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Musings

Autumn at The Apothecary: Our Favorite Wildcrafted Ingredients for Fall

Autumn at The Apothecary: Our Favorite Wildcrafted Ingredients for Fall

The harvest is a sacred stretch of time. Each season, nature carries out its own rituals of transformation, be it the blossoming of new buds, the ripening of fruit, the changing of colors, or the turning in for a long winter’s slumber. 

At Plum Brilliance, these rhythms inform the process of choosing and gathering ingredients for our favorite self care formulas. The lush landscape of fall provides an incredibly beautiful bounty, so this autumn we are focusing on some key botanicals that are at their peak this season. Let’s take a closer look...

Wild Rose

wild rose

For thousands of years, roses have been cultivated for their medicinal, energetic and beautifying properties. Local and sustainable, wild roses are a particularly special breed, warranting just a bit more care and attention to harvest. The bushes’ thick and tangled brambles require patience and awareness. Their richly scented perfume encourages the harvester to be present in nature, and in the moment.

When used in remedy recipes, rose provides potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties for the body and skin. The various parts of a rose - petals, rosehips, rose oil - contain high levels of Vitamins A, B, C, E and K, bioflavonoids and polyphenols. In beauty elixirs, rose is as calming, soothing and softening for the skin as it is for the heart.

From the herbalist’s notebook:

“Sweet, delicate, rose supports heart space while creating healthy boundaries with their thorny disposition.

The scent of wild rose is far more graceful and complex than any garden variety, this plant embraces the spirit of wildness, softness and strength – a trusting way of living, full of openness and wonder.

With its unique and powerful energetics, we could all use some more rose in our lives. The mountain creeks and meadows I harvest from imprint their signature in the products I craft.  

Products that feature rose:

Elderberry & Elderflowers

elderflowers in a basket

With its subtle sweet scent and delicate white petals, the elder tree has become a staple in folk medicine and is attributed with having many wellness benefits and more than a few magical properties. Both the elderflowers and elderberries bring a naturally brightening boost to any recipe.

As ingredients go, elderflowers and berries are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antiviral. They’re packed with A and B Vitamins for calming and repair, as well as Vitamins C and E for skin immunity support and a radiant, healthy glow.

From the herbalist’s notebook:

“Thanks to our warm climate it is possible to gather elderflowers from the time when they first peek out in spring to even now, while most trees are in berry or finished with their fruiting cycle, a few rogue trees remain in flower -  determined to hold onto summer until the last possible moment.

The elder tree is surrounded with stories of magic – a place for the faeries and the spirits.” 

Products that feature elderflower:

Chaparral Leaf

chaparral creosote flowers

Believed to be one of the oldest living plants on the planet - perhaps as old as 11,000 years - the creosote bush thrives in desert climates and produces the small, but aromatically potent, chaparral leaves. These resinous leaves have been found to aid the plant in numerous capacities, protecting it from the sun, promoting water retention and deterring predators.

Quite similarly, when used for self care, chaparral can help protect against environmental stressors, fight free radical damage, and offer protection the skin's surface. It is antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory to boot.

From the herbalist’s notebook:

“Powerfully antimicrobial and antifungal, this plant is one of the best choices for wound care. I harvest this plant deep in the desert floor. Tenacious and hardy, chaparral can be harvested throughout most of the year.”

Products that feature chaparral leaf:

 

Goldenrod

goldenrod

In Fall, the honey-scented yellow flowers of goldenrod are in high bloom and ready for harvest in the quiet mountain meadows where they flourish. Goldenrod tends to be featured heavily in teas, tinctures and other immune boosting remedies as it has many medicinal benefits, particularly for seasonal allergies and colds.  Topically it is an amazing pain reliever, working on ailments from skin irritations to muscle aches.

There are believed to be over 100 different species of goldenrod, but, across the board, herbalists agree that it is a wonderful remedy to have in any holistic toolkit. It is a rich source of numerous nutritional compounds including saponins, flavonoids, Vitamin C and other antioxidants.

From the herbalist’s notebook:

“These bright yellow flowers bloom in the fall and my favorite place to harvest them is high in the mountains – in calm, quiet meadows.  The spaces that I harvest remind me of the effects I feel from this plant.  There is a soothing, calmness to it - pain-relieving but more for muscle aches, strains, and overuse. Works magic on sore feet at the end of a long day.”

Products that feature goldenrod:

Mugwort

Multifaceted mugwort possesses many potent properties in both the earthly realm and the otherworldly. Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and dating back to ancient times, mugwort has been used for everything from flavoring food to provoking deep dreams and accessing mystical gateways. A member of the daisy family it grows in dense weedy patches, often near water sources with plenty of sunlight.

In more recent years, mugwort has been appearing in beauty and skincare products due to its ability to fight inflammation, and balance and promote better moisture retention. It’s also super skin nourishing with all the antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal properties needed to support a healthy complexion.

From the herbalist’s notebook:

“A portal herb, one that opens the space between the seen and the felt. A guardian in dreams and a guide into the subconscious. An ally in dreamwork, helping the conscious dreamer achieve heightened mental states.

Mugwort has been used as a plant of protection for millennia, a braid of mugwort by a door to help ward off illness and negative spirits or energies. A moon herb, a woman’s herb, ruled by Venus and water – helps access the feminine.”

Products that feature mugwort:

Chokecherries

chokecherries

Wild chokecherries are one more botanical that evokes autumn. The chokecherry tree boasts not only beautiful fruit, but also a thick, flaky bark that is also harvested and used in various remedies. It can be boiled for its medicinal properties and often appears in recipes for respiratory and immune health.

Though they have a bitter and acidic taste, chokecherries contain a ton of nutrition in their small dense package. They’re high in Vitamins A, B, C, E,  and K along with potassium, folate and betaine.

From the herbalist’s notebook:

“While I don’t use chokecherries in any of the products I create, it is one of the plants I harvest in the fall. 

Gorgeous dark red fruit makes delicious cordials and the bark is one of the best for spasmodic coughs and respiratory illness.”

Final Fall Musings

With such a brilliant cornucopia of plants, herbs and florals to be inspired by, this is the perfect time to pause, be grateful, and indulge in seasonal delights while they last. Be sure to get outdoors, breathe in that autumn air and soak up those final daylight hours before solstice. Come winter, we’ll be back with more seasonal ingredients and slow self care.

References:

https://wonderbotanica.com/newsletter-archive/rose-medicine

https://animacenter.org/rose/

http://www.methowvalleyherbs.com/2010/05/bathe-yourself-in-roses.html

https://sacredearth.com/2020/05/24/all-about-the-elder-tree-its-myths-magic-and-medicine/

https://rawbeautyskincare.com.au/blogs/news/3-ways-magic-elderflower-benefits-your-skin

https://theherbalacademy.com/health-benefits-of-goldenrod/

https://mountainroseherbs.com/chaparral-leaf

https://mythicmedicine.love/blog-full-archive/the-magic-of-mugwort?rq=mugwort

https://highermindincense.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Mugwort-Monograph.pdf

https://www.herbrally.com/monographs/mugwort

https://www.herbrally.com/monographs/wild-cherry

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