The ethical wildcrafter is actually a steward who tends to the well-being of plant ecosystems while transferring their potent medicines to those who need them. Thus, a great deal of knowledge is required. One must not only be able to correctly identify plants, but know when to harvest and from where. Which plants to leave undisturbed, which to assist (such as lifting a fallen tree branch off of them), which to propagate.
Good record keeping, having the right tools and timing the entire process to the moon, seasons, weather and one’s personal schedule to complete all the necessary steps from harvest to storage are skills the wildcrafter develops.
We’ve just added the wildcrafting course to our syllabus. It covers the ethics, the process, tools, record keeping, etc. This isn’t the course for plant identification, we’ve decided to split that up into separate modules according to the plant families. However, we do cover the poisonous plants to watch out for. We also cover poison oak,ivy,sumac. How to identify them and what to do if “smitten” by their juices.
Students will put together their wildcrafting tool kit, their record keeping notebooks and explore the areas they expect to harvest from.