Tag Archives: holistic medicine

My Heart is Fragile

Photo of wild ginger heart shaped leaf with phrase "My heart is fragile treat it gingerly" botany humor meme
Wild Ginger
Asarum caudatum

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Stinging Nettles

Eat Your Nettles! Urtica dioica

Urtica dioica is the scientific name for those pesky stinging nettles that get you painfully in the summertime. However, there are tremendous benefits to these nettlesome plants that may bring some happiness to your life.

Urtica dioica stinging nettle wild medicinal edible plant species
Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettles are a common species, growing wildly in a bunch of countries and in the Pacific Northwest of North America. They are perennial plants with rhizomes and grow in forests, along stream banks, and alongside marshes.

Like mint, they have a square stem, and two leaves opposite each other in a ladder along the stalk. Unlike mint, their leaves and stem have giant trichomes, which are hollow hairs that secrete fluid. Stinging nettles secrete histamines and other chemicals that produce a stinging, burning sensation, and subsequent rash.

Edible and Medicinal Nettles

Urtica dioica stinging nettle wild medicinal edible plant species
Wild stinging nettle Urtica dioica

Stinging nettles are a well known edible and medicinal plant. They are an excellent spring flush of your system after winter foods and stressful conditions. If stinging nettles are eaten for several days in a row, they have maximum detoxifying effect, increasing amounts you consume each time. If you have stored winter fat, it along with toxins, metals, etc. will get flushed from your filter organs.

Urtica dioica stinging nettle wild medicinal edible plant speciesStinging nettles are known to have blood purifying effects, to be healing on the cardiovascular system, and to cleanse the kidney’s. Stinging nettles are known to be medicinal for conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, urinary tract infections, and gout.

Urtica dioica stinging nettle wild medicinal edible plant species
Stinging Nettle Plants

Stinging nettles contain a variety of healthy and healing chemicals, vitamins. They are rich in vitamins C, B, K, E and carotene, like in carrots. They are also higher in protein than most plant greens.

After eating your stinging nettles, be weary of fatigue, changes in hormone, or other mild but potentially noticeable ‘side effects’ of the flush. Your system should be rejuvenated after a few days.

When and How to Harvest Nettles?

Urtica dioica stinging nettle wild medicinal edible plant species
Urtica dioica

Because stinging nettles sting, it is best to wear leather or thick plastic gloves while picking them. Stinging nettles sprout in the springtime and spring is the best time to harvest them. The uppermost primary bud will grow vertically and secondary leaves fan out horizontally. The uppermost bud is the part of the plant to harvest, because it contains the most nutrition and the fan leaves have developed different chemical composition, or have become fibrous or stringy. Harvesting the top bud only, allows the plant to continue growing, and to flower, and reproduce.

Urtica dioica stinging nettle wild medicinal edible plant species Although they are not eaten by wildlife, stinging nettles are eaten by insect larvae and caterpillars such as Lepidoptera sp., butterflies and moths. Harvesting early, and only the buds also avoids conflict and negative consequences for these beautiful and equally medicinal creatures.

Stung By Your Stinging Nettles?

Ouch! Stinging nettles are nettlesome because of the reaction caused in the body when in contact with the chemicals and histamines in the plant. If you have been stung by one, your body produces combative antihistamines causing a rash. To avoid the rash and lessen the pain there are a few common natural folk wild  and household remedies that will diminish the painful effects.

Urtica dioica stinging nettle and dock Rumex crispus wild medicinal edible plant species
Stinging nettle with Dock (Rumex sp.)

Before beginning to pick your nettles, look around for a wild, natural remedy. Known common remedies include plant species such as Dock (Rumex sp.) and Jewel Weed (Impatiens capensis, and Impatiens pallida). But you shouldn’t have to take a Botany class just to identify your remedy.

Licorice fern polypodium glycyrrhiza on streamside big leaf maple tree
Licorice fern sori

Everyone knows what ferns look like. Ferns have spores on the underside of their leaves called sori. These sori are so small that they absorb the stinging nettle oils off the skin. Different ferns produce sori at different times of year.

