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Wildcrafting Guidelines

By: Jessica Godino, Red Moon Herbs

Corinna and Dylan harvest Calendula

1. Start with a few easily recognized plants, and get to know new plants slowly.

2. Study the poisonous plants that grow in your area, and always know whether the plant you¹re harvesting plant has any poisonous lookalikes.

3. Always be sure you have identified a plant correctly, either through the use of a field guide or an experienced harvester.

4. Give your full attention to your task; its easy to make mistakes if you¹re distracted.

5. Some plants have parts that are edible and parts that are toxic (example; violet), and some plants have parts that are edible at certain times of the year but toxic at others (example; pokeweed). Make sure you know which part to use, and when to harvest it.

6. As with all foods, some plants will not agree with certain people. Start with small amounts of any wild food that is new to you.

7. Ask permission before harvesting on someone else's property

8. Avoid areas that are likely to be sprayed, for example around power lines, train tracks, golf courses, and weedless yards. Don¹t gather within 50 feet from a busy road, especially downhill from one.

9. Return often to your harvesting sites, to get to know the plants at different phases of their lifecycle.

10. Learn which plants are endangered in your area and avoid harvesting them altogether. (Luckily, many edible and medicinal plants are prolific weeds, and you don¹t need to worry about over-harvesting.)

Created by Jessica Godino, March 2001

Jessica Godino has been teaching people about herbal medicine for almost two decades. After training with Susun Weed she co-founded Red Moon Herbs, an herbal medicine company. Her deep love for the plants and easygoing teaching style makes learning about herbal medicine accessible to everyone. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she practices acupuncture and teaches herbal medicine. She can be reached at


Other Articles by Jessica Godino include:

Spring Tonics - Stinging Nettle, Chickweed, and Dandelion
Calendula - useful on all external skin problems
Usnea - a versatile immune system tonic
Violet - a nutritional and medicinal powerhouse
Hawthorn - a gentle but powerful tonic for the heart
Vitex - a supreme hormonal tonic for women


Red Moon Herbs


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