Monday, March 22, 2010

Herb Walk with William Broen

William Broen, bioregional herbalist

Last Saturday Dave and I met a group at Tucker's Grove for an herb walk led by William Broen. William took us on a 2-1/2 hour walk, identifying edible and medicinal plants as well as a few poisonous ones to avoid.

First he showed us poison hemlock.


It looks like a carrot top and also like Queen Anne's lace, but it's very poisonous. Look for red blotches on the stem to help you identify it. Do not eat it.

The hemlock was in a patch of wild blackberries.

The bushes are beginning to bloom, but no berries yet. We'll have to check back maybe next month.

Oxalis is blooming all over town.

As kids, we used to call it sour grass. We'd chew on the end of the stems. It contains oxalic acid, so it's best not to eat a lot of it, but you can eat some and you can certainly use the flowers as garnish.

Next he showed us mugwort.


These silver-backed leaves have a smoother edge than some which are more jagged. People put it near their beds or under their pillows to stimulate dreaming. It's very bitter but the tea is good for digestion and to help break a fever. It's antibacterial and antiparasitic. It is often picked during the full moon.

Mugwort often grows near poison oak.

Some people use a poultice of mugwort to treat poison oak. Not everyone is allergic to poision oak but most of us don't want to find out. In the fall poison oak turns red. It has five lobes and grows on the stem in clusters of three.

This is a yellow dock plant.

As a poultice, it will soothe bee and nettle stings. It's also good for anemia.

This will be a beautiful display of California wild roses in a couple of months.

The rose is very fragrant and leaves a rose hip after the bloom fades. The tiny hips turn red and are full of vitamin C. September is a good time to collect them. They are tart but good for your heart. They would probably make a good rose hip jam if you can find enough of them.

This dandelion doesn't look particularly yummy.


However this much-maligned plant is quite edible and is treated with great respect in Europe. It is especially good for the lymphatic system.

We came across two varieties of plantain.

Chew a little of this fibrous leaf and apply it to insect bites. It's cooling and according to one of the women with us on the walk, it really helped soothe the bee sting on her toe.

Here's the narrow leaf plantain.

We stood under a California live oak and learned that the acorns must be leached in water before eating. They were part of the native American diet here.

The California bay laurel is highly fragrant and can be used in cooking, but only use about 1/3 of the amount in the recipe. It's much stronger than the commercial variety. Roasted bay nuts are also edible.


An elderberry tree! You can eat blue or purple berries but not the red variety. The leaves, roots, and bark are purgative, so you might not want to eat those. Rub the underside of the leaf and it will smell like peanuts.


We found a chaparral current bush. A few of the currents were purple enough to try.

The miner's lettuce was quite delicious. Better than most of lettuce greens growing in my garden.

Look for a little white flower growing out of the center of the rounded leaf. We also found chickweed growing alongside the miner's lettuce.

Look for a ground cover with a small white star-like flower. The stem has tiny white hairs on one side if you hold it up to the light. It was quite tasty too.

The black sage drew lots of bees.

It has a strong sage fragrance. Chewing the leaves is good for sore throats and for gingervitis. It will also help to dry up breast milk when weaning.

Pineapple weed grows easily here. Sometimes I even see it in sidewalk cracks.

(Click for a close-up)
It's a close relative of chamomile but doesn't have the white flowers. It sure smells like chamomile.

The yerba buena was quite minty and apparently doesn't often show up this far south. Maybe it's all the rain we've had this year.

Cheeseweed mallow grows readily in my garden without invitation. I had no idea that it was useful. We ate a little and were surprised by its gelatinous texture which can be soothing to the digestive system.

As you can see, we learned a lot on this walk. There will be another walk on July 11th at 5 pm for a requested donation of $10. What a deal! Contact William at willbroen@hotmail.com if you want to be on his mailing list for more herb walks in Southern California.

34 comments:

Carol Patterson said...

How Fun! My dad lead herb walks in Tuckers Grove for years, he passed a couple of years ago, but would love to hear some one else is carrying on

Nancy Oster said...

Carol are there any that herbs that you remember that we missed?

禎雨 said...

Hello~Nice to meet you~..................................................

JeremiahRenne332 said...

人是受想像力所支配的。 ..................................................

文行 said...

thx u very much, i learn a lot

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He who would climb the ladder must begin at the bottom. ....................................................

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韋于倫成 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
育德 said...

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愛情是一種發明,需要不斷改良。只是,這種發明和其他發明不一樣,它沒有專利權,隨時會被人搶走。..................................................

士嬌 said...

愛情是一種發明,需要不斷改良。只是,這種發明和其他發明不一樣,它沒有專利權,隨時會被人搶走。..................................................................

曉薇 said...

Where did you purchase this product?.................................................................

江婷 said...

知識可以傳授,智慧卻不行。每個人必須成為他自己。......................................................................

韻玉 said...

Poverty tries friends.................................................................

育財育財 said...

It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

吳婷婷 said...

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宥妃宥妃 said...

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吳婷婷 said...

Quality is better than quantity.............................................................

淑蔡承均dgd周真淑ii淑 said...

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吳婷婷 said...

Accept that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.............................................................

陳佑發 said...

人並不是生來要吃敗仗的。人可被毀滅,但不可被擊倒。.................................................................

家榮家榮 said...

[做人難,人難做,難做人] 人.事的艱困與磨難,是一種考驗!要以樂觀歡喜之心,很珍惜地過每一天!^^..................................................................

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WillianT_Smotherman0恆迪 said...

No garden without its weeds.............................................................

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快樂,是享受工作過程的結果..................................................

建邱勳 said...

絕不要羞於承認自己不知道的事。..................................................

佳陳容 said...

婚姻對男人來說是賭他的自由,對女人而言卻是賭她的幸福。.................................................................

于庭吳 said...

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冠陳儒 said...

很棒很期待新的內容............................................................

48684 said...

幸福不是一切,人還有責任。............................................................

佳張張張張燕張張張張張 said...

良言一句三冬暖,惡語傷人六月寒。............................................................

詹碧周宗翰周宗翰芸 said...

人生就像一顆核桃,必須敲破它,才會顯出他的內容。..................................................... ............

偉DimpleHolloway043昀 said...

你的分享很不錯.. 謝謝 ..................................................