us in looking within unflinching in what we find there. She provides a mirror for those who would approach Her reflecting back to us what we present. Because this plant walks hand in hand with Death, She helps us to glimpse beyond the illusions of our physical reality and beyond our own illusions so often overlooked. She is a true partner in shamanic journeying even guiding and assisting us in walking between the worlds. None of this happens in a casual way but only through patience and commitment to developing a relationship with the Spirit of this Plant.

If you would like to learn the Language of the Plants and how to connect with them deeply, be sure to check out upcoming classes in Plant Communication and Shamanic Plant Medicine Journey beginning November 19th.


Get to Know Jewelweed for Summer Itch Relief!

Summertime is a favorite season for many people, more time outdoors, summer vacations, and parties all make for lots of fun and relaxing days but with the sweets come the sour. More time outside means more biting insects and potentially Poison Ivy rash for those outdoor enthusiasts prone to reaction to this abundant plant. Around 85% of the population will experience an allergic reaction to the oily plant compound called urushiol that is found in varying concentrations in plants in the Anacardiaceae or Cashew Family. Members of the Cashew Family include Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum), Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix), Cashews (Anacardium occidental), and Mangos (Mangifera indica). The urushiol compound is an oleoresin contained within the sap of these plants that is released when the plant is bumped, bruised, or cut and can seep into the dermis of the skin upon contact causing the dreaded Poison Ivy Rash!

Enter Jewelweed! One of the best remedies I know of to combat this summertime trickster. Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is an annual member of the Balsaminaceae or Touch-Me-Not Family. In fact, one of Jewelweed’s common names is “touch-me-not” due to the spring like action of the seed pods when touched that will send seeds flying in all directions much to the delight of children and young at heart adults. Jewelweed grows in areas with good water sources, close to streams, ponds, and flood plains. It grows to heights of 3 to 5 feet with serrated, oval shaped leaves appearing opposite lower on the stem and alternate towards the top. The stems have large leaf nodes where much of the juicy anti itching compounds reside. Depending upon where the plant is located, you will find the irregular orange or yellow flowers any time between June and September. The active parts of the plant are the leaves, stems, and nodes that are best used before the plant flowers.

To use Jewelweed to stop the itch from Poison Ivy rash, other skin irritations, or mosquito bites, you can make a poultice with the leaves and juicy stems or blend up the aerial part of the plant in a blender with a little water, straining out the plant material then freezing the remaining liquid in ice cube tray so that you will have them when you need them. Jewelweed can be made into a salve, or you can purchase a Jewelweed Salve from the Green Girl Shop online. You can even use Jewelweed as a Poison Ivy rash preventative. If you happen to brush up against the plant and can find a fresh Jewelweed plant, simply break off some of the succulent stem rubbing the Jewelweed juice over the area that has come in contact with the Poison Ivy plant. You can use Jewelweed Salve in the same way and soap and cold or cool water, and a washcloth can also help to break down the plant oils.

Jewelweed has other medicinal uses beyond calming plant rashes and taking the itch out of mosquito bites. You may be surprised to learn that Jewelweed contains 2 compounds, 2-methoxy-1 and 4-napthoquinine that can be used to shrink and calm the discomfort of hemorrhoids and is used topically for fungal conditions such as athlete’s foot rash, ringworm, and dandruff. The Ojibway tribe would use the plant juice spread along the forehead to calm headache pain, for Poison Ivy rash, and hives. Although the young tender leaves can be boiled and eaten, it is not recommended to be taken internally very often due to the high selenium and calcium oxalate levels.

If you’d like to learn more about the healing plants growing all around us, be sure to check out the Classes tab for upcoming classes and sign up for the Green Girl email list!


Stinging Nettle, A Highly Valued Tonic

The Stinging Nettle plant (Urtica dioica) is one that has a way of dramatically getting our attention. This unassuming green herb has a tendency to reach out and grab ya when you’re not looking! That was my first introduction to Stinging Nettle as I walked through a waist tall patch in a pair of shorts one late spring. My herbal teacher calmly informed me that Nettle had introduced herself to me. Boy did she ever! And she’s been a treasured friend and ally ever since.

