It’s too early and cold in this part of the world for the plants to begin to emerge, but it’s still possible to do some plant identification as you stroll through wild spaces dreaming of the medicines you will soon be making.
You can identify many herbs from their dried stalks that persist all winter and trees and shrubs from their bark, twigs and other distinguishing features. Wildcrafters learn to identify their medicines from what they leave behind over the winter. In this way, you can determine the presence and numbers of herbs in a wild space and can decide if the location is good for harvesting. There are a few books available to help you identify wildflowers in the winter.
Here is a good one:
If you go to this site, you can preview the book before you decide to order it.
This website is an excellent resource on how to identify trees in the winter. When you get the eyes for it, you can scan a forest and know every tree that grows there just by their bark. If you are unsure of a tree, you can check out their twigs for verification.
If you want to learn the art of identifying plants and trees in the winter, start with confirming a few. Visit an area in the summer and take note of the plants that grow there. Study their physical characteristics closely. Then go back to that location again in the fall and then the winter. Keep doing this and add on a few plants at a time. If you come across some stalks in the winter that you think you can identify, make notes. Write down where the plant is growing and who you think it is. Go back to that place in the summer and see if you were right. Within a few years you’ll be amazed at how many plants you can ID in the winter just from dried out, brown stalks and shrivelled berries.
What follows are a few examples of easily recognizable herbs as they look in the winter. How many can you identify…let me know!