“A carefully written, easy-to-read, comprehensive, beautiful herbal and plant guide for the Pacific Northwest.”—Matthew Wood, MS (herbal medicine), registered herbalist (American Herbalists Guild)
“This authoritative and heartfelt field guide to Pacific Northwest medicinal plants will spend more time in the field or kitchen than on your bookshelf!”—Robin Rose Bennett, herbalist, author of The Gift of Healing Herbs and Healing Magic
“Kloos, founder of The School of Forest Medicine, is an apt guide to foraging these 120 plants. He is also a gifted photographer, providing a visual treat to nice plant ID descriptions. . . . a complete and useful guide.” —The American Herb Association Quarterly
“Add this book to your reading list and learn how to create your very own wellness garden.” —The Columbian
“With the right tools, one can learn how to make teas, tinctures and salves that promote good health, and Kloos makes it easy to avoid the harmful effects of wild plants.” —The Herald
“This is a very complete and up to date book featuring 120 of the most important medicinal plants growing from northern California to Alaska. Written from the heart, this book covers growth habit, plant identification, geographical distribution, medicinal uses, sustainability, preparation, cautions, and wildcrafting.” —The Oregonian
“Top Gardening Pick to Grow Your Collection.” —The Daily Herald
From the Back Cover
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
My first field guides still sit on a bookshelf in my office at home. Each crease, dirt smudge, dried plant specimen, and dog-eared page in those books is a testament to days of adventure pregnant with the promise of meeting new plant friends and allies in the forests, mountains, valleys, and deserts of my cherished Pacific Northwest home. I used those books so much that the information they contained became a part of me, but one day I knew it was time for me to take off the training wheels and leave the field guides at home.
I very clearly remember that day. It was a day tinged with sadness because knowing the plants well enough to leave the books behind also meant saying goodbye to the thrill of discovery and the wonderment that propelled me on many epic quests. At the time I knew there would always be new things to discover, relationships to deepen, and aspects of nature to wonder upon, but it would never be like it was in those early days.
If you are just beginning your journey on this green path, I envy you. Out in the wild, many new friends and allies await. Amid the earth’s myriad flowering colors and the infinite shades of green knowledge within her whispering leaves, you will experience the excitement, joy, and awe that comes when you finally discover and meet a new plant that’s been calling to you. Instead of just gazing longingly at the pictures in this book, you will have the opportunity to smell the sweet scent of the flowers, stroke the subtle fuzz on the underside of the leaves, and watch how the plants sway in the wind to greet you as you enter the forest.
Getting to know plants is like meeting a lifelong friend. You will need to give as much or more than you receive. It takes dedication to develop these relationships, but you will never be alone again. Wherever you go you will be surrounded by friends. Like the books that inspired me, I hope that this book helps you find, remember, and renew your connection to the wild. You will meet plants that grow along your favorite hiking trails and in your neighborhood park, plants that grow way out in the mountains and absolutely won’t grow in anybody’s garden, and others that will happily grow in your garden or that thrive in ground disturbed by the presence of humans. The thing that unites these plants is that they grow without our aid and sometimes despite our attempts to eradicate them. They embody the forces of nature and possess a spirit that renews and invigorates our own wildness. By connecting with and using these plants as medicine, we can retune our physical bodies in relationship to the land. By connecting with the wild places within ourselves and by harvesting and making medicine from these wild plants, we remember how to be in harmony with nature.
How did I get started on this path? After watching my grandparents die without dignity in the hospital, I was unable to go near a hospital for years without having a panic attack. These and other mainstream health care experiences affected me deeply. I knew that I never wanted to end up in the hospital. Even as a teenager, I knew that the hospital was not a suitable environment for healing. It was a place to die, not a place to get well.
In my early twenties, I started learning about herbs and wanted to make my own medicine because I was sure that civilization had no interest in my well-being and, in any case, it was headed for a collapse. I knew that if I wanted to survive the downfall, I would have to take matters into my own hands. As I’ve cultivated this rebellious spirit of self-reliance over the years, my views on how to bring about societal change have shifted.
Rather than hunker down and wait for the end of civilization, I’ve spent the majority of my adult life making medicines to share with my community, empowering others to do the same, and teaching classes that allow people to experience the magic and power of plant medicine so that we ourselves can shape the world in which we want to live.
The wild plants have become my friends and teachers. Harvesting them to make medicine has brought health and happiness to my life on so many levels. While I understand that wild plants will never be the main supply of medicine for the modern world, they will always have their place.
Health care is a right all humans ought to share equally. As people continue to become disillusioned with a system increasingly dependent on developing new drugs to increase profits for shareholders, it becomes more important that we have access to medicines that grow in the backyards, fields, meadows, and wild areas near our homes. It is refreshing to return to the roots of healing and find natural remedies that support our own health and well-being as well as that of our families and friends.
Wild medicinal plants carry a different medicine than herbs cultivated in gardens. They not only create the conditions for physical health and inspire harmony within our bodies, but they remind us of the wild places within ourselves and connect us to nature. Can we truly be healthy without a connection to the foundations of all life here on Earth? I say no, and in my experience it is this disconnect that is at the root of so much of our current dis-ease as a society.
Retaining and developing a connection to the wild through making medicine from and ingesting wild medicinal plants can enliven and invigorate our lives in a very special way. It can lead us to the remembrance of a culture that respects the land and all creatures of the earth, one that is guided by the very same principles that the natural world uses to organize itself.
So now I take another step on my path as I write this book for you. I am honored to share the knowledge that I’ve gathered in more than two decades of wildcrafting, medicine making, and working with plant medicine. Connecting with these plants has helped me connect with parts of myself that have been marginalized, pushed aside, and forgotten. By studying these plants and the places where they grow, I remember who I am. I see their dignity, power, and beauty reflected in me. I remember my indigenous self as the presence of the ancestors who lived intimately with these lands—digging roots, gathering leaves, and making medicine by the cycles of the moon—reverberates through my being.
Without my first field guides, I would never have experienced these things. To their authors I am deeply indebted and forever grateful. I can only hope that you will find
similar inspiration in the pages that follow and wish you the best on adventures of your own.
May these chapters inspire you to seek out your own philosophy of health, and may the plants be agents of healing, teaching, and guidance for you in the same way that they’ve been for me.
Open yourself to the wild. The plants await.
Take a moment to listen.
They are calling.
“An incredibly thorough guide for identifying, harvesting, and utilizing medicinal plants.” —Dr. Deborah Frances RN, ND Naturopathic physician, herbalist, author, and lecturer In Pacific Northwest Medicinal Plants, Scott Kloos is your trusted guide to finding, identifying, harvesting, and using 120 of the region’s most powerful wild plants. You’ll learn how to safely and ethically forage, and how to use wild plants in herbal medicines including teas, tinctures, and salves. Plant profiles include clear, color photographs, identification tips, medicinal uses and herbal preparations, and harvesting suggestions. Lists of what to forage for each season makes the guide useful year-round. Thorough, comprehensive, and safe, this is a must-have for foragers, naturalists, and herbalists in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and northern California.