Licorice Fern Root & Ethical Wildcrafting Thoughts

I wildcrafted some licorice fern root today. I hadn't been planning on it and I actually still have some dried from a previous harvest, but an opportunity presented itself and I acted on it. I went to a spot I've visited before to see about some other herbs to harvest, but I found a clearcut where there had been a forest at the time of my previous visit. The forest had been predominantly red alder and big leaf maples.

I scanned the area and spotted a number of older moss covered logs and decided I should harvest any licorice fern that was still alive on the downed trees as it would eventually die and rot or be taken away if that log was chosen for processing elsewhere or was cut for firewood.

So, I walked around on the fallen branches and tree trunks and harvested all the licorice fern root I could find in that small area. I'm going to return next week and glean more from the area while I still can. This is an important lesson with wildcrafting when we live in a reality of de-forestation, constant expansion, and loss of wild spaces - avoid putting unnecessary pressure on wild plants (especially ones with sensitive habitats)! There are many ways to do this and there are also many ways to help our plant allies to grow. For instance - I often try to start new patches of medicinal or food plants that I harvest regularly. Another strategy is to opt for easily cultivated plants when possible. Our relationship with our surroundings should be about giving and taking - it's how humans and all creatures live… we just need to find our balance again.

Licorice fern sprouting from a still living maple tree.

The roots entangled in the moss.

The exposed root. Once cleaned off and trimmed is necessary i will cut these pieces into smaller chunks and dehydrate them for storage and eventual tea making.

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