Late Winter Wildcrafting

Has spring fever got you down? Tired of the same old gray skies and ready to feel some warm grass on your feet? Well, I can’t make the temperatures rise any faster, but maybe I can help you enjoy some outdoors anyway!

Where we live in the Appalachian Mountains, we’ve had a rather mild winter. The last couple weeks have been spring-like with a few days in the 70s (oh, bliss!) and only a couple nights below freezing.

The wild things’ growing season has started. The herbs are waking up ... find out what you can discover with some late winter wildcrafting.


I’m seeing signs of growth already, and it sure does my heart good! In the sunniest places, daffodils have already bloomed, and in my shady yard, the crocuses have buds and the tulip leaves are already about 3-inches high.

The wild things’ growing season has started. The herbs are waking up ... find out what you can discover with some late winter wildcrafting.

I went out in the yard (yes, barefoot) to see what might be growing already. Much of the yard looks dead – just wet, mucky, and blah – but I was pleasantly surprised at what I found when I looked closely. I discovered the sweetest little dandelion leaves.

toothed dandelion leaves
Taraxacum officinale

The picture makes them look big, but they’re only about an inch-and-a-half long. They’re big at heart, though! Growing strong so they can help your liver do its work.

See how the leaves are deeply lobed, or toothed? That’s where the French name dent-de-lion, “tooth of the lion,” comes from.

dandelion leaves
Another dandelion variety – without the deep lobes

Now is a good time to start gathering dandelion greens for salads- before the flower stalks shoot up. You’ll get more to eat if you wait for the leaves to grow a bit bigger, of course, but go ahead and nibble a few. (Make certain your gathering place has not been sprayed with chemicals of any sort!)

Enough about dandelions. My most exciting find…

yarrow leaves
Achillea millefolium

The yarrow is growing! See the feathery, fern-like leaves there? Those are baby yarrow leaves. They’ll get much larger and bear pretty white flowers atop 12- to 36-inch stems. I transplanted a single yarrow plant from a local park to our yard late last summer. I wasn’t sure it had survived the late transplant, so I was super excited to see these babies growing up through last year’s grass.

Yarrow is probably one of the most important backyard herbs that families can use. It’ll stop bleeding quickly and helps repel mosquitoes and other insects. Find it now, and you’ll know just where to look when one of your kids skins his knee this summer.

It’s early and we’re still trying to shake off the winter doldrums, but the wild things’ growing season has started. So get outside – what will you find?

This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is intended only for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure disease. Always consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your healthcare routine.

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