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Spring Herbs to Forage on the West Coast

Harmonic Arts Blog

Spring Herbs to Forage on the West Coast

Connect with nature and practice sustainable living by foraging wild herbs this Spring! The wild herbs featured in this article grow in abundance on the West Coast and are in peak harvest season between April-June. They support health while adding great flavour to your recipes! 

How to Forage for Spring Herbs 

Safety and sustainability are key. To start, don’t forage your herbs anywhere that has been sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals. Try to harvest away from roadsides with lots of traffic to avoid pollution. Wear gloves and bring a reusable container to collect your herbs. 

Foraging your own herbs should be a sustainable activity. Many wild herbs are perennial, meaning they come back every year, naturally. Some of the featured herbs listed below are considered weeds and grow in large amounts. In order to live in harmony with nature, our top tips for practicing sustainability while foraging include: 

  • Know what you’re looking for 
  • Avoid endangered and at-risk species
  • Learn about traditional uses 
  • Take only what you need 
  • Tread lightly and leave no trace 
  • Practice gratitude 

Following these tips ensures active ecosystems aren’t damaged or disrupted in the foraging process. Learn more tips for mindful foraging in our blog post here. 

Our Favourite Spring Herbs to Forage 

The following wild herbs are some of our favourites to forage on the West Coast in late Spring and early Summer. Learn about their many benefits and how to identify them on your adventures. 

Herbs to forage on the West Coast
Dandelion 

Benefits: 

Dandelion is a bitter herb that helps to clear out liver congestion and boost digestive wellness. It is rich in antioxidants and has been historically used to detoxify the body. All parts of this plant are edible, from the roots to the leaves to the flowers. 

How to Identify: 

Easily identify dandelions by their bright yellow flower. Their leaves are toothy, notched, and hairless. Dandelions can grow from 5 to 25 cm long and they form a rosette above the central taproot. 

When to Forage: 

Dandelion is best harvested in early Spring between March and May as baby leaves are the most tender and palatable. Add them to your smoothies, salads, or try our Dandelion-Infused Vinegar recipe here. 

Stinging Nettle 

Benefits:

Nettle is a great source of vitamins and trace minerals. It is traditionally used to cleanse the body and support liver function. Stinging Nettle also eases inflammation and can help soothe seasonal allergies. While all parts of this plant can be harvested, the leaves of the plant are the most nutritious. 

How to Identify: 

Nettle has a square stem that can reach heights of over 6 feet. Its leaves are heart-shaped and covered in tiny hairs that deliver a powerful sting when touched. Some herbalists don’t mind the sting of nettle, but we recommend wearing thick gloves when harvesting! 

When to Forage: 

April and May are the best months to harvest nettles. Add the leaves to savoury dishes, sauces or brew them into a fresh nettle tea. 

Blackberry Leaves 

Benefits: 

Blackberry leaves are high in vitamin C, tannins, and flavonoids. Historically, they are used for their astringent properties, as well as their ability to soothe inflammation. Blackberry leaves support the body in flushing out mucous, fighting free radicals and calming sore throats. 

How to Identify: 

Blackberry plants are abundant in British Columbia, especially on Vancouver Island! Find them along the sides of forests and roads. Identify blackberry patches by looking for tall, thorny, dense shrubs. Protect yourself from the thorns by wearing gloves while harvesting. 

When to Forage: 

Harvest blackberry leaves between April and June. The young leaves taste the best and can be added to smoothies or steeped into tea. 

Wild Rose 

Benefits: 

Rose has an extensive history of medicinal use by cultures all over the world. Traditional uses include soothing anxiety, calming painful menstruation, topical skin treatments, and more! 

How to Identify: 

Wild roses typically grow in fields and along the sides of roads and trails. While there are many varied species of wild rose, they have some common features to help you identify them. All roses have curved thorns and pinnate leaves in bunches of 3-9. Their flowers are symmetrical and tend to be pink or white.  

When to Forage: 

Forage for rose petals and leaves in the Spring and Summer. Look for newly opened blossoms. They can be dried and added to teas, used as a garnish, or infused into homemade skincare products. 

Purple Laver 

Benefits: 

Also known as “Nori,” Purple Laver is a delicious seaweed that is abundantly found on the West Coast. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, protein and iron. 

How to Identify: 

This seaweed tends to be purple or dark green in colour. It can reach lengths of up to 30cm and be just as wide. Purple Laver is bulbous despite being only one cell layer thick. It thrives by growing on rocks along the coast. When harvesting, remove only 10% from a live plant, or wait until low tide to collect the seaweed left behind on the beach. 

When to Forage: 

Traditional harvesting practices recommend that the best time to forage for Purple Laver is in late Spring and into Summer. Add it to soups, stews, or dry if for a crispy snack. Find Purple Laver (Nori) in our Sea-Veg Blend!

 

Need some more inspiration for how to use these herbs? Keep your eyes peeled as we have some exciting recipes to share with you this month! In the meantime, our blog features many recipes that are tasty and easy to make! Check it out here. 

Have questions? Contact us HERE

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