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I Heart Cottonwood

January 15, 2011

It’s that time of year again, dreading winter storms, but also seeing the silver lining of those storm clouds.  Firewood usually comes to mind when trees succumb to the winter onslaught of Pacific storms, but also these storms are well- timed for Cottonwood (Populus  balsamifera or trichocarpa) bud gathering.  In my area when we have a cold snap, it’s normal to have a silver thaw upon warm-up.  Cottonwood limbs are somewhat brittle and the ice conveniently breaks them off for us.  All we have to do is look for the trees, which aren’t abundant here on the ridge top, we have several, we have to go to water to find them.  For medicinal purposes the buds need to be gathered in winter by February.

A quick trip to Trapper yielded enough buds for a year of salve making.  The sticky brown resin is what we’re looking for.

Can I eat that?  It smells good.

Infusing the buds with olive oil yields an oil that can be used alone or for salve making.  It will keep up to a year in a cool dark place.

My salve making tutorial is posted over at Simple-Green-Frugal Co-op in this post.  You can’t go wrong having this versatile salve in your medicine cabinet.  The scent is heavenly and the healing properties bar none.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2011 7:47 am

    That is really neat! I would make it just for the wonderful scent of the buds…

  2. January 15, 2011 8:47 am

    You never cease to amaze me with your knowledge of indegenious plants and trees. I am headed over to read all about this salve.

    Have a great weekend. I loved the picture in the previous post of Della and Ruthless.

  3. January 15, 2011 10:42 am

    That is great to know. Thanks for sharing this with us. 🙂

  4. January 15, 2011 10:53 am

    Fascinating Thank You.

  5. david permalink
    January 15, 2011 1:46 pm

    I will have to go out and look for cottenwood buds. I did not know this is the time of year to gather them. Me and my sisters like doing things like this. Thanks for sharing this info!

  6. January 15, 2011 4:04 pm

    I remember you talking about this once before. Our’s aren’t even close to budding yet but I think I’m going to give this a try.

  7. sue sullivan permalink
    January 15, 2011 7:06 pm

    I’m so excited! We have two enormous cottonwoods in our front yard, and I begrudge them the solar space often (except during high summer. I know what a blessing they are then). To know that they can provide such a wonderful salve is great!

  8. January 16, 2011 7:35 am

    Do you ever use lard as a base? I’ve got an herbal that uses it.

  9. January 16, 2011 8:32 pm

    I just wanted to tell you how much my partner and I love your blog! We are from Portland, although we are currently living in New Zealand (see my blog for more on that). We are hoping to start up a small farm in the Willamette Valley someday, and love reading all the technical farming information you give, along with your beautiful photos and fun stories. So here’s a thank you for writing, from another couple of Oregonians!

  10. January 17, 2011 5:32 am

    I wish we had Cottonwood’s here. Having those oils on hand is comforting. Just knowing that we can treat any injury or ill as needed.

  11. January 17, 2011 7:46 am

    Since I have cottonwood trees everywhere and even in the yard…I’m going to make some this year!


  12. kay permalink
    March 22, 2011 11:43 am

    grrr i need som in handy

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