Today we have another installment of Kentucky Wild Weeds, written by team member Jackie Alberti of Glorybeherbals.
Harvesting and Storing Roots
Fall is the time to harvest roots to store for future use. Roots will store much longer than leaves and flowers and will remain “fresh” for years if handled properly.
The first thing you should do is to do your homework about the particular plant you are harvesting. Some plants have to be a certain age or they won’t be useful-this would be tragic all the way around if you kill an innocent plant and waste your time. Also, some plants like American ginseng may be illegal for you to harvest without a permit from the state. Here are some useful guidelines-Coneflowers (Echinacea) should be 4 years old; Ginseng 4 -7 years old; Goldenseal 3-5 years old. I strongly recommend raising your own endangered plants so that wild stands aren’t depleted!
After you have dug up your roots you want to wash them really well then cut them into small pieces that will be easier to work with later. Then comes the hard part-lay them out in a dry dark place to thoroughly dry. This will probably take months but it’s well worth the wait since you will have years worth of medicine on hand. Check them periodically to make sure they aren’t developing any mold and they are drying out.
After they are dried you can store them in plain brown paper bags away from heat and light.
Companionplants.com has lots of bare roots for sale if you are interested in raising endangered plants on your land. They are located in Ohio so shipping is fast to anywhere in Kentucky and I have always received beautiful stuff from them. If anyone knows of a Kentucky source let me know!