Many herbal remedies include wildflowers, or garden weeds, that are so common th
Others are not so secure, and in some countries there are laws about digging up
Many remedies from developing countries may also be over-harvested as demand from the richer areas of the world pushes up the price. Use herbs responsibly; there may be an invisible price tag on exotic plants with mysterious healing powers.
Wherever you live you can grow herbs in your garden or in a pot on a balcony/terrace, or even a windowsill in the kitchen for use when cooking. If you choose to grow herbs which grow locally then you will find the maintenance is relatively easy and will require very little attention. Many of the culinary favourites such as; Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender, Oregano all originally come from the mediterranean, they do the best and produce the most intensely scented leaves, in the dry, sunny, well-drained conditions of their home environment.
The best way to get to know wild plants is to out exploring with someone who has already trodden the path. There is no substitute for knowledge, so if you know a herbalist ask them for some pointers. When choosing plants, gather the healthiest possible, you are asking that plant to aid you in its vitality so don't choose specimens that look as if they are in some kind of trouble.
In tropical and subtropical areas, the best time of year for different parts of a plant will vary. However, plants that grow in temperate zones tend to grow fast in spring, flower in summer, set fruit or seed in autumn and die back, or at least slow down. For stems you will grind them at their peak in spring and early summer, before the flower appears. Picking off buds before they flower will prolong your harvest of leaves. If you are a fan of nettle, a good pruning will keep young greens for most of the year. Flowers are best picked just a they begin to open. Seeds should be gathered when they are ripe and ready to fall. Late autumn and winter or early spring are the time for digging roots, when the vitality of the plant has sunk beneath the earth.
Plants, like all living things, are largely water, they respond to the pull of the moon. Seeds germinate better if you sow them in the few days before the moon is full. It is not easy to quantify, however, my husband was into Astronomy and built a moon phase page so feel free to use so you can see when the moon is next full and sow your seeds. The chemical constituents of a plant change subtly from hour to hour - a fact that plagues the quality controllers, but inspires reverence in the respectful herbalist. The aerial parts are at their best in the morning, after the dew has dried and before the sun has burnt off too much moisture. Roots come into their own in the evening and at night.
Try not to gather leaves and flowers when they are wet, simply because they are harder to dry and more likely to develop moulds. Intense sunlight will decrease the amount of precious volatile oils in your sample. Having said that, you are most likely to go gathering when you have the time, and when it isn't raining. Ideal conditions are something to aim for.