Wild herbs in spring: Curative nature
Around the Kufsteinerland
I start an adventurous expedition together with the witch of herbs Maria Bachmann into the nature of Kufstein. Find edible spring herbs nearly around every corner. Fragrant aromas seduce our noses, the first colorful flowers sprout and grow so that a superlative paradise of herbs spreads out at our feet – there is no way how this hiking tour of herbs exploration could start anymore exiting.
“Our country’s nature offers nearly everything” explains Maria Bachmann, while we are walking up a little path in Erl. Equipped with a wooden basket, a fabric bag as well as a book about herbs, I am curious what we will find in the wild environment. Facing the ground, we detect various herbs already in the first turn.
Between cranesbills, yarrows & co, I receive helpful hints about collecting herbs:
- The best time to gather flowering plants is during the midday sun. The blooms are open and have an intense fragrance. When it is raining, blossoms should not be collected.
- Most wild herbs should be cut off around the upper third of the stem, to ensure that they can still flourish afterwards.
- During spring you collect blossoms as well as leaves and during fall you find berries and roots
- If you look for roots, you should use a shovel to unearth it carefully. Moreover, you should ensure that the continuance is not jeopardized.
- It is important to be informed about which herbs are protected.
Between grasses and flowers
I doesn’t matter which plants Maria Bachmann touches, she knows every herb. If she is not sure, she just has a glance in her book and educates herself further. She is a nature expert thoroughly. “Wild garlic and watercress are the most popular herbs during spring season.”, she declares, while standing in front of a huge sea of leaves. Every time we explore new places – meadows, woods and streams – we make a finding. Two hours later, we relax on a bench at the foot of the Wilder Kaiser with loads of experiences. Now it is time to inspect our herbs, which fill our basket and we immerse in the world of wild herbs.
Some herb basics for you:
This plant is related to the geranium and often referred to as the “smelly cranesbill” because of its harsh scent. The plant extracts the negative energy from one’s body. It is named “crane” as it supposed to help women who desire a baby.
- Effects: Prospective influenza, inner blockages, desire for having a child
- Processing: For a tincture it is dipped in alcohol or you simply dry it
Taking a closer look at the yarrow, it becomes very obvious why it is called the “eyebrow of the Venus”. The curved plant with its short lashes has a very intense taste.
- Effects: cleansing the blood, antispasmodic and helps for gynecological diseases
- Processing: perfect ingredient for herbal dips, salads or soups
The hawthorn catches one’s attention because of its lush spring blossoms and later by it shiny red fruits at the side or trails or between hedges. The hawthorn is easily recognizable by its little white thorns.
- Effects: very good for cardiac, stabilize blood pressure, helps against lovesickness
- Processing: pour boiling water over the leaves and blossoms and steep for 7 minutes. Drink 2-3 cups daily. Use the berries in fall for teas by drying them or use them combined with Cognac to process a heart-liquor
The stinging nettle
One oft he most important plants, which is unfortunately often designated as “bothersome weed”. It flourishes mainly in summer and helps for iron deficiency.
Maria’s hint: Pick a stinging nettle directly under the leaves at the stem!
- Effects: helps against dandruff, oral thrush and can be used against male potency problems. Moreover, it cleans your skin and strengthens the intestines
- Processing: good ingredient for spring soups or for a hair treatment (place roots in apple vinegar)
It grows in almost every garden and is often considered as an annoying weed. However, its flowers in the shape of a star are a valuable protection and mulch substitute for the bare ground. The chickweed is mainly recognized by its taste: it tastes like raw corn.
- Application: Iron supplier, contains silica and stimulates the metabolism. It helps children suffering from whooping cough and with skin diseases
- Processing: tastes great in spring salads, herbal soups or smoothies.
The wild garlic
It is one of the most popular herbs in spring and grows mainly in woodlands with acidic soils. Due to its strong garlic-like smell you can hardly oversee the plant covering shady forest places. The main flowering season is in April, the month with a high reproduction rate.
- Application: Helps with stroke risk, strengthens the cardiovascular system and brain and promotes digestion.
- Processing: as salt, in pestos, soups and salads.
Living more consciously
After the herbology lesson with Maria I am more than fascinated. Either it’s her enormous knowledge or the manifold effects of countless plants. But one thing is clear: From now on, I'll take a close look at the wild herbs along the way when going for a spring hike.