Years ago, when I found my love of hiking and the outdoors, it opened up my eyes to the plants and trees around me. But, overall while I could identify wildflowers and native trees, I knew nothing about why they might be valuable to use in other ways. Starting our homestead has led me to wanting to know more. More about the native plants, and also how to use them in beneficial ways. But I know that for me, wildcrafting is an amazing way – only take what I need, and do no harm to the plants.
I am taking the Intermediate Herbal Course currently from Herbal Academy, and my wildcrafting has become stronger as I work on my Herbalist education.
And if there is a tree, an evergreen, that makes one think of the Pacific Northwest, the mighty Coast Douglas Fir comes to mind. It grows along the coast, from BC, Canada to into California, and runs all the way up to subalpine in the Cascade mountains, on the Western side of the mountains. If you have ever looked down at the vast forests of green trees here, you are looking often at them. They are long-lived and can tower up to 300 feet tall. It is considered the second-tallest conifer in the world, Redwood is the tallest. The Coast Salish name was lá:yelhp. The tree itself is not an actual Fir tree, but is an evergreen, as Firs are as well.
The best way to identify this tree? Their unusual pinecones. Maybe you have heard the tale of the tree that protected the mice from the mighty forest fire? Do you see the tiny mice feet and tails hanging out of the cones?
And in my back yard, I pick up thousands of these pinecones every winter. The winter storms shake them loose and they rain down. I chuck them back over to the county line – since the trees live on their side. Hah. The only time I get really nervous is when we have winds over 50 mph. I tend to stay in the front of the house those days!
However, there is plenty to do with parts of the these ancient trees. Branches are plentiful in winter through spring, to collect. Find fresh ones (or trim a few carefully), then strip the needles off, rubbing backwards (like stripping thyme leaves). It works best if you do this over a piece of fabric or a sheet. You will need about 2½ cups needles.
Coastal Douglas Fir Essential Oil
- 2½ cups foraged Coastal Douglas Fir needles
- ½ cup fractionated coconut oil
- Pint mason jar, cleaned and dry
- 2-ounce colored glass bottle. Cleaned and dry
Fill a large washing basin with warm water and tiny bit of natural dishwashing soap. Add in needles and soak, stirring to circulate. Drain carefully, rinse with warm water. Shake off the water, then lay out to dry on new paper towels. Make sure the needles are fully dry, overnight is best.
Add the dried needles to the mason jar, pressing in with a wooden spoon, so they all fit. Pour the oil over slowly. Put on the lid and band, seal tightly. Shake well and set aside.
For seven days store the jar in your kitchen, out of direct sunlight. Once a day, shake or turn over the jar to let the oil flow through.
Transfer the jar to a cool, dry and dark area, let ferment for 14 more days. Do not shake or move.
Using a fine mesh strainer, placed over a large glass measuring cup, pour in the needles and oil, scraping the jar out with a small spatula. Let drain, gently pressing and stirring the needles, until all the oil has come out. Discard needles into compost.
Transfer the oil into a colored glass bottle and cap. Label. Store in a cool, dry and dark environment for up to 12 months.
FOR USE ONLY EXTERNALLY. KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN AND PETS.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These recipes are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. They are not medical advice. This recipe contains essential oils. If any of the products cause skin irritation, discontinue use immediately. Do not ingest! If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using these recipes.