I am not an expert in gathering or making salves out of cottonwood buds, devils club, dandelion flowers and spruce tips. I am learning as I go and I will share the recipes that I plan on using once they have all infused in the extra virgin olive oil and are ready to be made into salves.
I didn’t grow up learning about them other than caiggluk, berries, wild celery, the grass that you pick in marshy areas and it tastes sweet, ayuq (tundra tea), the tasty pink flowers from the tundra, and the tasty bluebells.
And I am grateful for participating in the Ethnobotany certificate program thru the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. It has been an amazing experience and I am three classes away from getting my certificate. I was lucky to be able to travel to Nunivak Island for a 2 week class in 2009 and it was amazing and really opened me up to a new world that I never really understood. And I talk to anyone and everyone who knows about using plants and medicine and try and soak up all their information. The internet is also a wonderful tool to find out recipes, and information about each plant. I also have some books at home and I will share those titles because they are also wonderful resources.
So far I have gathered cottonwood buds, devils club, spruce tips, and dandelion flowers. I usually pick them in a jar on my quick 30 minute lunch breaks and cover the tips, or dandelion flowers with extra virgin olive oil until they are completely covered and I let them sit in my car in the sun. I have heard and read different times to let them infuse in the sun and so I am just winging it. I check to make sure they are covered in oil daily and shake up the jar or add more oil if need be.
I have heard that you can use other oils like sunflower oil, almond oil, coconut oil. But I just extra virgin olive oil because it seems to be the cheapest and I get more for my dollar.
If I am going to use the spruce tips for jelly or tea I let them infuse in water in the sun. They are also good just to snack on and they are pretty citrusy and sour but you get used to the taste.
I also plan on making some dandelion jalapeno jelly and I will use this recipe and just add a couple jalapenos in the mix.
Dandelion Jalapeno Jelly:
Spruce Tip Jelly:
This is my jars at home now infusing in extra virgin olive oil and they get plenty of sun, maybe they are sunburnt 🙂 I jokes.
Here are the websites that I have been using as guides for when I do make the salves I will be using these websites and recipes for guidance.
Spruce Tip syrup:
Spruce Tip tea:
Wild Foods & Medicine:
Spruce Tip Salve:
Devils Club Salve:
Healing Qualities of Devils Club:
And this video is Ahhhhhmazing! If you haven’t already you should check out all the UAMuseumOfTheNorth film series on YouTube. They are all wonderful and informational so grateful for videos like these to learn from.
Remember not pick spruce tips from the young trees because it will stunt the growth.
Do not over pick one tree, one area, and always leave a token of thanks to the plant or tree that you harvest from.
Go out and pick with your friends, family, niece, nephew, son, daughter or whoever and keep spreading the knowledge that plants are medicine. We are surrounded by plants and they all have strong medicinal qualities that could be better for you than any pharmacy or prescription. Be sure to consult with your physician or provider if you are on any types of medications as some of the medicinal qualities in the plants or trees can affect your medication.
Quyana and happy harvesting!