Historically Nettle was highly valued in Native American culture for many things such as a its robust vitamin and mineral content, most especially for women. Nettle was taken during pregnancy to strengthen the growing child and increase the nutritional content of breastmilk. Valued as a topical remedy for the relief from arthritic pain, and as a hair rinse to keep hair shiny and healthy.

Nettle is an important tonic for the adrenals and is an important friend to the overstressed, overworked, and those lacking in good nutrition. Nettle is strengthening to the urinary system aiding in reducing water retention and aiding in the passage of kidney stones and crystals. An aid to the respiratory system, Nettle helps our bodies to heal from bronchitis, coughs, colds, and the dreaded seasonal allergies. With the warming temperatures and recent high pollen counts, many people are already experiencing “Spring Allergies”! One of my favorite answers to this dilemma is Stinging Nettle infusions. A simple cup or two a day can help to ease the sneezing and discomfort brought on by sinus distress. In addition, Stinging Nettle is SO high in vitamins and minerals, including Iron, Potassium, Manganese, and vitamins A & C it’s a great herb for anyone to make a regular part of their health regime!

To use Stinging Nettle either cook the plant as a potherb or dry it by hanging the plant in a dark, dry, airy place. Once dried the stems and leaves will lose their characteristic “sting” and can be made into herbal infusions or teas.

This is just some of the Magic that is Nettle.

To learn more about the healing plants growing all around us, sign up for the Green Girl newsletter or take an upcoming herbalism class with the Green Girl.


Keep Cool with Peppermint!

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is believed to be a hybrid between Spearmint (Mentha spicata) and Watermint (Mentha aquatica). Commercial cultivation of peppermint began in England about 1750.

The versatility of medicinal plants has long been a source of fascination and wonder. Many times, an herb or remedy will get a reputation for curing this or that ailment and suddenly everyone assumes that’s all the plant does. Feel depressed? Take St. John’s Wort. Have a cold? Echinacea. Headache? Feverfew. Most, if not all the time, that’s only one way to work with that plant. It may not even be what the plant does best.

Take Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) for instance. Many people think of Peppermint purely as an herbal beverage tea or as a food flavoring. Something you might find in grandma’s cupboard and yet Peppermint has a whole array of health benefits and medicinal uses. In fact, Peppermint has been considered an important medicinal plant for thousands of years from ancient Egypt to Western Europe and England where it was first grown commercially around the mid-18th century.

It’s difficult for me to think of Peppermint and not conjure up its lively taste. That sharply pungent yet cooling flavor is due to the very high menthol content. Higher, in fact, than its cousin Spearmint. It’s the high menthol content in part that gives Peppermint its relaxing effect on smooth muscle tissue such as that found in the digestive system, easing stomach aches, gas, and indigestion. Those who suffer with ulcers and IBS maybe also find relief in a cup of Peppermint tea or enteric coated Peppermint oil capsules.

Peppermint’s healing attributes don’t stop at the digestive system. Peppermint can ease headaches from the common cold, flu, and sinus congestion. An herbal steam of Peppermint leaves can go a long way in clearing nasal congestion along with a soothing cup of tea. It can enliven a fatigued mind and improve overall mood. In the summertime, Peppermint can bring cooling relief in the form of iced tea, fomentation, or diluted essential oil blend dabbed on the wrists or pulse points.

Growing this plant is pretty easy and it can even be grown in pots to have the fresh herb on hand. Nothing beats fresh Peppermint added to salads and fruit salads in summertime. One of my favorites is Peppermint added to a bowl of watermelon. Yum!

Watermelon with feta cheese and fresh Peppermint leaves, a summertime favorite!

