medicinal plants

Plant of the Week #4: Berberis vulgaris

Welcome to the 4th installment of Plant of the Week! The list of subjects for future editions is continuing to grow, faster than there are Mondays in a month and I sincerely hope that this trend continues.  Just last Monday in fact (when I posted my last article on the stone pine, Pinus cembra) I happened to be walking through a part of the Wildwood Park neighborhood here in Winnipeg and stumbled upon a European barberry (Berberis vulgris) shrub adorned in hundreds if not thousands of bright red berries. It is this species and a few relatives from around the world that I’ll be showcasing for you today. (more…)

Plant of the Week #1: Bunium bulbocastanum

Happy Monday everyone! Just like I promised last week in the introductory post for this series, I am very pleased to begin creating ‘Plant of the Week’ posts where I will introduce you to some of my favorite, often less well-known edible, medicinal and otherwise all-around useful plants. Many of these species or genera that I come across I do unintentionally, often in the process of looking up other similar or related plants and they will tend to focus on species that can be found, if not imported and grown, in north-temperate regions, particularly southern Canada including my home of southern Ontario. (more…)

New ‘Plant of the Week’ Series

From time to time during my frequent research binges I will stumble upon a plant that really sticks out from all the others, at which point I then compulsively attempt to learn as much about it as I can. After safely and securely storing that information away, deep within the recesses of my mind palace, I’ll hopefully be able to recall it at a certain point in the future when it is perhaps more relevant for me to think about. Trust me, this happens way more often then you think it does. (more…)

Wild Ethnobotany Workshop Series

This has been a long, long time coming and I am beyond excited to start developing and organizing the return of my outdoor guided hikes. I have directed more outdoor public nature walks than I can remember, both on my own and affiliated with research institutions such as the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington or non-for-profit organizations including the Burlington Green Youth Network, Earth Day Hamilton and the Halton Conservation Authority. It all began with the highly informal tree identification hikes that I conducted in high school that were almost exclusively attended by just my closest friends. This time around I want to make the program accessible to everyone and much more consistent, operating each event under a regular schedule that has been throughly planned and most importantly, adequately advertised and supported.

In the coming days after this post I will make an official write-up on my Events Page for the 2014 Wild Ethnobotany series of workshops, but I’ll give you all a sneak peak as to what it is all about right now.  These workshops will be delivered as a 2-part series each month comprised of an indoor presentation followed by an outdoor component. The indoor presentation will be 1-1.5 hour in length (1 hour presentation followed by half an hour of questions & answers and wrap-up) and introduce several native or exotic/naturalized ornamental plant species that can be utilized for food, medicine or some other practical application found in the current particular season in which the workshop is held (greens and leaves in spring, fruit and flowers available in summer, nuts/seed/roots in autumn, etc.) . I will also discuss the ways in which one can identify each species, briefly describe its botanical nomenclature and showcase any other interesting information pertaining to each plant.

The outdoor component, which will follow the indoor presentation by 1 or 2 weeks, will involve an outdoor hike in the field to observe and identify the same species outlined in the indoor presentation. Experiencing the plants in their natural context and in person is crucial to learning to distinguish them from any potentially poisonous or otherwise dangerous look-alikes and to grasp the physical changes that one species undergoes throughout the growing season as it matures, flowers and sets seed. Many plants have a variety of different uses that occur at different seasons, so learning to identify the changes that the same species undergoes throughout the year is crucial. It is also very likely that we will encounter different plant species that can also be used that I won’t have time to mention in the indoor presentations, so if you cannot make the indoor presentation, you definitely do not want to miss the outdoor hikes!

Please let me know what you think of this workshop idea. I would appreciate any questions, concerns or suggestions that you may have in order to make this series more informative and/or desirable. Or, if you are interested in signing up for one of the workshops or the entire summer long series, please do not hesitate to get into contact with me (click on my picture to the upper right of this page and It will direct you to my e-mail address listed on my profile). Thank you so much for hearing me out and for your support, and stay tuned for the official write-up coming soon to the Events page!