Things to Know

Wildharvesting—also known as wildcrafting, gathering, or foraging for plants—is the practice of respectfully harvesting and gathering plants that grow wild for food and medicinal purposes.

Safety First

Plants have distinct effects on different people. It is vital that you consult your health care provider before considering any self-directed treatment of a medical condition, including the use of wild food and medicine plants. Be vigilant when consuming wild plants: if you notice any negative effects, discontinue use and consult your health care provider immediately.

Some beneficial plants closely resemble other plants that are toxic to humans. Before you consume any wild plant, consult with an expert to be certain that you have correctly identified it. 

Wild Harvesting Tips

  • Gather in unpolluted areas • Make noise to alert bears and other animals of your presence
  • Harvest only where there is a large and healthy community of plants
  • Do not over-harvest 

Harvest Times

When harvesting plants, it’s important to gather at the correct point to ensure that you will have the best quality herbs.

Herb refers to the whole plant, including leaves, flowers, stems, seeds and, sometimes, roots. The whole herb can be harvested while the plant is in flower. If the flower is not going to be used, then the herb can be gathered before the flowers emerge, but after the leaves have appeared.

Flowers are gathered in the pubescent stage when their colour, aroma and volatile oils are at their most potent or when they are wide open and at their peak.

Roots can be gathered in the spring before leaves start to develop and before the plant goes into flower, or in the autumn after flowering is finished and leaves have died back. Be sure to leave plenty of rootstock so that plants can continue to flourish.

Fruits and seeds are gathered when ripe.

Preserving Plants

Drying plants helps preserve their vitality for future use in teas, tinctures, syrups, salves, creams and as spices. Dry out of direct sunlight, in a well-ventilated area, with low light and low heat. Methods include racks, baskets, paper bags, dehydrators and hanging in loose bundles. After drying, transfer to storage jars and label clearly. Store in a dark, cool, dry area—light, heat, moisture and exposure to air will deteriorate dried plants and decrease their shelf life.