Beyond Earth Day 2019

I probably attended my first Earth Day celebration a little over 30 years ago. Celebrations then had more of a hippie, “we feel great cause we’re loving on the Earth”, light-hearted vibe. The biggest focus was on reducing, reusing, and recycling with some information on endangered species and biodiversity thrown in for good measure. The terms global warming and climate change weren’t the buzzwords they are today as it would still be another couple of months before James Hansen, then Director of the NASA Goddard Space Institute, would report on the “greenhouse effect” to the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and its damaging effects on our global climate.

Fast forward 30 years and recycling paper, plastic, and remembering our reusable bags are just not going to get us there. One of the most alarming facts we must contend with is the passing of the 400ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere a few years back and its resultant increase in global mean temperature. In the last 100 years or so our world has warmed an astonishing 2 degrees Fahrenheit as CO2 levels have spiked from around 300ppm to over 400ppm. While this may not seem like much but remember we’re talking about a global average. The implications of a 2-degree increase has major impacts on global weather patterns with the creation of “superstorms”, the unpredictability of local weather patterns, crop’s viability, and water availability. All of this affects everyone everywhere and as the polar caps continue to melt unabated at an alarming rate, we are losing precious coastline every day creating both safety and exponential economic issues. If that isn’t enough, we now have something called the “Pacific Garbage Patch” a thing most of us couldn’t even conceive of a mere couple decades ago, and pollution found at the deepest depths of our murky oceans threatens marine wildlife, food sources, and livelihoods. What’s further frightening is how normalized these reports have become and how many people remain asleep behind the wheel as we steer ourselves off the proverbial cliff. The changes once predicted not to happen for another 50 years, are happening now. We’ve seen over and over again, that governments and corporations are failing to act in any real meaningful way with most failing to act period. To the point of even continuing to portray global warming as a perpetrated hoax rather than honoring the scientific data and actual evidence our world normally marries itself to, instead preferring to cherry pick the information that’s convenient.

For most of you reading this, I probably don’t need to rehash the evidence or convince you that climate change is real. It’s here, It’s not going away no matter how much we stick our collective heads in the sand, and not enough is being done about it.

Waiting on a Hero

Here’s where the story gets tricky. Most of us know this but what we don’t know is what that will mean to our futures. Basically no one does. Not even our learned scientists. These are paths we have yet to tread in our human history. The last time the CO2 in the atmosphere was this high, humans didn’t exist. During the entire course of human history CO2 levels have never been at this level and so we really don’t know the implications. I for one, would prefer not to find out. I’m a creature of habit and I’d be happy to stay in our little Earth bubble for a while longer thank you. The bigger question; what do we do about it? One thing I think we don’t do – we don’t wait for anyone else to fix the problem. There is no hero. No one is going to swoop in and save us. And by us I mean you, the person reading this blog. No one is going to save you or your family, and here’s the rub…or your children or your children’s children because let’s face it, they’re the ones that are going to have to pay this piper. They’re going to be the ones to reap what we’ve sown. Things may get annoying and even downright uncomfortable for us but it’s going to be down the road that this Earth may become uninhabitable. At least for humans anyway.

If we’re going to avoid this worst-case, doomsday scenario we need to change miles beyond reusable bags and metal straws. Don’t get me wrong, those steps are important, but we need to think way beyond that. Here are some of my thoughts for how we begin make this change.

Change Hurts but it Doesn’t Have To

I feel there are a few major areas that we need to be focusing on right away. One is replanting trees as much as possible. They are our greatest allies in reducing the carbon in the atmosphere. Although other chemicals in the atmosphere are more toxic, CO2 is the most abundant and the most obvious solution is to remove it from the atmosphere en masse and trees and plants are the best viable options at this juncture. Several organizations agree with me on this point. You can check them out here:

The Nature Conservancy Plant a Billion Trees Project

The Nature Conservancy Plant a Billion Trees Project

One Tree Planted

One Tree Planted



Learning about tree planting and what some of the above organizations are doing is a great start. Donating funds is an even greater step but don’t stop there, plant some trees of your own! Learn about your climate and trees that are native to your locale, hearty, and good carbon sequesters. Much of the temperate climates of the world were once covered in deciduous forests and as important as planting trees is the process of reforestation. Planting trees is a part of that process but it’s learning to think like a forest and to restore what has been lost. Not just trees but understory, riparian buffers, and creating forest gardens that mimic forests in structure and function.