Licorice fern polypodium glycyrrhiza on streamside big leaf maple tree
Licorice Fern on Big Leaf Maple Tree

Licorice fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza) is a tree fern that grows in Big Leaf Maple trees and produces sori in springtime when nettles should be picked. Sword fern produce sori in summer when nettles are most painful. If ferns and their spores are rubbed on your skin immediately when stung they are most effective. If no wild remedies are available, last resort common household remedies include mud and baking soda pastes, which draw out excess oils.

How to Prepare and Eat Your Nettles
Urtica dioica stinging nettles dried for tea in basket
Dried stinging nettles

Stinging nettles have been a staple in many peoples spring diets for centuries. They can be incorporated into any dish like spinach or basil. Because stinging nettles sting, they must be cooked, soaked in water, or dried to render them. Drying the buds and soaking them as tea for consumption is a great alternative if flavor is undesirable to eat in a dish. Although sometimes more fishy flavored, stinging nettles along stream banks as opposed to in forested hillsides or hypoxic marshes have better nutritional value. Enjoy!

If you liked learning about stinging nettles, please look around to learn more about wild, edible, and medicinal plants and mushrooms.

Tremella aurantia Mushroom

Tremella aurantia

Golden Ear

Tremella aurantia Orange jelly edible fungi parasite growing on saprotrophic shelf mushroom Stereum on Alder log medicinal mushrooms species
Tremella aurantia on Stereum hirsutum on Alnus rubra

Tremella aurantia is a parasitic fungi that feeds off of the shelf fungi, Stereum hirsutum, both of which inhabit and parasitize the living and decaying wood of deciduous tree species. It is also commonly known as Golden Ear because of it’s appearance. This species is common to the Pacific Northwest and temperate climates, and a known edible and medicinal species. It is flavorless and has a fun texture.

Edible and medicinal mushroom species with orange translucent jellylike appearance on Alnus rubra Alder tree branch
Tremella mesenterica on Peniophora sp. on Alnus rubra

Tremella aurantia is sometimes confused with other species of orange jelly mushrooms. Tremella mesenterica, a is a RelativE of Tremella aurantia, known as Witch’s Butter due to its appearance. However, although it also is parasitic, it is a lighter orange jelly mushroom that grows on a different fungi, a scale mushroom called Peniophora sp.. Both Stereum hirsutum and Peniophora sp. grow on decaying deciduous tree species. Both species can also be found growing on the same branch.

Orange jelly mushroom on Douglas Fir with white base Dacrymyces palmatus chrysospermus edible fungi
Dacrymyces palmatus aka D. chrysospermus

Another relative of Tremella aurantia, is a species that isn’t parasitic, or even in the same family at all. It is a saprotrophic species that grows on dead and decaying conifer tree wood called Dacrymyces chrysospermus, and also known as D. palmatus. D. chrysospermus is also jelly in appearance but is more orange than Tremella mesenterica and less orange than Tremella aurantia.

Tremella aurantia edible fungi orange jelly medicinal mushrooms species
Tremella aurantia

All three mushrooms are related even though they have different eating habits, living arrangements, and color. They are all medicinal, belonging to over 100 jelly mushrooms, and carrying the same medicinal polysaccharides. The different families and genera are currently being split up by scientists, the more they learn about their genetics.

Tremella aurantia Orange jelly edible fungi medicinal mushrooms species
Dinner!

Please feel free to ask questions, share your story, stick around, or look around for more information on Tremella aurantia and other edible, medicinal, and poisonous mushroom species and wild plants.

Dacrymyces chrysospermus (palmatus) Mushroom

Dacrymyces chrysospermus Fungi

Orange jelly mushroom on Douglas Fir with white base Dacrymyces palmatus chrysospermus edible fungi
Dacrymyces palmatus aka D. chrysospermus

Also known as Golden Ear and formerly Dacrymyces palmatus, Dacrymyces chrysospermus is a pacific northwest bright orange species of edible jelly mushroom that looks very similar to the Witch’s Butters, Tremella mesenterica and Tremella aurantia pictured at the bottom.

