Sunday, July 24, 2011


Warning and disclaimer: Use common sense when messing with wild plants. Wild plants demand great respect and many are not edible. Never eat any wild plant or berries without 100 percent positive identification of edibility.

Like many other Portlanders, I have a great love for Mt. Hood, originally known as "Wy'East" by the Multnomah Native Americans. Back in my college days, I took a Geography of Mt. Hood course. The course was an adventure I'll never forget, and, since then, I've been fascinated by wild food sources. The stories of Lewis and Clark surviving on the food sources the Mt. Hood National Forest provided is especially cool to Oregonians.

But recently and unexpectedly, I had a pleasant surprise: I went on a local nature trek, and came across a path which led into a grove. The grove had a relatively clear path, and many different native plants were surrounding the area. After inspecting a particular berry bush, I was happy to realize the bush was a wild Thimbleberry bush; its berries not yet ripe. Near the Thimbleberry bush, however, was a Salmonberry bush, and its berries were ripe and juicy for eating. While the taste of Salmonberry has a more "relaxed" palate, Thimbleberry has an especially delicious taste. Furthermore, Thimbleberry is known to have medicinal properties. Unfortunately, the wild berries are seemingly scant.

I think there's something especially pleasurable about forging natural food sources. Foraging, I think, allows one to be in-tune with nature, and also, perhaps, able to be a little self-sufficient.

Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry). 

If interested, and for more information, please check out the books:

Wild Berries of the West  by Betty B. Derig, Margaret Fuller, c2001

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West  by Gregory L. Tilford, c1997

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Calendula Solar Oil

I can’t wait until that bright light shines
Never did run, never did hide,
Waitin’ to see your bright light shine.
We’ll wait ‘til the mornin’ comes,
We’ll laugh as the sun.
Bright and loud, ha, ha, ha!

Rusted Root, "Laugh as the Sun"

My Calendula (Calendula officinalis), is now in bloom, and have added that touch of golden warmth to the garden. On that note, I made a Calendula solar infused oil today. Once ready, the oil is ideal to use as a natural anti-aging reform, and to clear your complexion. Awesome, eh?

It's quite easy to make your own. All it takes is snipping off Calendula flower heads, drying them, and then adding the flowers to a sterilized and dry jar. Immerse the flower heads in extra-virgin olive oil (or your favorite oil). I also like to add vitamin E to the infusion, but this isn't necessary. Place the jar outside in direct sunlight for several weeks. The sun will warm the contents and allow the Calendula to relase its medicinal chemicals, thereby creating an influsion. Strain and bottle when ready.

Calendula solar oil.