Secondly, developing a “can do”, self-sufficient mindset is not only a good thing it may be a necessary thing. As the climate continues to change and therefore become less predictable with ensuing dramatic weather patterns, learning to function in changing times can be not only helpful but potentially critical. Knowing what plants grow in your area, what other food sources are available, knowing how to forage and survive may one day be life-saving. Along with that leaving a part of your land wild will provide food and shelter for bees, native pollinators, birds, and other mammals allowing you to connect with the land in a meaningful way. For too long we’ve been strangers in a strange land, sadly ignorant about this thing we call “Nature” as if humanity’s decision to leave it behind was one we could make without disastrous consequences. Learning to grow our own food moving away from the massively destructive corporate farming agro-giants will impact our world in such a beautiful and powerful way. More importantly, learning to farm in a new way working with the Earth in less disruptive ways.

Thirdly, we to need to stop giving money to corporations that don’t give a crap about the Earth. That’s for starters but truly beyond that, we need to begin thinking beyond the capitalist model. It just doesn’t work. It inspires maniacal, genocidal greed and a state of sociopathic narcissism that has become another one of those cringe-worthy, new normals. How can we continue to support corporations that poison the Earth, want to monopolize our food supply in the form of nutrient deficient monocrops, and continue to party like it’s 1999? They have yet to wake up and smell the proverbial coffee, but I can GUARANTEE you if you stop giving them your money, they surely will. We’ve tried holding these companies accountable and all we get is a bunch of greenwashing. Instead adopt a self-sufficient attitude towards creating your own personal care, health, and cleaning products or shop local with those small businesses that do care and have made the environment like yours truly and others.

And finally, we need to recognize the inherent Spirit and consciousness inherent in Earth and all Her creations. We need to relearn what it means to be human. We as the most modern humans to date have yet to truly come home to this planet and our legacy has not been a good one. We comprise significantly less than 1% of the world’s species and yet we’re responsible for killing off 83% of the world’s species. We need to recognize our own destructive natures and instead of solely pointing fingers, we need to see this as our responsibility. Yes, you reading this blog and me the writer of this blog. We all need to get on board and recognize our one common denominator is this planet, the air we breathe, the food we eat, this place we depend upon. Because for all of our superficial differences and petty disagreements we all call this place “home” and it’s time we start acting like it.

Click here to learn more about how Green Girl Herbs & Healing is working to live more sustainably on Planet Earth. 


Plant Communication

Plant Communication. What does that phrase conjure up for you? Scientists gathered around in rooms full of plants hooked up to polygraph machines to measure the minutest of fluctuations? Your quirky Aunt Tilly who speaks to her houseplants? Or a weathered medicine woman performing mysterious rituals with strange brews made from powerful plant medicines? Plant Communication can involve all or none of these things and you’ll find that it can be as varied as the people doing it.