Dacrymyces palmatus chrysospermus Orange jelly mushroom on conifer tree edible fungi
Dacrymyces palmatus aka D. chrysospermus

However, Dacrymyces chrysospermus is a saprotrophic fungi and eats dead conifer trees like the barkless Doug fir in these photos, instead. Rather than saprotrophic, the witch’s butter’s are parasitic on other mushrooms.

Tremella aurantia edible fungi orange jelly medicinal mushrooms species
Tremella aurantia (Golden Ear) growing on Stereum hirsutm fungi on Alnus rubra wood

When hunting for Dacrymyces chrysospermus, look for the white mushroom base, like in the above photo.

Edible and medicinal mushroom species with orange translucent jellylike appearance on Alnus rubra Alder tree branch
Tremella mesenterica Witch’s Butter on Peniophora sp. fungi on Alnus rubra branch

D. chrysospermus is edible and like the other orange jelly mushrooms, tasteless but has a fun texture. Although it is an entirely different family than the Witch’s Butters it is also researched as medicinal as it has the same properties as the Witch’s Butter mushroom species, belonging to over 100 jelly mushrooms, and carrying the same medicinal polysaccharides. The different families and genera are currently being split up by scientists, the more they learn about their genetics.

Please feel free to ask questions, share your story, stick around, or look around for more information on Dacrymyces chrysospermus and other edible, medicinal, and poisonous mushroom species and wild plants.

Xylaria hypoxylon Fungi

Xylaria hypoxylon

(Ascomycete/Ascomycota)

Xylaria hypoxylon is a black ascomycete mushroom that grows on decaying wood, such as small branches. The tips of the antlers on the Xylaria specimen in the photo is covered in white powdery conidia, its asexual springtime spores. Xylaria hypoxylon is an edible tea mushroom and researched for medicinal properties against cancer. It is also known as Black Antler Fungus

Please feel free to ask questions, share your story, stick around, or look around for more information on edible, medicinal, and poisonous mushroom species and wild plants.

Xylaria hypoxylon ascomycete with black antlers edible and medicinal mushroom on decayed wood with moss and white powdery conidia on antler tips
Xylaria hypoxylon mushroom

Tremella mesenterica (Peniophora sp.)

Tremella mesenterica (Witch’s Butter)

Edible and medicinal mushroom species with orange translucent jellylike appearance on Alnus rubra Alder tree branch
Tremella mesenterica on Peniophora sp. on Alnus rubra

Tremella mesenterica is a parasitic fungi that feeds off of the Peniphora sp. of fungi, both of which inhabit and parasitize the decaying wood of deciduous tree species. It is also commonly known as Witch’s Butter  because of it’s appearance. This species is common to the Pacific Northwest and temperate climates, and a known edible and medicinal species. It is flavorless and has a fun texture.

Tremella aurantia Orange jelly edible fungi parasite growing on saprotrophic shelf mushroom Stereum on Alder log medicinal mushrooms species
Tremella aurantia on Stereum hirsutum on Alnus rubra

Tremella mesenterica is sometimes confused with other species of jelly mushrooms. Tremella aurantia, a RelativE known as Golden Ear. It is sometimes also called Witch’s Butter. However, although it also is parasitic, it is a darker orange jelly mushroom that grows on a different fungi, a shelf mushroom called Stereum hirsutum, a.k.a False Turkey Tail. Both Stereum hirsutum and Peniphora sp. grow on deciduous tree species.

Orange jelly mushroom on Douglas Fir with white base Dacrymyces palmatus chrysospermus edible fungi
Dacrymyces palmatus aka D. chrysospermus

Another relative of Tremella mesenterica, is a species that is not in the same family, and isn’t even parasitic at all. It is a saprotrophic species that grows on dead and decaying conifer tree wood called Dacrymyces chrysospermus and also known as D. palmatus. D. chrysospermus is also jelly in appearance but is more orange than Tremella mesenterica and less orange than Tremella aurantia.

All three mushrooms are related even though they have different eating habits, living arrangements, and color. They are all medicinal, belonging to over 100 jelly mushrooms, and carrying the same polysaccharides. The different families and genera are currently being split up by scientists, the more they learn about their genetics.

Please feel free to ask questions about Tremella mesenterica, share your story, or learn more about mushrooms and fungi, or wild plants.