To help describe plant communication or plant consciousness let’s travel back to a time when humans were in awe of the natural world and acutely aware of their dependence upon her. Their senses weren’t dulled by daily sitting in front of a computer screen, TV, cell phone, or e-reader. The natural world was their constant home, their survival, and they were in touch with the tiniest of fluctuations in that environment. Native American, and other cultures living close to the Earth, recognized (and still do) that all of nature has a “spirit”, a consciousness, a personality even. This consciousness of nature was recognized in all beings, the stone people, the animals, the insects, the elements such as sky and fire as well as plants. These beings were understood as being equal to humans. No greater, no lesser but equal. A part of a whole organism that worked in harmony with each other. Each being had its own lesson to teach, its own “voice” or song, its own vibration, and each being was honored and treated with respect. It was understood that we as humans can interact with these beings of nature. Of course most often plants don’t speak in the way that humans do but have a language of their own. Many modern humans have forgotten this language and stopped communicating with nature but the connection is not completely lost. It is the language of the wind, the water, the falling leaves in autumn, the opening of the flower, the falling of the rain, the rays of the Sun as they touch the Earth. To those that have not lost this ability, nature is continuously engaged in communication. It speaks to a part of our spirits even though our minds don’t usually comprehend the message. It is the language of the Heart. For others it is possible to learn to hear these messages, to open to these communications, and truly it is time that humanity did listen, for nature has much to teach. Lessons of cooperation, of how to get along with one another, and even answers to many of the current challenges we face such as climate change and energy shortages. Nature is the greatest builder and innovator ever to exist and we would do well to listen to this wise teacher.


tree-native-plant-garden-nybg-06_08_13-kg-img_1261As we spend more time in nature and most especially consciously in nature, we can tune into these plant energies and know things that science is just beginning to catch up with. This type of knowledge is a “knowing” that surpasses the mind and penetrates into the Heart and Spirit. When I was a child I spent much time in the woods and fields of my childhood home and the backyard of my grandmother’s house both of which were home to a few most beloved Maple Trees. I climbed those trees from the time I was a small child right up to my teenage years. In the spring and summer lazy afternoons were spent reading, daydreaming, and simply be-ing in the trees. Autumn, raking leaves into enormous piles to jump in. I always loved the different point of view of being up high and examining the tree bark and leaves up close. Trees were never inert things but were my friends and companions. I had a sense that the trees held me and not coincidentally they had broken several careless falls that could have been disasters. In those quiet moments with the trees I had a sense or a knowing of their presence. Within that presence, that energy, there was a communication. The trees spoke to me. I felt no need to share these conversations, but accepted them and they became part of the secret knowledge I carried inside of myself. I knew that once you were introduced to one tree that all the trees would know you. Most especially the trees of that particular species. Today, science speaks of the underground network of mycorrhizal fungi that helps the trees to communicate with one another even so much as warning of predators and sharing needed resources. I think soon they will discover that this network extends much further than previously thought and many other things they currently believe is not possible.


This communication extended to plants as well. Many family photos show me as a young child engrossed in intently gazing at a plant or flower. I often had potted plants on my window and my dad and I grew enormous gardens from the time I was small. As an adult I found that I could often engage with a plant and know what its name was or what its uses were. This is a type of knowledge that must be experienced to be fully understood. Spending much of my life wandering throughout the natural world, getting lost in backwoods, obscure trails, and forgotten fields, has taught me more about our environment than any other resource. Spending days consciously focused on this energy I was able to feel the unconditional love that radiates from all of nature. That is a mind blowing experience. So palpable is the energy it is undeniable and defies mere words.


To me plant consciousness and plant communication are nearly one in the same. Once we become aware of how plants communicate, then we become aware when communication is happening. Plants communicate physically via hormones and reach out to humans via scent. Energetically they communicate through conscious energy which can be received as a knowing, a vision, or a dream. Likewise, we can open communication with plants and all of nature. We do this by moving out of the ego and into our heart space. Spending meditative, quiet time in nature will make us more receptive to their messages. One of the most important elements I find to plant communication is an open heart and a receptive mind. Once we believe we know everything about a particular topic or when our ego is engaged to the extent that we feel we “know it all” then we become unteachable. In the study of Zen Buddhism the idea is to practice having a “beginner’s mind”. A beginner’s mind is open and receptive, an empty cup. We’re not coming to the work with a cup that is already full but one that is empty and thirsting for knowledge and most especially experience. From that place of being, there are many techniques we can learn to help to open this channel and facilitate communication and healing. If you’d like to learn more about Plant Communication, sign up for the Green Girl email list to learn about upcoming classes and be sure to view the the Calendar on this website.


An Herb to Know: Meadowsweet

I love to introduce people to plants they may have never seen before and to share some things about the “common” plants they may not know.  To do that opens up an entirely new world and way of seeing the Green Nations. Opening our eyes, expanding our perspective is invigorating to the Spirit.  Our world is one of such beauty but we can be so caught up in our daily grooves that we miss so much.

With that in mind allow me to introduce you to Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) some of you may have Filipendula_ulmaria_-_angervaksalready made her acquaintance but for those of you who haven’t this is one of the many plants we learn about in the Sacred Heart of Herbalism 8 month herbal intensive and one of my favorites.  There are two species of Filipendula that we find in our area Filipendula ulmaria and Filipendula rubra also known as “Queen of the Prairie” such a lovely name! The F.rubra is a native species that today is used primarily as a garden ornamental but was used extensively by Native tribes for all issues of the heart and as a “love medicine”.  Native Americans also worked with this plant to utilize its astringent properties, quelling generalized diarrhea as a well as dysentery and as a vulnerary.

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) has been naturalized in the East and is known to herbalists for its salicin constituent although its levels are much lower (.5%) than the willow species (11%).  Meadowsweet is used as a pain reliever just as you would aspirin for headaches for example but with few side effects than the synthesized compound.  It’s also useful for colds and flus.  Meadowsweet’s anti-inflammatory properties are excellent and a salve, this delightfully fragrant plant can help with achy and arthritic joints….what a wonderful plant to know!  These are just a few of the wonders that are Meadowsweet…

Caution should still be taken not to overuse just as you would with aspirin. Those individuals that should not take aspirin should not take Meadowsweet.


Yarrow: A Warrior’s Herb

WheYarrow 08_15_15 kg IMG_8170 edit3never I teach about the healing power of medicinal plants I like to share a bit of their history. Learning about the history of an herb, how it traveled to different parts  of the world, how it was used by different groups of people, and the various ways its usage may have changed over the centuries can teach us a lot about a particular plant. When herbalism fell out of common use in this country in favor of the “better living through chemistry” philosophy, much valuable information was lost. As we learn the old ways of herbalism once again, we regain tremendous insight into the herb’s character and important uses.

 One such herb is Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) which I refer to as the “warrior’s herb”. The genus name gives us a little insight into this characteristic, as is often the case with many plants. “Achillea” refers to the Greek Warrior Achilles, the greatest warrior and central character in Homer’s Illiad. Yarrow has a long history of use on the battlefield and Achilles is said to have taken this potent herb into battle with him where it was used to pack wounds and staunch bleeding, both internally and externally. Today Yarrow’s reputation continues as an “herbal bandaid” and his styptic properties are well founded. Although we no longer take the plant into combat, Yarrow excels in the modern “battlefield” of our workplaces. Energetically Yarrow can help to provide energetic protection in contentious situations and working with the flower essence can assist in helping us or other parties move into a better place , either physically or emotionally.


Yarrow, however, is full of mystery and seeming contradictions as he is not merely an herb of battlefields. Ruled by the planet Venus, Yarrow is strengthening to the organs of Venus, the venous system for one, and can be used to treat varicose veins and enlarged veins such as hemorrhoids. By helping to return venous blood to the heart, he takes the strain off the heart and circulatory system. Those herbs ruled by Venus are often used for women’s ailments and Yarrow shines in this application as well, healing menstrual cramps and balancing both scant and excessive menses. Compresses of Yarrow flowers and leaves can be applied to the abdomen of menopausal women to reduce the discomfort and cramping often associated with this crone time. Such is the power that is Yarrow that he is often employed during cold and flu season. His diaphoretic and astringent properties are helpful with sore throats and fevers.

Yarrow is a hardy perennial that is easy to grow and overwinters successfully even in the coldest of winters. A wonderful and crucial addition to any medicinal herb garden.

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